CHAPTER 9 – THE RIDDLE.
A large procession moved on the streets gradually. Trucks loaded with idols of Maa Durga and her children, followed the procession. There were colors in the air. Men had their faces smeared with pink, green and purple. They were directing the group safely towards the Ganges, trying to maintain order on the way . Women danced on the melody of beating drums , their faces smudged with vermillion. Children ran around, danced and played. Some trucks were led by musical bands , playing music from several famous songs or just a basic melody at times. It was Bijoya dashami, the last day of Maa Durga’s stay in her maternal home. Every year, on this day the devotees bid Maa Durga and her children, an emotional farewell. And with this, a wait for Maa Durga’s home coming in the following year, begins….
Suddenly, some people fell off, few stood back and shouted angrily at a person, who ran, pushing them, making way for herself, looking back at times to check if she was still being followed closely. And yes, she was.
The woman ran and ran and tripped and rolled down a flight of stairs and went right into the Ganges. Soon, she peeked out of the water, but was terrified to see, a huge idol of Maa Durga falling, right over her head. The boys who slowly released the strings tied to the idol, barely noticed amidst all the chaos, that someone has fallen into the water. Finally they did notice, when some people pointed out towards the woman and started screaming. But then, there was hardly any time to reverse their action. The idol splashed into the water, on her . The person following her ran to the edge and shouted out her name, ” Haseenaaaa… ” People turned around and looked at her.
Wounded, panting for breath, Durga stood there on the bank of the Ganges, not knowing what to do. Haseena carried the proof, the picture. Now that she is in the water, the picture’s in the water too.
Few of them asked her, “Apni Janen onake ?”* Some young men bathing in the Ganges , started looking for her in the water. But, all in vain. She heard some people talking about calling the police. Policemen were all over, guarding the area for Durga puja and Durga knew if they arrived at the spot, she would be stuck for hours there, and she had no time to waste. She folded her hands and touched her forehead , praying to Maa Durga as the deity’s beautiful face slowly submerged in the holy Ganges. She started to leave, when suddenly she noticed a piece of paper floating in the water. It was easy to identify the paper, amidst loads of other things on the water surface, due to its familiar shape. She ran to the edge and looked down at the water. She could still see Maa Durga’s face beneath the water surface and on it, floated the picture. She picked it up gently and ran. Her ears wringing with the sounds of joy all around, people shouting, “Bolo Durga Mayi ki ….Jai! Aasche bachhor abar hobe .”*
After getting away from the crowded spot to a quieter gully , she looked at the picture. She gently held it with both her hands and brought it close to her eyes. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing and kept looking at it .
Durga’s Mami was confined to another room in the building. It’s been two days since Kanai’s death. She cried her heart out in the room. Her eyes swollen , throat sore, she fell asleep weeping, when a creaking sound woke her up. She looked through the window to check and saw a woman and a man enter through the main gate. She took no time to recognize the woman. It was Haseena, Dainik’s wife. They have met before. She wondered, what was Haseena doing in this building. Right near the door of her room she heard some sound. She tried hard to hear the conversation placing her ears on the door. It was Wasim talking to Haseena. She would never fail to recognize Wasim’s voice, and for Haseena’s, it was easy to assume, since, she was the only woman besides Durga and herself in the building. She heard Wasim say, ” Tui ekhane ? Neera ke eka fele?”* Haseena replied, ” Kisu bolbar ase, dekhanor ase. Aar toke sere kat din thaktam oyikhane poira? Bhuila geli naki, giya ami tor biya kora bou? “*
Durga’s Mami’s eyes widened hearing this. She had to save Durga from the trap. And tell her — her truth. Her husband knew everything from his mother, but, never told her. But, one day, he uttered something about Durga which rose the suspicion in her mind. She then forced him to disclose all the facts to her. Kanai told her everything and thankfully, he did. She is the only one left now, to introduce Durga to the reality of her existence.
She planned for an escape, next morning, with Durga.
A car honked. Startled, Durga turned back and apologized, making way for the car. She still couldn’t believe her eyes. Was she , herself, sitting in the picture ? But, she knew, they have never been to a studio before. She looked closely at the picture still soft with moisture , and saw, that it looked like a huge room where the photo was taken. And the people, the people in the photo – she has never met anyone of them before. She looked at herself again, in the picture – her saree looked royal, very expensive. She walked to the main road, not knowing where to go. There, she started walking along a curb when her name was called from a distance. “Durgaaaa, Durgaaaaa….”
She turned back to see her mami running towards her. Durga heaved a sigh of relief…”Mami, thakurer anek kripa tumi thhik acho.Ki kore khuje pele amake?”* Her mami smiled and replied, “Ami tor pichhonei chhilam. Ekta bishaal procession chole ashate beche jayi. Oyi procession er bhetore dhuke haat te shuru kori . Shaitangulo amake haariye fele.”*
Durga quickly showed the picture to his mami. “Bolte paro etar byapare kichu ? Etoh amar badobelaar chhabi, tuley bhule jabo amonta toh hote paare na?”*, Durga said and looked at her mami for an answer.
Her mami looked at the picture and smiled, saying, ” Etar byaparei toh bolte chayi toke. Tobe akhon na. Aagey bol sobuj baksher moddhye ki chhilo, tui jaanti ? ”
Durga smiled and looked down at her hand, she rolled up the sleeve of her blouse a bit. Her mami followed her eyes and saw a golden chain with a pendant that looked like a globe . The chain was thick and the globe, studded with gems. Her mami said, ” Haat te thaak, aar oyi chain ta ber kor. Ota shudhu chain hote paare na, shunechilam oyi sobuj baksher moddhye thakbe ek rahashyer chabi . Shudhu etai chhilo bakshe? Kichu ekta aaro thakte hobe. Kono lekha hote paare…”* .. Durga replied, ” Tachhara, amaar chhele belar putul, kichu smriti aar jaamakapor. Aar kichhu chhilo na.”*
They kept walking, looking all around, since Kabir and Wasim were still behind them, somewhere in the crowd, may be.
Glossary(The lines with asterisk )-
- Apni Janen onake ?—- Do you know her ?
- Bolo Durga Mayi ki ….Jai! Aasche bachhor abar hobe —- Singing praises of the deity – Goddess Durga. Praying that again next year Durga puja will be celebrated.
- Tui ekhane ? Neera ke eka fele? —- You are here? You left Neera alone ?
- Kisu bolbar ase, dekhanor ase. Aar toke sere kat din thaktam oyikhane poira? Bhuila geli naki, giya ami tor biya kora bou?—- Want to say something, want to show something. And how long will I live without you and stay there ? Did you forget, that I am your wife ?
- Mami, thakurer anek kripa tumi thhik acho.Ki kore khuje pele amake?—-Mami, thank God you are okay. How did you manage to find me ?
- Ami tor pichhonei chhilam. Ekta bishaal procession chole ashate beche jayi. Oyi procession er bhetore dhuke haat te shuru kori . Shaitangulo amake haariye fele—-I was following you soon after. A huge procession came and I ran into it, they lost me. We will tell the police about them, come. And we must walk through crowded streets as there, they won’t dare to lay their fingers on us.
- Bolte paro etar byapare kichu ? Etoh amar badobelaar chhabi, tuley bhule jabo amonta toh hote paare na?—- Can you tell me something about this ? This is a picture when I have grown up, I can’t forget after getting clicked in this one.
- Haat te thaak, aar oyi chain ta ber kor. Ota shudhu chain hote paare na, shunechilam oyi sobuj baksher moddhye thakbe ek rahashyer chabi . Shudhu etai chhilo bakshe? Kichu ekta aaro thakte hobe. Kono lekha hote paare…—- Keep walking, and take out the chain. It can’t just be a chain. I heard in the green box will be the key to a secret. So was just this chain in the box? Some other things must be there… may be some writing .
- Tachhara, amaar chhele belar putul, kichu smriti aar jaamakapor. Aar kichhu chhilo na —-Beside this, was my childhood doll, some memories and dresses.
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