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Folly
A Short Story by Rabindranath Tagore

Finally I had to leave home. I'm not going to explain why, just imply the reasons.

I was a doctor in my village. My house was opposite the police station. My subservience to the police was no less than my subservience to death, so I was well aware of all kinds of trouble that could be caused by man and his Lord. Just like a ring and its gem enhance one another's beauty, my mediation in the inspector's work and the inspector's mediation in mine was improving both our financial status.

Because of all these reasons, I had formed a special friendship with the very practical inspector Lalit Chakraborty. He almost made me feel like an eligible bachelor with his frequent requests to consider marrying the daughter of one of his relatives. But Shashi, my only daughter, was motherless; I couldn't consign her to a stepmother. So year after year, like the pages of a calendar the auspicious moments of marriage passed away. Many eligible and not-so-eligible bachelors tied the knot right in front of me; I just went to attend the weddings with the grooms, had the matrimonial sweets and returned home with a sigh.

Shashi had crossed twelve and stepped into thirteen. I had the hope that she could be married off into a respected family if I could manage enough money (for dowry). Getting that done, I could set my eyes on another auspicious act.

I was contemplating about that much needed money when Harinath Majumder of Tulsipara came in, fell to my feet and broke into tears. The story was that his widowed daughter had suddenly died last night and his enemies had sent an anonymous letter to the inspector accusing her of abortion. Now the police were ready to take away her dead body.

This humiliation on top of the tragic loss of a daughter had become unbearable for him. As a doctor and also as a friend of the inspector, I had to rescue him somehow.

Sometimes when fortune is willing, she just comes in through the front door just like that. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “The situation is very grave.” I cited a few examples from imagination and the trembling old man started to cry like a baby.

Needless to say, Harinath was pushed to the limit of his financial resources to arrange his daughter's funeral.

My daughter Shashi asked compassionately, “Father, why was that old man lying at your feet and crying like that?”

“Go away! You don't need to know all that!” I said scolding her.

Now the path to marrying my daughter off to a worthy groom was clear. The wedding date was soon fixed. As it was the marriage of my only daughter, the feast arranged was plentiful. Since there was no mistress in my house, all the neighbors kindly came forward to help. The utterly grateful Harinath started to work day and night.

At about three o' clock on the night of her gaye holud, Shashi was suddenly attacked by cholera. The disease gradually became more serious. After all my efforts to cure her went in vain, I threw the useless medicines on the floor, went to Harinath and fell to his feet. I said, “Forgive me, brother, please forgive my sins. She is my only child, I have no one else.”

Harinath perplexedly replied, “What are you doing, doctor? I am ever grateful to you, don't touch my feet!”

said, “I almost ruined you for no reason at all, and now my daughter is dying because of that sin.”

Saying this I screamed in front of everyone, “I have ruined this old man and I'm ready to accept the punishment; but God save my Shashi.”

Then I took Harinath's sandals and started to hit myself on the forehead with them; the old man hurriedly took them away from my hands.

At ten o' clock the next morning, with the faint shade of turmeric on her body, Shashi left the world forever.

Just a day after that incident, the inspector said, “Why wait any longer? You should marry now. You need someone to look after everything.”

Such heartless contempt at someone's tragedy doesn't
even suit the devil. But on different occasions I myself had shown such regard for humanity that I didn't have anything to him then. The insult of the inspector's friendship stung me like the lashing of a whip that day.

No matter how much the heart pains, life goes on. As before, the food to eat, the clothes to wear and even the firewood and the shoelaces had to be collected with all the effort before I returned home.

When I sat alone in my house having a little respite from work, sometimes that compassionate voice's question kept ringing in my ears, “Father, why was that old man lying at your feet and crying like that?” I paid to have Harinath's derelict house rebuilt, donated my milk-giving cow to him
and retrieved his mortgaged land from the moneylenders.

For a few lonely evenings and sleepless nights full of unbearable pain, I kept feeling that my tenderhearted daughter couldn't find peace in her after-life because of my cruel misdeeds. It seemed that she, with a heavy heart, kept asking me, “Father, why have you done this?”

For a few days I couldn't even press the poor patients for my fees. If any small girl in the village became ill, I felt as if it were my Shashi suffering from illness.

Rain had flooded the whole village then. The paddy fields and the compounds had to be crossed by boat. It had been raining incessantly since early morning.

I had gotten a call from the zemindar's courthouse. The boatman of the zemindar's pansi boat was getting
discourteously impatient at my slightest delay.

There used to be someone before who would fetch my old umbrella, check it for holes and anxiously remind me to protect myself against cold wind and rain water when I had to go out in weather like this. Today, looking for the umbrella in my empty and silent house, remembering her loving face delayed me a little. Looking at her bedroom I wondered why God had arranged so much love for someone who never cared for the sorrow of others. As I approached the door of that empty room with this thought in mind, my heart cried out in sorrow. The shouting of the rich man's servant outside made me quickly check my emotions and leave.

As I got on the boat I noticed a small boat tied at the ghat of the police station and a farmer, wearing only a loincloth, standing there in the rain. I asked him why he was there. His daughter had died of snakebite last night; he had brought her dead body to the station to report the incident. I saw that he had covered the body with his own shirt. The zemindar's impatient boatman rowed off before I could ask anything else.

The farmer was still sitting quietly in the rain when I returned home at one o' clock in the afternoon; he had not yet been able to meet the inspector. I sent him a part of what I had cooked for lunch. He didn't even touch it.

I quickly finished lunch and went back to attend to the patient in the courthouse. The farmer was still sitting there dumbstruck when I returned home in the evening. He couldn't answer anything I asked him, just kept staring at my face. That village, that police station, that gloomy, soggy and muddy nature was a like a dream to him. I had to ask him repeatedly to know that a constable had appeared before him and asked if he had anything as bribe. He was extremely poor and didn't have anything to give to them. "Then keep waiting," the constable said and then left.

I had witnessed such scenes before, but had never felt anything. No way could I tolerate it today. I could hear Shashi's aggrieved voice echoing indistinctly all over the gloomy sky. The farmer's immense grief at his daughter's loss seemed to arouse something inside me.

The inspector was sitting on his cane chair smoking his pipe. His relative, the one whose daughter he was trying to get me married to, had arrived to meet me; he was sitting on a mat talking to the inspector. I stormed in and shouted, "What are you, men or demons?" Then I threw all of my earnings of that day at the inspector's face and said, "If you want money then take it, take it with you to your grave; now let that man go, he needs to arrange his daughter's funeral."

After this storm, the bond that had grown between the inspector and me at the expense of those we had victimised was ruined. Not too long after that day I fell to the feet of the inspector singing his praises and cursing myself for losing my mind that day. Finally I had to leave home.

Translated by Constantine


Best concert venues

When we talk about concerts, we talk about talented musicians, guitars, gadgets and vocals. But we hardly ever talk about the 'venue', which plays a crucial part in making a concert a success! The kind of venue chosen for a particular concert accentuates its atmosphere and with extraordinary lighting, sound system and security, you are good to go! Recently, we asked a group of frequent concertgoers and some musicians, which venues they liked best and some had the same answers, so we concluded that these venues were the most appealing to the audience and musicians alike! The choices are in order of 'best' to 'good'. There is no 'worst' in here!

STM Hall: The Scholastica Auditorium wins the hearts of the majority, almost 96% of those asked, probably because of its location and convenient size. Makes you wonder why they don't organize any more concerts at the place. One possible reason would be that the hall is not rented out to private organizers.

ISD: The ISD auditorium comes second and since it has got the best-looking people attending it, as a concert venue it's full of surprises.

Nazrul Institute: Situated in Dhanmondi, Nazrul Institute has been a long time favorite, mainly because of the good sitting arrangement and wide space in the front. So if you don't like a song, you could sit down and if you wanted to head-bang…you could go up front! The acoustics are good too, my personal favorite, but apparently the place is hard to get for concerts and all.

Russian Cultural Centre: So far this venue has the least number of seats, but some of the best shows have been put up here for quite a while! About 60 % of the people surveyed said they liked this as a venue due to location, size and cost-effective-bookings.

Bashundhara Convention Centre: I wouldn't really call it a venue yet, since it has been used only once for a concert, but nonetheless those who went to the Artcell solo concert appreciated the feel of the huge indoor space!

All Community Club: The response for ACC was varied. But, everyone agreed that ACC is one of the most convenient places (location wise) to have a concert. However, most of them think that the place doesn't have good lagging- apparently the sound keeps bouncing back at you!

Selecting a venue is crucial but when you add to it the perfect lighting, sound system and an awesome line-up, any concert will become an instant hit! The government venues like Osmani Milonayoton and Engineers Institute haven't been mentioned yet. These were once great venues for concerts, but they are not used anymore due to restrictions. What we need now are cheap venues with good acoustics, seating arrangements and great locations accessible to people from all over the city.

By Shamma M. Raghib

 
 

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