Friday, August 23, 2013

The Accident

Mr. Chowdhary was still in shock. The last-moment-shriek of the poor girl was still all over his ears; the girl who had just been run over by a truck in front of Mr. Chowdhary's very eyes. She was young, around 18, lying on the road covered with blood and nearing her death very fast. It was pouring cats and dogs in the deserted street-corner of Kolkata. The cloudy sky of dusk, the blinding rain and lightning, along with the cold wind from the nearby Ganga river made sure that nobody was out on the streets. What the hell was she doing out here in the cold and dark, thought Mr. Chowdhary, as he looked left and right, as far as his 42-year old eyes would allow him. The place was deserted. He was at the end of his wit.

It was the year of 2097. The third world war had just ended a dozen years ago, reducing the population of the world by more than 70%. During the war, Mr. Chowdhary, a professional surgeon and one of the very best in his area, had protected his family with great caution, presence of mind and in a number of occasions, by sheer luck. When the war ended, he was somehow able to get a job with the new government; a single government which now ruled the entire world, sub-divided into different regions but not countries. Post-war, it was celebrated by a large number of people united by common grief and loss to be ruled under a centralized government. They were perceived to unify the entire human race once again in all its glory. And the government was doing an arguably good job too, although things have not been easy. Among other challenges, there was a severe need for cleaning the debris of war and building new materials out of the necropolis. These required a huge workforce – a resource which proved to be difficult thanks to the giant recent reduction in human population. The government had to take steps such as making it mandatory to have more than three children per married couple. It was theorized that it would result in a 10% increase in the population rate compared to the current one. But even with that, it would have taken roughly a hundred and fifty years to take human civilization to the state it was before the war. As a fast-track way to increase population overnight, three years ago the new government had passed a worldwide law banning homosexuality. New rulings were made ordering anyone who claims and/or proves to be homosexual, has to go through a six-month recovery program, which claims to induce heterosexuality to anyone who goes through it. Nobody knew exactly how they achieved this but there were rumours; rumours which made Mr. Chowdhary to hope to be untrue, especially since this morning.

The father of two children, Mr. Chowdhary was successfully able to protect his family during the war until now, but it seemed that was not possible anymore…not for long at least. Though he had suspected this for a long time, only this morning he had come to know for sure that his elder daughter Nandita was a lesbian. As she knelt beside him and explained all about it to her father, Mr. Chowdhary knew that very moment that it was over for her. As much caution as he could take, the police of the new regime was sure to find the secret out and take her daughter away from him…to the so-called recovery program. There was no way to hide her. Over the world homosexuals were being rounded up like some fierce animals. The ruling, supported by some prejudiced religious groups, made it impossible for homosexuals to keep their sexual identity a secret even on a social level. Besides, the new government kept extremely detailed record of the families and it was well documented that he had two daughters. And even if he could somehow hide Nandita’s sexuality from the world at large, the new law also demanded any female over 18 is to be either married to a male or to be proved pregnant within a year of turning 18. Having turned 18 only last month, it was only a matter of time for her. The news and the conclusion had upset Mr. Chowdhary so much that he came out for a walk in the evening, alone by the river, smoking his favourite pipe. When it had started to rain and he thought of returning home, he suddenly heard angry honking of a truck, a sudden screeching noise of the tyres, some high pitched girly shriek and before he knew it, he was kneeling beside a dying young lady and the truck was vanishing into nothing over a distance.

Mr. Chowdhary knew he should hurry the girl to the nearest hospital and to call her parents if possible and then maybe wait for them at the hospital to arrive. But he did none of those things. He was fighting an idea that was born inside his very head, an idea that came to him almost as soon as he knelt beside the dying girl. He couldn’t get rid of it, although he knew in his heart that it was terrible even to think about it.

It won’t be right, he thought to himself as the girl kept travelling an inch away from life with every passing second, I can't do it. I'm a doctor for god's sake. She tried to raise her right hand and to turn her blood-covered face towards his. But she couldn’t. ‘This is the only solution and you know it’, someone told him from the back of his head, over the sound of the thunder and rain, 'Look at the bright side. The girl is going to be dead anyway. And once she is, we can curve the face to make it unrecognizable so that you can declare her to be your dead daughter, causing them to delete every official record of her. And you and your daughter would live a happy life'. Mr. Chowdhary kept silent, lost in his own thought, as he ran his palm through the little girl’s hair; consoling her. He wanted to tell her not to worry and that everything would be fine, that he would take her to the hospital but he couldn't bring himself to say those things. ‘You don’t have to do anything wrong, just don’t do anything at all’, said the voice again, ‘just wait a little more and it’ll soon be over. Then you can do what we decided’. Mr. Chowdhary kept mum even now, clutching his smoking pipe firmly in his right palm. He looked up at the pouring sky and thought of whatever the voice was telling him. He had heard this voice before. He didn’t like it. He hated that it always seemed to be right. He turned his glance at the girl again. It was almost over for her, unless she gets medical attention right now. He didn't even have to be a doctor to say this; anyone would understand that merely by her eyes, which were losing the light fast and steady. She seemed to be having trouble breathing now. She inhaled hard one last time, blinked over the falling raindrops on her eyelids, tried to move her lips, a silent cough came out. No sound followed. She was having a respiratory arrest.

Mr. Chowdhary tried to gather every amount of courage and strength he ever possessed. Not much time left now. He tried hard not to think about the parents of this poor soul. I'll just be taking advantage of a corpse to help save my living daughter’s life, he consoled himself as he slowly put his hand in this pocket and pulled out the old knife he had been carrying for the past twenty years. We are nearly there, he thought. He never had to use this knife before, until today. He looked at her rain-soaked innocent face for a second. He was reminded of Nandita. A lightning sounded very nearby, causing a flash of light across the darkly illuminated skyline. Suddenly he was sure. He knew exactly what he had to do. Slowly, he said his prayers as he stole a quick glance around. Then he leaned over the poor girl.

Having made up his mind once, the rest of the work took about five minutes in the hands of an expert surgeon that Mr. Chowdhary always had been. He quickly cleaned the smoking pipe in his hand with the splashing rain water, he tried to dry and clean it with his cloths as best as he could. He also lit up a match and put the knife to the fire, trying to sterilize it. Then slowly, with artistic genius, he made an incision with his knife in the poor girl's throat, placed the pipe with great caution so that the girl could get a direct airway through her trachea. When he completed the procedure, he placed both his hands on the girl’s chest and started CPR.

He knew that the instruments were not sterilized; there were great chances of infection, but he had done the best he could. 'And as for Nandita', he thought, 'I will fight the world before I let anyone touch her. She will stay where she belongs, being who she really is'. Slowly the girl started showing response; her breathing was becoming easier. A smile broke into Mr. Chowdhary's lips as he picked the girl in his arms and started running towards the hospital by the river, through the muddy wet ground, as fast as he could. He was breathing heavily.

But he felt peaceful.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

কবিতা নং ৫

দু’ আঙ্গুলের মাঝে ধোঁয়া,
সে ধোঁয়া মিশছে কাগজে
ধোঁয়াটে বাস্তবের প্রভাব
নেশাগ্রস্ত অবচেতনে

জানিনা দু’য়ে দু’য়ে চার হত কিনা
কিংবা ভবিষ্যতে হবে কি?
জানিনা তোর প্রথম ভালবাসা
কখনও তোর হবে কি!

শুধু জানি এ রাত হয়তো কাটবে না
হয়তো দেখব না জানলায় সকালের আলো,
হয়তো এ ঘুম আর ভাঙবে না কোনদিনও
সাক্ষ্য দেবে আমার চেরা মৃতদেহ কালো।

Seems there are a lot of hits in my Blog, particularly for this page. Just one request though friends: If it's not too much of trouble, can you please leave some notes for me in the comment box below...just to let me know how to improve. Commenting is easy and fast. Thank you all, guys. Please keep coming back

Monday, August 19, 2013

এক সহস্র একক

আরো সহস্র একক দূরত্ব পেরিয়ে তোমায় পাব,
তোমার নির্লজ্জতার সুগন্ধ সোদা মাটিতে মেশা,
সাগর-জলোচ্ছাস-স্নাত পাথরে জমা সবুজ শ্যাওলা,
হয়তো তার থেকেও পিছল তোমার ভালবাসা

অচেনা শহরের ভীড়ে সহস্র মাথার মধ্যে তোমার পাব, 
তোমার শরীরের অদ্বিতীয় গন্ধে হবে তোমার পরিচয়, 
নিস্তব্ধতার শব্দে আমার আর্ত চীত্কার চাপা পড়বে -- 
খরস্রোতা নদীর স্রোতে নির্বিব্দাদী মুহূর্ত-ক্ষয়

আরো সহস্র একক দূরত্ব পেরিয়ে মেঘের কোল,
সে কোমলতার স্পর্শ জোলো-হাওয়ার আদর,
পাহাড় জড়িয়ে ওঠা রাস্তায় এক্গুছ অসহ্য চিন্তার ঝাক,
হয়ত তার থেকেও অনচ্ছ দুশ্চিন্তার চাদর

আরো সহস্র একক পরে আরো সহস্র একক দূর, 
খরস্রোতা জলকণার স্রোতে সময়ের অভিস্রবণ,
কালো চুলে ঢাকা মাথার পিছনগুলো সেদিন একটু অন্যরকম করে বাচতে চাইবে
আর এক ঝটকায় সহস্র একক বেড়ে যাবে জীবন

সহস্র মেঘের বুক চিরে দুরে একফালি আলো বেরোবে কোনদিন,
আরো সহস্র একক দূর থেকে অভিমানী চোখে চাইবে বনলতা সেন
আমার সব অসহায় লজ্জা দুশ্চিন্তা সেদিন এক ঝটকা হাওয়ায় সরিয়ে দেবে,
আর রহস্যময়ী দৃষ্টিতে বিধে বলবে, 'এতদিন কোথায় ছিলেন?'

[A Tribute to Jibanananda Das]

Written: August 14, 2013  

Last Mistake


She was riding on a bus. She had a cell-phone on her one hand, a purse on the other. Wearing a knee-length skirt, she was sitting beside a window. Wind was directionless, making her hair flow all over her face. If it were any other time, she would try her best to rearrange them. But it seemed that she was not herself that day. She was looking out of the window with rapt attention. She was thinking something.

Why am I doing this?

The street of the suburb was not crowded at this hour. Traffic was fast. So the bus gathered more speed through the following seconds. Wind blew harder, forcing her to close her eyes; there were tears.

It's too late, she told herself.

You can still undo this, she snapped back.

Her ride was now slowing down. My stop is coming, she told herself. Don't get down, someone screamed inside her head, 'you're not happy' is not an excuse to do this.

Slowly she got up from her seat, walked towards the front gate of the bus.

The bus stopped.


Nathan and Tanya were lying in bed. It was just dawning. As Nathan watched, second by second, more sunlight was drenching Tanya¡¦s sleeping body. He looked at her disheveled hair, at her closed eyes and thought, damn¡Kshe is beautiful. He put his hand on her face and started caressing. He played with her hair, her nose, her lips and her throat and finally he stooped and placed his lips on hers. He kissed.'Nathan!!' She spoke sleepily, opening her quiescent eyes and pushing him away in mock anger, 'stop doing that when I'm asleep.'

Nathan looked at her eyes, they were small, narrow. She looked elsewhere. Nathan smiled and came so close to her that he could even see her rheum of her eyes. He tried to kiss her again...


The handsome man she expected was already at the gate, waiting for her. He was wearing a denim blue T-shirt with a matching jeans. He smiled at her as she approached. They looked like an odd couple, the man being about twenty years older than the woman.

Some fifteen seconds later, they entered the small room. There were lots of books on the shelves on the wall and a single bed at the far end. A book lay open on the bed. There was a single chair at the room beside the single table and both of them were stuffed with books. The room bore an obvious air of
bachelordom, thought the girl as she looked around, despite the last minute tiding-up, it was hard to miss the wrinkled bed-sheet, the unarranged books, the stuffed pile of cloths peeping out from under the bed.

'If you plan on sitting', the man broke the silence, 'you're gonna have to use the bed'. He gave an as-you-can-see type of look towards the chair. The lady smiled weakly and made her way towards the bed. The two voices were still shouting their own songs in her head. She was fighting with herself in the inside, but didn't let it be shown on her face. Avoiding the screams as well as she can, she sat on the bed.'What should I get?' the man added, 'Orange juice? Coffee? Vodka?' The girl simply shook her head, refusing quietly. 'All righty, water then', said the man and walked towards her. The girl tried to run away but she couldn't. I came here myself, thought she. But the man didn't touch her. He simply knelt before her and pulled a glass from under the bed-stead. The girl exhaled deeply, she was frightened, and it seemed for a moment that someone was beating a set of drums inside her chest. She tried hard to behave normal, but her heart was beating so loudly that she could not even hear the voices in her head anymore. O he's just pouring water now, she told herself; take it easy; we can always stop this.

Stop what, said the other voice, you haven't done anything yet.

And we're not gonna do anything either.

Why not? We've decided long ago.

It's not right. I don't wanna do it.

Don't you? Then why didn't you move when he was coming towards you? Why didn't you move your legs when he knelt before you? You don't have an answer, do you? Let me tell you the answer. It's because you want to do it as much as I do.

'Something going on with you?' asked the man, handing her the glass of water, 'You look terrible.'

The girl just managed to smile before she sipped on the glass. The man sat on the bed, next to her and slowly, he put his right hand on her right thigh. 'Just relaxed', he whispered, 'everything's gonna be fine'.

The girl's heart seemed to have frozen; she kept drinking as she could not decide what else to do at that moment. The voices in her head were arguing again. Stop him, what the hell are you doing?, said one of them. Don't stop him, let the moment be, said the other. The hand on her leg was moving now. She could feel his warm breathing on her neck. His hands were still moving, they were moving towards the left side. 'We shouldn't be doing this', mumbled the girl while touching the man's lips with her own, trying hard to resist herself...

When they were lying on the bed, spent, an hour and a half later; Tanya opened her eyes with a jerk. She could not remember at the moment where she was and why she was there...but slowly it all came to her. She was frightened again, her chest beat so loudly this time that it seemed unlikely that the person lying next to her would not be able to hear that out loud. She could not dare to look to her side and look at the person sleeping next to her, but she had to. She wished hard so that her memories were from a dream, so that those were not true, so that the person sleeping next to her were him. Praying hard, she looked at her side.

She felt a sudden emptiness on her stomach.

It was not him.

What have I done?


'What haven't I done for you?', Nathan shouted.

The girl remained silent. She had nothing more to add. She was looking at the floor, counting the marbles. She could not bear to look into his eyes. There was something in her throat, something wet. No, it was not her throat; it was more like her eyes. They felt numb. She seemed as if she were feeling nothing. Yet, her mind continued to wander, she could remember the small room, the single bed in the room and on the bed, there were two persons¡Kshe could not think anymore. A blinding light of guilt was drenching her body, her mind, numbing her very soul.

'I'm so sorry Nathan,' was all Tanya managed to say.

Nathan turned around from her. Tanya knew him only too well to understand that he was crying at that moment. She did not want to go to him and take away this last piece of decency from him. She remained where she was, with her own eyes moistening. Don't cry Nathan, she said to him silently, I'm the guilty one. Why are you punishing yourself?

Eight months have passed since that day when Tanya made that mistake. Since the day, she couldn't bear to look into his eyes again. She tore every contact with Mark since that day. It's not that he had not tried to contact her every possible way, but she made no response on her side. Eventually Mark stopped calling, but she just could not be herself. Every day, every hour, every minute seemed to remind her of that day. She could not be happy with even Nathan. Every second with him felt like cheating on him. He loved me too much for this, she told herself. She used to remember the days before that day. They were so happy together. Nathan was so funny, they were so funny together. And the best part was, as she used to remember, when she looked into Nathan's eyes, she could see such respect in his eyes for her: but not anymore. When she looked at his eyes after that day, she felt as if she were covered in mud! At first she thought that the feeling would subside within a few days...apparently they were not going to. Eight months of this torture and at last she had decided to come clean with him.

Slowly, Nathan turned. His eyes were still red. She looked at the floor again after she looked into his eyes for a fraction of a second.

'What did I lack, Tanya?'

Tanya meant to say 'nothing' but words seemed to have failed her. She was drowning in an endless ocean of guilt.

There was a long silence in the room: a long and uncanny one. Then Tanya spoke, her voice wet and trembling, 'I am sorry Nathan, I'm so sorry. But that's all I can say. What's done is done and I can't undo that. If I could, believe me, I would. But I can't. All I can say is, if you give me another chance, if you trust me one more time, I'm never gonna loose it again. Now it's all up to you.'


Tanya was squatting on the farthest corner of the room. She was looking at the little piece of rope in her hand. It was light yet strong, just the way she needed. She made a noose out of it. She checked the knot. It was firm. Slowly, she stood up and found the stool on the other corner of the room.

She could just stand on that stool and do what she had already decided to do with the rope and a life would end. Should she do it? Is it worth it?

You have no choice, she answered herself.

Three days have passed till she had confessed everything to Nathan, though it felt like a year. Every minute since then was a punishment. She could not sleep, could not eat, it was even hard to breath. Nathan had not said much. But the silence from him was killing her. She could not bear to feel guilty anymore. It had to end, thought she.

She stood on the stool with the knotted piece of rope in her hand. She tied the end without the noose on the selected hook on the ceiling and wore the other end around her neck. So you have made a mistake, big deal; it¡¦s no reason to kill yourself, said a voice in her head. But she ignored it; she had made her decision. It's not safe to delay anymore, someone can walk in any moment, said the other voice in her head, one mistake can cost a life.

I still love you Nathan, I'm sorry, whispered the girl.

And with a little kick, she threw the stool on the ground. Suddenly she felt an unusual amount of pain and pressure on her trachea¡K.she clutched the rope with both her hands and tried to unknot it. But she did not have enough strength left; she was choking and moving her legs widely in thin air. She tried to scream but no voice escaped her throat. Then she heard a loud crack in her neck but she was not able to deduce what it meant.

She was dead by then.

Written: 17th March, 2010