Short Story

In search of the beloved

শনিবার, ২৯ মে ২০২১

In search of the beloved
Cover: Courtesy Prothom-alo North America

Kajali, hi  kajali, tell me what happened to you? It’s ten o’clock in the morning, the door of the room is closed and you are still lying on the bed.  Are you okay  ?
Kajal is the youngest member of the house. The most adorable. She is very sociable and likes to be happy. Anger or pride is not in his metal. If that person is lying down with the door closed, then who cares!
Without getting any response from the other side of the room, Kajali’s sister-in-law Mina pushed the wet door and entered.
Mina opened the door of the room and was startled. There is a piece of note lying on the bed, ‘I am looking for Salam’s. I don’t want to marry anyone else. If I don’t find him. ‘
As soon as she got the note, Mina shouted to her husband, ” Are you listening baby?”
The answer came from the other side, what’s the matter Mina? Why are you shouting like a bull this morning?
Come here soon. Kajali is not in her room, she has run away.
Tell me what?
Elder  brother Abdul Baki came running and was shocked to see the note in the room. This stem of the cool girl? Whose marriage is at night. All sides have been invited. How do I show my face to the groom’s party?
How many times have I told you that Kajali likes  Home tutor Salam . She has told me many times that she will never marry anyone but him. The boy is not bad, you did not dislike either. He said the university is closed in the future lockdown. The class is not happening anymore. Come back from home in the month of Ramadan. I will return after Eid.
I got a good groom so I agreed.
Understand . Take care of it. Can you find someone by send to the tutor’s home ?
I don’t know the home address. I know only Rakhalgasi ,  Rakhalgasi of Bagerhat. What can be found in such a small identity?
Sonadanga Bus Terminal in Khulna City. The busiest bus terminal in the district. The bus is entering from this side and leaving from the other side. A whole new world for Kajail. She never went out of the house alone. Brother or sister-in-law has always been a partner. Which bus will go to Slam’s house?
She saw a boy on the bus saying ‘Bagerhat Express Sonadanga to Bagerhat’. Katakhali, Na’para, Satgumbuj, Bagerhat. Will leave now, come on come on.
As soon as she went to the conductor, he asked, where will you go sister ?  Come on, let’s go.
Is this bus going to C&B bazaar ? Brother.
Yes. It is. I will bring you down there.
Another mishap took place at the C&B Bazaar bus stand. Neither two van rickshaws nor one rickshaw can go to Rakhalgasi. Someone has rent, someone will go the other way. After standing there for a long time, a rickshaw came and stopped there.
Where are you going sister?
Rakhalgasi bazaar. Are you going there ?
No, no, I’m not going that way. I did not know the roads in that direction.
I am from Daulatpur. I have a big problem, brother. I know that direction. I will take you there.  Come on, please.
The rickshaw puller felt a little sorry that the beautiful girl  was in trouble. I don’t know if the beautiful girl is in any danger again at the bus stand ! Whatever.
All right, gril, get up.  Let’s go. God is trustworthy.
As soon as the rickshaw went some distance, Kajali asked, how far is the Rakhalgasi bazaar.?
Ah, what did you say? Didn’t you say you know the area? You will take me there.
Lies. I waited for the rickshaw van for a long time and none of them agreed to come here. So I have taken refuge in this path. Please forgive me, brother.
He bowed his head and said, well. If this is the case. Let’s face it, when I get on a rickshaw, it’s my responsibility to get to the destination. You sit back and relax. I’ll  take you there.
Thank you, brother. Thank you.
Welcome to you.
After hearing the rickshaw puller’s polite remarks, Kajali thought to herself, ‘This rickshaw puller is not like the other eight or ten rickshaw pullers, except for one. Will there be children in a decent house? Let’s be gay. This is not the time to do research on the character of a Rickshaw puller. Do I mean love with him ? The main goal now is to reach the destination safely.
How far? Brother.
Hold on,  Ten or fifteen minutes.
Do you know Rakhalgasi’s Salam? His younger brother’s name is Kalam.
No, I don’t know. Our house is not on this side. On the other side of the river Daratana. There is not much to come in this direction.
That’s fine.
Sister, we have almost reached. Rakhalgasi bazaar as soon as the turn comes. Sweets are very popular in this region. Will you take some sweets to that house?
She said with a sigh, no brother. My destination is unknown. I don’t know which house to go to.
What did you say?
Yes brother.
This is history. Maheshwarpasha in Daulatpur is our home. I am the youngest of three brothers and sisters. The elder brother is a retired military officer and the younger brother works in a bank. He lives with his family in Kushtia. Abdus Salam of Rakhalgasi, a class nine student at Maheshwarpasha Girls High School, used to stay in our home. As a home tutor  when I was there. He was then a first year student at the government BL University.
In the first week of Ramadan, when schools, colleges and universities were closed due to the deadly coronavirus, he said, “I will spend the rest of Ramadan with my mother and brother.” He will return to our house after Eid. In the meantime, my elder brother arranged the marriage with the brother of one of his friends without my consent.
Didn’t your family know that you love Mr. Salam?
Yes, they knew. My sister in law has told my brother many times.
So what did the brother say?
He was saying, ‘Let the boy finish his studies. See you later.
At that time the mobile phone on the rickshaw puller’s waist rang.
He asked, sister, will I receive the mobile? Listening to your story later.
Yes, go ahead.
Floating from that end of the mobile, where are you now?
I am a Rakhalgasi
Why the Rakhalgasi ? You don’t go that way. Why today?
And don’t say, a girl from Daulatpur has come to C&B Bazaar . I have come to this side in his incarceration.
Did you take your lunch at noon?
No, I didn’t. Where can I find a restaurant here in the village? We will reach Rakhalgasi Bazaar in front and eat there.
Well, eat it. He will reach the girl and return home soon. Bye, I love you.
Kajali listened to all the phone conversations.
Who asked?
My Fiancée .
Kajali was shocked to hear the word fiancée  on the rickshaw puller’s face. The term is used by European-American lovers whose marriages have been fixed.
Kajali asked, do you know what fiancée  means brother?
I do. why?
She is my future wife. Everyone in my family knows we love each other. We will get married very soon.
This time he was even more shocked. Asked, who are you? May I know your identity, brother? She asked with regret, what will happen after knowing the identity, sister?
My name is Abu Hanif. I passed Intermediate from Sundarbans College and studied BA for one year. I have given many interviews for the job thinking about the lack of family. No job has ever filled my life. At present there is no job in Bangladesh without bribes. Many of our countrymen go abroad and drive taxi-cabs. Where is the difficulty if I run from my own country? Eventually I got into an independent profession.
We are coming side by side for so long but your name is not known.
My name is Kajali.
Your name is Abu Hanif. Nice to meet you, brother.
Thank you. Then he said why did you come to this C&B Bazaar?
When my brother agreed to my marriage, I had no choice but to run away from home.
Don’t know his mobile number?
I know, it’s off.
Maybe intentionally shut down.
No, no. He can’t do that, brother. You know, I had a fever once. I had no appetite for seven days. He fasted for seven days. He used to class while fasting. That man can’t do that. My mind is saying he is in no danger.
Know the address?
The address is just, ‘Rakhalgasi.’ I don’t know anything more than that.
The words of Salam’s last conversation floated in Kajali’s heart at this time,
‘Listen sir, don’t wait. Listen to me a little. Don’t listen to me. Can you tell me nothing? Where are you going? Didn’t say anything when you would come.
Are you  crazy, gril ? Am I leaving at all? Come back a little from home in the Ramadan. I will return after Eid.
If you don’t come after Eid, where will I look for you? I don’t know anything about your home.
Why do you need to know the home? I’m not coming back after Eid?
If not come? If there is any difficulty?
Don’t have a mobile number?
There is no reliance on mobile. Give me your home address.
Rakhalgasi. Any bus from Sonadanga bus terminal to Bagerhat is just a quarter of an hour’s drive to our home rickshaw or van at C&B Bazaar . My younger brother’s name is Abul Kalam. Everyone in the area knows us. Go home.  I will come back after Eid.
At the call of the rickshaw puller Abu Hanif, Sambit returned.
Sister, we are now at Rakhalgasi Bazaar. Where do you look for Mr. Salam?
Abu Hanif said, you sit in the rickshaw. I ask people if anyone knows someone named Salam?
He asked the shopkeepers and people in the area that no one could find him.
When he came back, he did not tell her that no one could find him. One person suggested, Rakhalgasi Union Parishad office in front. Can you go there and find out?
All right, let’s go.
The chairman of the Union council was engaged in a meeting with local members. He noticed an unidentified girl getting off the rickshaw and walking on the porch of the office. The chairman sent a watchman to find out.
When he came back, the watchman said he wanted to meet you.
The chairman called her inside. He asked her, what is your name? Why were you walking on the porch?
My name is Kajali. I come from Daulatpur, Khulna. Is there a young man named Abdus Salam in your union? He studied at Daulatpur BL University. They are two brothers. The younger brother’s name is Abul Kalam.
It is very important for me to meet him.
What’s his father’s name? Which village?
No details are known.
10 villages in our union. About 18 thousand people live there. Is it possible to find someone just saying salam kalam without getting details?
You do one thing, gril. There is a  Girls High School a short distance to the right after leaving the Union Parishad. A boy from the house next to that school went to BL University. He is now at home because of Corona. Can you find him?
One man from the meeting said, “Yes, yes, his name is Salam too.” I don’t know if he has any younger brother. But he has  a sister.
What will you do after leaving the council and looking at Hanif to Kajali, will you go? Will I stay with you or leave? If not, I will go back again.
I have no way to return. I escaped from the wedding party. Brother-in-law will let you go home?
I live.
It would be better if Kajali sighed and said.
Then let’s do one thing. I park my rickshaw safely inside the Union Parishad.
All right. Do so.
Match the name. It does not match with the rest of the identity. Salam’s younger brother Kalam. No one said there is a brother named Kalam. There are also sisters. Come on, let’s see.
A teenager was moving wet clothes in the yard.
Abu Hanif asked her, “Brother Salam, are you at home?
Yes, he is.
He is surrounded by fish.
At that time kajali went to her and asked, are you his sister? I didn’t say anything about me.
You, who are you? Tell me something about yourself?
She said with a smile, I am Kajali. Go to your brother and tell him that Kajail has come.
You wait. I’m calling my brother.
The teenager came back with a young man.
Kajali looked at his face in frustration.
Then he asked, where, where is he?
The young man asked her who do you want?
Hi. I mean Abdus Salam. He studied at BL University.
The young man replied, I am Abdus Salam. I read in BL.
Kajali turned his face and said, no no. Wrong. This is not the salutation I seek. Quickly ran towards the road on foot.
The girl then frowned and said, “Think, brother, What a strange girl wandering around the village looking for a groom.”
I Just Waste my time. Let’s go fish enclosure People are fishing there
Abu Hanif, frustrated that he could not find Salam anywhere from village to village, said, “What will you do now that the day is over?” It is better to go back.
With a sigh, Kajal said, I have no way back.
Didn’t look for less.
Far from being found. There is no shadow of it.
I threw you in too much trouble?
Did I say I’m having a hard time?
Chakshri village in front. The rest of this village, let’s go. You see, brother, when Allah has combined a good-hearted person like you. If you see, I will match the wire exactly.
Abu Hanif said a little quietly, let’s go.
The Chakshri Primary School was seen walking in front. At that time they met a local passerby. As soon as he saw him, Abu Hanif greeted him.
The villager answer the greetings anbd ask him, But  I do not know you?
My name is Abu Hanif from  Bagerhat.
Which house to go  ?
Before he could finish his journey Kajali asked, “Is there any young man named Salam, Salam in your village?”
His younger brother’s name is Kalam.
Yes, yes .  They were two brothers. Not too far. He index a finger pointed to the house behind the primary school he was looking at.
Kajali and Abu Hanif rushed towards it.
Row upon row of two huts. Straw turns in front. Laying bricks on the entrance to the house. As soon as he entered the house, They got a response from a stranger and a dog barked and came running. A woman’s voice was heard from inside the room, Son was watching Kalam. Who came?
Hearing the name Kalam, Kajali and Abu Hanif looked at each other with a smile on their faces. That is, we have come to the right place.
A teenager of twelve or fourteen came out of the house. Behind her is a middle-aged woman.
The son looked at Abu Hanif in a dirty voice and asked, “Who do you want,  Son?” At the same time, She looked at Kajal. She kept her eyes fixed on her.
Then she said in a low voice, Which the girl? Sounds very familiar.
Slowly she went to Kajali. She turned her hand on her head and said, I see you? Where did I see, where did I see, she said after a while, she went back to the house saying stop.
At that time Abu Hanif said, I fell into the clutches of a madman again. God knows.
Did I throw you too much trouble?
Why one thing over and over again? I have a problem with what I said.
She came back from home with a mobile phone in her hand and searched the photo gallery on his mobile and said that this.
Seeing the familiar mobile phone, Kajal smiled and asked, ” Is it brother Salam’s  mobile?”
The woman wiped her eyes and said, yes, this is my son’s mobile. How much I see you on this mobile. How many pictures are you taking? He has no breath. Always ask me do you  like this girl, mother? Crazy. Someone in Ma’am is saying this!
Kajali smiled and asked, where, where is he?
Are you here to meet him
She nodded and replied, yes.
Asked to wipe away the tears, he walked slowly to the back of the house and pointed to a grave in a bamboo cage that had just been buried in the garden.
Kajali hugged the woman and fainted with screams. The little hope that had been in his eyes for so long was lost in a moment.
The little boy standing next to him said to Kalam, “Come quickly with a bucket of water, son.” Sprinkle water on the nose and mouth.
At this time he went to Abu Hanif and asked him softly, what happened?
Salam returned home from Daulatpur and said he would go to Dhaka. Their younger uncle lives in Dhaka. I said why should I go alone with Kalam. What will happen if my son goes to university? He used to perform regular prayers.
The Baitul Mukarram is a stone’s throw away from his Uncle’s house. On friday. The two brothers went to perform the Friday  prayer together. The government was at loggerheads with a group of worshipers over the arrival of a head of state in Bangladesh, a country inhabited by anti-Muslim Hindus. The day after the prayers, the worshipers marched in protest of the arrival of the head of state. Police fired indiscriminately to disperse the procession. Salam was then leaving the mosque. At that moment, a bullet fired by the police hit Salam in the chest. He immediately fell to the ground. The worshipers run in panic. Kalam also ran and took shelter inside the mosque. When the situation calmed down a bit, he came out and saw Salam’s frozen body lying lifeless at the base of the steps of the mosque.
She wiped her eyes  and said, can you take me to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh ?  My son!
I would ask those who run the country , how many more mothers will be emptied by the government in the name of suppressing the movement? If you wear a hat and pray, is everyone a terrorist?

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বাংলাদেশ সময়: ১০:৫৮ পূর্বাহ্ণ | শনিবার, ২৯ মে ২০২১ |

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