Monday, April 23, 2018 | ePaper

Short story

A journey towards eternity

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Md Saiful Islam :
Sumona stands beside GPO as usual after completing her daily office chores. Here is now 'Shahid Nur Hussain Chattar'. Everything has changed. Re-naming has become quite a culture here from roads, neighbourhoods to playgrounds. It's a cloudy afternoon. After the daily break at 5:00pm in the Secretariat, this area has become crowded with passengers, job-holders and most notably - pickpockets! Sumona holds her handbag in a very secure way. It’s wintry afternoon, so at 5:00pm it’s already become very dark. The sun is setting, although the sun cannot be seen from here. Nowadays it's almost impossible to see the sun behind these huge buildings. There had been some drizzling in the morning. So Sumona is thinking like she'd take the first bus that would come along the way. It's been long and quite a rare thing to see the No 15 bus of Shonkor even half empty! Then there are oilier factors like the male counterparts! At last, quite surprisingly, seeing an almost empty bus, she breathes a sigh of relief. But alas! Before getting any foothold of this extraordinary situation, to her utter surprise, she gazes that the bus gets fully loaded within a blink of an eye! But again, maybe as a reward for her patience and perseverance, like a bolt from the blue, a bus is seen coming not very far. Not wasting a single moment by thinking, she gets up on the bus.
Like she has to fight for her survival in this dog-eat dog situation every day, she finds the bus episode a similar thing, maybe a triumph of her willingness! Jigatola to GPO, Each day! Every day! The same chores! She has got to move on with her life in-between many known and mostly unknown fates.
Sumona tries to think about the inner meaning of the Tagore song “I just love to gaze at the empty road!’ Sitting beside her, looks like quite a handsome and young gentleman, but in the ladies seat, puffing a cigarette, maybe he is taking a shallow glance at her.
Standing up tall, now Sumona has got to do -what she never wishes to do alone but she couldn't get the job done with one of those faceless males sitting in a picture - perfect way in the 'gent's seat' anyway! So, at last, without any hesitation, she tries to put light on those ‘cigarette’ and ‘ladies seat’ perspective right in front of him, in as respectful way as possible. Besides, she is engaged to someone else or so she thinks, so the equation like ‘love at the first sight’ is not put to test in this case that we have got here! Sumona also tactfully avoids the shallow glance thing to duck any bouncer that would potentially come, you know what!
She took a glance at her watch hurriedly. It’s 5:00pm.
Within an hour, she has got to return home. Then she's got to run for tuition after being half-fed. Tomorrow is Montu’s final exam. So, this half-an hour is like a bliss to her. From the day of the interview to the office until now, every day she has got the privilege to think about life's cores for this half-an-hour. She can ponder about her own life, about her immobile but caring dad, ailing mom, younger sibling Moni, the sweetie-little-cutie Dola and about a dear one!
The letter came yesterday. He wrote that he’d come by 8th. Today it’s 3rd. In between, there are 5 days. He’d come and say as usual:
I won’t listen to your lame excuses this time!
Sumona would smile and then she'd' say whisperingly-
Can’t you wait a bit long?
-No, not anymore.
-Try to understand my situation.
-I can understand, but why do you have to think about others all the time? Well! I know, you wouldn’t answer that easily! So let’s make a deal here! OK! how long do I have to wait?
-I hope it’s sooner rather than later. (Let Mona’s exam go through.)
Sumona pays the bus fare from her handbag. She looks out through the window. Palashi. It’s Palashi where they first met and had their previous meetings. He would say about all his dreams, loves, life, everything beside the corridor of the Botany section.
-You know, I wrote to mom.
-About what?
-About you.
-About me? What did you write about?
-I wrote that at last I've found someone.  Will they accommodate me heartily if we marry now?
-Why do you think like that?
-No, it’s something that I can't do anything about  right now! It’s just that we're so poor; you know, sub-consciously, I can’t help but think that one day you will forget me!
But he has kept his words! He hasn’t yet forget Sumona. After arriving Dhaka, he would habitually announce at the rail station - Oh Sumona! At last, I have come! I have decided to take you with me for good! .
-Please, come home. We'll discuss it there.
What's your final decision?
-What decision?
-About our marriage!
His PhD will take another two years to finish! Sumona wants to wait. Moni's final exam is in June. The result will come in October, then a job. Will Moni ever get a job in this competitive world? When will Sumona be freed? When mom will get a proper treatment for her disease?
Sumona has heard the ill-fated news of her elder sibling Renu. Renu’s family is breaking up.
Anything can happen anytime! After two years waiting, he will eventually return one day! What consolatory thought will solace him then? What is there to say anyway?

    Translation: Md Rashidul Alam

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