Translated from Bangla by Fahmida Sharmin

Even at the age of 12 or 13, I still don’t understand how my father has become a friend of Anandi’s father. My father is the owner of a gun repairing shop. Once he was a zamindar too, it was before my birth; on the other hand, Anandi’s father has a watch business. How do gun and watch come together? Also, if my father gets the slightest smell of beef, he will vomit – should I tell that to anyone? On the contrary, Anandi’s father, an enthusiastic meat-eater, can perplex everyone with his eating ability. Even last Eid evening, he made Anandi and the family embarrassed by eating away three kilograms of meat at one sitting. Whoever meets Anandi and her siblings asks, “Your father can eat this much beef? Doesn’t he have any problem?” Moreover, Anandi’s father shaves his face at the age of 50; even he doesn’t have a moustache, but it is surprising that without being a Muslim my father grooms his moustache regularly and he never shaves his thick beard. How do they have so much unity despite having so many differences? Why do they run from one bank of the Padma to another in the early morning of every Sunday?

I try to understand a lot but still cannot figure out the reason of this friendship. On the contrary, Anandi teases me every day, “You won’t understand Neela, morning shows the day…” What an insult! In her opinion, I won’t understand any of these even at the age of 90! I understand that I’m a bit stupid – mother can’t tell a lie! Does it mean that Anandi has to say the same thing? She can say, I understand or not, I like the friendship between my father and Anandi’s father. If not every day, uncle would come to our house Saturday evening, sit down on the wooden easy chair, and my father would sit on another chair facing him. Then the sound of frying mutton chop came from the house and after a while uncle would eat mutton chop with my father with such relish that none could think that something called beef exists, which is uncle is very fond of eating.

I stand leaning to the wall and savour a chop while watching them eating. They speak so beautifully while eating! Father tells uncle, “They are remaking ‘Uttar Falguni’ in Hindi, Mister.”

“Really? This time who will be Debjani and Pannabai?”

“Who else? Our Rama will play that role. But they are casting Dharmendra or Ashok as the hero.”

“So sad, aren’t they considering Dilip or Bikash? They could do dubbing.”

“What are you saying? Won’t they give the role to a Bollywood hero? Doesn’t the film have to do business? Okay, you keep information about all this – won’t the films of West Bengal run in our theatres anymore?”

“How can I say? Professor Fakhrul can tell about this. However, even professors can’t understand the thoughts of Ayub Khan. His actions are unpredictable. I understand the war has deteriorated relationship. It’s okay that he wants to keep Hili-Darshana closed, but why cinema?”

Uncle and father chat like this while eating chops. Sometimes uncle talks to me too, often bringing a catalogue of watches. I’ve decided that I’ll buy a Swiss watch when I grow up.

Sometimes uncle brings Anandi with him too. I like it more that day. Okay, I remember something, Anandi’s name was Mehbuba even before a while. But it happened after we had ‘Pakistan: Country and Culture’ in the syllabus of class nine. One day uncle came to our house before evening. The afternoon sun had moved to the western sky, yet it was blazing. I was lying on the floor in different positions to somehow cool myself down. But the earth seemed to be boiling in extreme heat today. The water of the Padma must be in a standstill today and the sunshine was flip-flopping through the water in full swing instead of calming down. I was becoming restless thinking of the yellow China-Rose plant in this sunshine. Our house is not big, yet it can’t be considered small too. Father doesn’t say anything clearly, but my grandmother doesn’t spare an opportunity to talk about this. Doesn’t she have to tell in what a reputable family she has married off her daughter? Not many old school people are living now. Also, this is the age when no one talks about the goodwill of their ancestry. So my grandmother anyhow starts to beat our own drum. Even at any of my slightest mistakes she starts saying, “Why do you forget which family you belong to? Your father is Ananda Gopal Choubey, your grandfather is Sri Sri Srijukto Shil Zamindar Prashanna Nath Choubay. Your ancestors were apples of eyes of the British. You are the people of Lakhnow, and being true Brahmins, you are all aristocratic, educated.”

“Dida, being the British rulers’ apples of eyes is actually a bad thing?”

“Stop, you keep babbling about things that you don’t understand…that Sumon is brainwashing you.”

Sumon is Anandi’s elder brother, who often tells us stories – how human beings come to the earth, how the British had come to this country, how they went away from the country, and so on. He talks about these so beautifully! But my grandmother can’t tolerate him, so she takes this opportunity of criticizing Sumon Bhai and goes back to the previous subject. “Do you think these early British rulers were not mean like the later ones? Do you know how the British convinced and requested Prananath Choubey to come here? They truly understood, without a man like Pananath Choubey they couldn’t collect any tax from this land.”

I look at the ceiling of the old building, at the large windows too. Who knows when this house was built? When Prananath Choubey settled down in the village named Tingacha, little did he know that only after a generation, his successors’ lives will become uncertain! Prananath and his son Prashannanath may have rode bullock cart, horse cart or boat to travel around Tingacha, Tikri, Dapunia, Hemayetpur, Madhabpur, or faraway places like Ruppur, Pakshi, Sanra, villages in Ishwardi or Padma and Ichamati. While they may have never thought that someday there’d be no India where they lived.

Young China Rose plant had started to flourish in a dreamy atmosphere; suddenly I sat straight as I heard the sound of Anandi’s father’s Honda Fifty. Anandi’s father’s name is Kubad Ali Sheikh; my father asked me to know the meaning of any new name. But I don’t know the meaning of this name yet. What a surprise, uncle has come to our place so early – I wonder why. Does he want to go to bird hunting in such heat? This is crazy!

Uncle arrived, but it seemed like a swallow was flying around, restless, too restless, “Brother, suggest some Bangla names for my daughters quickly.”

“Why, what’s happened?”

“You’ll know that later. At first tell me a Bangla name.”

“Okay, I’ll do that. But, come inside the house. You’ll get boiled in the heat outside,” said my father when he was opening the door properly.

“What do you want to say? The house is filled with cool breeze?”

Father smiled at Uncle Kubad’s words.

“Tell me, tell me the name quickly.” Uncle Kubad entered inside the house saying this. While offering him a chair to sit down, my father said, “You can think about Anandi. Anandi is a very beautiful name. If I had another daughter, this name would…”

Father looked at me while saying this and stopped talking. But, Uncle Kubad mustn’t have noticed that. He was shaking his head, saying, “Anandi…Anandi. Wow, very beautiful name. What’s the meaning of this name?”

“It means – someone who is happy, someone who dispenses happiness; there are more meanings of this name – normal, modern, active…”

“Wow, then it’s final. From today no Mehbuba.”

“What? Do you want to change Mehbuba’s name? The meaning of Mehbuba is beautiful too.  Why are you rejecting it?”

“Why won’t I discard it? The Pakistanis talk about custom and culture. So, I’m teaching them custom and culture. I denounce Urdu and Arabic.”

 “Such a man you are! Mehbuba has become a Bangla word now, Mister.”

“Listen, Bilu babu, I don’t understand much like you. I understand that if they find a person’s name that is not Arabic or Urdu, their inside burns and anything that is not Bangla or Sanskrit or Hindi hurts them. So, Mehbuba or Nowshin, I reject them all.” Uncle left after saying this. While having dinner, Father told us that guardians along with the students have burnt the book Pakistan: Country and Culture in the school field. Uncle Kubad was there too. While burning the book, he declared, today he has changed his daughter’s name to Anandi.

Two

Since then within a few days names of a lot of things have changed. And my friend Mehbuba became Anandi. It happened just a few months back, but we can’t even think that once she was called Mehbuba. But, this incident was possibly harmful for my father. One night Father came back with a lot of birds. From Shanikduar Chor, sandy river bank, Kushakhali Chor to Basla Chor, Dhala Chor, birds have started to arrive. A great number of birds of different types – Harial, doves, ducks. And how many people of this small town know about bird hunting? How many of them have guns such as air guns. Still there can be 20-30 people who own a gun if counted. But can everyone who has a gun can hunt birds? Not only our Kalachandpara, but also from Zillapara, Radhanagar, Shalgaria, Hemayetpur to anywhere in Pabna there is no bird hunter like Father and Uncle Kubad. But that day Captain Zayedi joined them. It was like Mother had an electric shock when father said this. They don’t say anything else in front of me. But I know, not only my mother but no one in Kalachandpara views him as a good man. This Punjabi captain came to Pabna some seven years back for his job. He saw our neighbourhood girl Sister Ayesha of class ten when he went for inspection in girls’ school. Does anyone want to tell me these? But still I know this, Captain Zayedi married the advocate’s daughter by force. Everyone from our class knows about this matter. They know that Captain Zayedi had come from Punjab with his wife but some days ago he sent her to Punjab. Captain Zayedi works in the intelligence department; although I don’t know properly what a spy is: yet I know, they follow people like jackals. So like a jackal or glue, the point is, Captain Zayedi was stuck with Father and Uncle the whole day. He said that he wanted to go bird hunting with them, but, although he has a gun if he shoots in one direction the bullet goes in another direction.

But according to my father, even though the man can’t hunt birds, he knows how to shoot, so his activities were not very understandable today. At one point the man laughed and told my father, “Bilu babu, it seems like while changing the name of Kubad Saheb’s daughter, you have disrupted the names of everything in Pabna.”

No one can understand this but I do, this matter has made my father very worried. But he might have forgotten about this for some days. However, the town is full of army men now. All the time there is the sound of shooting. We were hiding from one part of the house to another. Sometimes we were hiding in the small jungle near the house, sometimes hiding in the lychee orchard. I understand it very well that it is not a hide and seek game. There is nothing jolly about it. Everyone in the town knows that Father and Uncle Kubad have given their rifles to the freedom fighters. Only Yunus Bihari, the owner of Bani Cinema Hall hasn’t given his gun. No one knows how he ran away with his gun so quickly.

But now Yunus Bihari has come back. On the contrary, he is searching Uncle Kubad, and my father after returning. No one told me about these, I have heard everything by hiding. I know it very well that Sweeper Haritosh moved Aunt Lakshmi from the town in a drum of human waste. Our stylish Aunt Lakshmi has run away in a drum of human waste! Oh God, so disgusting! On the other hand, mother and grandmother have started making secret plans to remove me from the town to the village after my menstruation started the day before yesterday. What a scary plan! Why, what offence have I done that I have to run away from the town?

But, Mother and Grandmother say that the danger is increasing day by day. According to them, Father is being foolish, and the freedom fighters with their limited resources won’t be able to fight against the army men’s enormous weapons. But, Father does not understand this or pretends not to understand. Although Uncle Kubad is a Muslim, he has run away from the town with his family, and my father is being too brave to not leave the town. But it’s true that Uncle Kubad had no option other than running away. Brother Sumon stepped forward since the battle of Dabbagan, People like Yunus Bihari knows that very well. So, is there any way open to him other than running away? The students got fierce, the DC and the SDO were in the side of the freedom fighters, in front of the police station a flag of independent Bangladesh was flying. Then everyday something was happening that was extremely agitating the people of the town and suddenly sounds of firing were heard.

Even though we heard the sound of firing, every evening mother would blow the conch shell with ulu dhwani being unworried. We could dry the dhoti in the sunlight. But suddenly the game changed. The town became crowded with the Pakistani army. There was no scope of looking at them attentively; mother kept me so busy. But, I found it very amusing that in such a small town they couldn’t find my father, however he was hiding in Bani Cinema Hall. Although he was not a friend of Yunus Bihari, Father was on very good terms with the watchmen of the hall. They helped him hide there.

Everything started becoming normal gradually. Or it was forced to become normal. But what is normal or abnormal to the Hindus? We were in a blazing fire. Captain Zayedi came to our neighbourhood regularly, he came to encourage us. This captain was promoted, after getting promotions one after another he has retired; still people call him captain. And the man seems to like this way of addressing him. He comes every day with a group of people and a mic in his hand, keeps saying, “Hindu brothers and sisters, you don’t fear at all; you are our holy responsibility from Allah. Don’t keep any relationship with the miscreants because of whom the country is in this condition. If you have done anything mistakenly, don’t think about it, nothing will be done with you because of these. Nothing will be done to anyone. I have only one request – live absolutely normally. Go to the market, cinema hall will start soon, watch cinema in the hall, go to the mosque and the temple, and fly kites – no need to worry.”

Yet I don’t know why, I don’t like to go outside. It is rainy these days- this is the reason for this feeling too. Is this thundering too much these days? Or am I hearing the sound of thunder more? Who knows what is true! But, Father has returned home- this is the news of relief. Father has returned but Uncle Kubad and others did not return. Many people from neighbouring areas haven’t returned. Even the Hindus from Zillapara are hiding somewhere in the hope to cross the border. Some days become nightmares. For example, we get news that many Hindus in Shalgaria were forcefully converted to Islam. Again someday we hear that all people in a boat in Baral river were killed by the Pakistanis because of being Hindus.

Three

Our chests become heavy with grief; but everything in the city has become normal, people have started moving outside, the Bihari man is trying to reopen Bani Cinema Hall, the people of the ice cream factory have started looking for workmen, sweepers have started cleaning, horse carriage has started moving again, school-colleges are reopened, and Father is drinking milk tea sitting on the veranda these days; yet the patrol car of the army in different times of the day keeps reminding me that the situation is not normal at all. Anandi’s father is not seen anywhere, Captain Zayedi comes to our house every day. He drinks tea and chats. While eating mutton chop he says, “It’s a very delicious thing Bilu babu, very delicious. You’re a connoisseur of food. But have you ever eaten beef chop? Or beef kebab?”

Father waits a little. As if he tries to guess, which answer will please Captain Zayedi. Taking another bite from the chop the man says, “You’re a connoisseur of food. You should try it. Every food is permissible for a connoisseur. You see, I often go to Cholon Bil only to eat pork. Do you think that there is any true Muslim in Bengal? A group of Namasudra have cut the full shirt into half and became Muslims, and while trying to make these morons true Muslims, we are becoming a little non-Muslims. Something strict has to be done, Bilu babu. Or we won’t be able to save the religion.”

The man stood up in a restless manner after saying this. A man comes every day, gossips, smokes a fragrant cigarette of Arinmore, today he stands up like this, what’s the matter? Father becomes very worried. He sometimes looks at me like this. I understand my age is only 12 or 13 yet I understand that he is worried for me. Father has stopped thinking about himself after the birth of me and my siblings. Is every father like this? They don’t think about themselves, yet they think they are criminals as though they couldn’t make the world a beautiful place for their child?

We could know about the matter the next day. The sweeper came to clean the toilet in the early morning and told the secretly that a Razakar camp was set near the market in an open space in the eastern side of the southern coconut garden, where the overhead tank of water supply of the city is situated. Four machine guns have been set in the four sides of the head tank. Razakars can’t operate all those. So, Pakistani soldiers are deployed there. These razakars will search every house in the neighbourhood with the Pakistani soldiers. They will find out the Hindus who have not converted to Islam. They will get a day to convert. The Mawlana saheb of Dilalpur is busy in these works for 24 hours – he is reaching the place as soon as he is getting the news, he is converting the Hindus to Muslims by making them repent and recite the Kalima. He is telling them carefully what they have to do after becoming Muslims, how they have to say prayers. He is carefully doing circumcision too. 

Although Father told us not to listen to these rumours, we see that he is restlessly searching for the news. But there is no way to truly know what is going to happen. It is impossible for anyone to step towards India from Pabna. On one hand Kushtia, on the other hand Sirajganj – that means to have a crocodile on one side and a tiger on the other. Every evening Mother pretends to blow a conch shell powerfully, she puts vermillion on the forehead, but properly washes it away soon. Mother and Grandmother talk secretly, the situation is dreadful, some foreign journalists have been taken somewhere in Kushtia, they have informed the whole world that the freedom fighters have formed a government. On the other hand, it’s heard that the freedom fighters have attacked the Pakistanis at Brahmagacha in Sirajganj. They could not kill anyone, but it was very difficult for the Pakistanis and the razakars. All of them are trying to take a leave. I sit in a corner of the house learning sewing and this, how these days are! In the evening of playing ekka dokka, I have to sit in this corner of the house.

But, what Father couldn’t know by searching in different places, we all could know sitting at home that evening. Captain Zayedi arrived spreading fragrance. After some talks from here and there while lighting up the pipe he said, “Bilu babu, I’m unsure how anyone will tell you, you may be hurt, they may misbehave with you, so let me tell you about the matter. We are not able to give you protection anymore. Even your neighbours who are razakars are telling that keeping you inside the town is similar to keeping a small club for Indian spies and the freedom fighters. They are saying only Hindu Nakshals are not agents of India, only they can be trusted. I don’t believe in all these. But, does my trust matter? For instance, I got married, no one wanted to believe that. Finally, I had to divorce my first wife. I think, marrying the advocate’s daughter is actually marrying a Hindu girl. Girls in this land are Muslims by name only. They wash their private parts with water every time after urinating. Using a clinker or a lump of soil is enough! Let’s leave it, no use talking about it! Now tell me, how will you prove that you truly love this country? Why should I not suspect you, and give protection? Tell me. If you don’t become Muslims how will we give you protection?

Four

Father might have thought about it earlier. I have secretly noticed that, Father has bought a Mohammadi almanac, he keeps it hidden, and he secretly takes it out and reads it again and again. Many surahs and duas are written in it – you can’t tell what you can face outside, maybe for this reason Father secretly memorized the four Kalima, Surah Fatiha, Surah Ikhlas or Ayatul Kursi. 

After having dinner, Father sat together with all of us. We are four people–I, Mother, Grandmother, and our maid Lalita. We didn’t turn on the electric lights at night anymore. But, a kerosine lamp is used to light up the room.

In the light of that Kerosine lamp, Father declared, “Listen, we all shall become Muslims tomorrow.”

In that almost dark room, running tears lit up Grandmother’s face like sunlight.

Father didn’t say much, we also did not say anything. Is there anything left to say? I’m only 12 or 13 years old, but everybody knows that girls start to understand everything at an early age. It is not that they have an extraordinary ability to understand, they learn from the talks and behaviour of the people around them. You can think about me as an example. The relatives call me mature. Is there any way without being mature? You get touched on the day of Holi, we know that. But, if the hand keeps touching a girl longer than a minute; a girl understands that it is not normal. I always know that every male is a Pakistani soldier if they find an opportunity, whether the country gets independence or not. Let’s forget about these truthful people – the next day, we started preparation for leaving our religion, we start to collect every relic of our religion in a corner of the house. We have to burn them all. We have burnt everything of the prayer room, even the smallest things, we have to burn dhuti-paita, mangalsutra, the container of vermillion, shakha-pala, conch shell, the idol, photos of gods and goddesses, pieces of sandalwood , and so on. We started to collect everything, and see, the house has surrounded all of us like an unknown place.

Later in the day Captain Zayedi comes to our place with the Mawlana of Dilalpur Sardar shehnai group of Zillapara. Some people make a tent outside the house, where almost all Hindus of Pabna arrived to become Muslims. They have come along with their wives and children. It can’t happen that the men will become Muslims and the women will remain Hindu. The mawlana of Dilalpur sat on a jainamaz, prayer mat, in a raised platform and started to recite duas loudly. His disciples sat on mats on the grass of the garden reciting from the Quran. It was a sunny day of the end of the rainy season or the beginning of autumn and the heat made us restless. Who is not here? I can see Uncle Fani Datta’s mother and other women of the family, he is the owner of the biggest shop in Indurpatti; there I see Uncle Mani Datta’s daughter, Haren Saha’s wife… I lost the count. Then suddenly we become scared because of the sound coming from the outside. Mother gathers courage and looks outside of the window, she smiles and says, “You fear for nothing. They are only burning dhotis and paitas….”

I feel a relief after hearing this. But suddenly someone screams and my courageous mother looks outside and tries to understand the matter by looking out of the window. But, we only understand that Mawlana saheb is saying something and Father and others are saying the same thing. After some time, Captain Zayedi brings Father inside the house; I see that Father was limping raising his lungi a little up, “This is nothing Aminul Saheb, you can put away the bandage after seven days, and wash the cut with lukewarm water… then Mawlana saheb told you what to do – you can put boric powder mixed with coconut oil on the cut. If you can put naphthalene powder it will be better. Then the captain looks inside the house and says, “Where are you, sisters, you have to recite the Kalima too, don’t you? It’s a profitable deal for you – you did not get any property from your husband or father in your previous religion. Now you get some of that.”

We all became Muslims like that. After the captain, Mawlana and his disciples, and the respected Muslims leave our place. Father told us that Fani Datta became very scared during the circumcision. He became restless when Mawlana saheb was burning clothes and he closed eyes after seeing the knife. But Father was not afraid. Before leaving, Captain praised my father for this reason. He also told him to eat a dish with beef after putting away the bandage and we will become full Muslims. No, we don’t have to do anything. Captain and the Mawlana will arrange for the cooking and everything else, we only have to eat patiently. Like this my father became Aminul Islam Coubey from Bilu babu, Uncle Fani Datta became Fazlul Haque, Sri Shibaji Mohan Chowdhury became Sirajul Islam, Horen Saha became Abdur Rashid,  Mani Datta became Latiful Haque, I became Musammat Momena Khatun, my mother Arati became Mosammat Latifa Khatun, Grandmother became Ajifa Khatun… we all become somebody else, we try to become. But every day we forget, we forget to cover ourselves with orna, make mistakes while reciting the surahs, mistakes happen when we say prayer, Father goes outside and then comes back to take the cap, Mother becomes forgetful and put vermillion on forehead then goes to the bathroom to wash it; she takes the conch shell in hand for blowing and suddenly remembers the present reality; in the early mornings when I go to pick flowers I remember that I shouldn’t do it. . .

One day Father sits down and makes a list of correct and wrong spellings, and hangs it. We all read it again and again and memorize, we should not say snan, we have to say gosal; I can’t say jol, we must call it pani, we shouldn’t call mangsho, we have to call it gosht, we can’t call dada and didi, I can’t call baba… like this the words that we used regularly became useless. The correct words became wrong words. My father and I look at the paper silently and understand that our lives have become this play of words.

Five

Then ‘Dhulauri’ village became ‘Roktouri’ in the darkness of that frightful night. The Pakistani soldiers and razakar-shanti bahini swept away the freedom fighters and the villagers, and the people of Pabna town did not get this scary news before four days – and what a surprise, seven or eight days later, suddenly the number of Pakistani soldiers increased in the city. As the number of Pakistani soldiers increased, we kept getting more frightened, we don’t remember anymore that we are Hindu or Muslim. But whatever happens, fear keeps engulfing us. It’s hard to say who collects the courage to listen to the radio; so after seven or eight days, Father started crying loudly after listening to the radio. But no one including me, Mother, and Grandmother dared to ask, why he kept crying. However, while crying Father told us, “The country has become independent. Still, we don’t find the courage to go outside. We couldn’t see many Pakistani soldiers on the roads, but observing their movements often, we could understand that the town is full of Pakistani soldiers. The sounds of firings are shaking the land very often. The freedom fighters have possibly surrounded the town. After knowing this I felt like going outside screaming, laughing, and crying; felt like jumping into the pond surrounded by palm trees. And with all these wishes we all keep sitting surrounding the radio.

Father took me to the pond surrounded by palm trees in the day when the freedom fighters arrived in the city. But, alas! The condition of the pond. The water of the pond has become bright red. The freedom fighters were firing like rain, it seemed like rain showered on us on that day of winter and our tears had become one with the rainwater. There was no difference between acquaintances and strangers that day, people were embracing each other and informing, they are here, alive, and they are happy to be so.

A stream of happiness is flowing! Won’t this flow stop? My mind was filled with the terrible tiredness and frustration of eating beef for proving that I’m a Muslim, now it seems like these memories are moving like a merry-go-round in front of my eyes. In the late hour of the night, a group of freedom fighters came to our house, Uncle Fani with them. They have brought the news that no one in Uncle Kubad’s family is alive, they were caught by the Pakistanis when they were trying to cross the Padma. Anandi…Anandi is no more? Then I’m not alive too. Whose hair will I adorn with the yellow China Rose? But Uncle Fani is extremely happy. “Listen, Bilu, the country has become independent, now we have become the believers of Sanatan Dharma again. But I’m not going to repent anymore. Why should I? Did I become a Muslim willingly that I have to repent now?”

Father’s face hardens. Then he gave a little smile, saying, “That’s your wish.”

“What does it mean? What is your wish? Do you want to repent?”

“No Brother, I won’t repent and won’t go back to Sanatan Dharma too.”

“What do you mean?” Uncle Fani’s face is filled with anger.

“Yes, Brother, as long as I live I’ll stay in the guise of a Muslim. People should remember seeing me that how much injustice we had to endure to get independence; how much blood was shed, how many people had to sacrifice religion, how many lives were given… we can’t tell, we may have to give more…”

That was a good observation from my father, I could realize that after some days. The school was about to open then; I went to get some information. I was about to cross the gate to enter the school, I heard someone from the crowd in front of the shop say loudly, “The new half-shirt…” There was a burst of huge laughter immediately. The sound of laughter had filled my ear. But I’m not telling that girls understand everything very soon, they are bound to understand; I also understand what a full shirt is, what a half-shirt is, and what the new half shirt is. But I don’t say anything and keep walking, suppressing my tears. I tell myself, In Rome behave like the Romans…. This is the country of the Muslims, if you want to stay in this country, you have to live with them. It doesn’t matter if I understand who is a Muslim and who is a Hindu, circumcision is done, and the cut will recover, it will take some time, that’s it…

Imtiar Shamim : Fictionist in Bangla Literature

Fahmida Sharmin : who graduated from the Department of EnglishShahjalal University of

Science and Technology, Sylhet,

finds an interest in literary translation.

Illustration : Dhruba Esh

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