The boon6 mins 229 6 mins 229
The Swami who had performed penance for several years on the hills of Cooch Behar normally remained silent. The Ghoshal family were devotees of the Swami.
One day the family visited him to pay obeisance. The clairvoyant sage, Chidananda, upon attaining enlightenment in Thrissur, on the advice of his Guru reached Alipur Duar and set up a hermitage. The sagacious one looked at the family and narrated the incident of how the ace archer Arjuna, shielded by Shikandi had felled the much venerated Bhishma. He smiled and then gave two apples to the Ghoshals.
“However, consume them only when you are in utter distress. This is a divine gift given by Mother Nature to me,” uttered the perspicacious Swami.
“Khub bhalo … the surgery has been successful,” exclaimed Dr Madhu Mitra to the anxious Dutta and Ghoshal families belonging to Alipur Duar and Cooch Behar respectively.
Upon completion of the marriage festivities of Sunanda with Debashish and Nibedita with Anirudha, there were widespread celebrations across the panoramic hills where the minacious tracks of the elephant corridor lay.
The binds, bends, curves and super elevation of the track between Alipur Duar and Cooch Behar often blind the loco pilot; and inadvertently he rams into a herd of elephants, thereby slaying them.
“Reckless driving of the locomotive by Nobindo Ghoshal’s father, annihilating hundreds of elephants when he piloted freight trains is singularly responsible for the misfortune which has befallen the Ghoshal girls. Today they have become the butt of ridicule.”
“They are still to conceive, after five years of marriage,” mused an old timer Udayan Sen, of the North East Frontier Railway, who was once the Permanent Way Inspector on the treacherous Ghat Section.
“As an engineering official of this dangerous section, the patrol men, gangmen and I faced the wrath of the mahouts and the owners of the pachyderms whenever we had to remove a carcass from the tracks,” Sen spoke quite righteously.
“This is an imprecation brought on by the killing of the mammoths. Goddess Lakshmi thus does not enter the household of the Ghoshal family,” he was to further add fuel to the misery of Ghoshal ménage.
Sunanda and Nibedita were the daughters of Nobindo Ghoshal, who worked as a lawyer and also looked after the estate of Maharani Gayatri Devi’s estate in Cooch Behar. Thus he covertly enjoyed a clout which helped him to contain the tragic consequences that befell his daughters.
The brothers were scions of a prosperous family of Alipur Duar who had interests in tea estates and dolomite business. Anirudha was the younger of the two siblings. It was five years since the couples had been married on a full moon night amidst the grandeur of the Cooch Behar palace. However, much to the consternation of Madhu Dutta, the combative and tyrannical mother of the brothers, her daughters-in-law had not yet conceived.
Much to the chagrin of Nobindo Ghoshal, canards regarding the condition of his daughters spread across the swathes of Alipur Duar and Cooch Behar.
Madhu Dutta was a traditionalist and did not quite believe in modern medicine. Accordingly, the lady of the house treated her daughters-in-law through a range of several homemade remedies. She even resorted to occult practices to ensure progeny in the family. But all this went in vain.
Unable to bear the hearsay and everyday diatribe, one day in utter vexation she confronted the girls. “What is the problem? Why can’t you conceive? Is something wrong with my sons or with you?”
“Ma, we are not like other women,” uttered the older girl in desperation. Madhu Dutta was astounded and speechless upon hearing these words from Sunanda.
“What do you mean?” exclaimed Madhu. “Oh, Maa Kali…,” she continued her prolonged fulmination.
Now for a little over thirty years Sunanda and Nibedita had led a normal life with no complications. However when the mother-in-law challenged them, Sunanda and Nibedita complained of abdominal pain.
Hemanta Dutta, the patriarch of the family over ruled his domineering wife and wheeled his daughters-in-law to an estimable hospital of Kolkata. They were under the observation of a noted obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr Madhu Mitra.
The renowned medical practitioner upon examining the patients ‘discovered’ that medically the two alluring women were essentially men suffering from testicular disorder.
Both the charming women were diagnosed suffering from what in medical parlance is termed as “Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome”. This disease was as scarce as hen’s teeth; a malady wherein, a person is born genetically male but has all the physical traits of a woman. As per appearance they were women; each physical asset centrifugal to women belonged to them.
However, since their birth two essential features of a woman were missing in the two women, that is a uterus and ovaries. Infact the two lasses had never experienced a menstrual cycle according to the doctor.
This was an unrevealed and concealed reality of their lives which was known only to their mother. Upon detailed investigation and prognosis it surfaced that the women were living with what is called a “blind vagina”; a rare condition, which one in 20,000 women have and thus become infertile.
The dexterous Dr Madhu Mitra conducted Karyotyping test to determine the chromosomes of the charming but ill-fated women, which divulged that the women had the complement of XY chromosome (which the male species are endowed with) and not the XX pair with which women are born.
These revelations struck the Ghoshal and Dutta families like the thunderbolt of Lord Indra. Almost akin to the one which Karna the fabled archer used against Ghatotkach in the Kurukshetra war.
The Ghoshals and Duttas began sparring and trading volleys in the hospital. The Ghoshals were branded as fiendish characters who used their clout of staying in the premises of Cooch Behar palace to conceal this serious condition.
Dr Madhu Mitra was to further explain that human body is extremely complex machinery and is quite akin to nature. “It is a mirror image of nature,” the erudite doctor explained, rather pointlessly thought the irate Dutta family. “As the testicles remained underdeveloped and under wraps of the bodies there was no secretion of testosterone; but the element of female hormones gave them an appearance of women,” pronounced the polymath doctor.
“There is a one-in-million chance to alter their chromosome and sex. I have to perform an extremely complicated operation,” uttered Dr Madhu Mitra.
The Ghoshal family suddenly recalled the two apples given to them by Swami Chidananda. Nobindo boarded a late night flight to Siliguri, and raced to the opulent palace of Cooch Behar and neatly packed the two apples which were still pristine and pure.
The next day he reached the hospital and the apples were cut into six parts. They were partaken by the Ghoshal family and Debashish and Anirudha. “Please go ahead with the surgery of my daughters,” remarked Nobindo Ghoshal as he placed photographs of Maa Kali and Swami Chidananda under the pillows of his daughters.
A year later both the couples were blessed with baby girls.
Far away in the hills of Cooch Behar, Swami Chidananda got up from deep meditation and merely smiled; another pair of apples would be needed in due course of time.