Killing cat on Honeymoon Night

Md. Hafijur Rahman

Continued from Previous Issue

Ala and Bhola ate nothing for two days. The wet clothes dried on their body. They wandered here and there in the forest but did not get anything to eat. They were almost dying out of hunger. They passed the night on a big tree though they could not sleep very well. The howls of unknown animals, hooting of the nocturnal birds and pooing of the insects on the ground kept them awake throughout that night. The fear of ferocious animals and serpents haunted them. In the morning they tried to catch birds and pelted some wild animals with stone as well but could neither kill nor catch any of them. So they had to starve. And at last they started eating tender new-born leaves and grass. They drank water from the river. They learnt how to sleep on trees comfortably and safely. They made a kind of bed on tree branches with the leaves and kept themselves binding with a kind of thread like a thief caught red-handed. They mostly slept by day and stayed awake at night. They used to pass time hearing peculiar cries of the wild animals and talKing about their future. They always carried two big sticks to protect themselves from the attack of ferocious animals. Anyway, nothing dangerous happened to them. After seven days they found some wild fruits. Some were ripe and some were half-ripe. Half ripe fruits tasted bitter and ripe ones tasted sour but they appeared to be edible. So they swallowed many of them to fill their stomach. Bhola was much more careful than Ala. As soon as they drank from a ditch to quench their thirst than it upset their stomach. Ala and Bhola decided to leave the place at once. They took  some fruits with them so that they could eat them on their way. During their journey they relieved themselves for twenty times. It was hot and they were suffering from dehydration. Ala became awfully sick. Ala was suffering not only from dehydration but also from fever. Bhola carried Ala on his shoulder. Moreover it was raining tremendously. After two-day’s journey they reached a date orchard. The bower was full of ripe dates. In the orchard he laid Ala on the ground and climbed up a tree with great difficulty. He shook the bunch of the dates and the tree shade was carpeted with ripe dates. Ala and Bhola ate with satisfaction. They rested there until it was evening. In the evening they found a beacon of light at a distance. Bhola kept Ala in a safe place and rushed towards the light. He walked for one hour or more to reach the light. When he got closer he discovered that it was a cottage of an old woman who was living in the cottage alone and she was cooKing food. Bhola introduced himself as a passerby to the Old Lady and requested her to give him a burning log from her oven. The lady was not at all surprised because strangers came to visit her house many a time before. The Old Lady having heard everything requested Bhola to bring his sick brother into her cottage for food, shelter and treatment. The Old Lady gave Bhola some bread for Ala. Bhola could not come back that night. The next morning Bhola and Ala came to the cottage of the Old Lady. There they stayed for a couple of months. Ala and Bhola started to treat that Old Lady as their mother and the Old Lady looked upon them as her sons. So, she requested them to stay with her permanently. Ala and Bhola were waiting for long to take such an opportunity. “Finally the offer came from the Old Lady. Thanks Allah.”
Anyway, they were leading a happy life there.  Ala and Bhola worked hard and nursed the Old Lady with great care. They started to cultivate her land. They slushed the jungle and grew corn. The Old Lady became very happy. After one year’s hard work they harvested a huge amount of corn. They made cart, bought bulls and other equipment for cultivation. They worked by day and heard folk tales from the Old Lady at night. Ala and Bhola were interested to listen the story of her own life. But the lady had never trodden that path. One day Ala and Bhola came back from the town and informed their mother about a strange announcement in the town by the King’s men.  The King wished to get his daughters married off. So he is in search of eligible suitors. Any young man who, would be able to answer ten questions, would be considered worthy of the sons-in-law of the King. So they asked for her permission to go to the King’s court to try their luck on the Princesses. Their mother warned them not to undertake the venture. It would endanger their lives. Ala and Bhola were gradually showing their indifference to daily works and activities. Even they were planning to fly away. When the Old Lady realized stubbornness one night she called them closer to her and started telling the story of her life.
“It is a short but sad story. When I was five years old my mother died and at ten my father. My father was a soldier of the King’s court. He requested the King to look after me if he did not come back from the battlefield. When the dead body of my father came I fell swoon and became insane. The King called in a doctor and I was nursed back to health after a couple of months. The King’s son Neamot was of my age. He became a friend of mine. We grew up together. We received education from the same teacher. When we were teens we fell in love. Still we were not in a position to make a plea for translating our love into marriage. Moreover, if the King came to know about our affairs I might have been executed. Meanwhile the King found out a beautiful bride and got his son married off. The marriage ceremony was over with pomp and grandeur. King’s son was leading a very happy life with her newly married wife. He forgot me for some years. For the next couple of years I passed the bitterest time in my life as I did not have any other friend to play with or to share with my feelings. But the seed of love I planted in the heart of the Prince sprouted and grew up in him. His wife gave birth to two daughters in four years. I was appointed as the governess of those kids. Meanwhile the old King died of heart attack.  Soon the King’s son was made the new King. In the beginning everything was going well.  The new King seemed to be very upset and inexperienced to handle King’s affairs properly. Then in the harem I became the chief component to console him that time and advised him what to do. Gradually, the young King overcame the shock of his father’s death and started to handle royal affairs with iron hand. Still there were some problems. The young King was prone to take much interest in passing time with his friends than handling royal matters. So indiscipline plagued the army. Dishonest businessmen who had friendship with the King hiked the prices of goods. Everyday the news of revolt and agitation from different parts of the country reached the palace. I used to convey information of everything to the King and suggested to give proper attention to his statemanship for the sake of his people and not to pass time on frivolity. But the King did not at all pay heed to me because he was surrounded by a band of sycophants.  They always used to say to him, “No tension boss. We are here to do everything for you. Nothing could harm you.” At night he passed time by playing card and he slept by day. One day a group of army attacked the King’s court and but some loyal soldiers rescued him at the cost of their lives. It was a narrow escape. The very incident raised awareness in him. He appointed me as the chief advisor. The queen did not like it. I searched out a loyal, smart and intelligent soldier and recommended to appoint him as the chief of army. He restored peace and discipline in the army. The King became happy.  He drove off all the sycophants from his court. I suggested to appoint magistrates to look into the price of essential commodities. Soon the price of goods came within the reach of the common people due to proper monitoring. I also suggested to bring change to education sector. He did that accordingly. Actually, implementation of any of my suggestion resulted in incredible success. So, I became the idol of the people.  The King started to follow my words as the Quranic verses. The people deemed me to be the real queen and considered the real Queen as a fake queen. Anyway I was enjoying the happiest moment in my life to my heart’s content. At one stage the King proposed me to get married. I responded quickly because I did not want to let the opportunity go spoiled. The whole country seemed to be glowing in happiness save the Queen.  The wedding ceremony took place in the national mosque. I took every care to hold a control on the expenditures for my marriage ceremony. I was crowned with as the First Lady of the country. I was the happiest woman in the world. Thanks to almighty Allah. But soon a new trouble took place. A pestilence caused unlimited sufferings to the people of the country. Thousands of people died of an unknown disease. Experts were consulted but they failed to do anything. Besides, because of draught production of food grains drastically fell down. To tackle the situation we traveled across the country. Sometimes we stayed outside the palace for five or seven days at a stretch. We worked hard to see our people happy. One day we came back to the palace being very tired. The King seemed to be exhausted. He went to bed early at night and so did I after my dinner. At midnight I woke up hearing a sound. I saw a man with a sword by my bed. I shouted to the top of my voice as he wanted to kill me with his sword. I jumped to the other side of the bed. The King meanwhile woke up but the pointed edge of the sword hit him on his thigh. He jumped at the assassinator and caught hold of him. Guards and securities rushed to the spot. They were both surprised and afraid of seeing what happened to the King. We could not realize how an assassin could enter while the doors were locked from inside. I did not have much time to think over it. I ordered the courtiers to call in a doctor. Meanwhile applying some herbal medicine I was able to stop bleeding from his thigh. Other people were ordered to imprison the culprit. They were instructed to bring him before the court in the morning. He will be beheaded in broad daylight. The King became very ill so the action of executing the assassin was delayed. I myself became sick giving attention to the service of the King. After seven days the assassin was brought before the court and when he was asked why he wanted to kill the Queen and the King. He replied, “I wanted to kill the King because the second queen bribed me to kill the King.” I could not believe my ear. The courtiers did not believe either.
“But I was traveling the country with the King. How can I bribe you to kill the King? And what is my benefit in killing the King?” I asked the King if he believe it?” He did not say anything. He only pointed his finger not to kill the assassin.
He adjourned the court for two days. Meanwhile I received another blow. On the day of delivering verdict I was and the assassin were brought to the court. When my interrogation and the interrogation of the assassin was over an astrologer sought the King’s permission to say something. The King permitted him. He told the King that it was I who was responsible for the pestilence and for the draught of the country because I was a barren woman who could not be able to give birth to any child.
The news of the killing of the King spread countrywide as speedily as the lightning. People became violent. They demanded my execution. I was frightened. The King finding no other alternative decided to send me to deportation. He wanted to kill me but remembering my contribution to the nation and my service to  his majesty he spared me. He also ordered to build a cottage for me as well. Since then I have been living here. The first few months I cried and cried but gradually I have learnt how to overcome sorrows. When I was taken out of the palace I fell swoon. The two daughters of the first Queen wanted to come with me. I never passed a single night without them. When I went traveling the country with the King they used to travel with me. They did not know who their real mother was. They took me as their surrogate mother. I could not think of living without them. But I have passed twenty years here remembering the name of Almighty Allah and reading the Holy Quran.  The assassin of course could not escape the gallow. How I came to know all that ? — a faithful soldier and an officer came to meet me often and supplied me with food grains. After five years the King was killed by the Queen’s concubine. The Queen with the help of her brothers occupied the throne. Now people believe that the first attempt to kill the King was also made by the first Queen. Now I realize that the first queen hatched conspiracy during my absence from the court and bribed the assassin to say so as he was caught red-handed. She became jealous of my fortune. After usurpation of power the Queen became very restless. She married her concubine and made him the King. She used to go to bars and nightclubs and passed her nights with the foreigners. Many a times she insulted the honorable courtiers of the former King in public. She started to torture people. Many were driven out of their homes and many were slaughtered. Later many came to me to raise protest against the injustice of the Queen. I said, “No. Enough is enough. I derived a great lesson at home.”
I preferred to pass the rest of my life reading the Quran. Now for the last five years the new King has been playing a new game. Under the name of getting the Princesses married off he throws some questions to the fiancés. The person who would be able to answer those questions would be offered the opportunity to get marry the Princesses. If the fiancés failed to answer those questions they were either imprisoned or executed. Now I feel that I have got two soldiers who can combat the battle and recapture the power for me. OK you take some time and wait for my signal. I have still some faithful soldiers in the King’s court. They will be happy to see me back at the court. You have to do only one thing for me. I will write a letter and just give the letter to a soldier. He will send it to my daughters. My daughters will help you by disclosing the answers of those questions. My daughters hate the Queen’s concubine because now they know that the incumbent King is the killer of their father. But they do not know where I am and how I am. But Ala and Bhola were reluctant to take anybody’s help. They would try their luck themselves. Finally the Old Lady had to yield. At the time of departure she offered doa for them and wished them success.
One fine morning Ala and Bhola reached the court of the King. In the King’s court they expressed their desire to face the question-answer session to try their luck to woo the Princesses.  The King Hari Hatka ordered their courtiers to make an announcement of the desires of the two strangers. He fixed the next Friday as the day of their trial. The King also ordered his courtiers to make arrangement for their food, shelter and rest. It was carried out. Ala and Bhola got one week to make preparation for the trial. The date came at last. A platform was raised in the outer yard of the court. Thousands of people came to have the fun of it. The King was very happy estimating Ala and Bhola as an easy prey of his political trap. Ala and Bhola were a bit nervous thinking that if they failed to answer all the questions they would fall in an dangerous situation. Still they drew courage to take the challenge. The Princesses took their seats on the stage. At first Ala and Bhola introduced themselves.  The people clapped at them. Then before giving answer they had to take the oath. “We Mr. Ala and Bhola, hereby taking oath in agreement to take the challenge to answer all the questions made by the Princesses. If we fail to answer those questions within the next seven days we will accept whatever punishment is meted out to us by the King.”  The King also mouthed the oath. “ I, Mr. Hari Hatka, the King of Cheat Valley, is taking oath to get the Princesses married off with the two young men Ala and Bhola if they can correctly answer the questions thrown by the Princesses within two months.”  He also made a short deliberation before the audience. “Dear people, you know I’m very happy to make speech before so huge a gathering. You know I have two daughters and they have come of their age. Now we need to get them married off.  And we need not only eligible bachelors but also young men who are intelligent, courageous and worthy of the Princesses. In the past many suitors came to try their luck but all of them failed to answer the questions posed by my daughters. They were either jailed or executed according to the condition laid down before the bet starts. This time you see two young men have come to woo my daughters. I wish they will be able to answer all the questions addressed by the princesses. Hope that you will be enjoying the fun. Thank you.”
Then an announcer came to the stage. He announced that the first question will be made by the elder Princess Shakira to Mr. Ala. The first question is, “What is the best sleeping pill in the world and who is the inventor of that drug?” After the announcement a group of dancers and singers came to the stage and performed. Then Ala stood up to make the answer. He slowly stepped towards the dais. “Thank you Princess, for the first question. Before giving the answer the question I would like to thank the King for giving us  the opportunity to answer the questions. We don’t know whether we will be able to answer all the questions or not. But we won’t forget the Princesses and you. We will die carrying this memory with us. Now I’m gong to the answer the first question.” The people became impatient to hear the answer. They shouted Ala and demanded to make the answer. “Long live Ala and Bhola, answer the questions and win the Princesses.”
“Ok, ok, I’m giving the answer. The best sleeping pill in the world is ‘book’ and it was invented by the Queen Spakubai.” The answer was accepted by the Princess and the crowd burst into shouting. The announcer put the second question. “ Dear audience, we request you to keep quiet and enjoy the session. Now the question 2 is asked by the second princess Natasha. The question 2 is, “In which country it is the man folk who become pregnant and give birth to children?” When the question was asked another group of artistes came to the stage to perform. The second question was answered by Mr. Bhola. “The male folk of Kamrup Kamakhya become pregnant and give birth to children.” The answer was accepted by the second Princess and the crowd cheered it loudly. Thus ten questions were made one after another. The third question was, “In which country there only bridges but there is no river?” The fourth question is, “In which country one can get jackfruit by planting a mango tree?” The fifth question is, “In which country law enforcer are controlled by the playing a flute of a snake charmer?” The sixth question is, “What kind of animal is ‘Mamla’, where are they found in plenty and how many years can they survive?” The seventh question is, “In which country ten lakh female children are killed in the mothers’ womb in fear of poverty every year?” The eighth question is, “In which country a living man is killed and is made a Mommy to make him the King for five years?” The ninth question is, “Dancing and singing is the religion of the people of which country?”  The tenth question is, “In which country the politicians do eat through their buttocks and discharge through their mouths?”  It is useless to mention here that appropriate answers of all the questions were also provided by Ala and Bhola.
The crowd started dancing holding Ala and Bhola on their shoulders.  The King’s face became pale. He was reluctant to declare the date of the marriage of the princesses. Finally the King said that the date would be announced later on. The people became violent and started vandalizing the stage. King’s soldiers came to the spot and shot to death a many. People got scared and scattered to all directions. They left Ala and Bhola. King’s people arrested them. They were imprisoned to be executed. The King was maKing preparation to execute them in public. The news was circulated to the whole country. Meanwhile one month has gone by. The Old Lady living in the jungle cottage could come to know nothing about what was happening to Ala and Bhola. She was doing nothing but praying for them.
One day an executor met Ala and Bhola in the prison and read out the verdict of their execution. He also mentioned the date and time and instructed them to place their last prayer to the King. Ala wanted to see his mother and Bhola wanted to meet the Princesses for whom they were going to die. When that happy moment came Bhola handed in the letter of the Old Lady to Princess Natasha tactfully avoiding the eyes of vigilant guards. Natasha and Shakira went back to the palace when the visit was over.  They were very much upset knowing what was going to happen to Ala and Bhola. Everyday they had a talk why the King did not permit the wedding to take place in spite of answering all the questions made by them. They were very much impressed with Ala and Bhola’s performance. They were sure that Ala and Bhola were no ordinary boys and they were intelligent enough to win the heart of any princess in the world.  Everyday when they sat together they discussed the speech of Ala and Bhola delivered on the day of  the wedding puzzle. Anyway, Natasha opened and read out the letter closing the door. From that letter they came to know that their surrogate mother was still alive and Ala and Bhola were her sons. Reading out the letter they came to realize that the present King had no intention to get them married off. Rather on the pretext of wedding ceremony of the Princesses the King had set a trap to kill or imprison the promising youths and leaders of the country. It was actually a political trick to perpetuate the King’s power permanently? There were also instructions on the letter what to do if Ala and Bhola fell in danger. They stayed awake the whole night and wrote one letter to the people and another to their mother. In the morning they sent a very loyal officer of the King’s court to reach the letter to the mass people and to their mother. Meanwhile they started hunger strike until Ala and Bhola were released. The King sent them to the prison. The news spread throughout the country like a bush fire in a moment. People of all walks of life started to gather surrounding the palace. In the past they came to the King’s palace many times to see how a young man was butchered by the King but today they came to protest the death sentence of Ala and Bhola. Within two or three days the surrogate mother of Princesses, the Old Lady, also came to join the protest. People got involved in the agitation against the King with greater enthusiasm. There occurred a bloody battle between the King’s soldiers and the angry mob. Many people died but they did not leave the place in fear. They sacrificed their lives smilingly. They were determined to get back home victorious. The Old Lady led the street battle and revolution from the front line. The King’s soldiers tried to catch hold of her but could not. The angry mob foiled all the attempts of the King. Finally, the mob broke into the King’s court. The soldiers gave up weapons and denied to fight for the King. The crowd freed Ala and Bhola and the Princesses from the prison. They brought them on the stage outside the King’s court. The stage which was made for Ala and Bhola’s wedding puzzle was used by the mob as the stage of freedom. There the Princesses broke their hunger strike by drinKing fruit juice. The Old Lady, Ala and Bhola’s mother, gave them juice to drink. Meanwhile the King and Queen were arrested. They were brought to the stage. In a summary trial the King was given death sentence by two judges but the Queen was spared at the request of Princesses Natasha and Shakira.  The angry mob wanted to beat the King to death. But upon the request of the Old Lady they ceased to do that. She made a short speech for the crowd. “We are a free nation from today. No autocrat can sustain for long. That government is not a government at all who is not accountable to its people in the true sense of the term. Accountability can not be ensured by uttering it orally.  Dear people, we have to go a long way. I request you to restore peace countrywide. I call upon you to get back home and to make valuable contribution to the nation. I would like to extend my gratitude to you the way you have supported us. I am the happiest woman in the world because the truth has come to the light at last. One can fool some people for some time but one can’t not fool all the people all the time.  I believe that the people of Gaba Land will always show their revolutionary zeal against any kind of injustice, misdeeds and evils. Thank you very much. I invite you all to the wedding ceremony of the Princesses Shakira and Natasha. I wish them a happy life. The cheerful crowd wanted her to be the Queen again. But she refused the proposal gently. But the mob kept chanting the slogan in chorus, “Come back Old Lady, Come back as the Queen, the nation requires you. Come back Old Lady, come back as the Queen, We love you.” The pressure mounted high and the Old Lady had to yield to the demand of the public. When the coronation was over only one slogan echoed everywhere, “Come back Old Lady, Come back as the Queen. The nation requires you. Come back Old Lady, come back as the Queen. We love you. You’re our Queen, you’re our mother. Mother Aisha Jindabad, Mother Aisha  Jindabad.”
Ala and Bhola’s  wedding ceremony took place one month later after the coronation of the Queen.  The whole country glowed in happiness. After marriage they were made the Duke of two provinces—Ala of the West and Bhola of the East province. Two palaces were constructed for them. One fine morning they shifted to those houses. After completing interior decoration Bhola took some rest in the afternoon. In the evening dinner was served. Various delicious dishes were cooked. Princess Natasha had a pet cat. It always remained glued with the Princess. Suddenly the cat jumped onto the dining table and took away a fish-head and started eating sitting in one corner of the floor. Bhola could not check his anger. He picked up the sword which was hanging from the wall and chopped the cat into two pieces. Hearing noise the Princess came out of the kitchen and became senseless having seen the flood of blood on the floor. The cat died wriggling. Servants and Bhola sprinkled some water on the face and head of the Princess and she was nursed back to normalcy after a couple of moments. The floor was washed up meanwhile and the cat was also swept away. The couple came back to their dining table. They passed their honeymoon night in the new palace happily. Natasha and Bhola were leading really a happy conjugal life. They wrote a letter narrating the happiness they were enjoying and inviting the Queen to visit their house. But to his surprise it was Ala who came to visit Bhola’s house one week later without notifying him previously. Bhola was very happy to see his brother but Ala was not. His face seemed to be pale and seemed to be passing his nights sleepless. He was not even talking much. Bhola was hurt having seen Ala talking less. In reply of Natasha’s query about Shakira’s health Ala only jerked his head.  In the evening Bhola took Ala to the lake side. Gentle breeze was blowing and the moon was playing hide and seek in the cloud. Ala said nothing. When Bhola asked Ala to tell him whether there was anything wrong with him, Ala started crying. Bhola was surprised at Ala’s behavior. Then Ala showed his back putting off his shirt. Bhola was shocked to see the black signs of beating on Ala’s back.  Ala informed Bhola that at bed time he was to receive one hundred slaps of shoes from the Princess according to the agreement signed before they got married. Ala asked whether Bhola was receiving the same or not. Bhola said, “No. Why will a wife do so with her husband? I have almost forgotten about the agreement. Now I know sometimes my wife also try to remind me by gesture what there was on the wedding agreement but she dared not to execute the agreement.”
Bhola asked Ala to describe what happened during the past one week.
Ala said, “Nothing remarkable happened. Only in the evening of the first day in our house the pet cat ate up the fish-head of fish-kaliya curry. I was very much shocked and wanted to kill the cat instantly but refrained myself thinking that it was the cat of Princess Shakira, my better-half. So, I didn’t want to hurt my beloved on the honeymoon night. ”
“Come to the point. You didn’t want to hurt her but did she do the same? Did she bother whether you’re hurt by her activities or not? No, not at all. She only remained strict to the agreement. She did not change her stand. So, we have to have a plan how to kill the cat on honeymoon night. Now, listen to me carefully. If you can carry out my advice to the tip toe, hope that you will enjoy a conjugal life full of love, peace, happiness and bounty, grace and blessings from the part of Almighty Allah. Hearing the suggestion given by Bhola, Ala laughed heartily.
“Now come on man, learn how to behave yourself.” That night Ala had a sound sleep. When he left the palace of his brother for his own palace in the morning, he found the sun had risen high up with its brilliant but prickly rays.
The end
The writer is a Faculty, Dept. of Languages
International University of Business Agriculture and Technology

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