Story

Black Scarf

Mahmudul Haque

Translated by Jahidul Alam

N ight has become the main problem nowadays; Dreadful apprehension increases at this time like complicated ailments. Spending the whole night in any way means everything. Dawn brings relief; until it starts, until the cawing of the crows is heard- the tusked anxiety surrounds it all. Restless, lying on the bed, Monoar feels out of breath, as if he were in the sweepings, and has fallen down dipping his, nose, eyes, hands and legs all tied together. There are three windows, keeping any one of them a bit open might let the air in; but he doesn’t do it even by mistake forfear enchains him.

Night means terror now, suspicion, puppet in the hand of fate; it means retribution. The ever known hands-legs, life with eyes-nose-ears, everything might betray very easily at any moment, everything might become unfamiliar in the twinkling of an eye.

Night means the sound of heavy boots now, silent arrest and unanticipated bayonet charge. Like numberless dazed and panic-stricken people who are afraid of death, Monoar goes on thinking  throughout the night. Within this ghostly stupor, his only task is to dislodge this burdened darkness like fatty mud.

Tak dum!

The sound of a bullet of rifle burst out somewhere nearby.

There is a layer in the darkness, it has now shuddered; perhaps the soldiers of the camp have got frightened for a silly reason. This is just a firing only to invigorate the body. Nowadays, the soldiers often fire suddenly like this. It might be the Razakars (Bengali quislings of the occupation Pakistan Military) of the camp. Perhaps they are on the guard. Like many others, Monoar also knows how their hands itch without reasons They have always been too powerful, have suddenly got the power to get angry even if a fly sits on them. He would like to stop the air by shouting ‘halt’ if it blows violently! Monoar has seen how they burst into laughter with joke firing to the flying crickets- ‘the detective planes of the liberation force, the detective planes of the liberation force, Yo!

Many things are crawling in Monoar’s mind. What will happen if everything, light-air, rivers, hills- Mountains, trees, worms and insects, would work for the liberation forces; if it really happens?  Anytime, any day an epidemic can break out; the whole army is under control in the twinkling of an eye, what will happen then? Typhoid, dysentery! Oh my God, even the valiant Napoleon was overpowered.

We would like to see magic; let everything change overnight, flowers of the trees, birds of the branches, fishes of the rivers, snakes, frogs, moles, mice; do anything together; let the country be free overnight. Let the rain of blood pour, the rain of flesh pour, the dark heat ooze, everything be poisonous, the country be free overnight.

It’s 2.00 am; Monoar looks at the timepiece

How far is the guerilla?

Where is it now?

What are they doing now?

Perhaps all their miracles are over the other side of the Jatrabari Bridge! At this side lies the city crowded with people along with their kids. The ravenous army, if they want, can masticate the city raucously at any time like the crunched lobster, and don’t have any concern about all these things. Perhaps they hate the people of this side who write editorials, go to the cinema,  go shopping, produce programmes for radio and television, love girls and attend all the social formalities with wrapped up  golden jewelries.

The night before yesterday a substation of the electric supply blew up; a grenade attack was successful on the jeep of the ambulator shut ledgeranger’s;  a bomb exploded in the car of some minister. It is understandable that the guerrillas weren’t sitting idle, even a police outpost was messed up by the guerrillas in broad daylight in front of everybody. Was there any reaction?

Not perhaps. As if the army doesn’t want to count all these. Taking rifles on the back, they are moving here and there indifferently, standing erect they are swallowing bananas relaxingly; this type of bubbling sounds are nothing; the condition is just like this.

Why aren’t the guerrillas doing anything great? Perhaps they don’t have power like that! Everybody would have to gasp for breath miserably. In the end it may be similar!

Monoar keeps on panting; as if the sportive army throws him to Buriganga tying his hands and legs. A slippery eel is flouncing continuously to get into his throat.

It is not a country, rather it’s a crematorium.  Wreckage is everywhere. The army can destroy any family, any garden, desolate any settlement. Slums are burning one after another. The flashing fire is frisking from one quarter to another. The liberation forces march forward a bit, and then retreats doubly, run away subduing a soldier getting him at their convenience, and then some helpless rustic men lose their lives. Finally, all would turn into ghosts when they die; nobody can stop. The liberation force is just a trash, Monoar arranges his words inwardly, here and there corpses upon corpses have become hills, dragging and pulling, the dogs and vultures are tearing apart; no cremation, they don’t have the courage to look back even, let alone the frenzied thought of freedom, Becoming  restlesss, Monoar becomes angry bit by bit. If the guerrillas would bear the brunt, Dash! Monoar gets annoyed and crumples the pillow under his neck.

Tak-dum! Tak-dum!

Two consecutive fires are heard nearby. Monoar has had an uncanny feeling of fear. Danger is coming slowly, the danger which doesn’t have any source. A jeep or a truck or a mare’s nest flies away violently. Fire is burning far away, standing on the bed and peeping through the window, Monoar sees some corners of the town has become red, and the blazing flame of fire is meandering towards the sky.

Trampled, Monoar again lies down. His hands and legs are almost getting paralyzed with an unknown terror, listlessness in the head. Monoar’s backbone has been caught upon a permanent fear colder than brazen pot, stickier than the snake’s body. As if an unruly team of army would get him forcibly out of the house by dragging and pulling.

What can be done now? Everyday does it happen,lying on the bed unconscious he has one after another bad dreams.He sees terrible scenes in front of the eyes staying awake. Now, for example. He gets ready slowly in his mind. A bit later, he would be caught red handed after a cat meows. What should he say at that time, what is necessary to say, he murmurs in his mind: yes, yes culprit I am, I admit everything, I admit, I don’t have any concealment, stop torture, I admit everything, culprit, yes, I have done many sinful acts against the country. Insolent I am, culprit, after the crackdown- sorry sir, after 25th March that means we have fled from our own house on the 26th March at 9.00 am or perhaps at 10.00. Yes, all the people of the quarters, yes, at that time it was curfew, we started walking from Maniknagar crossing paddy field, hollows and pot- holes, mud and river, we took the way of Narayanganj, in the far away there were the rows of the soldiers wearing iron caps on the roof of State Bank, the liberation forces looked obscure, having aims, they were firing from the roof, very accurate sir, the marks of their hands slipped not that much. Men met their death like the swarms of birds, birds mean animals sir, we still call it zoo, we were moving scattered, sometimes in the front, sometimes in the back, there were fires with bangs, every time we chopped down the ground with cracking like jumping on the pond, I confess sir, we tried to go out of the range of the bullets of cannon, stupid, stupid, the wretched dag their own graves- yes sir, my Baba uttered the words by his slip of tongue, my Baba’s knees and arms all were tired, Baba means sir Abba, Ma couldn’t run, she lagged behind far; my mother, Monju, my sister, sister, she was running keeping her hands with mine, sir, I would like to confess everything, I am a Muslim sir , they never tell a lie sir, lie means falsehood, I have the power of my faith sir, Mr. Zinnah would like to say faith, unity and discipline, I said then that my sister was running with me, she is also a culprit, she loves a boy, they boy is involved with politics, my sister has committed many sins falling in the grasp of the boy, cutting cloth and sewing by his own hand, Monju has flown the flag having the map of Bangladesh, I haven’t learnt how to tell lie, Sir, stop torture, Falling with that lad’s hold, my sister did that wrong act, my brother flew the black flag,No, not Taltal sir, Tultul is his name,Ti Ju El, Ti Ju El, Tultul did fly the black flag, Why didn’t  I tell his name earlier, I forgot sir, I forgot that he is my brother, Yes, Tultul was with us while running away, we crossed the river passing the wide road at Pagla, Again the boat after walking some distance, then evening was over, first we reached to Katpotthi, then we were moving towards Keoar from Katpotthi, at that time, he fled somewhere, we couldn’t understand sir, yes sir, Tultul was lost near Rampal like magic, we had nothing to do sir, no sir, Baba-Baba is totally blameless in this regard, Believe me sir, yes sir, you are right sir perhaps, yes sir, he was the agent of India, we knew nothing earlier sir, my Baba sir, Baba sir, he is an admirer of Zinnah, Zinnah, Liyakot Ali, Sardar Abdur Rob, Nistar Ameer of Kalabag Firoz Khan Noon, Khatak Dance, Chugtai’s photograph, Malkaitaranum Nurzahan, Karnailzi, Janrailzi songs, my father is infatuated with all these, we don’t have our own culture sir, we are half-hindu half-Muslim sir, yes sir, still many people don’t have circumcision in the villages, I myself is a culprit sir, Closing the door, I sleep till 10.00 am on the Eid day, no sir, I even don’t waste water after urination, I confess sir, I am a culprit, stop torture-

After murmuring that long with himself at a stretch like a mad, Monoar at a point thinks that, the fear which has caught him at his face has gone down from his backbone, he hasn’t understood. He has become as light as feather now. Nobody is inside the house, everything is right, Baba and Ma are sleeping in the adjacent room, sleeping or awaken? Perhaps waken up and whispering, Monju has been dropped on Dohuri, Do they talk about Monju? How many days will this war between death and life will go on, who knows? What, where has all gone, all are here, and none is here, separation, Going through with labour somehow, weariness is all.

Monoar lights a cigarette, again sees the watch, now it’s 2.30 at night. A week ago, the army made a tumultuous brawl at a village beside Dohuri, Mama has sent the news, the people of Noparar Hat saw the movement of gunboat, nowadays, even the quarters aren’t safe. Is Monju okay?

Everything will be nipped in the bud if Monju happens to fall into danger.  What are the soldiers actually? Baba, Ma, Tultul, Monju and me- they even can’t guarantee these five lives,-Monoar think all these things, and right at that moment, a low voice is heard by the side of the window, ‘Dada, It’s Tultutl, open the door without sound!’

It gave Monoar the shudders, its 2.30 am, curfew, a matter of complete ruin. Monoar lifts himself and stands, it’s clearly Tultul’s voice, even though he is in a fix to open the door.

‘Don’t make a light, open the door in the darkness lest the light should come outside-’

Alarmed, Monoar opens the door nervously. His whole body shivers with panic and excitement.

And Tultul enters the house turning aside, he himself fixes the bolt.

‘Where are you from?’

‘It’s so long story. Baba and Ma are sleeping, speak low, nobody is to be awakened, I’ll leave right now, even the walls have ears nowadays-’

‘Really you!’ Monoar presses a hand of Tultul, ‘Don’t you believe-’

‘I have come here for recce, some other works are also in my hand. Some rogue has been about to trace me, what more. Haven’t you heard the sound of bullet a bit earlier? If I couldn’t give the slip to him, he would have certainly been able to catch. How are you all?’

‘Good, why haven’t you so long?’

‘It was not possible. Our lives aren’t of happiness that much-’

‘Yes, I see that. What a horridface you have made like a ghost!’

‘And face!’

‘Means?’

‘Will we wash it and take?’

‘It is difficult to identify you. How impossibly has your age increased by some months-’

‘Leave that off. It is no use dying like a coward, if needed, we should die like a man.’

Thinking something, Monoar eagerly says, ‘Speak truly, will the country be free at last?’

‘Of course, but it will take much time, we need to shed much more blood, have to get prepared for much more loss. Perhaps we all won’t be there, but some might be there. Ok, let it go to rack and ruin, what are you doing now, any writings?’

‘Writings, have you gone crazy!’

‘Why don’t you write, write something at least, gather some of them, it might be of use later on-’

‘Hands don’t move, I get scared. I have burnt all the old writings!

‘You are a nonsense, chicken-hearted, at least take some notes. But, it is good to be careful. It is also good not to take any risk. You need not die, someone must live’. Thinking a bit Tultul again said, ‘you will get the news of my death timely, then show a clean pair of heels and go into hiding. Try to hide somewhere. You are Baba’s eldest son of, it is your duty to look after them. If none to look after, their last part of life would be of unhappiness. They have groomed us to be matured with much exertion and sufferings.

Getting angry, Monoar said, ‘I don’t want to listen to your lectures, think what you are doing-’

Tultul speaks with laughter, ‘We don’t have enough time to think, I am speaking what I have come for. Put this pen with care. Inside it, there is a symbolic letter, secret, as you get it. Within 10.00 am at tomorrow, a middle aged hawker would come, give this to him-’

Obstructing, Monoar says, would you like to make us fall into those trouble and danger like yourself?’

Why do you get scared that much, nothing will happen, this is a very trivial task, no risk?’

Monoar speaks helpless, ‘you don’t know Tultul, and we have got this house with much effort. Now it’s a bit safe. You have arranged to make us leave, try to think! Have you ever tried to know how much torture we had to undergo only for you, how many types of explanations we had to provide, we fabricated stories to convince them, now almost safe.’

Tultul thought something, and then whispered, ‘But once upon a time, this house was not safe at all; the hounds killed men here also. He was a very simple schoolmaster, he would not understand what is happening and what will happen. Day after day, the death body was lying on the yard right at which the heavy queen of the night tree grew up. Rotten and mixed up together, people wouldn’t approach the three boundaries of this house; at least the dead body perhaps decomposed in the earth, nobody arranged cremation out of fear.’

Monoar is having an uncanny feeling of fear with this words.

He says after a while, ‘That might be, but this house is still safe. The man who took over this house, that means, the man we have taken this home rent from, is a terrible villain in this locality, he has a good relationship with the giant criminals here.’

Let it be like that, in that case it is more benefit. That benefits should be used, only this, there is no such danger with that. Look, thousands of people are killed without reasons’.

‘Where have you learnt this type of words like robbers from? What a degradation of you, Tultul! Don’t you have any tension even for Baba Ma?’

‘Where is that time to think that much? You rather give me some eatables if you have.’

‘No, nothing in this house, should I call Ma with low voice?’

‘No need. She may start wailing in this midnight of no use, it will invite danger. Give me a cigarette. Don’t mind.’

Sitting on the bedstead and dangling the leg, Tultul lights the cigarette frowning his eyes and says, ‘Do you know dada, a very funny thing has happened. While coming, I happened to meet a dirty Razakar. The complete confrontation. That dirty fellow stood as if he knew me. He couldn’t understand though I was throbbing inside. When I brandished with éclat, the lad ran away. If those fellow did have a bit courage, they just have brought all those wretched poor from the street and let them wear the khaki, how would they prevent, just sports!’

Monoar says, ‘I have some money, would you take?’

‘Won’t you have problems?’

‘What problems, you just keep it.’

‘Okay, give it, it will be of use. While returning, I’ll hire Moulovi. If there is doubt, the army would let the men get down from the bus, train, if there is any Moulovi, then they don’t take it that much notice.’

‘Ma cries for you day and night, Go and see her for one time.’

‘Impossible! I know Ma, it would create danger, you make her understand, I am not alone there, many boys are in the guerrilla.’

‘How many in total?’

‘Many’

‘Have you ever killed any of them, till now?’

‘What do you think?’

‘That means just some blasts secretly, and nothing else? I know your prowess. You are playing with the lives of the innocent people in between! You will do nothing in this way by twenty years.’

Tultul paid no heed to Monoar and said, ‘What about your program producer friend Khalil? Any meting? Have communication with Mr. Khalil!’

‘Why Mr. Khalil all of a sudden?’

‘We can gather some information of inside the Radio office from him, we have some other channels also, but most of the news is self-contradictory. Nowadays they keep hounds beside the wall. Don’t ask anything willingly; just ask whatever you can as part of the conversation. He is also voluble.’

‘Those days are far off when you would be able to attack radio office.’

Tultul says, ‘Yes, it seems like that. It is not that tough. If it starts well, you will see how exciting would the game be, they would not get any way to flee by eating humble pie.’

‘Yes, that is true, you are well with your own dreams, and they are heightening their fences little by little with the passage of time, strengthening them.

Tultul interferes and says, ‘Mystery lies there. Why are they heightening their fences? Of course they have understood something; okay, let it be, I’ll go now, comfort mother, don’t let her cry for me for nothing, ask her to pray for me, give me your muffler, Ma wove it.

Monoar sees the eyes in darkness suffused with tears. He is always extremely attached to mother. Strangely you will see him always running after mother. Mother also always prevents him with endearment as two of his elder and younger brothers died.

‘What an enjoyable days we passed once upon a time, you along with Monju and me,’ Tultul says from a distance, ‘those all seem to me fairy tales, those days will never come back. What was there, and what is now, did anybody think that all of a sudden, everything will change. It is getting late, let me go. Keep aside the bag timely that I am keeping under the bedstead, give it to the hawker, you will see he will mention it by himself, two huge eggs of goose are there in the bag, keep secret everything, that I have come, see you-’

Coming close to Monoar, he whispers, ‘the sounds of some pairs of shoes are approaching, not that much smart, a bit foolish, isn’t it? Razakars- Fazakars may be! Close the door and stay lying down, don’t make any sound-’

Like a cat, he tiptoes the same way he comes. Monoar hears the sound of the pairs of shoes, not one or two, a team of some more people is coming towards the house, Monoar gets afraid thinking of Tultul, he has to hide himself somewhere, or else he would be caught, could he hide, he has just gone out, how could he- Monoar becomes tensed inside.

‘Yes, yes, in this house, sure-’ this touches Monoar’s ears, what does he say! First his hands and legs become paralyzed. But he is to tackle at any cost. He knows everything will be undone, if he can’t manage. Suddenly he brings out the bag from under the bedstead. There is not enough time to ponder, he hides the grenades in a pair of shoes in the twinkling of an eye. Now only the bag; now it might be the cause of danger. Without premeditated thought, he hides the bed under the door-mat, and then he lies down straight. Monoar whole body shivers violently; he feels suffocated  because of uncertainty and excitement. This is called- danger from everywhere, Monoar tries to control himself somehow.

At that time, there are taps with finger denoting glares

‘Is there anyone inside? Open the door.’

Someone, perhaps the group leader, shouts fretfully, ‘hey, the son of the door, are you in the in-law’s house, push forcefully-’

Now, someone kicks the door violently, at the same time someone hits with rifle’s grip, as if the shutters of the door would break down.

Lighting and not opening the door, Monoar asks from inside ‘who are you, what do you want at this deep night?’

‘Open the door first, then you will know who we are’.

Monoar speaks with resentment, ‘No, I won’t open. Come at daylight if you need to know anything’.

Suddenly some empty bang-bang sounds are made by someone of the team.

Some owls fly over with the sounds of bullet. Even though Monoar doesn’t open the door deliberately, he seems to be overpowered by some strange feelings

He says, ‘I won’t open the door unless you say who you are.’

‘We are military’

Monoar laughs in his mind. At last he opens the door. After opening, he even doesn’t get the option to move aside, all of them have almost a headlong fall in the room taking him aside, at the interval he sees clearly in the thick darkness of the yard Tultul moving away from the bush of the queen of the night like a shadow in the twinkling of a an eye.

In total six Razakars

‘Has anybody come from outside sometimes ago?’ The group leader wants to know furiously

‘No, nobody has come.’

‘But he has come this way’.

‘Then, it might be somewhere else.’

‘Are you telling the truth?’

‘What is the use of telling a lie here?’

‘Many things are there, how many speaks the truth, who would show the haughtiness if he is to speak the truth, we would look into the room.’

‘Do you have search warrant?’

‘We don’t need those things, the police needs.’

Everybody is peeping here and there repeatedly, small room, nothing to beat up. The sounds of bullets, the sprain of the heavy boots, the bargain, the whole house has shaken off for all these things going all along at night. Kindling the light and opening the bolt of the doorBaba-Maalso have come to this room in the meantime, both the two are staring blankly at Monoar.

‘How many do you live here in total?’

‘We are only these three’, Baba replies, ‘He is my son.’

All have been somewhat restrained after looking at my father, the sleepy eyes of Baba-Ma have been useful, Monoar thinks.

‘So you say nobody is here?’

Monoar notices his father’s askance eyes are towards the face of everybody. They find no falsehood there. As a result they have become somewhat lax.

Monoar speaks with a harsh voice, ‘I told you earlier that nobody has come here, Take him out if anybody comes’.

‘Fie! My son. Don’t speak in such a way.’Magets busy to manage.

Baba says, ‘This is your only fault, you get angry without reasons, Are they living in happiness, they would do their duty!’

Then Baba invites them eagerly to search for the next room!

‘Okay, no need to see more’, Like a displaced bamboo from its cluster, the group leader says, ‘We have total faith upon your words.’

Baba gets busy.

No, no, that’s not good, come please, we don’t mind this, I myself am a govt. employee, I understand better to the bone what a responsibility is! We all should help you within our power, this is also a duty’.

They don’t take into account that much, Now they don’t have any use, but they are unparalleled in making a mess of anything, Monoar abuses them in mind, a blockhead, they would save the country!

They leave the house cavorting.

Baba is very happy. He says, the men were very good.’

Monoar says with annoyance, ‘Rubbish, not good, some rascals.’

‘Being Razakar doesn’t mean rascal, there are both good and bad everywhere. They were very gentle.’

Baba takes a glass of water. He says, let it go, now go to sleep,They might doubt again if you assemble and indulge in an idle talk.’

Ma says, ‘But, what is the meaning of searching the houses suddenly at midnight, we haven’t seen this type so far?’

Baba says, ‘There is no set law like this, somebody might have informed them, anything may be.’

‘Whatever you say’ Ma says, ‘I think that mischievous devil came.’

Baba says scornfully, ‘Women speak like this.’

Monoar knows only these words would invite terrible danger if it were other time, Mawould deliver an angry lecture on this, how Baba could save himself from an utter disaster only for the this lady’s brainpower, how a life has been spoiled only for falling into the whirl of the waste of this family, what trials and tribulations she had to undergo, she would mutter continuously. But at this moment she doesn’t have any wish to come out of that dream at this moment. Ma says, ‘For many days, I have been restless for him. It didn’t happen earlier. It only comes to my mind that only for meeting me that devil is moving around secretly; perhaps he doesn’t get the chance.’

Baba put out the light suddenly. He doesn’t have any interest on the issue, these means just inviting danger out of hobby, according to him. He seems to be annoyed.

Monoar also goes for sleep

Ma speaks from the next room, “I nurtured him in the womb as if only for that reason, ungrateful you all are, these types of child should never be there in anybody’s womb again.’

‘What have you started at midnight, you don’t have any sense of time’, Baba speaks, ‘Sleep, sleep’

What is with you, you don’t bother about anybody, you don’t have womb to conceive him. By God! Within a short time you would start snortingterribly. You are a hardened man.

Monoar hasn’t liked the idea. After the army crackdown, this is going on in the same way, but these don’t hold any water, now it seems very monotonous.

Monoar starts thinking of Tultul. He can’t sleep. Closing the eyes, he lies like a dead man. Tultul said our lives aren’t of happiness that much; those words were heard like crying. He wanted to be easy by force, but he couldn’t. It was supposed to be so. A little boy of that day, whatever he plays with life, how much he would be able to show bravery standing on the brink of the cruel reality! Monoar understands that, at least he guesses that Tultul feels out of breath in the meantime. He tries to prove by anyway that he is not frustrated and his dream has been shattered in no way. Monoar understands this sophistry. He feels empty in his heart. Tultul falls down in the forests bit by bit, in the midst of the smell of Bashok and Madar, in the memory like the dried buds of mangoes. Tultul is like a one grain slim Mourla fish in the quivering paved pond left in the big river.

Monoar tries much, but sleep comes in no way; it is a terrible pain!

Tultul has trapped me also, Monoar scrabbles in mind, two grenades, it would be good if the danger leaves without problem; only one is gone. At least, it has been managed, strange! I haven’t got afraid even a bit, my voice hasn’t quivered a bit, where I have got this from; it is usual to get afraid of, what an easy task to befool those apes!

Monoar flies in the realm of cloud, okay, what should I say to the bearded hawker if he comes in the morning, trust me, I am your people, you can trust me, if this type of words slips out of the mouth.

An unclear uproar is heard at times. A hullabaloo; Monoar listens very eagerly, nothing is clearly heard. No way to understand. Perhaps those worthless sons of Razakars have attacked somewhere without reasons and taken revenge, Monoar again tries to listen.

Far long, one mile or two, or even farther, a bomb blasts with bang. The whole night has trembled. The machineguns start working, in a combustible night, like a deep dark glass, it clanks on the parched earth. Monoar feels very good in thinking, a roof of the radio office has flown towards sky with great hustle-

What would happen if the bush of the queen of the night isn’t there? If he were a bit later, he would fall into the grip of those six Razakars, a good riddance indeed. Slowly the scrabble of Monoar in his own mind has become unbridled. Okay, it might happen that from the bayonet charged death of school master’s remnants of the body, that queen of the night has grown, so many things happen in this world, how many mysteries do the people know, his body becomes uncanny- that tree has today saved Tultul, with what a deep affection does it hide him with its numerous leaves, eagerness is there in every leaf, thick darkness has been accumulated in every side silently as if Tultul hid himself in his mother’s lap.

Monoar’s heart has been filled with a mysterious unintelligible love, the tumultuous murmuring of water, the sound of Ulu there, the tree has to be covered with bamboo-slip in the morning, the leaves have to be washed off. He gets motivated inwardly, if the queen of the night of that silent yard were that master, not mere tree, why will then the crickets not be the detective planes of the liberation force? If all the things- light-air-rivers-hills-mountains-trees-insects all work this being Tultul!

Monoar flies continuously in the cloud, he floats like the clean cotton, darkness wanes, the tumultuous wind howls, from the realm of cloud, the soft relaxed dark blue dreams from sleep, looking in this way, he then at once turns to be a small black drongoking; a restless black drongo flies on passing waves after waves and sitting on the ware of telegraph. The quick train moves prattling on its surprise look. The world is now calm, silent. On the translucent river water is the black drongo? Are you there? Yes, here you are, the sound of the river is heard- go now, you sound too much, hush!

The king black drongo flies, under its impatient wings are the villages, tarnished but intense, that is endangered, melancholic and enchained. The forest starts crying. Somewhere, the wind has stopped. With the sudden rolling of severe and blurred smell of parched earth, the night insects has been scattered like the shoal of Mourla. The legendary narrow canal which is sometimes like the archery, sometimes like the sword, and the long forest- which has given shadow to the empire of the great queen Victoria, the same words on everybody’s mouth, terror, what a terror! What is that? Smoke! Is smoke fatal? Oh, go, the mass of matted locks, do whatever you like with terror, attack the long tongue! The black drongo king now looks for the cliff of the academy, where is that, the three-pronged iron spear is rolling on the earth, in the dust there is unbearable smell of the boot, the rotten smell, oh! dirty fellow!

Flying never ends for the black drongo; first in the granary, then in threshold, then in cowshed, bamboo-pool. In the granary, there are bullet rice, in the threshold winter men, rainy men, in the cowshed the unmatched ruminating Razakars.- would you send your sister, send  Monju, Razakar would like to marry.

The black drongo king sees on the bamboo-pool the hanging man, the bamboo-pool is now the gallows, hai-hum-ham! The directionless wilderness bursts into laughter, Who goes chowkidar? Who goes chowkidar? Who goes chowkidar? The emptiness of cannibals in the vacant field yawns at times.hai-hum-ham!

The black drongo king sees chowkidar. What does the chowkidar look for? On seeing the bush of the queen of night, he laughs with piercing ear, awfully busy, moves the bush aside with two hands, makes space for sleeping, who cries, the chowkidar shouts, who cries? Why is there no young girl in Shobergonj, ah?

Does it have your father’s head if not young girl, the black drongo king listens to the joke, the hoarding fireflies die, why is there no man? Men? This word pierces gravely everywhere.

As the boats are under the river bed, as the eyes are moist with tears like boats, as people are scattered like plucked eyes, likewise everything is, everything is disorderly, scattered and dispersed. The black drongo king hears the laughter of the prairie. In the silent darkness, the giggling laughter is scattered throughout the forest.

At a time the black drongo king gets invisible, the unclear uproar is floating in the air. Monoar doesn’t like the chaos anymore.

The morning breeze howls, again he falls into deep sleep. The grey incensed field comes to him floating like the flying carpet in his sleep, the childhood plays football, in the throat of childhood there is the necklace of grenade.

As sleep descends during dawn he could not get up in the morning. He lies like a corpse in the dark room closing the doors and windows, to get into the deep sleep at times, to float on the clean sense at times, doing all these things he coils himself with the complete laziness of bed and pillow. After much later, he hears the voice of his father, he is speaking loudly, he has just returned from bazar. Strange! Men are no more men-’Babakeeps on talking to Ma, at this upheaval too, there are thieves, no fear of life, how amazing bravery!

Monoar gets up

‘Where are you going?’ Baba asks

‘No, nowhere!’

‘I thought you would also start for there like the people of the entire quarter. All are hysterical mad. They don’t have any work. A thief lad is lying dead, and all the people of the quarter scramble for seeing this!’

Monoar asks, ‘What do you mean by lying dead? Who killed?’

‘The people of the quarter themselves beat him to death. It is still there in the nearby drain of the ration shop in the starting of the lane. He was caught red handed while crossing the wall at night, many people are gossiping. Why would he go for crossing the wall if he didn’t have the intension to steal! Again some are saying that he wasn’t beaten to death, rather he was strangled to death, even now there is the cord of a muffler, men are no more men!’

Monoar says, ‘Didn’t you see the dead body?’

‘What is the benefit?’

Seeing Monoar wear the clothes, Babagets angry and says, ‘That means, you want to go? What have you got? Do whatever you like? There is no use going there. It won’t take time to get into useless trouble- Why don’t you think at least for once that I am a government service holder!’

Nothing of these reach to Monoar’s ears; he knows he has also involved himself like Tultul from midnight, now he has many works to accomplish.

 

Glossary

Tak dum- The sound of a bullet

Razakar- Razakarwas a paramilitary force organized by the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Since the 1971 war, it has become a pejorative term in Bangladesh due to the many suspected atrocities which the Razakars committed and/or facilitated during the war.

Dada- Elder brother

Ma- Mother

Baba, Abba- Father

Mama- Maternal uncle

Moulovi- A learned men of Islam

Razakars- Fazakars- To speak with contempt about Razakar

Bashok- A medicinal plant

Madar- Coral tree

Mourla Fish- Species of very small fresh water fish

Ulu: Sound raised by Hindu women by moving tongue during festive occasions

Chowkidar- A village watchman

 

Translated by Jahidul Alam

Assistant Professor, Dept. of English

Comilla University

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shares