S H O R T S T O R Y by
Raja Shahidul Aslam
Good news , good news for nominee!
If you asking for blessing
You have to make a promise
The promise is –` I , hereby myself , will dedicate for the good of the people.’
If you fail to fulfill your commitment you have to be cursed.
– Writing Such type of words on a piece of paper the hundred and five years old Motlub Mia has hanging it up on a wall…. Now all of the goddamn rascal – `here we go’, saying that Motlub Mia has kept his both hands on the waist,` touching the holy Quraan then you have to make a promise , lot of pains you have given me .’
The house is old. It is made by his grandfather. In front of it there is a half wall. There is a tall and old coconut tree. Around the trunk of it a orchid plant has spiraled up. Its looking very amazing when flower blossoms there. Becoming an old man day by day the name of Motlub Mia has dispersed away simultaneously. Motlub Mia has got a new name to the new generation -` Bura Mia.’ Motlub Mia in this very time has become antique as if the age old furniture day by day becomes antique. Yep, he has got lot of invitations from al the corners in this town, sometimes as a chief guest and sometimes as a main orator. Several time he has been paid a cordial respect from different organizations. He has very good reputations as a orator. In this area if there any function or special activities are going to take place his consent there is a nominal matter. In the midst of it, the story about him, in a small bits ,spreads out all walk of the life . Obviously the hero of this story is Motlub Mia. A beggar used to visit him regularly. But he never give the beggar any cash or kinds. And the beggar so that curses him bad luck everyday. Coming back from Motlub Mia’s home the beggar, whomever he meet, used to speak ill of him. The Cursing words were totally abusive. One day the beggar got stunned. Just one knock was enough for Motlub Mia. Suddenly he came out from the house and with a stick in his hand. The beggar got afraid of it. Wanted to take revenge of the Curse and the ill spoken word about him Motlub Mia found the green twig of a mango tree. The beggar begun trembling. He had lost all of his strength to run away. Trembling of ill nourished and lean body of him , in the holes of his dried up face there were eyes. It became dim sighted. Coming close to him Motlub mia was keeping up his hand where there was a stick. Seeing this the eyes of the beggar got shut down in panic. He forgot to take the breath. The beggar when realized that he hasn’t been beaten though with the stick , he tried to open his eyes slowly. And he got to see – the green twig of mango tree was in the bag of his arm. Motlub Mia had put it in his bag and the bag had been filled up with rice. The bag filled up and became weighty. The bag getting full of rice Motlub Mia took out the green twig from the bag. Watching this miracle of the stick the mouth of the beggar became a big hole. He kept his mouth opened. By other hand Motlub Mia kept a ripe banana in the beggar’s opened mouth. Then Motlub Mia said – Never tell it anyone. And if any of the day you again give me curse I must keep this twig in your anal hole. Now get lost ! After this, the matter had got a fly in the area.
This time the story is of another one. Its also a beggar’s story. The beggar was a woman. When she came to beg to Motlub Mia, he asked her – There is stale boiled rice , can you have it ?
The female beggar replied – No, Bura Mia. I have got cold. If you could, give me cup of tea, please. There was water in a bowl. Motlub Mia threw water upon her.
The sons daughters grandsons and granddaughters of Motlub Mia all of them live in separately in another towns. They remain busy with their services or businesses. They visit him only the Eid day or any other festival. Then his house gets a full swing. And all rest of the time the house remains silent and noiseless. Then unexpected useless plants, grass , some old mango- white lead-coconut- betel nut- jack fruit trees or kamini, dolonchampa, korobi if you look at those it will clear there haven’t taken any care at all. For this lot of birds come here and make their nests. It seems quite natural. Chirping of the birds have made the morning sonorous. For the grasshopper Shaliks are visiting often as much as possible.
Being a centenarian some times, not frequently though , he is being visited by researcher. Urbanizing of the area , living river getting dry, ancient trees disposing of, healthy family turning landless, changing the character of the public representative, plain living people becoming finished day by day, game of hide and seek of drugs, separating all India, Bayanno, Unosottor, Ekattor, ill gotten money- unemployment, own culture and heritages, possibilities and decadence- he is an eye witness all of these incidents.
He is also an eye witness of burying alive a woman at Saidpur.
Motlub Mia lives in a small town of the northern part. The border of India is very close to this area by two sides. Suddenly as if, there lot of mud huts become brick built. Several numbers of one storied building turn multi-storied. The area gets congestion by thousand number of Motorbike. There are eighteen number of show room of Motorbikes , though the town is very small. In the list of dowry there is Motorbike on the top. If someone just passed higher secondary the Motorbike become due for him if he wants to get married. Outskirts of the town close to Indian border’s market gets a new turn. It becomes famous for marketing of Indian cows and bicycles. So that from Chittagong and Dhaka the businessmen come here to buy these cow and get away with loaded trucks. Subsequently phensydile and ganja addicted guys increasing day by day. Growing up young boys remains busy with their Motorbike riding. If you don’t aware of it you must be ready for an awkward situation. Sure they will one day give you a push. In a shortcut method lot of people become rich. They are now uncountable in numbers. Healthy and strong young people of the village giving up forefather occupation engage themselves in smuggling. In the electricity less villages you can now notice the battery driven television door to door. They speak in Hindi, sing Hindi filmy songs. VCR business gets bumper profits. From the very beginning of the evening every nooks and corners there is getting start – to watch a couple of films buying one ticket. Ah! Uh! Ah! Uh!
A lean road mudded by bitumen on its surface has gone away toward the river by the side of Motlub Mia’s residence. You could call the river as a river. Many people call it a dead river. Men dug it and carried away the sands from the riverbed. And some waters there awake keeping a hope in their mind. If truly the dead river becomes a giant living river then they could one day meet the water of sea. By the side of this canal Neel and Muna took a rest as if a couple of herons. Looking downside a little bit they sat down on the grass. Muna was looking for a pebble or broken piece of brick to throw it into the water. But she got nothing in her touch. Both of them kept silence. They were spellbound. Actually they haven’t got anything to say. Atlast Muna started – Who has given such name to you Neel ?
: Why ?
: Let me know the person who named you?
: Don’t know.
: Could ever such kind of name anyone can give?
: Why , what’s wrong with it ?
: Neel is the color of agony, color of sadness.
: Then, what is wrong with it?
: The name can influence your fate.
: Isn’t it?
: Isn’t it? Muna agitatedly repeated it once again.
: I don’t know about color. It’s a headache of women.
: Aha! What sorts of man you are. Still you couldn’t manage a job.
What a shame!
: If I’m not a man, then could you make love with me.
: What the hell do you know except it?
: Except what?
: Keep silent.
: Let it be then .Now tell me what do you like to say?
: What could I say then? Is there any space to say?
: Then let’s start to talk about Gender.
: Shut your mouth up.
: Why are you again and again keeping me off?
: Silent please.
Then both of them became numb. They had kept their eyes fix on the canal what would like to a river once again. No fish, no heron, no kingfisher are there. What a heart rending cry there for water! Lonely, tranquil, unruffled water remained only with the surname of a pond. Alas water! Alas river! Muna once again begun chatting- You can do a nice thing.
: What’s that?
: Go to the old man.
: Take an oath and bring the holy oil.
: Rubbing over the oil on your body then go to the Interview.
: So that I would get the job?
: I do believe that.
: Why do you come to such an idea ?
: Don’t you know! Haven’t you heard the magical power of that Bura Mia ?
: Not yet.
: Don’t tell a lie. Everyone knows it and you are still unknown about it.
: I don’t believe that.
: Stop. Never talk such a way. Damages could be happened.
: You have become blind, I see.
: I would like to tell you, Neel making him closer to her than said softly – Keep these aside. Let’s say something romantic. The taste would be as if a sweet mango. So that my heart would be glad. And you would be looked as a big Rosogolla.
: Aha! What a shame! There is no news of jobs. And mister you want to eat a Rosogolla. Keep these flattering aside. Let me say the actual plan.
: No plan. A service holder easily gets married a unemployed girl and make their conjugal life happy. And you are doing now a good job , so is there any urgency of my job?
Muna got stopped. She became spellbound. The hope of ray dispersed at once. The heart begun trembling. Oh my god! What the hell will happen then if Muna doesn’t get a job at all. She couldn’t have thought about it anymore. Longtime they became silent. And at the end Muna broke the silence, very softly, humbly asked – You have to get a job there is no other way. And if you fail to manage that I must make an accident.
: Don’t be anxious. Sure it is something would happen good. And I will no more unemployed. Yes it is taking time a lot. So get you out from this kind of eccentric thought. I am a male though. So I must do something for the betterment of us.
: Again manliness?
: Yes madam. Listen to me, hmm, what you are talking about, the old man, let’s talk about him.
: It had happened some days earlier. Then Muna moved a little bit. She was in jolly mood then. The incident had taken place in the evening. That day was very hot. Two people were coming through the road. Then load shedding had taken place. Suddenly they had noticed a snake on the way. The snake was on the way diagonally. Yes it was so big. In fear they had begun shouting. From the opposite direction the old man was coming. He quickly had come to close the snake and taking the snake in his hand had thrown it in the sky .The snake had got flamed and after a while it had vanished in the sky as if a burning rope. Understand? What’s the magic? You please go to Bura Mia and ask his help.
: Have your mind become fresh now?
: It’s your job to irritate me all the time, if you get any chance your very job is agitate me. Oh man, aren’t you a male?
They got smiled loudly.
The house of Motlub Mia always remains soundless and calm.
The maidservant Marjeena keeps the house busy and noisy some extent. When Rahima gets out from the house after finshing her job, the house becomes same as earlier. One day Motlub Mia shouts – Marjeena, Marjeena … …
: Yes grandpa. Marjeena comes running from the kitchen.
: There was money under this mattress, have you taken it?
: Money? I haven’t seen yet.
: You haven’t seen, what does it mean? So who will take this ?
: I don’t know, grandpa. Marjeena begins to cry, tears breaks down from her eyes.
: Who use to come here except you?
: You treat me as a thief. I never come here doing this job. Marjeena sobs.
: Get lost, leave me alone.
Motlub Mia sits down on the bed. It’s a major problem. If you say anything them then they begin to threat. This bullshit now realize it very well that in this society there are inevitable. Without them lots of family are to suffer a lot. This type of maidservants have given him a unbearable pain thorough his life. They steal rice, pulse, egg, potato time to time without concern. Tracing out this problem Motlub Mia can’t oppose it. If you want to say something about it they stop coming do this odd job. The pattern of maid servants is different from one to another. One of them wanted to rub his body, when he took bath she wanted to rub his back. In the time of his dressing she stood up there. One day she asked – Grandpa, why don’t you wear a undergarments?
In his long lifespan Motlub Mia has watched and heard variegated things. Variegated people have been met in his journey. Once, a group of six people meet him. All of them are businessman. One of them has long beard, looking type of a maulana. Another one is bold headed, under his nose there is thick moustache. Rest of the four are beardless. One of the beardless people starts to talk – Sir , we have come here bearing a proposal.
: Yes sir , a proposal.
: In the case of wedding, `proposal,’ I mean this very word is appropriate and so important. So what kind of proposal you have brought here for me in this very old age?
: Sir, it’s a proposal about age.
: Proposal about age? What does it mean?
: Sir, you are a very age old people. You have gathered lot of experiences. Your `age’ and `experience’ will help us a lot.
: My dear friends, I have bitter negative experience a lot. But I am a very poor guy that actually I haven’t so much pleasant positive experiences.
As if the bold headed, thick moustache is fully prepared to answer it. He says – Sir, the difference between this `negative’ and `positive’ is almost none.
: Really I’m sorry. I don’t understand it.
: It means,Sir, there is no difference between this two.
: No difference? Old man is surprised.
: Yes Sir. Lets imagine about our politics. There are party in power and an opposition party. When the opposition gets the power it becomes as like party in power. On the other hand when party in power lost its mandate it becomes an opposition as like the earlier opposition party.
This time the bearded one takes the floor, says – Sir, I would like to say something.
: Lets say.
: The great liberation war has taken place before you. Imagine then, a man has lied down on the road dead. Then how could you know that, either the man a freedom fighter or a collaborator? Or a thief or a dacoit? If it has happened that the dead man was going to steal or to plunder and that time he got dead by the firing.
: You have asked a difficult question.
: Sir, everything is becoming difficult though.
: Yep, you are right. The day becomes difficult. Plundering is in everywhere. The bad influence in power, tricks and plans, exploitation, corruption, terrorism open or secret …. I wouldn’t like to spoil your precious time saying these. All of you have told me that you are businessmen. So why is here taking place the adulteration of foods and the price is also sky rocketing. It may not sound good to you, but I have learnt this from my forefather – the merchants were very honest. They always kept their word.
And now what is happening – let it be gone. Tell you about yourselves.
: Actually time has changed radically. Everyone now is after the money.
: Now a days people want to be rich in shortcut method. And it calls the big trouble.
: That’s why we have to look forward. Discover the new way.
: Everyone is asking for new. But what the hell has taken place? Nothing new either. Country’s rivers have dried up, no measure is there. Farmers have got bumper production, deserving price is absent. You couldn’t find out fertilizers in need, if one gets it, it also adulterated and price is high. The price of pesticides is also high. Use of pesticides becomes excessive so that the environment is contaminated. Natural fish has vanished away. There is no remedy at all. Those who often tell about the new, they are just too talkative. They couldn’t deliver their duty, they are lame. So in what way they will reach on the high road?
: It’s absolutely correct, Sir. Sir, we like to arrange a press conference. So that around the country everyone would come to know your thought. Let the people of our country know it very well. Well fair of the state and the people still lot of people are thinking a lot.
: Press conference? Nope, never. You please do this bullshit yourselves. I am an very old guy. I would die suddenly. So I wouldn’t like to involve in anything either.
: Sir, just new you have told us that you are an old person. This old age is the actual capital.
: Don’t understand.
: Yes Sir, capital. And we just want to make something good with this very capital.
: Capital? Making something? That means business?
: Yes Sir, business. In this country there has been taken place like Islamic conference, could you make sure that there is no business? Here big business is taking place, Sir.
: I don’t know about this and actually don’t want to know about it.
: If you check it out deeply then everything will clear to you. Sir , election of union parishad, trade union, workers association, city or any type of election, you know, everywhere is business. In the election time how much money the contenders have spent, it’s an investment. If they win, then there is only profit other than none.
: Those are not my look after. Whoever concern authorities, they will deal it.
: You are right, Sir. Concern authority must see it. Now we would like to tell you which proposal we have taken.
: Then tell me about the proposal.
: We would like to open a new religion. And you would be the prophet of our new religion.
: Religion? Prophet? What the hell you are talking about?
: It’s not useless Sir, If we make sure it then within a short time we become rich to richer. If your tricks and our mechanism become the part of a combination, it must bring a huge profit. One hand is business and the other hand is the introducer of new religion- in this earth we become immortal.
One of the beardless guy getting excited moving a little bit ,says – Sir, millions of people will become your followers. Minister, chairman, merchant all of them will come here to prey for them. And after that everything will happen with the secret direction of you. And side by side the bag will be fatty. Other one says – Sir, you just keep going your tricks. Rest of the works we will do.
When the followers will move by your direction then in election period you could do a lot. Your influence will matter the result, who will win and who will lose. Side by side it will be easy to extend everywhere our new religion. Certain time latter our candidate can take part in the election as a vital player. The religion and the politics both will be in our grip. So that the supreme power of the country will be in our pockets.
Motlub Mia listen everything very attentively. In his life it’s a new and peculiar experience though. He then says- I have listen to you very attentively, I will keep it in my mind, if you are finished you may go, I have to leave to buy a underwear,
Many a tell for change. And change truly has taken place a lot in every sphere. You know, increasing old age home, junior doesn’t show respect to the senior, education now is big business, women become totally commodities ,fairly driven family once upon a time is now landless. The change has taken place negatively more than positively. On the other side when nurjaman was a kid his parents had come here from Netrokona with their last resource. Nurjaman’s father was an umbrella maker. His name was Sharifujjaman chowdhury. Chowdhury and sewing an umbrella couldn’t go together. They had jointed the title of chowdhury with their name by themselves- many people said it. Nurjaman’s family had to struggle a lot. They had to spend their day hood by hand to mouth. At very early age when nurjaman became a mason he bought a piece of land by his earnings and his father’s accumulations. The land was not as usual. It was a part of graveyard. They bought it showing lot of courage. They got it very cheaply, cause it was grave land. Seeing them another five of the family buying this land live in peacefully. Under the ground there are dead. And on the surface there alive persons are living. Contract a friendship dead with alive one. The graveyard is the forefather’s land of Motlub Mia. Co-sharers had sold out their positions. Motlub mia’s share is still there in the graveyard. The graveyard is in the west from his residence. Going not to buy an underwear Motlub Mia comes to the graveyard. And takes place under a mango tree. After death he has to come here and lived in under the ground. And certain time latter upon his grave there will be taken place residents. And there will live in another living persons.
Competition of making money, arms, corruption, terrorism, bank balance, clashing, bribe, deceit of lie – everything will be hanging in the air after death.
You are not there at all then.
Language Conversion and composition
RAJA SHAHIDUL ASLAM
BORN: THAKURGAON, BANGLADESH. POET, WRITER, EDITOR, PHOTOGRAPHAR, heterogeneous guy. Published book : 1)RAATBHOR GHUN POKA, 2)KHOLA GALPO, 3) Notun Dharma Khultey Chay Kotipoy Manush. Photography Albam: 1) MANUSH O MRITTIKA, 2) SHAYSHOB, 3) Prantic Nari.