CHAPTER 10 – KABIR.
East Bengal, 1946 —- “Aar ekta Goli … maar Kabir.. maar, “*screamed Javed, clapping his hands in excitement. It was a hot summer afternoon, and a group of boys have gathered under a tree to play a game of marbles, popularly known as Goli . They watched Kabir play. As usual, he was winning the game and Javed was cheering for him.
Kabir and Javed were childhood friends and neighbors. They grew up together, studied in the same pathshala and were like brothers. Javed’s mother treated Kabir like her own son. And Javed too, received a similar treatment from Kabir’s parents. They had a neighbor – Kunal. Kunal was of the same age as them, and was 5 years older to his little sister Neera, who just turned 7.
“Tora abar goli khelchish? Chachi ke bolsi dara.”* Kabir got startled and hit the wrong marble. Angry, he looked back. It was Kunal. As usual he had this bad habit of interfering in his life and saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Kabir despised Kunal and never considered him as his friend. Kunal has won over his parents’ hearts to an extent that they never appreciate their own son. Rather, he was compared with Kunal at all times.Kunal was believed to be the best boy in the area. His nature and brilliance was incomparable. Kabir clenched his fists and gazed at Kunal, with rage in his eyes, while the latter smirked and walked away.
British Raj was coming to an end.
14th August 1947 — Partition of British India was put into effect, wherein the independent country of Pakistan was formed. With the partition of India , Bengal was partitioned , too. The eastern part of Bengal containing the muslim majority of the Bengalis, became part of Pakistan. And West Bengal remained a part of independent India. Most of the Bengalis were unhappy about the partition of Bengal. Some of them wanted it to become an independent province and not a part of India or Pakistan. Whilst the others in East Bengal wished that Bengal remain undivided and be part of Pakistan. After the partition, several Hindus and Muslims started migrating to the part of Bengal which contained their religious majorities. A small number also migrated to Assam, Tripura and other states surrounding West Bengal.
The partition was followed by social unrest all over. Communal wars and riots soon followed. And one day, when Kunal, Javed and Kabir were returning home together, a mob blocked their way. The mob was looking for hindus, holding daggers and sticks and flaming torches in their hands . They were mad with rage. The boys held each other’s hands tightly. Kunal was the only hindu among them. Javed held on to Kunal’s hand and said, “Mora sabai musalman.”* Kabir looked at Javed, and grinding his teeth glanced at Kunal, who was holding on to him tightly, trembling in fear. Very coldly, moving Kunal’s hand from his, Kabir told them, “Haan o thhik koise, mora musalman kintu ekjon baade”* and he pushed Kunal towards the blood thirsty mob. Javed looked at Kabir, shocked. Kunal was pulled away mercilessly by the mob and beaten and stabbed. Javed ran hastily to inform Kunal’s parents. By the time they reached the spot, Kunal lay covered in blood. He has breathed, his last.
The mob was gone and Kabir, too, could be seen nowhere. Kunal’s father broke down and cried over his son’s body and his mother could not move, she dropped down on the spot , looking at her son in disbelief . Neera hugged her father and cried uncontrollably. Rahman and Fatimah did not have words to console them.
Javed could never forgive Kabir for what he did. Neither could he open his mouth to let out the truth. He knew that no one would believe him, and Kabir will make sure of that. He will never forget the contempt in Kabir’s eyes when he pushed Kunal towards the mob and then watched him being beaten and stabbed to death. It was a cold blooded murder. He was now scared of Kabir. After this, they could remain friends, no more.
Every kid, on every corner of the street, became aware of the meaning of religion by then. How much it matters over life, over one’s existence need not be explained anymore. Kabir hated Kunal already and it was when Kunal’s family was given shelter in their house, that he clearly felt the difference. He understood that Kunal was a hindu, they prayed to a different God, their culture and beliefs were very different. He felt, that might be the reason, they could never be friends. That was the first thing that came to his adolescent mind. He hated his parents for helping them. He took his revenge on that day, by handing Kunal over to the mob. But, he still could not feel peace within. Kunal was gone forever, but, the hatred in his mind remained.
Several changes followed, events took place, years passed….Kabir stood at the same point where he was, years ago. Still so full of hatred towards this one family that led him to hate an entire community . He knew his father trusted them more than him. In no way did he wish to gain the old man’s trust, but, for the green box. He knew ranimaa gave it to his dad for some reason . May be as a gift for his loyalty, his years of dedicated service towards the royal family. He also knew, it contained something precious because never did his dad allow him to lay his fingers on it. He started considering anything in the green box to be his inheritance, and believed that his dad would surely give it to him one day.
East Pakistan, 1952 – The bhasha andolan began. Javed took part in it . He hardly communicated with Kabir , though ,they had a common group of friends. Kabir seemed to have actively participated in the andolan. But later, it was revealed that he was acting in favor of the other side, helping West Pakistan in every possible way he could. He wanted Urdu to be the national language so that their religious superiority prevailed in the region. His hatred for Kunal and his family since his childhood days, resulted in his feelings for the religion as a whole. After the terrible consequence of the andolan that followed, he had to hide, for years to come – from those, who knew that he supported West Pakistan .
He moved to West Pakistan and joined the militia . His ambition took him a step further, when his dream to create a gang of his own, started to materialize . They aimed for a land where their religion would gain priority and superiority, their own piece of land …West Pakistan’s decisions always seemed so right.
Kabir returned home to East Pakistan for the green box, as he was in dire need of funds. His parents were astonished to see him. They ran to hug him, touched him constantly to believe what they were seeing, laughed and cried to see their son alive.
But, Kabir’s face was emotionless. His parents never meant anything to him. Nothing could be placed above his religion. His eyes kept searching for the green box, but, it was nowhere to be seen. He searched the entire house and was furious to see the green box GONE . He had a big fight with his parents when he learnt that, they gave the box to Kunal’s family. The reason being, his father also worked for ranimaa and had the responsibility to take care of the box. His search began for Kunal’s sister Neera and her family members, since then. The last time he met them was before he left his house in 1952. Neera was 13 then. Her eyes, were just like her brother’s. These eyes seemed to haunt him whenever he looked into them. What he did on that dark day, was still not known to his parents, since Javed never spoke of him or visited his place after Kunal’s death.
East Pakistan, 1971 — Operation Searchlight has begun and Kabir took an active part in it. It was then, when he met Javed again. It looked like Javed had known of his presence beforehand. He tipped off two men from his room, in a building near Dhaka University , while they were searching every corner of it, saying that Kabir was looking for them. He told the men that he knew Kabir and he was his childhood friend . Curious about the identity of the person, who lied to his men, Kabir headed for the building he lived in . After reaching there, he found his room locked. This made him more suspicious and he broke into the room . His men searched it thoroughly and found a photo in black and white. It was Javed in the picture. He inquired a few persons outside his room and got some information about him leaving just moments ago, with a pregnant woman and her daughter towards the railway station. He rushed to the station with his men. On reaching, he saw Javed trying his best to get on the train. A woman and a girl trying to pull him in. He glanced at the woman , her eyes, he can never forget her eyes…Neera.
He shot Javed out of anger. But, the train left. It was too late. He emptied all his bullets on his childhood friend, who turned out to be a traitor and screamed in rage.
Since then he tried his best to track Neera. But missed her everytime. Luck was on her side always.
It was year 1997. It’s been a while now since Kabir settled in Pakistan. Currently he has a big gang of his own. His involvement in violent and illegal activities increased as years passed. He could not concentrate in the needs of his family and hence was compelled to send his youngest son, Wasim to Calcutta, to stay with his bua . Soon Wasim started going to college there. He would often come back home, with his good friend and classmate, Kanai.
On his visit to Calcutta, to spend some time with his favorite son Wasim, Kabir met Kanai . Kanai’s wedding was all set to happen in a few days time and his mother and sister were on their way to Calcutta for the same. He invited Wasim and his family.
On the day of the wedding, Kabir and Wasim went to Kanai’s house. As they were about to step in through the decorated entrance, Kabir stopped abruptly on the doorway. His face turned pale immediately, he could feel goosebumps all over his body . He finally saw the woman, whom he has been searching for so long….. he could see Neera.
Although, Neera had some wrinkles on her face now, yet, she still looked the same. He stood there for a while, dumbstruck . Kanai called out, “Maa, ekbar esho eikhane. “* And to his amazement, Neera answered, “Haan re baba, ashi dara.” So, Kanai was Neera’s son. What a coincidence that was!
Wasim , kept looking at his father , questions all over his face, Kabir was brimming with joy. He smiled and muttered to himself , ” Taaholey, abar dekha hoilo…”
He did not attend the wedding and immediately left home with Wasim.
A plan was cooking in his mind. It has been years now and he can just hope that the box is still with Neera. Or it could be that the greedy woman has taken out the contents and sold them by now, he thought. But, looking at her, she seemed far from being rich. Hoping for the best, Kabir’s evil mind started chalking out a trap for her, his goal was to acquire ,what he believed to be his….
It was easy thereafter to track Neera. Kanai’s wife turned out to be very materialistic. She was stunned to hear of the green box and confirmed its existence from her husband. Kabir was overjoyed to learn that the green box was still with Neera. On being persuaded with expensive jewelry and gifts and a promise to share the contents of the green box with her, Kanai’s wife agreed not only to help them but also, to involve Kanai in this matter.
Wasim’s nikah* happened just a few years ago with Haseena. Haseena did not accompany Wasim to Calcutta. But, now she was called upon to join Wasim. Wasim left with his wife, Haseena for Bangladesh. His brother and a few men accompanied them.
Though Kanai did not support them from the very beginning, but later, on discovering a fact, he joined hands with Kabir.
Haseena and Wasim followed Neera and Durga for sometime. Soon they came to know of Dainik, their neighbor, who was like a shield to the family. To break them they had to break their shield. And so their mission began… to find the green box , to acquire it’s contents, while Kabir slyly planned the end of Neera and her family….
- Aar ekta Goli … maar Kabir.. maar —- One more marble… hit it Kabir…hit it.
- Tora abar goli khelchish? Chachi ke bolsi dara —-You are playing marbles again? Will tell aunty about this, wait.
- Raj —- rule.
- Mora sabai musalman —- We are all muslims.
- Haan o thhik koise, mora musalman kintu ekjon baade —- Yes, he is right. We are muslims, except for one person.
- Maa, ekbar esho eikhane—- Mother, come here once.
- Haan re baba, ashi dara.—- Yes, son, coming .
- Taaholey, abar dekha holo…—- So, we meet again …
- Nikah – Muslim marriage.
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