Along The Walls -Msf Sadib
If you look carefully at the small shadow of the shabby little house at the end of Jhill Par road, which gets cast upon on a bright sunny day from the Majia Monjil building. The building itself is endowed with disgusted moss invested walls that roars the most feeble sound of life. What life, you might ask? Metaphorically speaking, dreams of bygone people and perhaps a pinch of sweet, sour memories. That’s what the life of that building has always meant to be. Until Alam’s family moved in, fate was decided by a long margin. With only a little earning he gains from his writing in magazines, shades of dark have already bloomed fully in Alam’s dear life. For people, Dhaka city is tantamount to a “Dream comes true” sort of place, of course not safe heaven in the true sense. And dreams are hefty, even obscure from every aspect, certainly because one can hardly witness any perspective of that dream in shabby little buildings like Majia. So the landlord, 70-year-old veteran Ahad Uddin, thought of the least sensible plan he had at his disposal. Just oust the ones obstructing your grand vision. And thus, Alam became just another intruder to the landlord’s wild wild thoughts, His inability to pay the monthly due rents. In the middle of the month, Alam got what he knew should have come long before….. the eviction date
Alam had been rummaging through his old trusty trunk for the past two hours. The trunk with its rusty parts would shriek with agonized crunch every time Alam scrapped for his last belongings. And with every shrieking noise, baby Sajib, Alam’s 1-year-old infant, starts a mellow cry. Alam pays no heed. He’s too busy making his surviving moments count. As the eviction date was drawing near and the landlord ramping on daily basis, Alam had better get his thoughts straight through thick and thin and leave the crying to an unknown surrender. The silent witness of all, there were the walls. With cold old scratched texture, the walls had been the witness.
The eviction date was getting nearer. There was a constant scratchy noise waving into the apartment from somewhere. Alam wasn’t perplexed. Being a writer means not just writing reality in fictional words but also embracing it. His wife Sultana had told him the other day that a kitten had fallen accidentally into the abandoned storehouse near their building. From time to time, there would be mellow catcalls. SOS to the unknowns. As if someone would do anything. Vague hopes curled up in that tiny storehouse. When you stay somewhere, you carry the fate of the place as well. So the abandoned storehouse had made the kitten an abandoned missing piece of the world too. It seemed the kitten had accepted the reality incurring upon itself. So, on a clear, bright day, people would no longer hear the kitten meowing, only some hollow sounds…. nobody knows if the kitten is still alive there. Assuming there was sound, it had a strong proof of life, but in people’s minds, it really was nothing. Just the subconscious phantom of mind. Silly thoughts!!!! And they would graciously wait for the perfect death of sound. Alam averted his gaze from the storehouse and back to his own reality. Still, he couldn’t manage any new building his family could squeeze in after they are done with this one’s eviction. With skyrocketing rents here and there, it all looks so dark on bright autumn days. Wonder how!
“Do we I have to face the landlord again? Said Sultana with a perplexed pause.
“Because I’m not doing it this time just like every other time. It really gets on my nerves. I feel like a parasite every time I see that Buira Khatash landlord’s face. All you do is hide like some kitten in a corner and push me up to confront him, while I bear all his scowl rubbishes.”
Finished Sultana without a brief pause.
“I do have other stuff to attend to Sultana. Also…. .
Samia snatched his words from his mouth
“Also, you’ve got us in a state where we’re just a few steps away from being begging refuge.”
Alam said nothing. As silent as the kitten that was now perhaps dead.
“It won’t be like this forever. I promise. I’ve been looking up for rental house tediously for the past few months, Sultana!! But somehow….. you know how this is turning out, right?” Alam didn’t need to finish his words. Fewer words have been enough. Enough to draw the clear autumn sky-like realities. Both of them looked at each other with utter disbelief. The realization has been deep and so purple pale blue. Their eye contact can tick the clock back in the wind-up machine. Machines that reflects memories of lost lights.
He still remembers the day. It was also at the end of Autumn when they had moved in three years ago to this old building. Only a few of their furniture and a bookshelf Alam had purchased from the 2nd hand shop in Bangshal, Nothing fancy. Two small rooms and a tiny little kitchen. It looked so gloomy except for the window view. Perfect for his writing. Just like he wanted for inspiration to kick in. A new place always brings new hope. O boy ! didn’t know they have new hopes? Hopes are filthy things once the sun sets. All those memories feel so distant now. One thing that stood out was the peculiar walls of the building. The walls would hear stories, witnessed lashes of life as they had life of their own. They were stained to death by rainfalls, chipped off distemper looked like a disfigured body, you see in horror movies. But Alam wasn’t afraid of it. It wasn’t just a barrier from the outer world, a psychological insulator from the mental torment. The walls standing like a tombstone on the departed souls and for those yet to arrive in the building. Alam wasn’t the first one to arrive here, neither the last one to leave.
“wonder how you survive in the loneliness,” said Alam, speaking to the walls.
Sultana was sitting in front of the mirror, combing her hair while listening to the gibberish of his husbands. The last touch of a comb along these walls. Sajib was still half-asleep with a pout on his small face. A plan had been set. They just have to leave the house at late night. Quite humiliating that you have to sacrifice your dignity in the pursuit of yet another vogue life. How vogue, you ask? That’s what the walls are for. As you sit back and listen to them for yet another story.