Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory is full of suspense. In this story, Bepin Choudhury believes that he has never been to Ranchi but others say that he had been there. It is a well knit story written by Satyajit Ray.
Every Monday, Bepin Choudhury used to come to the New Market to buy books. His favourite items were crime stories, ghost stories and thrillers. He lived alone. He had not many friends. One day Bepin Babu found in the market that someone was observing him. It was a round faced man. The man saw him and smiled. But Bepin Babu could not recognise him. He reminded Bepin Babu that once he had been to Ranchi in 1958. The man had arranged a car for him to take him to the Hudroo Falls. His name was Parimal Ghose.
But Bepin’s memory played a trick on him. He was sure that he had never been to Ranchi. Parimal was surprised. He gave several instances in his support. Bepin, he said, had fallen down in Hudroo and got a cut on his knee. He had brought him iodine. He had fixed up a car for him to get to Netarhat.
There was one Dinesh Mukerji also in whose bungalow Bepin Babu had stayed. Bepin always carried a book bag at his sight seeing trips. But nothing could revise Bepin’s memory. He said that he was in Kanpur in 1958. Parimal told that Bepin had no children and his wife had died 10 years ago. The same year his brother died in Ranchi mental hospital. But Bepin could not recollect any such event.
Bepin believed that he had an excellent memory. He was working daily in his office and doing a responsible job. He wondered how Parimal knew all intimate details about his wife’s death, and his brother’s insanity. But at the same time, he was sure that he was not in Ranchi but at his friend Haridas Bagchi’s house in Kanpur during the Pujas. He could write to Haridas to confirm his visit, but Haridas had already left for Japan. He found an inch-long cut mark on his knee, but he couldn’t recall when and where he had got the cut.
Then Bepin decided to go to Dinesh Mukerji’s house to confirm Parimal’s claim. But he dropped the idea lest Dinesh should think he had gone mad. He soon forgot all about Parmial and went to sleep.
Next day Bepin rang up Dinesh who confirmed him that he was there in Ranchi. He felt that he had lost his memory.
After Bepin Babu look lunch, Chuni Babu came to see him. He was his school-mate. He wondered how he had forgotten his visit to Ranchi. He hadn’t suffered any injury in the head.
Chuni Babu had been to his school and was requesting him for a job. When Chuni Babu asked him what his last job was, Bepin told correctly that his (Chuni’s) last job was in a travel agency. Chuni recalled that he himself had fixed up Bepin’s railway booking in Ranchi and gone to station to see him off. He left him without requesting for a job.
Now Bepin Babu became serious about this matter. He consulted a young physician Paresh Chanda. Paresh suggested a plan. Bepin should go to Ranchi once again and might get back his lost memory. Bepin left for Ranchi the same evening.
At Ranchi Bepin Babu realised that he had never been there before. He didn’t recognise any building or bazaar. He left for Hundroo falls. There two Gujrati gentlemen found Bepin lying unconscious beside a rock. Bepin Babu returned to Calcutta. He received a letter, urgent and confidential. The letter was from Chuni lal. He said he was down on luck. But he had written a novel which might bring him fortune.
Bepin’s memory suddenly came back. He told Dr Chanda that he had pain in the hip from a fall in Ranchi. He asked the doctor to prescribe some painkiller.