Bull’s Eye10 mins 321 10 mins 321
Consequent upon shifting of my family from Daitari to Bhubaneswar, I joined Rajbhavan U.P. School to pursue standard fifth. Pinaki was there with me at Daitari and their family shifted earlier to ours, might be a couple of years prior. Being from OMC (Odish Mining Corporation) colony, he became my first link for making new friends at school. He was instrumental for my not finding any difficulty in making a lot of friends from the very first day. In those initial days, I befriended with Tapan Harichandan, despite he was from different sections. The clandestine motive, hearing about their royal descends, obvious from his surname and there was something bigger than that. (Try to guess what it can be for a class fifth student.)
I was often told about their proud possession of a double-barrel gun. I wanted to hold that beautiful thing in my hand for the first time in my life. And my obsession was at its pinnacle for my alliance with Tapan Harichandan. He yielded to my persisting hammering and one fine afternoon after school I was invited to their home.
Tapan introduced me to his mother, immediately after her opening the door to his knocking. With a smile, Aunt welcomed me to their home after graciously accepting my Pranam (greetings to elders by touching their feet). With bit nervousness, I stepped into their government quarter following my pal. My eyes scanned all the corners for that beautiful instrument, about which I had heard from many friends since my joining the new School.
I was led to one room where his father, on an armchair, was busy with some stuff, facing away into the wall opposite. Tapan with soft tone purred, "Baba, ye mo sanga, Arabinda … Bandhuka dekhi baku asichi … (Father, here is my friend Arabinda … Came to see the gun …)"
I immediately offered my Namaskar (greetings), to which Uncle just raised his right hand, in acknowledgment.
Pointing to a sofa, Tapan told, "Sanga ... tu aithi basa, mun school baksa rakhi ki aauchi. (Chum … take a seat, let me keep my school box inside.)"
I put my school box on the floor, ensuring the silence was maintained, made myself comfortable on the sofa without disturbing the gentleman who was busy with his back shown to me.
I had to sit in that sofa for few more minutes watching Uncle with his head buried, at intervals moving his right hand up and down. Tranquility continued till Aunt stepped in and handed plate-full snacks, saying, "Darakar hele kahibu ... lazza kari buni ... (If you need more ask … don’t be shy…)"
Picking few from the plate I started chewing that made Uncle giving a stare at, over his right shoulder. Might be he was annoyed at my habit of making noise while chewing. It took a thousand of reprimands from my parents to drop the habit later. I took all prudence not to make any more noise, sinking dip into the sofa, savored snacks. The silence made an incident of my annoying a friend’s mother to the extent that, I never dared to meet her again, ran at flashback ...
During those early days at Bhubaneswar, I became friends with Sivananda.
Walking down from OMC Colony to School along with Pinaki were joined by Muni, Papa, Sivananda, David, Mousumi, Rani to name a few, along with many others. Sivananda was into common tuition by our School Head Master, Shri Guman Bisoyee. We frequented each other's houses for common studies, games, and a whole lot of other trivial activates.
My father being an OMC employee, my family was privileged for free medical facilities. I used to ask for a strip of Gelosile tablets by approaching then Dr. Joshi, citing my father needing them. I learned the trick from Pinaki.
Five paise was a valid tender those days. Small chocolate with the shape of Orange loaves (We called it Kamala Chocolate) was only 5 paise. But having five paise was tough as our daily pocket money used to be in the range of 10 to 20 paise and on special occasions it was 25 paise which were unwonted. I occasionally chewed Gelosil tablets. Remember my generously offering Sivananda a few times. One fine afternoon he asked for a whole strip that I arranged for and gladly accepting left for his home.
As usual, at dusk along with Pinaki reached his home on our way to evening tuition. That day it took our four-five calling "Sivananda...Sivananda..." that his mother peeped in from asbestos topped out-house of their Government quarter. She swayed her palm to reach near her.
The iron grill gate opened with clanking sound and us two proceeded along the narrow path, up to out-house, covered from both sides with giant guava trees and other creepers. Every step made me have a gut feeling that Sivananda was hiding behind his mother. But God knows why!
We stopped a couple of steps away from the lady who was sneaking from the half-opened grills. Enough light permeated through the fully drawn curtains from the dimly lit filament bulb, hanging from the roof, to notice that the lady was quite annoyed at something for which we were responsible and were summoned for. A government school teacher by profession appeared quite wearied that made me a little frightened.
"Arabinda, chocolate boli kahi kau tablet delu, Sivananda ku? (Aurobindo, what tablets you gave to Shivananda as chocolates?)" was assuring for Pinaki that he was not at all involved but the question made me quake as I could guess from her pitch of thundering that nothing less than devastating happened with our friend.
Fumbling, trembling and dabbling I could manage to utter, "Mausi, Gelosil tablets. (Aunt, Gelosil Tablets.)"
My words made her drag something from her back with her right hand. A gamuccha (thin, coarse cotton towel) clad boy with shrunken cheeks, dreary eyes, half-open mouth appeared that I could hardly recognize being Shivananda who left my home at noon, with a full stripe of Gelusil tablets.
She continued with audible pain and agony in her voice, "Kete belu patala jahada hauchi je kami bara na nahin. Ta Bapa asile, hospital ku nebaku padiba. (Suffering from severe loose motions for long and it’s not getting subsided. After his father returns, will be taken to hospital.)"
She further continued, "Na jani, na bujhi au semiti medicine khai bunu ki, kahaku dabunu. Prana chali jiba! (Without knowing anything, never take any medicine nor give others. May cause death!)"
Nodding heads at the lady, we left their house, dropping our heads over shoulders. Putting the latch of the front iron gate behind us, disturbed the tranquility of that evening, outside and inside, with its clanking sound.
After a few steps walking, I could manage to mutter at Pinaki, "Sala bhalu, dus ta jaka tablet eka bele khai dela na kana! (Brother-in–law [A favoured slang of Indians] Bear, might have taken all the 10 tablets at a time!)”
Few more minutes of silence prevailed. Running my probing eyes around the room was confirmed that the thing I was searching for was not there. With the lapse of every minute, I was getting restless to have the first view of my life, a Double Barrel Gun.
One heavy voice rumbled, "Tuma na kana? (What is your name?)" for the first time since I stepped into the room, some 15 minutes back. It took me a few seconds to confirm the source. It was none other than Uncle, still facing away from me into the wall opposite.
Mouth full of snacks managed to reply, "Aurobindo Patra!"
With his head dipped down in the opposite direction, drawing his right hand up and down, continued, "Kauthi rahucha?(Where do you stay?)"
I politely answered, "OMC Colony!"
"Tuma Bapa OMC re kama karanti?(Do your father work in OMC?)"
"Angyan! (Yes Sir!)"
Again the silence prevailed in that room for a couple of minutes more and I was enjoying the snacks, served hot by Aunt. Suddenly I heard something unexpected, "Arabinda … kebe bandhuka dekhicha? (Arabinda … have you ever seen a gun?)"
Such a question was uncommon those days. We use to have questions about marks secured in the last exam or some tricky question, the answer was only known to the question maker. While we were at Daitari, two sons of one of my father’s colleagues were of my age and good friends, as the elders were. But I didn’t like at all accompanying father for his occasional visit to their home. Every such instance, I was put to questions, never heard off. Prompt answers from both my friends just made me lament about my dumbness, sheer embarrassment.
The article that haunted me so many days that tempted me to be in alliance with Tapan, at the asked question, my obvious answer was...
"Na dekhini … bandhuka dekhi baku jiddi kari baru, Tapan aji aithi ki nei asichi … (Not seen … on my persisting request, Tapan brought me here … )" uttered in a single breath.
If someone were there, I would have deciphered the happiness that must have been visible on my face with the glittering of eyes while answering the gentleman. I presumed my dream coming true in no time.
Uncle stopped what he was doing and was onto his feet and slowly turned towards me.
Well, I was happy about his friendly question and his affectionate gestures of body language at my curiosity to see a gun for the first time in life. He turned 180 degrees, looking through the target finder, with one eye shut, pointed the double-barrel at me, taking posture, thundered,
"Hal-chal hua ni … Na hele, guli re tuma munda chhatu hei jiba … (Don't move … Else the bullet will crush your head …)"
The overhead ceiling fan quivered his unkempt hairs and the white sacred thread, across his chest, the white Dhoti oscillated but the hunter was steadfast as if I were a Bull’s Eye.
My hand with a price of snack stopped halfway to the mouth and even I stopped chewing letting my mouth wide open. I sunk into the sofa and started trembling from to tip to toe. I was totally blank being at the point-blank range of the Double Barrel Gun.
Suddenly the gun moved away from me at the entrance, wherefrom a lady's tone heard behind the curtains, "Arabinda, au kana Debi kire … (Arabinda, should I give something … )" and with the flip of the curtain, appeared Aunt.
I dropped the snack piece into the plate, placing the plate on the tea-table, which was at arm’s length, sprang to my feet from the low down sofa.
The lady could read my terrorized, frightened face that I was in all readiness to run away from their home and shouted, "Pila ta dari jiba! (The kid will be frightened!)"
Thank God, Tapan also dropped in and I was back to myself from being a Bull's Eye.
“Ha ... Ha ... Ha ... Dari gale, kemiti haba? Lamba bhabisyata achi agaku ... Ha ... Ha ... Ha … (Ha …Ha … Ha … How he can be frightened? He has a long future to go to… Ha … Ha … Ha … )” and banged the gun on the floor holding at the barrel.
Watching Tapan and Aunt laughing, I managed to sigh a grin, of course with a little bit of effort.
She further continued, “Tama bandhuka safa sarila jadi ... jalakjhia anuchi... (If you finished cleaning of gun ... let me bring snacks ... )
That day Uncle with all affection and eagerness described in detail and taught my first lesson on Double Barrel Gun. I could full-fill my tryst of holding a gun which was taller than me.
Alas, there was someone to take a photo of my posing with that illustrious Double Barrel Gun alongside a man in his forties, with a pair of mustaches matching to his prized possession!
[Some tears slipped out of eyes without letting us know if they were of bliss or grief. Sometimes our lips bear a grin without any qualification of their being happiness or despair…
We live life in years but remember only a few moments. Let’s enjoy every moment to give real meaning to our life.]