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(Bengali Short Story)
-Sheikh Mohammad Hasanur Kabir.
A. Z. M. Alamgir Hossain Choudhury
I met the girl on the train. She was my companion on the Kopotaksha Express from Rajshahi to Nawapara (Jashore). Her age was twenty-two or twenty-three years. She was with a small cute fairy-like girl. We were sitting face to face. The girl was staring at me whenever she got a chance. Realizing this, I also became interested in the girl. I just got admitted in the university then. At this age people are usually curious. The look of the big enchanting eyes of the girl of slim shape made me also interested in the girl that day.
I asked the girl without any hesitation-
Where are you going?
The girl replied-
– Where are you going? She laughingly asked.
I was very embarrassed and surprised in her way of talking to me. She was doing it as if I were her most known and intimate one. I was getting shy and thought of discontinuing the talk. But the simplicity of the girl, the look in her magical eyes, and her amazing beauty didn’t let me keep quiet.
I said hesitantly-
I will also go somewhere near your destination.
The girl smiled and said again –
Oh god! How is it? What do you mean by ‘close’?
– Nawapara, Khulna or where your destination is, say it.
I remained silent. I thought there was no point of extending our chatting. The more I would talk, the more wrong it would be. Better yet, keep quiet. Our scriptures also say so. I was silent for quite some time, but the little girl who was with her did not let me be silent. The girl came and sat on my lap from her mother. She sat down and started speaking fluently. She looked out of the train window and tried to find out everything about the world from me. When her mother tried unsuccessfully to stop the girl, she smiled.
You don’t mind, she hasn’t found anyone except her mother since childhood, so if she likes someone, she bothers him unnecessarily.
– No, no, why are you telling it ‘bothering’?
– She has no father, aunt or relatives?
The girl’s mother was silent for a while and said in a sad lower voice-
Leave it now.
– Well, you didn’t say your name.
– My name is Lutfar, Lutfar Rahman.
– Who’s in your house?
-Mother and younger sister Jamini; Dad has been dead for several years.
-Wow! Nice name your little sister’s one.
-Hmm, the name was given to me by my grandfather. My grandfather was a poet. He could compose songs orally. There was a lot of literary juice in it. After the birth of the younger sister, grandfather told my mother, I named her Jamini.
-Jamini; I mean ‘night’, like the life of myself and my daughter!
I was a little surprised and asked-
I do not understand the relationship between my sister’s name and you and your daughter’s life?
The girl tried to smile a little. I noticed that behind the laughter, the deep black clouds of ‘Shravan’ seemed to overwhelm all the fair faces of the girl. I didn’t talk anymore.
Seeing my silence, the girl changed the subject and said-
Where are you going, you didn’t say.
– I will go to Nawapara.
Then both of us sat in silence. The train was running like a crazy horse. The darkness of the night was running in parallel with that.
Night of ‘Krishnapaksha’. When midnight passed, the moon appeared in the sky. The dim light of the moon was falling on the whole body of the girl. In that light, the girl looked like a woman with celestial beauty. Almost everyone on the train was asleep and unconscious.
The girl approached to me and said quietly –
May I have a word with you.
The girl said sadly-
Will you give me your address?
Being a student and too much emotional, I said without thinking anything-
There was an old letter in my pocket. The letter was written by mother. I handed the envelope with the letter to the girl.
There is both my present and permanent address in this letter. You can contact me using any address you like.
-By the by, you did not tell your name yet.
The girl smiled sweetly and said-
Only ‘Rupa’, nothing before or after?
She smiled again which shook the girl’s whole body. I was really charmed at the girl. The girl stopped laughing and said again-
What comes in the name of people like ‘us’!
I don’t understand the meaning of your words.
The girl did not answer. She looked out of the window with blank eye and began to enjoy the dark beauty of nature of ‘krishnapaksha’ (The 2nd half of a lunar month).
Just before sunrise, the train stopped at Nawapara station. I said goodbye to the girl and got off the train. When I left the train, I noticed the girl was looking at me through the window with calm eyes. The inside of my chest rumbled. Tears welled up in my eyes.
I returned to the university at the end of the holiday. At first I thought of Rupa, but unfortunately the address of Rupa was not taken. I was eagerly waiting – someday Rupa will write to me.
Then, I was so engaged with my work, I somehow forgot about Rupa. Thus a couple of years passed. Suddenly one day the postman came and knocked on the door. I opened the door and got a letter in my name. Rupa wrote from Baniyashanta, a village beside Mongla Sea Port. I was surprised and opened the letter and read it in one breath. A very short handwritten letter –
Dear Lutfar Rahman,
Today, after a long time, I am remembering you in a very difficult time. To tell the truth, I have no one in the world but the little girl. The world of me and my daughter is confined within the four walls of the forbidden village of Baniyashanta. I’m bedridden nowadays. Longing to see you too much. Although not seen alive, bury my body following the religious rituals.
I read the letter and looked at the sky in pain. Dense black clouds were hovering across the sky. The helplessness of a helpless girl floated before my eyes. I rushed to Baniyashanta to fulfill Rupa’s last wish. But it was too late ; everything was over. After death, Rupa’s body was thrown into the salt water of Pashur river as women like Rupa do not get the rituals of any religion after death.
Standing by the river in the afternoon, I remembered Rupa very much. Looking at vast water of the river, I said-
Rupa, forgive me. I couldn’t bury you. Though you did not get any love, a little affection in this world, wait for me to be a companion of mine in the life hereafter.
Thinking about the words, my eyes got wet with tears, I felt intense pain in the depths of my mind. I took a handkerchief out of my pocket, wiped my eyes and came back to the University on the night train.