CHAPTER 12 – THE TRUTH,
Durga sat with her mami’s head resting on her lap, while Shailja was still unconscious. She was so aghast at the series of incidents that took place one after another that, she could not utter a word. Her lips trembled and sweat dripped from her forehead. Just moments ago, she and her mami were walking down the streets and now ….
” Ki laabh palaiya ? Dhora porbi jakhan khataish kan ?”* Kabir said. An angry Wasim ran towards Shailja , hurling abuses at her , Durga slowly laid her Mami’s head on the ground and sprung to her feet and pushed Wasim with all her might. She screamed, “Khobordar durey thaak . Haath lagabi na amaar mami ke.”* Wasim looked at Durga shocked, ‘What got into her?’ he wondered . He again ran towards Durga but, this time Kabir stopped him. He walked close to Durga and bent down low enough to meet her eyes. “Jaanish ki je tor giya amago thaika shabdhane thaika uchit ? Togo poribaar er ardhek log amar jonnyei akka tullo aar tor shahosh deikhe ami abaak hoisi. Porthome tor Neera ma ‘r dada, mor mitro, Kunal. Sabsamay amaar path e badha hoiya daraito sala haramzada. Khelte, boshte, haat te cholte amar path er prodhaan kaitta. Upra feila dilam ekkebaare. Sujog buijha tuila dilam danga’r samay hingsro kisu loger haathe. Tarpor amar bondhu Javed, biswasghatok, tor Neera ma ke shahajyer haath baraiya disilo otikeo dilam shesh koira. Tarpor Dainik, tor Neera ma, Kanai aar ebar tor mami. Bhoy hoy na? Poribaar tike janashunyo koira dilaam, taar poreo bhoy hoy na ? “*
Durga stared at Kabir dumbfounded, as he admitted his crimes. Kabir took out his gun and pointed towards her. He threatened to kill her if she does not hand over the contents of the green box to him.
Suddenly there was a loud shriek. Both Kabir and Durga turned to see whose voice that was. There stood at a distance, near the rajbaari entrance, the old woman, yes, the same old woman who kept gazing at Durga. Durga felt she must have shrieked at the sight of the gun. She was terrified to see Kabir turn the gun towards the old woman. A few people who were inside the rajbaari, ran out to check what happened to the woman. She pointed towards Kabir . Gradually the whole lot of people who were inside the premises of the rajbaari stepped out and stood beside her. And this time the terror could be seen on Kabir’s and Wasim’s face. Getting scared was the normal reaction to that moment. Kabir’s gang was outnumbered.
Next followed the words of the old woman, that gave Durga goosebumps. She pointed at Durga and said,” Rajkanya’r suraksha amader kartavya. “* And they all started walking towards Kabir. Someone amongst them seemed to call the police from a cellphone. Kabir , Wasim and the goons started backing off while the group of people walked closer and closer to them. Kabir screamed, “Ke rajkanya? Maajhkhane aisho na tomra. Aamar jinish ei maiyar kache ache.”* But, no one replied to him .
Kabir, Wasim and their goons were soon cornered and the crowd started beating them up. Durga was glad about the outcome. She looked around and found some bamboo sticks lying at a distance. These sticks must have been brought to build a pandal for the puja. She walked up to the sticks and picked up one , then turned to the crowd and made her way pushing everyone aside, to Kabir. She looked at him for a while and then, hit him hard with the stick . He fell face down to the ground. Durga did not stop and kept on hitting both Kabir and Wasim and cried out loud while beating them up. Almost all she loved has died because of these two creatures. Her grandma’s face, mama’s face , her mami getting hurt, all the incidents flashed in her mind repeatedly while she was beating them up in rage.
The crowd moved aside on hearing the police van’s siren. Kabir and his gang got arrested and there were several witnesses to his action on that day .
Durga was breathing heavily and ran to her mami, whom she pulled to a safe corner while all the chaos was going on. The old woman walked to Durga, and asked for help from some people to take her mami inside the rajbaari. Durga held the woman’s hands and said, “Anek dhonnobad !”*
Inside the rajbaari, the doctor was summoned to check her mami. The preliminary dressing was done soon enough. Durga was scared that she must have lost a lot of blood. But, the doctor assured that she was out of danger and needs ample rest. The doctor’s fees was also paid by the old woman. Too much favors she has been taking, Durga thought. She walked up to the woman and said, “Apnader barite kono kaaj ache? Alpo mainey cholbe. Apnader sab taka gulo o shodh korte hobe jey.”*
The old woman looked at her and laughed. Durga was amazed to see this reaction. She surely has not cracked a joke.
The woman said, “Amaar shathe ashun.”* She escorted Durga to a room. There were huge antique mirrors all over the wall. And on top of the mirrors hung old pictures of the raj parivar. Suddenly Durga’s eyes caught the same family picture she has seen a while ago, enlarged and put in a beautiful frame on the wall. She could now clearly see herself in the picture. She asked the old woman, “Ami oi chhabite ki kore?”* the old woman replied, ” Apni na. Apnar bado maa. Apnar didimaa’r maa.”* Durga shook her head in disbelief, “Na amar didima toh Neera. Amader purbopurush ek samay rajbaarite kaaj koreche jani.”*
The old woman said, ” Kaj koreche ajibon. Rajbangsho raksha korar daittyo ranimaa oder i diyechilen. “*
Then she continued to tell Durga about facts which were both unknown and shocking to her . During the riots, when the religious war began, Ranimaa was stranded in East Bengal. The monarchy was about to meet its end in a few years, on 26th January, 1950. And she had the key to the raj khazana, the entire inheritance of the raj parivar. She knew the state would now or later claim it as their property yet, she wanted to safely hand it over to her heirs- the ones for whom all the riches were accumulated.
Ranimaa’s daughter was in the rajbaari, her maternal home, in West Bengal. Even the rajparivar were not spared from the wrath of the people involved in the riots. Ranimaa’s daughter was moved to a different place and they were all in hiding until the riots got over. Soon, Neera and her husband visited Calcutta (officially renamed as Kolkata on January 01, 2001)) after the riots were over , their principal motive was to return the green box to the true heir of the royal family. It was year 1962. Neera got married just 5 years ago to a very good man, but, did not have a baby yet. She visited Calcutta with her husband and brought the green box with her. On reaching the rajbaari , she heard the residents have moved to a different location and that was, the old woman’s house, where ranimaa’s daughter was in hiding all these years. Many of her extended family members were looking for the key to the raj khazana. She was in danger and now with her, the life of her baby girl too, was under threat.
Neera and her husband met the beautiful little Uma, who was just a year old at that time. They had a striking resemblance, though Neera wasn’t the biological mother of Uma- their eyes. Both of them had large pretty eyes. Ranimaa’s daughter requested Neera to take care of Uma and keep her safe. With her permission, the old woman handed over little Uma to Neera. Then, there was no question of returning the green box at all.
Neera’s family was complete with Uma. She left with the princess in her arms and the green box. After a few years, in 1971, Neera returned with Uma, who was 10 years old then. She was pregnant with her baby. She tried to get in touch with ranimaa’s daughter at the old woman’s house. But, she was introduced to a news most unfortunate. Uma’s parents were no longer alive. Her father was poisoned and killed by her relatives over a property dispute and of course a quarrel about the ownership of the raj khazana. Her mother died of illness. The old woman planned to return to the rajbaari to take care of it until it’s true heir arrived. But, it was still not safe to return the princess or the green box. Hearing this Neera knew, Uma was her responsibility and she returned to Bangladesh after Kanai’s birth. She was aware of the fact, that one day she would have to return her most adorable daughter and the green box to the place, to which they belong.
Uma was given the most normal life that one could imagine, so that nobody would ever believe that she was a princess. She grew up and got married to Bhairab, and their daughter, Durga was born. Durga was a half princess . After Uma’s death, she was the only legal heir to the raj parivar. Kanai knew it, but, he never shared it with Shailja. Shailja came to know about Uma not being Neera’s own daughter and since then she wanted to stop Kanai from getting involved in any affectionate relationship with Durga. In someway or the other, Neera and the old woman was always in touch.
Now, slowly the puzzle was getting solved, and Durga got a clearer picture of everything that happened all these days. She understood why Neera kept so many secrets. She wanted to keep her grand daughter safe. She understood why Shailja could easily trade her for the green box and convince her Kanaimama to support her in that. Neera died protecting her and her mother. Such was her dedication towards her duty and such was her love for them. Durga leaned on the wall and cried.
- Ki laabh palaiya ? Dhora porbi jakhan khatash kan ? — What will you gain from trying to escape ? When you are ultimately going to get caught , why do you make us work hard ?
- Khobordar durey thaak . Haath lagabi na amaar mami ke— Stay away. Don’t touch my aunt.
- Jaanish ki je tor giya amago thaika shabdhane thaika uchit ? Togo poribaar er ardhek log amar jonnyei akka tullo aar tor shahosh deikhe ami abaak hoisi. Porthome tor Neera ma ‘r dada, mor mitro, Kunal. Sabsamay amaar path e badha hoiya daraito sala haramzada. Khelte, boshte, haat te cholte amar path er prodhaan kaitta. Upra feila dilam ekkebaare. Sujog buijha tuila dilam danga’r samay hingsro kichu loger haathe. Tarpor amar bondhu Javed, biswasghatok, tor Neera ma ke shahajyer haath baraiya disilo otikeo dilam shesh koira. Tarpor Dainik, tor Neera ma, Kanai aar ebar tor mami. Bhoy hoy na? Poribaar tike janashunyo koira dilaam, taar poreo bhoy hoy na ? — Kabir’s confessions. He is trying to intimidate Durga by telling her that she should be scared of him. Since, he was responsible for the death of most of her family members starting from Neera’s elder brother, Kunal to Neera’s son Kanai, Neera herself and Dainik and probably now Durga’s mami will also die soon.
- Rajkanya’r suraksha amader kartavya — Keeping the princess safe is our duty.
- Ke rajkanya? Maajhkhane aisho na tomra. Aamar jinish ei maiyar kache ache — Who is the princess? Don’t interfere. This girl has a valuable thing of mine, with her.
- Anek dhonnobad ! — Thanks a lot.
- Apnader barite kono kaaj ache? Alpo mainey cholbe. Apnader sab taka gulo o shodh korte hobe jey.— Do you have any work for me? A little salary would do. I have to pay all your debts.
- Amaar shathe ashun — Come with me.
- Ami oi chhabite ki kore? — How am I in that picture ?
- Tumi na. Tomar bado maa. tomaar didimaa’r maa.— Not you but, your great grandmother.
- Na amar didima toh Neera. Amader purbopurush ek samay rajbaarite kaaj koreche jani.— No, my grandmother is Neera and my ancestors used to work in the palace, I know.
- Kaj koreche ajibon. Rajbangsho raksha korar daittyo ranimaa oder i diyechilen. — They have always worked for the royal family, all their life. They had the responsibility to save the royal bloodline.
© Sohini Dutta and A weaver at work Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sohini Dutta and A weaver at work Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.