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bangla classic

Notun Bondhu

I stopped by a restaurant in Bardhaman on my way to Shantiniketon for luncheon. The man accosted me and started a conversation. He seemed to me to be a man of a cheerful disposition and almost of my age around forty to forty two.

I was sitting alone on a table of four. Just when I ordered my meal, the gentleman came up to me and asked "Could I please sit with you?" I replied "of course, I am alone. Are you on your own too?"

"Yes" he replied. "Where are you heading for?"
"Oh, that's good. I am going there too. My children studies there. I am going to visit them. My wife wanted to come along too. She had to cancel the plan at the last moment since her father became sick. Will you stay there for some time?"

"For a few days" I answered. "I want to buy a house, so that I can stay there at times. I am a writer."
"Your name…?"
"Amiyo nath Sarkar"
"Oh yes, I read your novels. You are a successful writer…superb…cannot stop reading once I begin."
"How long will you stay in Shantiniketon?" I asked
"Just for a couple of days"
"Your name..?" I asked again
"You would not know me. I work for the Electronic supply corporation; my name is Joyonto Bose"

Our food has been served. The gentlemen just had omelet and toast, and a cup of tea. We were done within ten minutes. Just when we were about to part, the man said, "Since we are going at the same place, why go alone? Please join me; your car can follow my Ambassador. We will have a good time."

I liked the proposal. I asked my chauffer to follow us. His car seemed quite new. He said he bought it a few years ago. We set off at around quarter to one.

"Cigarette?" Joyoto babu proffered.
"Oh yes. Why don't you have one of mine now?"
"Later. For the time being we can have my one"
"Seems like we have the same brand. Wills!!"
"It's been a long time. Now a days, I have lessened having it."
"Me too. One packet in a day, not more."
"Same here. They are frightening by warning of cancer and what not"

Our car was moving on. Throughout the time, I could not speak. I was now feeling better for having a partner for the rest of the journey.

"Where is your paternal place?" Joyoto babu inquired.
"In Bangladesh- Faridpur. However, I have not been there. I have grown up in Kolkata"
"Oh! I am also from East Bengal- Noakhali. My father came here during the partition. I was a child then"
"Where do you stay in Kolkata?"
"New Alipur"
"I stay in Jonok road" I said.
"You probably studied in Kolkata then?"
"Yes, Mitra Institution and Ashutosh College. I was a science student. I passed my BSC in 1965."
"Me too, but not BSC, BA. My school was South Suburban Men, and college- Saint Javier's."
"Are you interested in sports?"
"I used to play cricket. I love to watch sports. There was not television back then. I had to go to the field. Especially for football matches."
"Since football came up. Which team do you support? East Bengal or Mohonbhog?"
"Mohonbhog. They are the best"
"We must shake hands then."

With much alacrity Joyonto babu took the cigarette in his left hand and stretched out his right one. I was surprised by our similarity. Joyoto babu said "I am feeling really happy to meet you. I was exhausted by being along for so long time. We have so many similarities. I am amazed."
"May be there are a lot of people who are of such similarities, but they do not meet."

"It's great that we did come to know each other."
It was almost half past three when we reached Shantiniketon. Both of us had booking in Bolpur tourist Lodge. Moreover our rooms were adjacent ones- simply astounding.

After sometime, we set out for our own work. I knew a resident from Shantiniketon who informed me about the house. I liked it. I talked to the owner too. I gave him some advance for booking. Then I went to my friend's place- Bhobotaron Dutta- for a cup of tea. I was back by five, but Joyonoto Babu had not returned then.

When I thought of ordering another cup of tea, I sensed some discomfort in my head. I had Aspro with me. I took one and went to sleep. When I woke up after a few hours, the headache was not gone. I felt an increased body temperature. I did not bring my thermometer, so I could not measure the fever.
Right then, there was a knock. I said "Come in" louding my voice.
Joyoto Babu entered. I sensed a feeling of anxiety in his eyes.
"Why are you lying in bed? Didn't you go out?"
"I did. My work is done. I started feeling bad when I returned."
He put his hand on my forehead and said "Oh! You have high fever. Wait, I am bringing my thermometer."
He brought his one from his room. Temperature has risen to 102. Joyonto Babu said "Wait. Its better we leave the matter to the doctor than deciding by ourselves."
"Don't worry. There a doctor near Bolpur. I know him. I am managing everything."
He went out of his room.
The doctor was there within half an hour. He gave me a prescription, and asked to have only chicken soup for dinner. I paid the visit though Joyonto Babu offered to pay, but I did not let him.
Joyonto Babu then said "Let me keep the prescription. I will go to bring the medicines. I will ask to prepare chicken soup for your dinner and serve it in your room."
I stopped him, "Why will you bring the medicines? I have my driver here"
The man seemed to give me a deaf ear.
There was no point in arguing, so I accepted his generous sympathy. I thought to myself- I would have been in an untoward situation if this gentleman was not here with me.
Joyonto Babu brought the medications, and I took a capsule. He said "my son and daughter are fine, so I am relaxed. I have no work now, I am sitting here. You try to sleep."
I again stopped him and said "You do not need to stay."
"That's ok. I will come after a few hours. Do not lock your door then. Thieves don't come here."
I smiled "I have no valuables too."
Joyonto babu left. People do hot help each other much. Almost everyone is selfish, alteast that's what my experience says. Joyonto babu helps others gladly.
I could not sleep. After sometime, Joyonto Babu came again and said "Since you are awake, then have your dinner. Your soup is ready. I am asking the waiter to serve it here."
I had a good might's sleep. I felt better when I woke up. The medicine had worked.
I washed and shaved my beard; I seemed to have no discomfort at all.
Joyonto Babu came at around eight. "Wow, you look fresh. Let me check your temperature."
It was 98.8. The fever is almost gone.
I could not resist myself saying this to Joyonto Babu, and I said it from the core of my heart. I pressed his right hand with both of mine, and said "I cannot repay you all that you have done for me. I don't know what I would have done if there was not a friend like you in this time of trouble."
"Since you called me Friend then why call Apni? Joyonto babu said. "Let's come down to Tumi."
It's not normal from calling someone APNI to TUMI in such a short period of time. However, I did not hesitate with the proffer. "OK, if you have no problem, then I also do not."
"Let's stay here for today. There is a musical soiree in SHINGHO SHODON at evening. My daughter asked me to go there."
Next morning, we set out after breakfast. This time Joyonto was in my Maruti, his Ambassador following us. We stopped by a tea stall for tea, and then in Pandua to see the ancient ruins, our friendship has blossomed. I was thinking to myself- where was this man all these years? How wonderfully we met! I will me seeing him in Kolkata, we will play chess together, I was feeling so good at the thought of it.
When I dropped Joyonto in Alipur, I said, "Now I know where you live. I will visit you with my family one day."
I told my wife, Monoroma, about him. "You got something precious, a true friend."
The letter arrived after three days. The letter was written the very day we returned from Shantiniketon. It took three days, thanks to the local mail service.
The letter was this-
I had no problem recognizing you after 25 years; you probably could not make me out for my beard. I did not tell you my real name, and made out a lot of other things. We could not have been friends if you knew my real identity. I am your old school mate
Koushik Mitra- Rontu. I think I do not need to remind you of our antithesis relation. You were the best boy in class, and I was the Satan. I was always after you, and put you in trouble so many times. If you had bitter feelings for me, I hope I could make it up in these two days. Remember, both of us have changed with time. School is a distant past. The new relationship is real, not the old one.
Your friend,
PS. Do you have any problem coming down from Tumi to Tui?
I replied right then-
Dear Rontu,
I am glad to receive your letter. I will visit you on Sunday evening. See you then.
Your friend,

By Satyajit Ray
Translated by Maherin Ahmed

Men who made it big

At number 7, we have King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, with $30 billion, for you.

In power since 1982, the 77-year-old Saudi Arabian King's fortune has swollen in recent years. At the helm of one of the world's top oil-producing countries, the King has substantial financial clout as his $30 billion would suggest, but he has even more power than meets the eye, as the recent oil prices have increased immensely.

Born in 1921, King Fahd studied at the Prince's School and later at the Saudi Institute in Makkah Al Mukarramah. In 1953, during the reign of King Saud, he was appointed the country's first Minister of Education, energetically contributing to the development of Education in the Kingdom. In 1962, he was appointed Minister of the Interior, and in 1967 Second Deputy Premier. In 1975 during the era of King Khaled, he became Crown Prince and First Deputy Premier. He became King of Saudi Arabia in 1982 following the death of King Khaled. Throughout his political career, King Fahd participated in and led various Saudi delegations, thus acquiring the expertise needed to take important decisions in both domestic and international domains. His early activities included attending the U. N. inauguration meeting in San Francisco in 1945. He headed the Kingdom's delegation to the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.

Born at Ta'if, the 11th son of King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, the founder of the Saudi dynasty, Fahd was the eldest of seven sons borne by Ibn Saud's favourite wife, Hassa bint Ahmad al-Sudairi. He was educated at the royal court and at overseas universities. He served under King Saud as education minister, from 1953, and interior minister, from 1962, and, under King Faisal http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0029243.html

, who was his full brother, he became second deputy prime minister from 1967. Fahd's influence increased further when Khalid, his half-brother, became king in 1975. He became Crown Prince and first deputy prime minister, with effective charge of much of the day-to-day government. He became an influential negotiator of oil prices and promoter of peace in the Middle East, convening a summit conference at Fès in August 1981.

On Khalid's death, in June 1982, Fahd became king and also head of government. He appointed his half-brother, Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz al-Saud, who was commander of the National Guard, as Crown Prince and first deputy prime minister, and his full brother, Sultan ibn Abdul Aziz al-Saud, the defence minister, as second deputy prime minister.

He encouraged the investment of the country's enormous oil wealth in infrastructure and new activities such as petrochemical industries in order to diversify the economy, and also built up the country's military forces. When Iraq invaded neighbouring Kuwait in August 1990, King Fahd joined with the USA and other international forces in 'Operation Desert Storm' in the course of the 199091 Gulf War, in which Saudi Arabia was used as the base from which Kuwait was liberated in February 1991.

By Taskin Rahman


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