Volume 6 | Issue 14| July 14, 2012|


   Salty Air
   Ponds Women's Day
   The Art of Bonsai
   Nearing Evening
   Shanaka’s Family

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Nearing Evening

Shuvashis Sinha, a promising writer, born in 1979 in Maulvibazar in a Manipuri family. He completed his Honours and Masters in Dramatics from Jahangirnagar University. With the hands of poetry and dramatics he had entered the cultural world creating the “Manipuri Theatre” of which he is the president; almost all 28 dramas of this group had been directed by him. He was the youngest from the other seven representing Bangladesh in the SAARC Writer's Conference in Delhi in 2005.

Shuvashis Sinha

The sky had disrobed itself of the cloudy attire, its original handle of the bright, burning sun. The blowing wind carried his sweat, which symbolically expressed salty tears. I was going after the rickshaw puller listening to the unexpressed words. To be precise, the rickshaw puller was carrying me to my destination. This is what the world is like. Existence of some is only to bear the burden of others, if once as a father, than again as a son. His body is making an upward and downward movement along with the paddle creating speed, creating movement. Without sweat and toil, speed cannot be created. No work can be achieved without speed. Today I am going. This is also because of speed, but not mine, rather his. He halted approaching the small shop at the corner.

“I want to have a glass of water.”
“Please do not get annoyed.”
“No, why shall I?”

He drank the water. It looked like a glass that gave an empty stare at him and he was solely devoured into its love. He probably commemorated the death of someone. He had said, “My son just died before my eyes and I was helpless. I was unable to do anything to save him.” His voice broke in a suppressed roar. It was as if food was stuck in his gullet in the process of hurried eating. He suddenly screamed out, “Son, please do not leave me.”

“Sir, do you smoke?”
“May I have a cigarette?”
“Yes, no problem.”

The smoke disappeared in a silent siren as if in ultimate search of the reality of death. I felt that I could see it in my inner eye - the smoke being absorbed in his body and disappearing, looking for the relief of death just like poisonous rats. I recalled those parasitic rats whose intervention in our paddy field caused father to buy the pesticide. While filling the paddy field with the poison, father had said, “Eat now rascals. How much of my paddy would you eat?” Kushum had absorbed he essence of death laying on the paddy field once saying, “Take me away, take me away”. Millions of queer insects crawled out of her body creating a circus of destruction.

“You have yet to say where you want to go.”
“There is no need for that. There is movement, there is power and we are there too.”
“I do not understand.”

No need to understand. I did not understand that night too. Neither did I understand the noise of wailing, too which came up amidst the sound of excitement or sometimes amidst the declaration of ultimate joy.

Kushum's body lay just in the middle of the sugar cane field. It looked like the broken bangle on her wrist which tried to twist its face and ask, “Hurrah! I will not dance again. Do you know who adorned me? It is death. A drop of blood smiled from the corner of her lips like a red lotus. The ambiance was fragranced with the scent of the Sheuli. My heart raced like the hammering waves of the pond. And it was then that the poisonous container had stretched out its elongated tongue to engulf my happiness in itself.

“I had a daughter. She passed away too.”
“How many years ago?”
“How long have we been living?”
“Fifty. No actually it is hundred or 200 years.”
“How do people live for so long? My daughter used to say that the bliss of life lasts only for a short time.”

I was lost in the enlightened love of Kushum on the very first day as she had smiled removing her veil in the dark. I was lost amidst the bushes looking for the butterflies. On my way a huge field made me move around itself as if I was a football, a river on my way exhausted me by making me dance to its rhythmic waves. A piece of cloud froze me in itself like ice, saying “Let the wind blow. I will throw you to Kushum's courtyard. The presence of your touch and fragrance would arouse insanity in her - making her dance and sing.”

“How did your daughter die?”
“She was a hurt soul. She was mad too.”
“Mad? She had pain in her heart and you are calling her insane?”
“It requires being insane, to know the meaning of pain.”
“Does it?”
“Yes. The one, who knows himself, acknowledges the reality inside him can only know what pain is and a person as such is mad.”

Had I been Jesus, I would have crucified myself finding truth in you. Kushum laughed heartily at it. She used to laugh often perhaps because her days of living were limited. She used to say that it was not possible to nurture a romance which has no identity.

“How can love have identity?”
“There is an identity. It can be either of a mother, sister or wife?”
“Now that it is an entangled identity of a mother, sister or wife? Can you distinguish?”
“What if I cannot?”
“My soul originated from the love in your heart and it will create the generation of your own self from me.”

I could hear the paddle weep saying, “Please stop. Enough.” It infuriated me on the person carrying me. I felt like slapping him on his face. “What are you doing? You will smash the little paddles!”

“This is the joy of pulling a rickshaw, you have to apply force to one place and the work is done from another.”
“Can you not love?”
“The rickshaw.”
“Ha ha.”

It was autumn then. There were kaash phool (white reeds) who danced in the air like the toasted paddy (khoi) emerging from the saucepan. I tasted its saltiness and slept amidst the wood being empowered by its beauty. I know there is more in you.

“Heat me up.”
“Will it emerge if heat is applied?”
“Maybe… Perhaps it would change its shade from white to red and generate your soul in thyself.”
“Did your daughter know poems?”

“She used to tell me, “Father, place only the lamps of moon near me at night and I do not have any hunger.” She used to say all these, and you have very well recognized her insanity.”

“Did she die at the end?”
“Is death the ultimate end?”
“Who are you?”

The kashphhol looked like a widow, miniature in the dark witnessing the devouring of one body into another, the rising of the moon. The emotions melt and wet the land with drops of tears. I went wild in the passion collecting myself and composing my burning feelings.

“Father said he would kill me.”
“He cannot tolerate this.”
“Love, attraction, the game of searching for oneself in each other.”

“Where is it Kushum? When I seep into your soul, thousands of petals dance within me, igniting the passion of youth. The person whom I call my mother has such a varied presence in my life throughout my childhood, teenage and youth. Now I am at a loss as to devote myself to the feet of whom reflects the personality of my mother. “

“Father said that once my mother had also jumped into the tidal Ganges and then came out and said only once that ‘Just like this’ and had disappeared again.”

“I do not exist for a long time.”
“What does that mean?”
“Where am I? You better see a doctor. Where do you find me?”

The rickshaw pullers back had the story of his misery imprinted with his sweat. He kept telling his tale while moving with the speed. The bell rang occasionally. The departure of one darkness was overwhelmed by the arrival of another. I am familiar with most of the faces. The ones that have turned to ghosts. Death takes various forms and tells me their tales.

“How far?”
Not much. You have toiled a lot carrying me, though the wheels were yours. This was not there earlier. Even then people struggled so hard to carry their wards to the door of death. “I have brought sir.” they used to say, pushing them to the mouth of death. Every child wants to embrace the end at first, to be lost before others.

“I can't go any further.”
“Just a little more, then we will go to the ultimate world of reality where there is no dividing line of light and darkness.
“What are you saying?”
“Silent, lonesome and innocent revenge?”
“Yes, we bear the burden of the world and then realize the pain of it. Who is standing with a knife?”
“Who is it?”
Yes, I know rickshaw puller, it is your daughter named Kushum.


Translated by Nuwaira Raiyan

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