Killing cat on honeymoon night
Md. Hafijur Rahman..
The earth seems foreign to him who does not have parents. It happened the same to Ala. Whatever ate he, appeared insipid, wherever he cast his eyes, everything looked grey, dull. Even he stopped saying prayers which he never did in his life. He found it meaningless to offer salah because that very mother is no longer who taught him how to enlighten oneself through prayers, how to survive and live. He thought Allah punished him by taking away his mother from him in her middle age. He stopped going out of the house, stopped raising storm over a cup of tea with his friends by day or at night in the small shop of Akram uncle near the turn of Jessore-Kolkata Road. He stopped everything but nothing stopped for him. It is over one month he brought the dead body of his mother back from Vellore, India. She was suffering from heart conditions. When tested it was discovered that two valves of her heart went dysfunctional. One is hundred percent and the other is by 55 percent. Bhola, Ala’s cousin, also his lookalike and her aunty-cum-mother to Vellore for treatment. But bad luck, he came back with the dead body.
It had been pouring heavily for the last couple of days. It is not raining anymore right now. The sky is clear. The sun is up and everything is clear outside. But inside the room the sultry weather of Bhadra month became unbearable to him. He wanted to warm himself. So he told his servant to take a chair to rooftop. It is an old single-storey building and is surrounded by a ten by one and half a feet wall. The wall looks green in rainy season. Moss grows all over the wall with small plants in one or two places of it. The servant placed the chair in one corner under a guava tree. The guava tree grew high up covering almost half of the roof with its branches. Hundred-watt-electric-bulb-like guavas are hanging from the twigs of the tree. Big mango, jackfruit and other trees of his grandpa’s time have been removed from the rooftop to save this guava tree. From the top of the roof he saw people were going to the town, vehicles are plying on the roads, reckless teens are every now and then dashing out and coming in riding in motorcycles emitting a horrible sound and producing huge smoke. At a distance across the road there was a single-sex school (girl) and the babies were playing on the playground. Beyond the school there lay a vast green paddy field looking like a picture on a wall calendar. Farmers were seen busy nursing their land. Rows of palm trees stood across the fields and nest of tailor birds are tossing in the air. Suddenly a ripen guava fell in front of him and its seeds and kernel got scattered all over like a cocktail. Some of its half rotten flesh, gel-like kernel and sticky seeds got sprinkled on his sandals and pants. Ala took a look at the branch from which it might fall and found a bird flying away. At that very moment there stopped a white car in front of their gate. The servant and his cousin Bhola came running and informed that one of his friends came to meet him. He told Bhola to bring him right there and told the servant to clean the floor, sweep away the ripen guava, bring a chair and to serve some refreshment.
“Assalamu alaikum. How are you?” said Salman.
“Walaikumussalam. Alhamdulillah,” said Aush embracing Salman.
I know Ala who has lost his parents at the age of twenty five must have received the biggest blow in his life. But you cannot put a full stop there. Life is a continuous process and it is a series of compromises. We cannot battle against nature. You take the whole thing as a test from Allah. If you can take everything easily and lead a normal life you will succeed. The sooner we forget our bitter past, the better. What you have to do is to go on a travel. We are going to visit Bandarban and Himchhori and I wish you to join us. I think you will be OK. You know the mosque is missing you, the boys on the playground are also missing you, people of the ward are waiting for your help in orchestrating marriage ceremonies and other functions. You know people have the feelings that without you two no event becomes colourful. When aunty was alive I never saw her in my life sad even for a single moment. She was an ever smiling lady. For her sake you must behave yourself. To appease her bereaved soul you have to pray for her and lead a happy normal life like others.
Ala did not say anything but listened to him silently.
Refreshment was served.
“Wow, wonderful! That’s why I love to come to you. I still remember every time I came to visit you, aunty entertained us with fried, boiled and puffed rice with date gur and sometimes I stayed in your house two or three days at a stretch. Aunty prepared payesh, halua for us and should I ever forget her fry curry, hilsha fry and her catfish with mastered seed! Oh those days have gone by. Look at the guava which you have served here. What a colour! And what a taste! Can any other house of our neighborhood serve such a food? No. Because all those local varieties have been replaced by the hybrid ones. Kazi guava neither has got a colour nor taste. Think of eggs laid by a non-farm hen and an egg laid by a farm hen. There is an epic difference between these two varieties.
Whether the advice of his friend reached his ear or not, but that night Ala went to bed, saying prayers. He cried a lot and offered doa for his parents. Bhola observed what Ala did at night. That night he dreamt that his mother was asking him to run the shop for a while so that his father might come and take lunch. As he was sleeping and his mother tickled him and he laughed. In his dream he also heard his mother telling him if he went to a foreign land he would marry a princess. Hearing that, he almost rolled down from his bed out of laughter. When he woke up he saw that Bhola is calling him to perform ablution and to say morning prayers.
Once Panchu Mondol was a landlord and he left two sons and 20 cubits of land when he died. Among them Aush is the first and Baush is the last issue. Panchu Mondol lost all his property but 20 cubits because of the Sun Set Act during British regime. After the death of Panchu Mondol each of his sons got 10 cubits of land. Aush used to cultivate them by leasing them to a tenant but Baush sold one cubit after another to manage money for gambling and liquor. He had a lord-like lifestyle. He was a very generous man and used to help anyone who came to him for help. One day he was caught with a girl in a parlour and Aush drove him off home. After that he went missing for ten years. Now when he heard that his sister-in-law died, he came back home. People used to say he was living in Sylhet all through these years and was working there for a motel. But he came back home penniless. Now Ala handed over the land property and the shop to his uncle Baush. Baush became the happiest man in the world. Ala decided to travel the whole country and then the whole world. So he managed some ten lakh taka of which he converted some eight lakh into dollars and started using a debt card. The rest he would spend in cash. Accordingly he made a passport and one night he said his village goodbye. He did not imagine that Bhola is following him. The train he caught from Jessore junction he found Bhola sitting in his next seat. Ala was surprised to see Bhola. Bhola was not. What Ala did surreptitiously Bhola did openly. They hugged each other. The train whistled to move.
Ala’s father Aush had a shop in the town in which he used to deal with rice in one side and in the other side construction materials. He used to sell rice in Chittagong and on the return trip he brought cement and rod. He maintained his family nicely. One day when he went on such a trip he was missed. He never came back. People say he was murdered by highwaymen. Ala gave advertisement on the dailies and spent much money in search of his father but everything went in vain. Ala had just passed his HSC exams that time. So, he had to handle the shop himself and look after his family.
Ala and Bhola were cousins. They ate together, played together, slept together, quarreled together, they were born together and they would die together. They were so funny and so naughty that everybody of their locality used to respect and fear them because they could make the people both laugh and panicked. No cultural event would be interesting unless the two performed. On the other hand when they found people playing cards in the bamboo groves, they fired wood bullets from their toy pistols. All of them fled away thinking that police came to catch them. Then Ala and Bhola rolled down on the ground laughing. Sometimes times they threw stones at honeycombs and bees attacked the passers-by.
Ala and Bhola took a hotel in Dhaka city and started traveling different parts of the country. They used to go on a tour everyday in the morning and come back at night. Sometimes they stayed outside for two or three days. In the meantime they became known to all who worked in the hotel. One day Ala met a handsome young man named who was aquatinted to him previously. Roxy read in the same college where Ala was a student in the same college. He was a student leader. Roxy used to come to this hotel every now and then. One day they had a long talk during dinner.
“What are you doing in the hotel?”
“Actually I’m a manpower businessman. I do export manpower,” said Roxy.
“Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Singapore, Italy Korea, Australia, England, Canada etc.”
“What do you do here? Who is of yours is going outside?”
Nobody. Actually it was me and my cousin looking for going to a foreign country. Can you send us?
Yes of course. Which country do you prefer?
We want to go to Italy, Canada or the USA.
But you have patience if you want to these countries.
No problem you do arrange everything for us.
OK. No tension. You’re an old friend. I’ll do everything for you.
Since then Roxy used to come to Ala’s room and they developed an intimacy of certain level. But on the day when they were going to do medical check up, Roxy and Ala were kidnapped. At gun point they were taken to an unknown place. The goons tightly fastened their eyes with a piece of black cloth. So they could not imagine where they were being taken. Their microbus stopped at 12:00am at midnight. On the way they were given a bottle of water and some biscuits to eat. In an underground darkroom they were kept for three days. After three days their leader came and asked Ala to give a phone call telling his relations to mange Tk 5 lakh as ransom. In violation he will be killed. He was talking to Bhola when a pistol was pointed at his head. He felt telling him to inform police but could not. When Bhola came to the said spot he was also taken the same way as Ala was taken. And when they fulfilled their demand they let them go. The leader said, “Don’t look back or I will shoot you.” Ala-Bhola reached a hill. It was night and they could not see anything. They were running through a jungle. It was dark and may be full of ferocious animals. But they kept on running because to them those people whom they left behind were more ferocious than the ferocious animals in the jungle. They did not know that it was a hill area. They kept on walking and running to get out of the jungle. They fell down suddenly. They thought they fell from the top of the hill down to the sea rolling. They didn’t know what happened next. When they woke up they discovered themselves on a bed with oxygen masks and a lady standing by the bed. It took one week to understand clearly where they were staying at.
The lady seemed to be very strange to Ala and Bhola. But she was much caring and kind as well. She took every care until Ala and Bhola became fully cured. They were injured at different parts of their body. Their face, nose and head were bruised seriously. Fortunately they did not bleed much. The lady always carried a cylinder on her back and wore an oxygen mask on her face. Ala and Bhola did not understand a single word of the lady. The lady didn’t understand them either. They finally realized that they were in a foreign land. They neither knew the name of the country nor had any idea about it. Ala had a dream to go to a foreign country since his childhood but to go abroad this way he never imagined. Ala and Bhola almost starved. They were given juice and medicine only. They looked sick. Whatever they needed they used to make the lady understand by gesture. Meantime the lady could understand them easily and vice versa. They were able to make the lady understand that if they were to drink juice only, they would die without rice and curry. The lady became thoughtful. By sign language she made them realize that she needed to go to town for rice. Rice is not available in this area. Rice is produced in the industry in big towns only. Before she left Ala and Bhola requested her that they needed to take bath and relieve themselves. They also requested her to transfer them to another room where they could stay or sleep comfortably. The room they were staying was full of medicine bags and smell of medicine. The lady laughed. They also requested her to take away the oxygen mask. The lady did not agree. By gesture she tried her best to make them understand that it would be fatal for them to take off the mask. They would feel suffocated in one hour. The air of the country was very much polluted. Ala and Bhola laughed appreciating that she was a very good actor. The lady took them to a big hall room. There was a swimming pool. Ala and Bhola never saw a swimming pool in their life. The lady taught them how to use the swimming pool. The lady gave them the clothes needed after bath. The lady also showed them another bedroom requesting them not to fly away because she loved them very much. The lady drew a big heart as she tried to make them understand that she loved them. Her appearance said that she was the happy to get Ala and Bhola. The lady made arrangement to go to town. Before she left, she kissed them on their forehead. But when she left she locked all the doors. So Ala and Bhola could not the see the outer part of the building but they could guess that it must be a very big building. The lady told them by gesture that she would come back by lunch time. They would dine together. I would visit your country, Bangladesh. I love Bangladesh. They laughed and nodded. Bhola took a sack of drug and asked by making gesture, “But my lady I have a question, “Do you deal in drugs? I see drugs are everywhere in your house? ”
“No, no, no, she jerked her head and said, this is our staple food.”
“ Staple food! Do you eat drugs?” Asked Ala.
“ Yes, we do. Are you surprised!”
“ No, listen gentlemen this is our staple food and we grow them on our land.”
“You grow on land! Do the drugs grow on trees? In our country industrialists produce drugs and we buy it from doctors to treat our disease!”
“OK, no problem what is medicine for you in your country might be the same thing a staple food for other in the other parts of the world. This is no wonder. Actually the earth is full of wonders. And yes, quite right you are gentlemen we grow drugs on trees and we sell the surplus. Landladies of this area grow the best quality food in our country. That’s why the landladies of this area are the richer than the landlords. Oh, I’m getting late. I’ll tell and show you everything after I come back. OK, see you babies. There is nothing to be astounded.” She kissed both of them and left them locking the door. Ala and Bhola heard the lady starting her car.
“Allah, how wonderful you are. Allahu Akber,” Said Ala by bowing down and touching his head on the floor.
When the lady left, Ala and Bhola sat to ponder over what to do and not to do. They thought that the must have an evil intention behind her being very hospitable and kind to them. Otherwise, why she would take that much pains for them. So they decided to fly away by breaking through the window. They were afraid of the hound like dogs the lady had in her possession. So, Bhola advised him not to be so suspicious. “No, we can’t do that Bhaia. The lady is very nice. She is not only hospitable but it is she who saved our life. So we should not break the oath that we’ll take lunch with her. If we break away that lady must have inculcated a very bad idea about Bangladeshis. Besides, we’ll be able to take a look of this country and an idea about its people. If the country proves good we’ll spend our whole life here. What was use of getting back to Bangladesh? The only discomfort we’re facing is the oxygen cylinder. Soon we’ll get used to it with the passage of time. If the lady can pass the whole day carrying an oxygen cylinder on her back, they must not care.” Ala consented saying, “Right you’re brother. But you’re wrong saying that the lady saved our life. It was Allah who saved our life. Isn’t it, my dear brother?”
Then they discussed how Ala was abducted. But Ala drew conclusion saying, “Roxy must have a hand in the abduction. Roxy was not beaten by the goons. He was never found nervous. Rather he said every time, “Do not loose hope, everything will get okay. In the dark he talked to them in low voice. That’s why I’m sure that Roxy is the culprit. He somehow guessed that we have money and he planned to kidnap us. To send us to Italy is an excuse. What a wonderful acting it is! It was a sheer nonsense to consider him to be a friend. I forgot that he was a political leader and a human trafficker.”
“OK, regretting for the past does not bring any blessings,” said, Bhola.
“If I could forget!” said Ala regretting. However the lady came back at 2:00pm. She brought several sacks of rice and vegetables for them. They became very happy. They helped the lady to lift everything she brought for them. Ala and Bhola cooked them. But the vegetables were the worst in quality. Finally they sat to eat. The lady shared everything with them and appreciated their cooking very much. They dined in a big hall room. The dining table could accommodate almost 20 persons at a time. The lady sat to eat the other end of the table. She took a dish of drugs containing thousands of tablets, capsules and the like. She ate them with a sauce like liquid medicine voraciously. Ala and Bhola became astonished to see a lady swallowing up a dish of medicine. After she finished her lunch the lady took a bottle of brandy and sat on the balcony. There she fed her dogs.
A few months passed by. Ala and Bhola were learning the language of that country. They suggested the lady to forbid those sweepers to come to her house. Ala and Bhola would do the household work. But the lady did not consent with the excuse that if she at this stage forbade them, it would create suspicion among them and the news would go to the queen. She is a member of the parliament and they come to do their routine task. The lady warned them not to go out. If they are caught they would be jailed for life. So Ala and Bhola never stepped out of the house. To keep them in humour the lady hired a house tutor who used to come from the town twice a week and taught them the language of that country. The tutor was a very reliable one. She came of a famous slum of Kabulakkha town. Her mother was an industrialist. They ran a rice production industry. “You must be very rich but why do you live in slum then? Why you don’t live in posh area of a city,” questioned Bhola. “No, no, no industrialists of our country are not as rich as those of your country. Production of rice is a very lengthy and process and requires a lot of hard work and big investment. But the returns are not that good. It requires one thousand ton good soil to produce a mound of first class rice. But we cannot keep them more than three months. After three month the rice must be destroyed or it would be spoiled. So, we must sell rice within the first month of the production. At the time of processing a lot of chemicals are used. That’s why rice of our country gets so easily decomposed. That’s why our income is very low and we live in a slum. Industrialists of your country seem lucky, very lucky indeed. Someday I must visit your country. I feel jealous of the fortune of the industrialists of your country. Will you take me to visit your country? I’m bored living in this country. How fortunate are Bangladeshis!”
“Ok, teacher I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“What does your father do, teacher?” asked Ala.
“I’ve no father.” said the tutor.
“How did he die, teacher.”
“Oh, he didn’t die. I said I have no father. OK? Mind you study.”
“Then how were you born?” asked Ala.
“I’m a test tube baby. Most of the baby in our country are either test tube or clone babies. The women who want a baby buy sperm and give cells to give birth to a baby. We import sperm. Previously it was a big business for the businesses. Now the government does the business and has banned license of businessmen. And you know my mother had to spend all of her wealth to give birth me.”
“Why do you go for cloning or test-tube babies? Why your people don’t get married?”
“In our country there is an acute scarcity of male babies. And if any male baby is born, the queen takes it in her possession. Besides, the male babies are castrated in their babyhood in fear that they would usurp power when they grow up. I love to see a male in power but my country people don’t like. If some discusses for the empowerment of the male, she will be tried on treason charge. If the queen can come to know that you are here, you will be caught.”
Ala and Bhola were horrified. But they couldn’t check their temptation to know all about the country.
“How this country became a female dominated country?” asked Bhola.
“Well, some five hundred years back we were a colony of Hippy. They ruled over us for five hundred years. Our people demanded freedom. They did not free us. Rather they started to torture us. So, there occurred a bloody battle. All the male folk took part in the battle including children. Our people fought to their last breath. When we were close to the victory the Hippy agreed to give us freedom. So, all the freedom fighters gathered in the capital city to observe the agreement signing ceremony and when the King Tzumdai was going to sign the agreement, our enemy charged a gas bomb and all the males died. But we got our freedom. A 10 year old boy named Tsumatchai was made the king. He ruled over for ten years but nothing was going well. It was a ruined country. Nothing grew or produced in our country because of the gas bomb. Our people could not give birth to children even. People lost their faith in a free country. The enemies kept hatching conspiracies against us. They wanted us to get involved in civil war. Ultimately they succeeded. Besides, the king and his people became corrupt. He had ten wives and a bundle of children. They got involved in corruption and nepotism. People became violent against the torture and injustice of the king. At that moment another incident took place there which became a key factor for giving birth to this female dominating country. The king wanted to hang one of his wives on the charge of treason. It was said that she was doing conspiracy to oust the king with the help of our enemy. The queen called for a revolution. People responded quickly specially the women as she called for the revolution and demanded the empowerment of women. The queen’s maternal and paternal relatives were powerful people. They had great contribution to liberate our country. They called upon the people to protest at the injustice of the King. Breaking the prison people freed the queen. And she provoked the people to fight against the King. She instigated all the women by delivering emotional speech everywhere in the country. Gradually she became popular. She focused on women’s freedom, women’s right and women’s empowerment. She said that a country which had 90% women can be run without women. So she called upon to make a woman the king of the country. On the other hand the king called upon the people and provoked the male drawing their attention to their natural rights to rule a country and to rule over women. Male cannot lead a life of servitude under a woman. If a country is ruled by women, the male folk would have to do everything including cooking in the kitchen. It is a humiliation and males will never suffer that setback. They will never give the women the scope to rule over men. Gradually the war became a war between the male and the female. There took place another bloody battle in which our enemy poured fuel. They supported the queen. The battle continued for five years. Meantime the women folk drew strength to win over the battle and finally won it. In the battle all our male counterparts either died or were hanged to death. Queen Ispakubai, the iron lady wad made the queen. In the history the battle is known as ‘The battle of Resurrection.’ Since then the country is dominated by women. Many laws have been enacted so that in our country no male can ever come to power.”
Saying the entire story, the tutor heaved a great sigh. “But over these three or four hundred years our attitude has greatly changed towards the male.”
“How is that.”
“We don’t hate our males. We are ready to develop any kind of amorous relation with our male counterpart.”
“How many males are there in your country?”
“Some ten thousand.”
And how many females?”
“Some thirty lakh.” How many are there in your country.”
“ I don’t exactly know. Our people may be of 160 million and male female are almost fifty percent. We have 10 thousand MBBS doctors in our country.”
“Wow how big is you country!”
Ala-Bhola only smiled at this comment.
Anyway Ala and Bhola were having a great time in their life there in Kamrup Kamakkhya country. Yes the name of the country is Kamrup Kamakkhya. But things started getting complicated soon. The tutor was more attracted to Ala and Bhola than to be attentive to teach the language. She was interested in teaching words which were mostly related with love and amorous activities. Tutor often pulled them by the cheeks, nose and the nipples over their chest. And after doing so the tutor rolled down on the ground out of laughter. Her behaviour became unendurable when she used to go to the parliament. Sometimes she let the dogs of the lady attack Ala and Bhola. They became puzzled but could not say anything in fear of being caught and jailed. The tutor threatened them of circulating the news of their hiding here. However Ala and Bhola were very much sincere and quick in learning the language. After learning from the tutor they practiced it with their lady. The lady expressed her satisfaction over the progress. The lady used to take a close look when they took bath. They felt ashamed of but could not say anything. Sometimes she left her bed and came to their bedroom and wanted to sleep with them. Very often she wanted to caress them, hug them and kiss them. Ala and Bhola became scared. Besides, on Friday a group of sweepers came to do the cleaning of her building, bower and the yard. On that day the lady kept them in a small room locked the whole day. Ala and Bhola could hear the sound of cutting grass with the machine, sweeping and washing the floor. Ala and Bhola cried a lot remembering that on Friday they used to go to the mosque and collect money and grains for the mosque. For the last six months they could not say Jumma Prayers. Only Allah knows how many days they would have to lead a confined life like this! Ala and Bhola cried a lot and prayed to Allah to put an end to this life. Now Bhola made a plan and shared with Ala. “OK brother have you ever scrutinized the behaviour and activities of the lady? “She must be is in love with you. Listen brother, no adult can pass his night under the same roof with a lady who is not his first blood or first relative or ward. Islam does not permit it. Moreover, the relation will make our stay here safe. We will be able to live a tension-free life. We cannot go out, cannot see anything. It’s hellish. Life cannot go like this. So, you should propose the lady to marry you.”
Though Ala was frightened he was convinced and agreed to propose the lady. Bhola shouldered the responsibility of carrying the proposal to the lady. And tackle everything whatever happens until the marriage takes place.”
“But first you have to make her understand what is marriage and why it is essential for us,” said Ala.
“OK. I’ll see.”
(to be continued)
The writer is a faculty, Dept. of Languages
International University of Business Agriculture and Technology