CHAPTER 2 – THE DECISION
The night never wore a darker hue before, never did every moment seem so tangled, never did a little girl’s heart pound so fast… screaming out loud, yet inaudible, ‘Something’s not right’.
“Ma chharo na… cholo Ekhan theke”* , Durga grabbed her grandma’s hand and pulled her inside as she attempted to bend down and check, if the man was breathing. The terrified little girl just wanted to leave the spot with her grandma. But, Neera moved her hand away telling her that she can’t leave him unconscious and bleeding like that, lying near her door . She requested little Durga to help her pull the man inside. Durga tried her best, but her strength was limited. So, she stood there scratching her head, thinking of some way to make the task easier.
A farmer by the name of Dainik lived in a little hut right behind their house. Durga ran out of the door without saying a word . ” Aei Durga koi jaash akhon ? Phire aaye “, Neera shouted out loud, her voice trembling, as Durga ran out from her home, asking her to return but, the little girl won’t stop or look back. She ran to Dainik’s house and banged on his door, as hard as she could. Dainik’s wife opened the door.
Neera could not pull him in. She was old and age has naturally worn off her physical strength. She was scared too. Who could this man be ? Hopefully he has not messed up with the anti-socials in the area? Or was he a member of their gang only ? Who else would be beaten up so badly at this time of the night, if he didn’t have a fight with someone dangerous? Was she doing the right thing helping him ? But, how would her conscience allow her, to leave him outside in this state, at this hour of the night? It was a stormy, rainy night when everybody should be in their homes. There was no other person who has seen him, that someone else could volunteer to help. Tensed and exhausted she sat down by the door, with her hands on her forehead, when Durga arrived with Dainik.
A very curious Dainik, attempted to clear his doubts but Neera snapped and told him to store his questions for later. They pulled the man inside and laid him down on a cot, which was placed outside the rooms, for guests to sit on. This cot was on the shaded elevated area surrounding the courtyard.
It was the longest night ever, that settled down heavily , engulfing Durga and Neera, in the depth of the darkness – the darkness of the unknown. Neera rested outside their room beside the cot, on which the stranger lay, waiting for the sun to rise. Durga fell asleep shortly after Dainik left, resting her head on Neera’s lap.
The sun rays started tearing off the darkness, finding it’s way to almost every corner of the village. And then there was tapping on the door,”knock knock knock!”. Durga ran to the door. Opened it, and Dainik was there. He left last night soon after laying the stranger on the cot, saying next morning he would bring the doctor with him.
The stranger, still lying unconscious, was wounded , seemed like he has been beaten with sticks. But, Neera checked for very deep wounds, which were in need of immediate treatment, that could not be provided at home. Fortunately, there were none. There was blood oozing out from the scars on his back , bruises on his shoulders and blisters and cuts all over his hands and face. Neera cleansed the wounds with a cloth dipped in boiled water and then, made a mixture with turmeric and little bit of juice squeezed from a betel leaf. She then applied the paste like an ointment on the wounds of the man, covering the area with a whole betel leaf thereafter. Lack of hospitals nearby, made it a practice for the people living there to use home remedies, where and when possible. He was unconscious throughout the process and that was little concerning, but, hopefully waiting till next morning wouldn’t harm. Thinking this, they decided to wait till the next day.
Kesarinath Vaidya was the only doctor in that area, who treated almost every problem the human body could have. In the villages here, since not many people got access to education and most did not have the finance to pay for it, only a few people there, were educated and well settled . The others rely on their knowledge and for a living spend their lives farming, some own shops in the market area while some work in them and the rest engage themselves in any other work that would help them feed their family. Neera loved sewing and she could make lovely apparels for all, as per their needs. So even she earned some taka* using her skills. The village had one paathshala* where Neera sent Durga regularly. But, if one desired to study more , the person would have to leave the village and go live in the cities far far away. Kesarinath Vaidya was one such person, who went to study in Dhaka. He was the only hope of the villagers whenever something went wrong with their health.
Kesarinath checked the man thoroughly, and then asked Neera to send somebody to his clinic to get the medicines he prescribed. He was not sure of the extent of any internal injury he suffered . To him the injuries looked mild. Seemed like, he was hit on the head that made him unconscious. Saying this Kesarinath advised them to inform the daroga* of the situation so that his family can be traced and if within 24 hours he does not regain his consciousness, he must be admitted to the hospital.
Neera requested Dainik to meet darogababu, and tell him the entire incident . After Dainik left, Durga ran to Neera hugging her saying, “Maa Kobe jabe ei lokta? Amaar khub bhoy korche”* .
Neera looked up at the sky. Thick curtains, made of clouds, were pulled over the sun, hiding it somewhere behind them . It was so dull and gloomy even during the daytime. A sudden, unpredictable change in weather ! She hugged Durga tightly, closed her eyes and prayed that her decision to help the man be right. Nothing unexpected should happen to their peaceful life for anyone. She glanced palely at the sky again – not knowing what destiny had in store for them in the very next moment……..
Glossary- (the words with the asterisk)-
- Daroga- a chief officer in the police department
- Ma/maa – mother (Durga referred to her grandma, Neera as ma/maa) ; chhaaro na- just leave it ; cholo ekhan theke- let’s go from here.
- Maa Kobe jabe ei lokta? Amaar khub bhoy korche- When will this man go mother ? I am feeling very scared.
- Paathshala – school.
- Taka- the currency of Bangladesh.
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