CHAPTER 11- THE PENDANT.
Durga looked around baffled. She turned back and asked her mami, “Eita kothaye elam amra? Tumi thhik jaano toh, eitai shei jaiga ?”* Her mami nodded and said, “Haan, etai. Tor mama amake anek baar dekhiyechhe eyi baarita.”* Both of them gazed at the courtyard through the wide entrance. The huge teakwood doors that guarded the entrance were flung open today, for visitors.
It was a beautiful house. The architecture seemed to be of a period to which Durga did not belong. It was evident from the elegant and detailed work on the walls, that this was not an ordinary building. There were so many rooms, and in front of the door to every room hung a golden cage with a parrot in it. The windows were tall and the window panes made of painted glass, added to their beauty. The courtyard was large, so large that standing on the entrance, it was hard to see how far it stretched on both sides. Suddenly they heard giggles . That shifted their attention to the sound of anklets on pretty feet that ran across the room. Durga and her mami kept looking. Women draped in white sarees with red borders were running around the courtyard. Men were dressed in traditional Bengali attire, dhoti Punjabi. Kids were playing around. There were men sitting with big drums on the corner of the courtyard, continuously beating the drums to produce some great melodious numbers, which made every feet on the floor tap. Maa Durga was still in the premises, getting ready for visarjan*.
Durga turned towards her mami and sighed, “Mami, eta samay na. Maa Durga r dorshon toh Ganga’r ghat ei korlam. Akhon oyi chhabitar katha bhebe matha kharap hoye jachhe. Ekhane kano niye ele?”*
Her mami insisted that they step inside the house. Reluctantly Durga stepped in. Some people looked at them and smiled. And some just checked who entered and turned towards a different direction, while others were just indifferent to their presence. Durga slowly nudged her mami with her elbow and asked, “Eibar ki korbo? “* Her mami blinked twice and pushed her forward near the idol of maa Durga.
They stood there, with hands folded. Durga did not know what to do . She closed her eyes to pray. After a moment or two, someone touched her shoulder. Durga got startled and quickly opened her eyes to look. An old woman had her glance fixated on her. She felt uneasy and pushed her mami a little. Her mami looked at her and then at the woman. After some moments of silent staring, someone called out a name, to which the old woman responded and walked away from the spot.
Durga and her mami, looked at each other, clueless as to why the woman kept gazing. Then pulling Durga’s hands , her mami pointed to a room. As they walked towards it, Durga felt someone was watching them, she looked around to check. And yes, it was the same old woman who now stood at a distance talking to someone. But, her eyes still on Durga . For once she thought, this lady might stop them from going inside the room.
“Eta Maharaja Nabakishore er rajbaari. “*
Durga frowned and looked at her mami. Her mami continued,” Ekhanei tor sab proshner uttor. Ebaar ber kor Oyi haar ta. “*
Without wasting time Durga rolled up her sleeve and opened the chain. Both of them tried everything they could to open the globe like pendant – turning, rolling, pulling the globe, but nothing happened. Perplexed, Durga sat down not knowing what to do next. She stretched the chain from both sides and sat looking at the pendant that hung from it.
She got startled and was almost about to drop the chain. That was surely a clicking sound, but, where did it come from? She observed the pendant closely. There was a very narrow opening in the middle. Feeling nervous she pulled the chain harder, but again, nothing would happen. She got upset and sat down twisting the chains .
This time even her mami heard it. It was the pendant. It opened like a casket. Something bright and shining was standing in it. Durga and her mami looked closely. It was a gemstone, probably, sapphire.
With the gemstone was a piece of paper rolled carefully . Durga picked up the paper and unfolded it.The paper carried a riddle,
“Jakhan roshmi porilo dorpone, Aadhar katilo sab.
Bhangilo shei Dwar jaa koreche gopon, sab ajana kolorab. “*
Durga couldn’t think of anything, that would relate the mirror to the gem. ‘The magnificent sparkle of the medium dark blue sapphire , would that provide the light ?’ she thought. But where are the mirrors ? She looked around in the room. From the look on her mami’s face, she understood, this was all the information she had. They were in the wrong room. They should be somewhere else. Nothing was coming to her mind. So what was all this struggle for? Just the gem ? Durga closed her eyes and thought of Neera. Tears trickled down her cheeks. She will never meet her again. That instilled a feeling of emptiness within her. She started feeling restless and walked to and fro the large room . “Na , maa’r ato bochhorer ato bolidaan britha jete debo na,”* she muttered to herself.
Durga’s mami’s efforts to help her escape did not go in vain. So here, she deserves a special mention.
Her mami grew up in Kolkata from the very beginning and had no roots in Bangladesh. Her name was Shailja. but, no one usually called her by that name. Mama used to call her, “Ogo shunchho,” and Neera too never mentioned her name, instead would summon her like “Ma, shon toh ekhane.” Durga called her ‘mami’.
Shailja was selfish and greedy. She wanted to marry someone from an affluent family, where she would live the rest of her life like a queen. But, unfortunately she got tangled in the shackles of destiny . She met Kanai and his goodness made her fall in love with him. A love so deep, that she would get angry even at the thought of him being affectionate towards his niece. She even accepted being poor , just with Kanai being by her side. Then one day she got to know about Durga’s truth and then she got determined to give her away and in return make her dreams of living like a queen, come true.
With Kanai, her selfishness was gone. She wanted to fulfill Kanai’s and Neera’s wish now, and that would be her way to exact revenge against Kabir.
That day when she heard Haseena and Wasim speak, she was sure Haseena would come and meet her. Not because they were friends , but, since they have maintained a pretty cold relationship so far. And now she being part of Kabir’s plans made it more obvious that Shailja will get an earful the next day, from her .
She was rather courageous in her moves. On the next morning, she was taken to the room where they held Durga hostage. Haseena , Wasim and Kabir teamed up to torture Durga and Shailja . Haseena shared all the incidents in Bangladesh, including Neera’s death. This came as a shock to them. Durga broke down hearing this and just couldn’t stop crying . A series of incidents followed soon after, and then she was threatened to reveal the truth about the green box, where Shailja was held at gunpoint. She was the only one left in Durga’s family now. Durga decided to give them the pendant, and just then Shailja played her last move. She managed to snatch the gun from Haseena, and after sometime, they were out on the roads with Shailja holding the knife on Haseena’s throat. That was a narrow escape for both of them.
They had to board a boat and sail to the opposite bank of the Ganges. It was a short distance, but , it took them to the crowded known streets of Kolkata. But then , they were followed by the goons led by Kabir and Wasim.
It was dasami and most pandals would immerse Maa Durga and her children’ idols on this day in the holy water of the Ganges. While others would do the same a day later. They reached the bank at a time when the visarjan has not yet begun. And as soon as they got down on the shore, Haseena pushed Shailja and ran. Durga ran after her. Shailja was about to follow Durga when Kabir and Wasim caught up with her pace. She ran with all her strength and somehow managed to disappear in a procession to the Ganges , and gradually reached the bank with the crowd. Wasim and Kabir could not be seen anymore, but, she knew they were nearby and Durga and herself were still in the danger of getting caught.
Karma is the result of our deeds, and no matter what, Karma will get our back. Just like, Haseena ran and ran and reached the banks of the Ganges , where now, visarjan has begun. Trying to escape from Durga she rolled down the stairs and went right into the water, where a huge idol of Maa Durga fell right on her head, and then, she could be seen nowhere. Shailja has reached the same banks with the crowd and was looking around for Durga, when she heard her scream out Haseena’s name. This made her aware of Durga’s presence around and soon after , she spotted her run with a paper in hand.
Kolkata, October 26, 2001- Durga Puja Mahadasami.
Durga and Shailja , stepped out of the rajbaari, sad and depressed. They started walking towards the main road when suddenly her mami screamed, “Durgaaa, Oh maa go !”* By the time Durga could hold her, she swept on the floor unconscious . Durga raised her head from the road. Her hair was slowly getting wet in blood….
- Eita kothaye elam amra? Tumi thhik jaano toh, eitai shei jaiga ? — Where did we come? You know right, that this is the place ?
- Haan, etai. Tor mama amake anek baar dekhiyechhe eyi baarita — Yes this is the one . Your uncle showed me this house several times.
- Visarjan — A practice of immersion of the idols of Gods or Goddesses (in this story , of Maa Durga and her children), sending them off to their homes in heaven.
- Mami, eta samay na. Maa Durga r dorshon toh Ganga’r ghat ei korlam. Akhon oyi chhabitar katha bhebe matha kharap hoye jachhe. Ekhane kano niye ele? — This is not the time mami. I have already worshipped Maa Durga on the bank of the Ganges. Am just getting mad thinking of that picture.
- Eibar ki korbo? — What will we do now ?
- Eta Maharaja Nabakishore er rajbaari. — This is the palace of Maharaja Nabakishore.
- Ekhanei tor sab proshner uttor. Ebaar ber kor Oyi haar ta.—You will get all your answers here. Now take out the chain.
- Jakhan roshmi porilo dorpone, Aadhar katilo sab.Bhangilo shei Dwar jaa koreche gopon, sab ajana kolorab. —-When light fell on the mirror, the darkness came to an end. The doors that kept the unknown sounds secret, broke.
- Na , maa’r ato bochhorer ato bolidaan britha jete debo na — No, I will not let maa’s sacrifices go in vain.
- Durgaaa, Oh maa go ! —A scream in pain .
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