Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

A Revenge

Love, Death, Midsummer

Update : 27 Aug 2023, 03:30 PM

Autumn has arrived. Darkness envelops the Mandal house. The moonlight lines the horizon tenderly. Yet everywhere the solitude is ghostly. In the courtyard, the mango tree towers upon the coconut trees. Behind the bamboo grove, the wind sways. There is chirping.  A window in the room is open. The soft autumn air enters the house through it. A bunch of rosin grows near. Maybe Lata has fallen asleep with the window open to smell the flowers. A book of stories lies on her chest. Grandma is sleeping on the floor. The hurricane has extinguished itself after running out of kerosene. It is long past midnight, when Lata wakes up with a scream. Grandmother gets up and sits on the bed. 

What happened!? 

Lata is unable to speak.
Someone touched me through the window, She says. It’s a thief, Grandma! 

She immediately gazes through the bamboo grove into the empty wilderness. A soft light hangs in the void. Grandma asks in a worried voice, Who is there? Yes, he went past the mango tree towards his elder brother's house. Grandmother was now imagining a horseman in the middle of the night, as if Samad had returned; What did you say? Samad went to Lata’s bedroom? Everyone is awake. The courtyard of the Mandal house is full of people. But everyone is silent. It is difficult to answer the curiosity of the people in the neighborhood! Lata's father struggles. Someone has tapped on the window. Lata can also be mistaken. But Lata is adamant. I saw it myself. Her mother shouts: Shut up, you poor thing, will you sink the dignity of this house!?

This is Samad's work, they say. Despicable! How is this possible? As the oldest son of the family, this boy is the future of the family. Besides, Lata's wedding is ahead. Knowing this, will anyone get married to her? As a result, everyone wants to suppress the matter. But gossip flies in the wind. Everybody knows Samad wants to marry Lata. All this is delicious information. The enemy will doubtless expose the matter. The marriage will break up. If the marriage breaks up, it will be Samad’s gain. So what if they are cousins? At this rate, the clan will be stigmatized. But Samad will marry Lata. That's what everyone thinks. 

*

Since last week, Samad has been lying dead. 

Just drink this milk. His mother says. But Samad doesn't answer. There is hunger in his stomach but no taste in his mouth. Get up quietly. His mother tries to rush him to the doctor. Samad does not go. He says, let's see for a few more days. No one has seen him upset for this long. He was all Laughter. He has failed twice in B.A., but even then he had no concern! Mother said Samad, what will you do? If you don't study, you can help Kamla Kishan a little. 

Lata's mother, his aunt, told his mother, Don't you understand? He wants a wife. Then everything will be fine. Samad laughed. 

 

Although the uncles do not live in one house, the outer courtyards of the adjacent houses are united. Their houses do not seem so different. Samad has changed ever since there has been people coming over to see Lata. Lata’s fiancé is an agricultural officer. Everything has been fixed already. Lata's wedding will be on the 22nd.  Samad managers the arrangements. But as soon as they leave, he comes home and does not leave the bed. Crippled with fever. No heat in the body. Lata comes over the following day. What is up with you, Samad? She asked. 

He laughed, What can I say! About your groom? Yes yes, very good boy. He has a car. You can be happy. You wouldn’t even recognize us later! Lata did not answer all these words. Only tears rolled down her eyes. 

 Samad knew what he has wanted to hear is impossible.  His uncle would not agree to anything. And he knows his father. He wouldn’t have the courage to open his mouth. 

Lata said stiffly: If I go somewhere with you, the honor of this house will be washed away. Everyone will say that she ran away with her cousin. Is love above social status? You have to stand within society

Samad saw how rational Lata was that day. But how could he acquiesce? Since the day the date of Lata's wedding day had been fixed, Samad’s love for Lata has exploded. In his head, he is adamant that he has a right to her companionship. The marriage cannot be allowed to happen. 

Samad woke up many nights and returned home from outside to see Lata standing in the yard facing the sky. 

Samad would say, what are you looking for in the sky? 

Lata didn't flinch at all, as if she had been waiting here for him for so long. 

She answered: luck

Luck?

 Yes, everything is possible tonight. If you know how to ask, you can get everything. 

Samad asked. What do you want? 

Why tell you? 

Lata's eyes were wet. She could not speak with a choked voice. Samad put his hand on Lata's head. He lifted the hem of the sari over his head. He said, let's go inside.

 

Who says memories are sweet? What is the power of all these feelings that you have? 

*

Thief! The screams wake Samad up. By that time everyone is awake and in the courtyard. Seeing him enter, Lata turns her face. Everyone in the house is staring at him. Samad asks his uncle, what happened? 

No one answers his words. 

He asks Lata: what happened to Lata? 

Lata, too, does not answer, she turns her face away. Samad's mind races with many questions. He cuts out of the courtyard and walks toward the bank of the river, thinking for a while. It is a small river in front of the house. The sky is reflected upside down in the water. The mysteries of imagination are uncountable!  Even though these days are sad, Samad also has a happy love in his heart. But this night's incident only comes as a blow, without any trace of comfort. Although Lata has not spoken since that day, today's silence stung Samad even more. Life is like a river. The waves play with the slightest touch of wind. Sometimes one can get lost in the current and start running at their own pace. Mother is looking for Samad by now. What is the matter that you are sitting in this cold? Samad says, I just came and sat. In mother's mind, there is torment. What happened to the boy? Did you go to her house? What happened? They doubted you. Lata saw it with his own eyes. Mother's words are not simple anymore. Samad's heart turns to stone. Only one thing starts to hit the mind, Lata herself saw! What a mysterious woman! No other thought came to Samad's mind. 

 

It becomes known to everyone in this house at night, who put his hand on Lata's chest at night: took the veil and pulled it. Samad returns to bed. He does not have the energy to go out even if necessary.  A friend of Samad comes says, You want to marry Lata? Why?  Everyone will laugh at that. 

*

 Samad has high fever. Lata's wedding is tomorrow. It is a long night. The congregation is meeting at home. No one is present in this meeting except some of Samad's uncles, aunts and grandmothers. There is no need to stay. The purpose of the meeting is to ensure that no one knows about this dirty incident. Lata's father is still afraid. They believe that Samad can cause any accident at any moment. There is no doubt that Samad is the principal perpetrator of this crime. He is called to the meeting. Samad comes out like a quiet boy and sits on the balcony of the house. He still has a fever. He will not protest. When someone is falsely accused, there is nothing left to say. His uncle says: Look, you are the eldest son of this house. What happened, happened. But if the marriage is broken due to this becoming known or if we ourselves break the marriage now, then how will you show your face to people? After this, it will be difficult to get the other boys and girls married. People will also talk about the character of this house. He could not finish his words. Samad's father took off his sandals and walked towards Samad. He starts beating him. Haramzada can't even die now,  he roars.

 

Samad thinks there is no point in living with this shame. And revenge can only be through suicide. His mistake should be corrected with his life. But conscience prevents him from committing suicide like a coward. He decides to leave home. While leaving the house, he feels that it was not possible for him to do this today. Because he loves Lata. That love has no stigma.  That's why Samad can't tarnish his love. Today, if the eldest son of this house leaves the house, it will undoubtedly be known. Samad even saw the danger of breaking Lata's marriage. So it is not possible for him to leave home before marriage. 

*

Lata's wedding was today. Samad never came out of the house on the pretext of fever. Samad's mother did not allow anyone to enter this room. Samad thought that on the day of the wedding he would see off Lata himself. But that remained a dream. Samad wanted to hate Lata. But no hatred tormented him. Time seemed to be stuck until the noise of marriage had stopped. Lata would leave now. Lata entered Samad's room with her younger sister. He said to his sister, you go. She is beautifully decorated.  Marks of celebration all over the body. Samad looked at her once before turning away. Lata moved closer and put her hands in Samad's hair and sobbed. Resting on Samad's hot forehead, the entire body of the bride is shaking with tears. Samad could not understand any hint of this mystery. Where did all his anger and sadness go? He immediately thought that she was his.  Samad put his hand on Lata's golds smeared chin and said, why are you crying? What a crazy girl! This is a day of happiness, why cry? Putting her head on Samad's shoulder she said, Forgive me, brother. Lata's throat burned. Samad said, let's get you in the car. Everyone in the house saw that Lata was moving slowly on Samad's shoulders.  

Mozid Mahbub is a novelist and essayist based in Bangladesh. 

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