Being Trampled by
Matabbar was sitting in a dark corner of his homestead's uthan, pulling on a filtered bidi. His attention was drawn to. Curiosity compelled him to break his puff and ask: ‘Keda?' meaning 'who'.
'I, cad-ar', said the approaching voice, meaning one would suppose 'cadre'.
Matabbar successfully transformed a definite choke into a pair of coughs and straightened to face a tall young man, his teeth dazzling even in the light of the hurricane hanging in the veranda.
'Salamalaikoom, Chacha! I Abdul Kader, just back from Brussels.'
'Ahh! Our Nuru Miah's pola! Heida Bhatija you should have said earlier. Then why did you say you were cad-ar? …not that I was impressed...' (Coughs twice)
'Chacha… these six-seven weeks out of the country… in Brussels everyone called me cad-ar'.
Just then there were more sounds of dry leaves being trampled by human feet. Stamping the bidi butt under his feet, Matabbar looked towards the bush, apparently confident of himself, and yet lightly touching Kader's hand, he asked ‘Keda?'
‘Rab', said the approaching voice, distinctly more thick and sombre. Matabbar coughed thrice while tightening his grip on Kader's upper arm, while Kader knowingly smiled to himself. The shadow transformed into another young man, whom Matabbar recognised instantly. He suppressed a fourth cough.
'Makhna Miah's son, isn't it?' He assumed.
‘Chacha, how have you been doing? Salamalaikoom! I Abdur Rab, just back from Brussels.'
Matabbar manages to smile. Kader presses his just-released upper arm.
'The way you guys are a changing your names, you struck my pila there.'
‘Chacha, in those countries they just don't have the tongue to…'
'Those countries? How many did you go to?'
'Why! In the past few weeks we have seen almost half the world.' The two shared the words.
'Bharat, Pakistan, Iran, Qatar, Kuwait…' said one.
'We cannot forget Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco…' added the other.
'Portugal was so romanchokar.'
'Spain, Italy, Greece… Chacha, konda should I leave to say konda? It was fascinating.'
'Where are we, Chacha, and where have the others gone?' (Deep sigh)
Chacha sat down to say: 'Then where is this, what did you say, Bra.. Barr...?'
'Brussels!' They said in sync.
‘Kee shundaar…' one of them continued.
'Rome is more beautiful,' was the others quick counter.
'So what happened?' Chacha seemed concerned. 'Why did you guys come back and within such a short time?'
'Manpower, Chacha, manpower.'
'You too have fallen victim to those rogues? How many more innocent people will those bloodsuckers make to suffer?'
They were both smiling now. 'We are not your Bhatijas for nothing.'
'That much confidence I have in you. What did you do?' Chacha lights up another stick.
'In town that would cost you fifty taka, Chacha.'
Matabbar smells something ominous in the air.
'You bidesh-ferot guys don't try to teach me anything, huh! TV, radio this village also has a few. Have you forgotten everything in these six weeks?' He lets out a puff. 'Is this a public place, my own open courtyard? Tell me what did you do?'
Their heads were now bowed down. ‘Chacha, we have not been cheated. In fact we have cheated,' said one.
'There is no better and cheaper way to see the world,' added the other.
'What did you do?' Chacha was getting impatient.
'We printed the money,' said one of them bluntly.
Now this was a new one for Chacha. 'Printed? I don't remember having taught you that.'
'We have other Chachas you know,' said one.
‘Shohurey Chacha!' the other added.
'All the akaam and koo-kaaam you guys learn from the city.' Chacha hauled a deep puff.
'You taught us how to give a measure of 200 grams less in every kg'
'You showed us how to travel to the city without tickets.'
'You educated us on how to tighten the loopholes in our fishing net.'
'You informed us every time a villager returned from the Middle East.'
'But printing…' Chacha expresses self-devastation.
'New technologies are here, Chacha'
'We planned this very carefully,' says Rab.
'Fool proof, actually!' adds Kader.
Rab - 'The bhua recruiting agent takes us on a false pretext. He asks us for a big amount.'
Kader - 'We obviously don't have that sort of money.'
Rab - 'But we need to see the world.'
Kader - 'We pay the agent counterfeit bills.'
Rab - 'He takes us on an excursion on trains and buses across borders, on fishing trawlers across the oceans. Promises, promises…'
Kader - 'Each time the agent promises us a new destination, we know he is cheating all of us.'
Rab - 'You cannot imagine how many innocent people are on those boats and trains and buses. They have so much expectation.'
Kader - 'For us it was like taking revenge for our fellow countrymen.'
Rab - 'Our action looks illegal, but this is the only way to fix the corrupt guys of this nation.'
Kader 'We have taught the agent a good lesson.'
Chacha breaks in: 'What if the recruiting agent files a case?'
One looks at the other, smiles: ‘Chacha sometimes pretends to understand nothing. He who himself is a santrashi…
Buts in the second one, seriously: 'And this illegal human trafficking is also a form of terrorism!'
The first one continues: '… how can he go to the law?'
Chacha coughs once and shouts towards the ondor mahal, 'Can you hear? Make some tea for the bhatijas. Shohurey bhatijas, after all.'
He coughs twice and adds: 'When will you guys teach me how to print money?'
(R) thedailystar.net 2005