Child, mother of the woman (1)
Child, mother of the woman (1)3 mins 10.3K 3 mins 10.3K
‘I have a bad news for you Stitodhi. Your sister Raka passed away, Anup has rushed to the spot, he has asked me to inform you about this; I am very sorry…your aunt’s daughter, wasn’t she?…So she must be your cousin, but Anup was telling me your sister passed away…I was a little confused…because as far as my knowledge goes….'
Stitodhi stopped listening to his colleague 2000 hours ago. Just Raka no more was enough and that she referred to in the past tense was more than enough! How must be the baby, did she deliver? He knew she was extremely scared…she told him 'Unto (his pet name…Bongs have two names you must know) what if I never return? Tomo (her husband, Tomonash) will not be able to take it.' 'O shut up', he yapped…'gone are those days Raka!'
From the office to the hearse, he kept on meandering from one folder to the other, of past memories;
hide and seek of childhood days,
reading stories together in the lazy winter afternoons,
having oranges and squeezing the skin onto each other’s eyes,
a routine monthly visit from his school to their place,
Pishibhai’s (maternal aunt’s) mouth-watering dishes,
a festival after deepawali where sisters put a bindi of chandan
(paste of sandalwood) on the forehead of their brothers wishing them long lives,
her grand wedding.
Memories flashed like steps with huge blanks on either side, wide hollow spaces he could climb up and down. In the mind it also patterned like a prosaic poem, a brain bank where the death is soon to be refreshed for good.
His first encounter of Raka’s hearse was when he saw her eyes closed, white smiling horrid face, (he wondered why) being taken by four men on খাটিয়া khatia, the death bed; back in those days, in 1995 this was still the norm of the extreme poor and the extreme rich, to take the body on the shoulders to the cremation ghat). He looked at the body (Raka, a marvelous name that meant full-moon, chosen with great care, after searching thousands we were told when we grew up, has been replaced as ‘body’), and in a moment her laughter ran into him, much faster than the smells of those incense sticks which, to him, didn’t seem to make any sense.
When she laughed, her belly also laughed with her, in fact her whole body chortled, it was infectious and made everybody around laugh, it enlightened the whole atmosphere, could make anyone laugh for no reason at all, her brother Rahul (sorry cousin again…form her father’s side!) came upto him and said, 'Unto it seems like হাস্যকৌতুক (hassokoutuk, stand-up comedy) that we are carrying Raka at the wrong place at the wrong time, isn’t it?'
She was laughing at him..ha ha ha!!! Unto….আমি আসি (ami asi, Unto, I am leaving… expecting him, as it were, to hide her flip flops… uff Unto, where did you hide them, I am getting late…please for God's sake), there she was now, above everyone, beyond everything, writing in thin air her own departure.
Raka went away leaving her daughter, her Tomo and all her dreams behind.
Stitodhi was thinking of her husband Tomonash, a professor of philology, a very nice and kind-hearted gentleman. After marriage, an arranged one, they were madly in love with each other; we are রাজজোটক দাদা, (rajjotok, we are made for each other, dada meant Stitodhi); he was obsessed with ঠিকুজি-কুষ্টি, (thikuji-kusti, everything is about horoscope, he would say). Stitodhi was determined to be by his side, but before that he should meet his Pishibhai, he thought.
...To be continued…