Veiled Talents5 mins 599 5 mins 599
ArtWay magazine, March 2018. It was a special edition themed on women and their strength. Maya, an author and also a writer in ArtWay thought to write about her special experience in the event.
Here goes her piece of write-up from the ArtWay magazine.
It was 2013. I went on a trip to discover the rural India. I wanted to write in the serenity of atmosphere. I felt that the atmosphere of rural India would help me write with more compassion. So after some basic research I chose Panisala, a mystic village near Bangladesh border in Cooch Bihar, West Bengal. Oh! The images of the village is still crystal clear in my mind.
I went to the village and approached the people over there to rent me a room. I got a room on the first floor of a double stored wooden house, the best house in the village. In the evening on that day, the owner of the house called all the women in their backyard to introduce me. “Madam would stay with us for some days. It is the responsibility of all villagers to treat her well,” he said. The ladies looked at me with a wonder, as if I was a celebrity. The girls looked at me, head to toe, with mouths half open, with a gesture of wonder again.
That night when I sat to write, I thought to pick a girl from all those who came to meet me, for the protagonist of my new novel. Then, she clicked in my brain. Ruksana was her name. In morning at the backyard she smiled to me as if she knew me. Like other girls, she was also looking at me with a wonder, but I knew that her wonder was not for my attire. I could not find the real reason that night.
Next day, two women from the village came to take me to their home for breakfast. Their small piece of lands, small houses, chickens – were their asset for life. While having breakfast, I saw Ruksana appearing near me with a cup of tea in hand. I smiled to her and asked her to join me for breakfast. She smiled and took a biscuit. “So, do you study?” I asked her.
“No, I left,” she said looking down.
“How much have you studied?”
“11th class,” she said.
After a moment of silence she asked me, “Do you have the copy of your recent novel with you?”
I was not expecting this question. “Yes. Do you read novels…?”
“When I get some..” she replied. Her nature had something magical. I knew that already. I asked her to come to my room to collect it.
I was sitting in my room in the afternoon, looking at the boys playing cricket at the field. The sun was set to take leave for the day. Men were taking their cows, goats inside home. One lady was carrying kerosene oil lamp to light it from neighborhood. It was a magnificent fair of simple actions. Suddenly someone knocked in my room. It was Ruksana, to take my novel.
I gave her my novel and asked to sit. I wanted to talk, to know more about her. “Where were you the whole day? I didn’t see you,” I asked. “I was helping mother. She has requested you to have dinner at our house. Will you be coming Madam?” she said.
“Yes Ruksana, I would love to be a part. Please call me Didi.” I didn’t know what inside me urged her to call me ‘sister’. She smiled big and went home.
That night I had a rural feast. Local chicken made in the smoky rural oven and rice.
The next morning she came in my room, with breakfast and also with my novel. “Have you read it?” I asked.
“Yes Didi,” she replied.
“Do you like it?”
“Yes Didi. It is very good.”
“That’s great!” I replied.
“Didi, you write in this Bengali magazine also, right?” she showed me an old edition of ‘Shuktara’, a Bengali magazine.
“Yes Ruksana! You read this too?” I asked.
She smiled and showed a page to me. It had a poem, a Bengali poem about a story of a girl waiting for her brother sitting near ponds. Her brother would bring new books for her to read.
“I remember this poem. I had read it.” I said. And that moment I found the name of the poet. Ruksana Khatun it was! It was this Ruksana. She was an artist. And that’s why I always felt a magic in her personality. “You write Ruksana?” I asked her with a surprise.
“Often Didi. They give me money if I write well.” Tears came into my eyes listening this.
“Do you want to write more? You would get money also. You can continue your study as well.” I waved an option towards her.
“I want to write Didi. I would write about my brother, my friend Shabnam, my chicken..about everything I love in my village.”
“Okay. Deal! I would arrange for everything. Just keep writing like this.” She hugged me as I said this.
I left for my city the next day. "If I didn’t try to interact with Ruksana, I would have not got to know about this veiled talent," I thought. I didn’t discover any idea for my next novel, but I discovered an artist. I discovered a veiled talent.