Matangini Hazra – The Unsung Revolutionary

The first bullet hit her on the left arm making her whole body shiver in pain but she would not let the flag of her beloved motherland touch the ground. She dropped the bugle from her right hand to take hold of the flag and raised it as high as she could and shouted at the top of her voice, “Vande Mataram”. The next bullet hit her right arm… she sat down and hugged the flag post as if she was holding her child to her bosom. The coward police officer of British India Govt. Anil Bhattacharya aimed his gun at her temple and pulled the trigger. As the bullet hit her to take her life away from the body, her dying voice once again said “Vande Mataram” almost whispering. Then everything became dark… the red blood of Matangini Hazra, the revolutionary was soaked up by mother earth.

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She was the youngest daughter of Thakurdas Maity & Bhagawati Devi (they shared the name of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar’s parents!), born on 17th November 1869 (the date is disputed, though)in village Hogla near Tamluk town.

At the age of only 12 years, Thakurdas married her off to the wealthy farmer Trilochan Hazra of the neighboring village, Alinaan. At the time of marriage, Trilochan was 60 years old and this was his second marriage. Six years into the marriage, Trilochan passed away leaving a large family from his first marriage and a young widow of 18 years. The family of Trilochan threw her out of the house forcing her take shelter in a hut in the nearby field. She started working in the field as a laborer to make ends meet.

Matangini started living a life of ascetic in a Spartan surrounding. She was touched by the words of Swami Vivekananda… “From now to the next 50 years, the only God you should pray to is your Motherland… you should eat, drink and live for the Motherland and die for her as well”. Matangini Hazra started with social service living amidst the poorest of the poor and trying alleviating their pain and discomfort. While at this, she came in contact with the Congress Leader of Shiuri village, Gunadhar Bhowmick and he in turn introduced her to the senior Congress Leaders Ajoy Mukhopadhyay and Satish Samanta. They told her about the preaching of Mahatma Gandhi and the non-violent agitation that Congess under his leadership was carrying out. She was influenced by the teaching of Gandhiji and started spreading the words as she travelled from village to village for her social work. She was fondly called “Gandhi-Buri” or Old Woman Gandhi. Matangini Hazra realized that only a free nation can bring happiness and prosperity to its subjects.

From 1920 to 1942, she became a regular participant in the meetings and agitation that Congress campaigned against the British Govt of India. She was a Keynote Speaker at many of the Conventions. From Salt Satyagraha to Taxation Banning Agitation or raising the Indian Flag at the British Govt establishments like the courthouse or showing the black flag to the Governor-General, she was always at the forefront of the movement. And in the process she had to face the police brutality and torture many a times. Once after the Judge pronounced her guilty and served her a jail term she said, “There is no better glory than to be punished for loving your country and serving the downtrodden.” She spent 6 months in the jail of Behrampur (Murshidabad) and another 2 months in Hijli jail.

It’s a pity that in our school history books, there is only a passing mention of Matangini Hazra and other freedom fighters. She was a member of the Indian National Congress but was not part of any revolutionary or social reformist group; her motto was to fight against the British rule and make the country independent. She was one of the fearless fighters up against the mighty British Empire. Although she was a follower of Gandhi and his non-violent movement, she never shied from participating in armed conflict with the authorities. Therefore, there was no melodrama in her death but the final culmination of love for the country and the fellow countrymen. She led the mob of freedom fighters to take control of the Tamluk Police Station and the when the police opened fire to disperse the crowd, she said, “March forward… the police station is up ahead and not behind… don’t retreat my friends… I will move forward only and that means the death waits for me, so be it… Vande Mataram.”

A popper and uneducated village woman had shown us that with WILL and DETERMINATION one can do wonders. Her martyrdom on 29th September 1942 had an impact on the fight for independence that finally paved way for the Independent India on 15th August 1947, almost five years after Matangini Hazra laid down her life for Mother India.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar

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Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, a name every Bong child knows from the heart. Because of him, I am able to read, write and speak in Bengali as did my parents and their parents. The Bornoporichoy Part 1 & 2 (Introduction to Alphabets) is an essential book that’s every Bengali child’s first book, penned by Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar.

There are many stories about him that floats around including how he studied under the lamppost during the night or he learnt counting seeing the milestones etc. I am not going to repeat them here but tell you about his last days.

The sunset years of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar wasn’t a very happy one. He was visibly upset with the behavior of his eldest and only son Narayanchandra and in 1872, disowned him severing all relations with him. A few days later his wife too passed away and he was all alone. He wanted to have solitude and moved back to his village from Kolkata. However, peace eluded him even in the village and he became restless.

He travelled to the west and reached a small non-descriptive sleepy town called Kamartand in now Jharkhand state. There he bought a villa with garden spread over 5.6 acres at a (then) princely sum of Rs.500/- from a recently widowed British lady. After renovating the building, he named it Nandankanan. It had a large hall for the night school and a bedroom and a study besides kitchen etc. He planted saplings of Kishanbhog Mango right at the entrance of the gated villa and another sapling of Bhagalpuri Mango at another corner. He kept a gardener called Kali Mandal to look after the garden. He checked the proof of Bornoporichoy Part 3 as well as of Sita’r Bonobas while living there.

According to legendary Bengali author Shri Sunil Gangopadhyay, the Bongs pronounced the name as Kormata but actually it is KORMATAND which means raised land (tand) of a certain Santhal Boatman named Korma, that does not get flooded ever. Karmatand happens to be in Jamtara District of Jharkhand in the border of West Bengal, a Santhal dominated area popularly known as Santhal Pargana and Vidyasagar was very happy and enjoyed the company of the locals. He used say that the Santhals are very innocent people and always speak the truth. He had decided to spend the rest of his life at Kamartand but that did not happen. He had to travel to Kolkata quite a few times on work or for health reasons and ultimately died in Kolkata.

Ishwarchandra became friends with the simple and innocent Santhals within a short time of his setting up of residence in Kormatand. Large number of Santhals would come to him in the morning to sell him corns from their field and he would buy them in lots. In the evening while returning from the days labour at the field, the Santhals would come to him ask to be fed and Vidyasagar would bring out the corns that he bought from them in the morning. All would enjoy the roasted corns as the Sun would hide behind the distant hills.

Ishwarchandra would provide homeopathic treatment to the poor Santhals and became their life savior in a short period of time. He would spend time with the cholera patient and treat them to health again. He was very impressed with the Santhals, the people of the soil who were without any cunning and complexities. He would buy new clothes for them around the festival time like Durga Puja and provide blankets and warm clothing to them during the winters.

His brother, Shambhucharan, once said, “Ishwarchandra would treat the patients through Homeopathic medicine and also provide basic food like fruits, sabudana, sugar-crystals etc starting early morning till about 10 am. Then in the afternoon, he would go to their huts to see their progress. The Santhal’s would be delighted to see him and share their food with him.”

According to Shambhucharan, Vidyasagar loved the simple and frugal food offered by the Santhal’s than the elaborate banquette presented by the rich landlords of Bengal in his honor. He wanted to spend the rest of his life in the bountiful natural greens of Kormatand among the simple hearted Santhals. He was overwhelmed by their simplicity and complex free life just like Bibhutibhushan Bandhopadhyay.

Ishwarchandra spent almost 17 years in Kormatand but due to falling health had to return to Kolkata in 1890. There are lot of memories attached to the Karmatand Railway Station as well. Once a traveler upon disembarking at the station started shouting for a porter to carry his luggage. The small station did not have any porter at that time, so Vidyasagar acted as porter and carried the luggage of the harried traveler. When the person got to know the real identity of Vidyasagar, he was profusely apologetic and asked for his mercy. Vidyasagar assured him that he has not taken any offence rather was pleased to be of his help.

Kamartand Railway Station along with the town has been named as Vidyasagar in honor of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar and has helped in the development in keeping with stature of the person that he was. The railway authorities, recently painted the entire station with the life story of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar to commemorate his stay in Komartand.

After the death of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, his estranged son, Narayanchandra sold the Nandankanan to a businessman of Kolkata named Mr. Mullick who never bothered to either visit the place or keep it in good stead. As a result, the house started crumbling down in the face of non-maintenance. Then in 1938, a group of Bengali influential gentry formed Bengal Association of Bihar (Bihar Bangali Samiti) and repurchased Nandankanan from the Mullicks for Rs.24000/- and restored the place back to its old glory. They started a school for the girls in the name Vidyasagar’s mother Bhagawati Devi.

In 2001, when Jharkhand state was curved out of Bihar, the association was renamed as Jharkhand Bengali Association and they formed a 11 member committee for Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar Memorial. Though the old dispensary of Vidyasagar does not exist anymore, there is now a well equipped full fledged hospital called Vidyasagar Homeo Chikitsalaya. Every year, the association celebrate 3 events in the life of Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, 29th March as Gurudakshina Divas, 29th July his Mahaprayan Divas and 26th September, his birth anniversary. The celebrations are very simple without any fanfare, away from the hustle bustle of the city in the midst of the nature and amongst the simple hearted innocent Santhals, just what Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar would have loved.

Content courtesy: ABP (Bengali) Net Version

Naming of Kolkata Streets & Places

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I have very thin line of linkage with the so-called city of joy – Kolkata with few connected relations and friends. My parents moved to the north long before the partition and were happily settled in Delhi where I was born and raised. Therefore, when I got this piece in a messaging app, it intrigued me and I decided to spread it further to my non-Bengali friends…

There is always some intriguing story behind the old names of the streets or localities across the world based on some anecdotes and Kolkata is no different in this regard…

Bagbazaar

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The name probably derives from the bend (or BAANK in Bengali) that river Ganges takes at that point. The vast unoccupied land used to have Haat or Bazaar which was popularly called Baankbazaar later became Bagbazaar.

Shyambazaar

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Long ago there used to be a famous market in what is currently known as Shyambazaar. John Jefania Hallwell renamed it as Charles Bazaar sometime in the 19th century. The Seths and Basaks were the original settlers of Sutanuti (one of three villages that form Kolkata) and Shobharam Basak used to be a rich landlord of the area in the 18th century Bengal. He was a devout of Shyamray (Shri Krishna) and named the area after his Lord as Shyambazaar.

Hatibagan

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When Nawab Shiraj Ud Dawla attacked the British forces in Kolkata, his Elephant Brigade had their tents in the area which was named as Hatibagan.

However, there’s another story as well… Raja Nabakrishna Deb’s land holding was spread beyond the Shobhabazaar (his seat of power and residence) and his herd of elephants used live in the area that’s now called Hatibagan.

Chitpur

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There is a temple called Aadi Chitteshwari Durga Mandir in Chitpur area of the Kashipur. The Chitpur Road is one of the prime streets of modern day Kolkata. It was the early days of Kolkata, the city was taking shape slowly, the river Ganges (or Hoogly) used to flow through the area that is now Stand Road. It is said that a bandit called Chitte Dakat made the idol of the Durga using a Neem Log that came floating on the river Hoogly from some unknown place. Later, Manohar Ghosh, a rich person of the area built the Aadi Chitteshwari Durga Temple which is how the area came to be known as Chitpur.

Sonagachhi

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The area that come alive after Sun down with the whiff of Rajanigandha or Tuberose flowers mingled with aroma of the different kinds of cutlets from the street shops and the queens of the night come out in their best livery to scout for the clients was named after the Pir (or Fakir) called Sona Ullah Ghazi.

However, another narrative suggests that the area was famous for the nightly adventures of the well to do gentlemen and there was another location nearby where the proletariat crowd used to frequent after sun down. The former was called Sonagachhi and the latter came to be known as Rupogachhi to differentiate between the clientele.

Kumortuli

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When the tradition of Durga Puja was started by Shobhabazaar Rajbari (or the Zamindar of Shobhabazaar), the sculpters or the Kumor’s were brought in and settled near the zamindari which came to be known as Kumortuli.

Thanthania

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It is said that in the bygone years, many ironsmiths used to live and work there and the constant sound of “Thanthan” as they would work on the iron pieces made the place famous as Thanthania. Alternative narration suggests that to warn of the impending attacks by the dacoits, the temple bell would be rung and the “Thanthan” sound would echo in the area. Whatever it is, the name of the place is due to the sound of metal meeting metal.

Baithakkhana

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The map made by Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wood refers to the area east of Lalbazaar, then called Maratha Khat, later renamed as Circular Road and now called Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road, as Boytaconnah Street. It derives basically from the term Baithakkhana. There used to be a very old Banyan tree under which the traders from different places would assemble and do business or simply exchange ideas. It is said that even Job Charnock used to frequent this place when he made Calcutta (Kolkata) his trading headquarters. In 1794, Aron Upjohn created a map of the region which describes the Banyan Tree and refers the place as Baithakkhana.

Even today, the street between Boubazaar to Mahatma Gandhi Road is referred as Baithakkhana Road and the market thereof is called Baithakkhana Bazaar.

Boubazaar

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The road stretching from Binoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh (earlier Dalhousie Square) to Shealdah is called Boubazaar Street. There are two opinions around the naming of the place popularly known as Boubazaar. According to one, the Marwari businessman Bishwanath Motilal bequeathed a Bazaar to his daughter-in-law (in Hindi Bahu means Son’s Wife or daughter-in-law) and that Bazaar became “Bahubazaar” and later colloquially came to be known as BOUBAZAAR. However, historians could not establish any linkage or whereabout of this particular businessman.

The other and perhaps more likely reason is that there were many bazaars scattered in that area selling a variety (Bohu or many) of items which prompted people to refer this place as BOHUBAZAAR.

Much later, sometime in the 70’s the Boubazaar Street was rechristened as Bipin Bihari Ganguly Street after the freedom fighter who spent a long 24 years in the British jail and later joined Indian National Congress after independence.

Ultodanga

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In the bygone days, the area had a big Canal probably called Vidyadhari on whose banks the boats would kept upturned to clean the hull and apply tar to prevent decay. In Bengali the boat is called “Dingi Nouka” therefore the place was called Ultodingi and later came to be known as Ultodanga.

Now, the canal does not exist but once upon a time people used take the boat ride to cross the canal. There is also a story of bamboo & wood trading associated with the place but that’s not relevant to the current topic.

Laldeeghi

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Long before Job Charnock set his foot in Kolkata, Laldeeghi existed in the village of Kolikata. The court and the Mandir of Roy Choudhuri’s were in close vicinity of Laldeeghi (Red Lake). It is said that while playing with colors during HOLI (festival of Colors), the lake would turn Red and that’s how the name Laldeeghi came about. However, historian Prankrishna Dutt gives the name of Mukundran Seth and family for creating this lake and having his office-cum-residences on the bank of the lake. The family used play the festival of colors in the lake and the lake would turn red for few days afterwards which prompted the locals to call it Laldeeghi.

Some others say that the image of the adjacent Red Old Mission Church created an illusion of red water from which popularized it as Laldeeghi. Yet, some others say that certain Lal Chand Basak created the lake and therefore it was named after him.

Malanga Lane

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Once upon a time there used to be a salt making plant in this area. The Salt Traders were called “Malangi” in Bengali from which came the name Malanga Lane.

Santosh Mitra Square

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Earlier it was Nebutalar Math and even before that it was known as St. James Square. But at the very beginning this was called Hazurimal Tank, after the Punjabi Businessman who arranged to dug up 22 acres of land to create a lake. Later, the lake was filled up and Muchipara Police Station and residential quarters of Portugese Clerks of British Empire was established which was called Keranibagan (Clerk’s Garden). Later, the name was changed to Nebutala (because of huge number of lemon trees in the area, Lemon=Nebu or Lebu in Bengali) and it is known as Santosh Mitra Square after the freedom Shaheed Santosh Mitra.

Tallygaunge

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In 1775-76, Major William Tally started the digging and dredging of a canal that would link Assam with Bengal. East India Company gave permission to Major Tally to charge Toll from the boats that would use the canal and through the area. They also permitted him to create a market place around the area which was duly completed in 1776 and came to be known as Tallygaunge and canal was called Tally Canal. Today, it is one the most popular area of South Kolkata.

I have put across some of the more popular localities but surely there are many more stories floating around for many other places, after all, Kolkata is a very old city and still has many untold stories hidden somewhere. I appreciate if anyone would like to contribute with their stories about places that hasn’t been included here. Thank you.

All Images Are Taken From The Internet…

Rishi … the other one

The Operation Theatre of the swanky hospital in Gurgaon was reverberating with the cries of just born infant. Outside the OT, the anxious father, Sudhir Roy paced the short corridor, clearly stressed out for this was his first baby. The nurses came out with bundle from which the cries still emanated. Sudhir rushed to the nurses and looked at them enquiringly. The nurses looked at each other and the senior matron announced, “Sorry, Mr. Roy, your wife has delivered a transgender.”

Sudhir looked at the infant and face crinkled with hatred. The parents of Sudhir and Swapna were all present but none ventured to have a look at the baby. In fact both sets of parents excused themselves and left the hospital immediately. The little life was discarded within minutes of its birth.

Swapna has been moved to a single bed room. Sudhir quietly entered and stood by the bed. Swapna was looking at the sky through the room but could sense Sudhir’s presence. She turned towards him and said, “The kid must be feeling hungry, why aren’t they bringing him to me?” Sudhir pressed Swapna’s hand and said, “You will have to forget him. We can’t give the kid our name and that’s final.”

“But what’s his fault? He is still our child.” Swapna persisted.

“May be but we don’t want the child anywhere near us. We shall wait and by God’s grace we will be proud parents to a healthy child.” Sudhir replied with straight face and left to meet Dr. Anjali Bhatnagar, the head of Gynecology in her chamber.

“You are unnecessarily accusing us Mr. Roy. This is a genetic disorder” said Dr. Anjali Bhatnagar as Sudhir sat down.

“So many Ultra Sounds were done and none of the technicians or the doctors could make out?” Sudhir blurted out in frustration.

“I am sorry but it really did not show up.” Dr. Bhatnagar defended.

“Do you realize doctor how humiliated the whole family is feeling? How will we say that we are blessed with a eunuch, sorry transgender?” asked an aggrieved Sudhir.

 “I can understand your discomfort Mr. Roy but we are helpless in the matter.” Dr. Bhatnagar replied.

“No, doctor, you don’t understand. Please don’t get the child anywhere near my wife and as soon as possible send child to its community.” Sudhir stormed out the chamber.

The infant did not realize that it’s birth has created such a discord and confusion but the nurse could sense and in the short duration her motherly instinct had developed a special bond with the baby. She knew what needs to be done. She called up her husband Aabir Chatterjee, professor at prestigious business school in the city.

“Hi, are you free to talk now? I have something important to ask you.” Ankita spoke on the phone.

“I was just getting into the class but tell me what it is” Aabir said from the other end.

“Okay, tell me, do you hate transgender kids?”

“No, why should I hate them? In fact I love all children irrespective of their color, race, and religion.”

“Well, if one such kid calls you Dad, how will you feel?

“Can you elaborate please, Ankita?”

Nurse Ankita Chatterjee briefly explained to her husband. Prof. Aabir Chatterjee said “This is a very bold step, Ankita. I am very much with you. Let’s figure out the legal formalities quickly.”

Prof. Aabir Chatterjee was known as a liberal and forward looking teacher and his students simply adored him. Ankita and Aabir had been trying for long time to have a baby on their own but the tests have proved conclusively that they cannot. Ankita’s love for her husband just went up by few notches as she became the proud mother of the little infant. Within days the legal formalities were completed and little Rishi came home to make Ankita and Aabir’s family complete.

Aabir’s mom from Siliguri called up agitatingly “Babu, what have you guys done? You didn’t think of our status even for once?”

“Ma, I don’t think we have done anything wrong.” Aabir had replied calmly.

Ankita’s parents had come down from Kolkata to put sense in their daughter and son-in-law but the proud parents of Rishi had been adamant. “You could have adopted a healthy child from any of the orphanages. What will you do with it?” exasperated mother of Ankita had reasoned with them.

“Will nurture him and make him a good human being. And who told you that Rishi is not a healthy baby?” retorted an irritated Ankita.

Naturally, both set of parents decided to keep their distance to maintain their dignity in society.

The maid working at their house was excited to take care of the infant but the moment she tried to change the nappy she couldn’t help yelling out “Oh my god, what is this?” And that was enough for Ankita to sack her then and there.

Ankita had seen few transgender at the traffic signal begging, she decided to approach the friendly one. She explained the situation and requested her to find one among them to take care of Rishi. She warned that if other transgender(s) get to know, they will take away Rishi as per the prevailing custom. She promised to look around and within days brought another middle aged transgender named Shanti to Anika who appointed her immediately to look after Rishi. Shanti not only took extreme good care of Rishi while the parents were away at work but protected him from all possible threat from the transgender community.

With time Rishi grew up to be a cute boy with curly hair and bright eyes and spoke in a melodious voice. Ankita took him to the local kindergarten school for admission and was surprised to note that there is no “other” option under the Sex column. After much hassle and threat of legal action, the school admitted Rishi. Thus began the journey of Rishi. In time, he joined the regular school, it wasn’t easy but Ankita was adamant and ensured that the authorities are convinced with her logical arguments. Many a times in her struggle to provide Rishi a loving and secured life, Aabir could not be with her because of academic commitments but Ankita had been relentless in her endeavor. She would never back out from her responsibility towards her son, Rishi. With passage of time Rishi had shown his brilliance in both studies and sports. He is now in the seventh grade.

I am Rishi…

I am now in class ten of a all boys school. I understand that I am different from my classmates, even from other students in the school as well. My father is the Dean of a prestigious business school and my mother is the Chief of Nursing Staff in a big multi specialty hospital. I am very sincere in my studies because I have realized that that’s my only option. Still, I do not have any friends in the class or in the school. In every exam I am always second with difference of just 1 or 2 numbers from the first boy. I don’t understand where and how I lost those numbers. My mother always tell me that it doesn’t matter if you are first or second but one should learn the core of the subject with complete sincereity.

I love playing football. MY performance as a striker in the school team is very impressive but still I am not the captain of the team. I don’t know why but I have been consistently scoring goals to win matches and championship for school.

There is a girl’s school across the road and many of my classmates regularly ‘date’ some of the girls. I too liked one of the girl and told my mother so. My parents looked at each other then my mom said, “Rishi, this is not the time for such frivolous things. You must concentrate on your studies and grow up to be man loved and respected by all, not just one girl.”

I was moved by mom’s words and felt the urge to make her happy… make her proud. In the high school board exams, I did very well. My result was fantastic… I ranked first in the school and third in the NCR region. The first boy of the school was much behind me for a change. Mom was thrilled and so was Dad.

One day, when I was in 12th, while returning from the tuition class, alone, as I never had any friends for company, I suddenly saw the girl I had a crush. She waived at me and I stood still. She came over and said “Aren’t you Rishi? I am Neera.”

“Yes. Do you know me?” I blurted out.

“Yes, how can I not know the brilliant boy that you are?”

“What do you know about me?”

Neera was stumped. She stammered “I don’t know much but have heard few rumors.”

I crossed my hand across my chest and said “All those rumors are actually true. Are you doing the right thing by talking to me in public space?”

“Why are you saying that?” Neera asked in all innocence.

“Neera, in the last 12 years, I have not made a single friend in the school. Every year, I miss out the first position by 1 or 2 numbers. I score goals consistently for my school football team but still I am not the captain. There must be something wrong with me. Isn’t it so?”

“But you are brilliant. And that’s the truth.” Neera persisted.

“May be, but the bigger truth is incomprehensible and unacceptable to the masses. My mom and dad had adopted me. My biological parents had rejected me within minutes of my birth and I don’t know them and have no desire to know as well. I don’t know my grandparents from either side. They have never bothered to see their only grandchild. In fact my parents have been disowned by their parents for the crime of adopting me. Now tell me.. is there any bigger truth that you know of me?”

“But look wise you are no different from other boys.”

“Goodbye Neera. I know the truth. And this truth is irreversible. No one can change it. Yes, I like you but I am not inclined to pursue the matter which is not possible. Still, you talked to me… I will always remember this evening. Take care.”

I had hastily come back home and locked myself in my room. I was choking with emotions. My teenaged heart was aching. I had to strangle my love for Neera forever.

Every day on my way to the hospital, I see couple of transgender at the traffic signal. They are just like with the difference that they were not lucky enough to find Ankita-Aabir in their life. I took out a hundred rupees currency note and gave it the one and she blessed me saying “God bless you son.” Just like my mom.

Today, I have a surgery to perform. I am neither a man nor a woman but I help give birth to children of man and woman. I am a gynecologist of repute now but today’s surgery is different. The patient is middle-aged woman with a tumor in her uterus. It has been there for some time and now when it has become unbearable, she has come for the surgery. The uterus has to be removed. She doesn’t have any children.

I entered the OT… anesthesia has been administered… I asked for the forceps.

Surgery has been successful. The patient will move to the room for recuperation. The husband of the patient came to my chamber to discuss and understand the post-surgery precautions. As he was leaving, he suddenly stopped and said “You know doctor, when Swapna and I became parent for the first time, I could not accept the little one and forced Swapna to accept my decision. I had thought we will again become parents but look at the nature’s justice… we are childless now.”

“Why couldn’t you accept your first born?”

“I thought the next one will be a healthy baby.”

“What was the problem with your first born?”

“Actually… I mean… he… it was a transgender child. It was born in this hospital only. I don’t know if it is now in some shelter home or may be one of the beggar at the traffic signals.”

“Or perhaps, he has conquered the life’s struggle and reached the pinnacle of his career. That too is possible, isn’t it?”

“How’s that possible?”

“How can I say, Mr.Roy? I am just talking about the possibility. Anyways, it is time for my visiting the patient wards. You can visit your wife once she is shifted to the room but please do not talk much, she needs to take rest. Take care.”

Walking down the corridor of the hospital wearing the doctor’s white apron and stethoscope hanging from my neck… I am Dr. Rishi Chatterjee, the only son of my proud parents – Ankita and Aabir Chatterjee. My life could have been just like what Mr. Sudhir Roy expected but no, I have or rather the life did not allow me to succumb but conquer the adversity and be successful…

Note: I don’t know the author of the Bengali version that I received in WhatsApp Group but it touched a chord in my heart. I hope I have been able to do justice to the nuances of the original story telling.

ডিভোর্স

বিয়ের চার বছর হয়েছে এখনো মা হতে পারিনি।
পারিবারিক ভাবে বিয়ে হয়েছিলো আমাদের।প্রথম প্রথম আমি আর তুষার খুব সুখের সময় কাটিয়েছি। শশুড় শাশুড়ীও খুব আদর করতো আমাকে নিজের মেয়ের মতই ভালবাসে। দুই ননদের তো আমার সাথে খুব ভাব।

কিন্তু গত ছয় মাস ধরে শশুড় শাশুড়ী ননদেরা উঠে পরে লেগেছে কেন আমার বাচ্চা হয়না।তুষারও এতোদিন বাচ্চা না হওয়ায় তেমন কিছুই বলতো না, কিন্তু আজকাল তুষারও ওদের সাথে পাল্লা দিয়ে বলে চার বছর কেটে গেলো এখনো কেন বাচ্চা হয় না, ওর মা বাবা নাতির মুখ দেখতে চায়।

গতকাল রাতে শাশুড়ী এসে বললো আর কত দিন অপেক্ষা করবো, বাড়িতে একটা বাচ্চাও নেই, বাচ্চা টাচ্ছা ছাড়া কি বাড়ি ভাল লাগে, নাকি শান্তি লাগে, পাশের বাড়ির শেফালির ছেলেকে তুষারের এক বছর পরে বিয়ে দিয়েছে, ছয় মাস হয়েছে বাচ্চা হয়েছে আর আমার ছেলের বৌয়ের ঘরে এখনো কোন বাচ্চা হলো না, আমরা কি ঠাকুমা দাদু হবো না…?

আরো অনেক গুলো কথা শুনিয়ে গেলো, বাচ্চা না হলে আমি কি করবো, আমি ও তো চাই আমার একটা সন্তান হোক, যে আমাকে মা মা বলে ডাকবে।

ননদ রিমি এসে বলল, বৌদি এক কাজ করলে কেমন হয় তোমরা বরং ডাক্তারের কাছে যাও, গিয়ে দেখো কারো কোন সমস্যা আছে কিনা।

রাতে তুষারকে রিমি কথাটা বলতেই তুষার বলল ও কোন ডাক্তারের কাছে যাবে না, পারবে না যেতে, অফিসে কাজের অনেক চাপ। অনেক জোরাজুরি করে তুষারকে ডাক্তারের কাছে নিয়ে গেলাম, দুজনেই পরীক্ষা করালাম। যত রকমের টেষ্ট আছে সব গুলোই টেষ্টই করলাম। ডাক্তার বললেন রিপোর্ট আসতে দেরি হবে, দুজনেই অপেক্ষা করছি আর মনে মনে ঈশ্বরকে ডাকছি, যেনো কোন দুর্সংবাদ না শুনতে হয়। আধ ঘন্টা পরেই তুষারের মোবাইলে ফোন আসলো তাড়াতাড়ি অফিসে যাওয়া জন্য, আর্জেন্ট মিটিং আছে। তুষার আমাকে বলল, খুশি তুমি রিপোর্ট দেখে ডাক্তারের সাথে কথা বলে বাড়ি চলে যেও, আমাকে এক্ষুনি অফিসে যেতে হবে, বস ডাকছেন। আমি বাড়িতে এসে রিপোর্ট দেখবো, বলেই হনহন করে হসপিটাল থেকে বেড়িয়ে গেলো।

আমার হাতে ডাক্তারের দেওয়া রিপোর্ট আর সেই রিপোর্টে কিছু কঠিন সত্যি কথা লেখা আছে, যা মেনে নিতে বুকটা ফেটে যাচ্ছে। বাড়িতে আসবার পর থেকে শ্বশুর শাশুড়ী ননদেরা বার বার জিজ্ঞেস করছে রিপোর্টে কি আসছে ডাক্তার কি বলেছে। চোখের জলের জন্য কথা বলতে পারছি না, ওদেরকে কি উত্তর দেবো। শাশুড়ী কঠিন সুরে বলল কি ব্যাপার বলছো না কেন কি হয়েছে।

বললাম ডাক্তার বলেছে সমস্যা টা আমার আমি কোনদিন মা হতে পারবো না, সেই ক্ষমতা নাকি আমার নেই।

কথা টা বলার সাথে সবাই কেমন করে জেনো আমার দিকে তাকাচ্ছিলো। শাশুড়ীতো রীতিমতো কান্নাকাটি শুরু করে দিলো, আমার ছেলে এই জন্মে কি আর সন্তানের মুখ দেখবে না, আমাদের বংশ কি এখানে শেষ হয়ে যাবে, কি কুলাঙ্গার অপয়া মেয়ে এনে সংসারে ঢুকিয়েছে মা হতে পারবে না, শাশুড়ীর সাথে শ্বশুরও সুর মিলিয়ে বকে যাচ্ছে। ননদেরাও যা তা বলছে একটা বন্ধ্যা মেয়ে আমার ভাইয়ের কপালে জুটেছে।
রাতে তুষার বাড়িতে এলে সবাই মিলে ওকে বোঝালো যাতে আমাকে ডিভোর্স দিয়ে দেয়।আমাকে দিয়ে আর সংসার করা হবেনা।

ফল বিহীন গাছ রেখে লাভ কি, উপরে ফেলে দিয়ে সেখানে নতুন গাছ লাগাতে চাই, আরো অনেক কথাই বলে যাচ্ছে। আমি শুধু দেখছি তুষার কি বলে, কিছুক্ষণ পর নীরবতা ভেঙ্গে তুষার বলল তোমরা যা ইচ্ছে তাই করো আমার আর এইসব ভাল লাগে না।

রাতে তুষার আমার সাথে একটা কথাও বলেনি, সারাটা রাত কেঁদে বুক ভাসিয়েছি আর ভাবছি চেনা মানুষগুলো এতো তাড়াতাড়িই অচেনা হয়ে গেলো, আমি এখন ওদের কাছে হয়ে গেলাম অপয়া বন্ধ্যা।

সকালে আমাকে ডাকা হলো শ্বশুরের ঘরে, ডেকে নিয়ে বলল তুষারকে যেন ছেড়ে দি, ওরা তুষারকে আবার বিয়ে দিবে, ওদের বংশের প্রদীপ চাই , আর সেটা দেওয়া আমার পক্ষে সম্ভব না, তাই আমি যেনো ডিভোর্সের ব্যপারটা মেনে নিয়ে তুষারকে চিরদিনের জন্য মুক্ত করে দিই।তুষারের ও নাকি তাইই মত।

তুষারের দিকে তাকাতেই ও বলল মা বাবা যা বলবে তাই হবে, তুমি এটা নিয়ে আর বাড়াবাড়ি কোরো না খুশি প্লিজ, আর কোন টেনশন আমি আর নিতে পারছি না

ভাবতেই কষ্টে বুকটা ফেটে যাচ্ছে কি করে মানুষ এতোটা বদলে যায়। আজ আমি সন্তান দিতে পারবো না বলে আমাকে ওরা তাড়িয়ে দিচ্ছে, কতোটা স্বার্থপর মানুষ।

দুই দিন হয়ে গেলো কেউ আমার সাথে তেমন একটা কথা বলে না, সবাই এড়িয়ে এড়িয়ে চলে।খাবারের সময়ও কেউ ডাকে না। সন্ধ্যার পর শ্বশুর শাশুড়ী এসে বলল তুমি কবে আমার ছেলেকে মুক্তি দিচ্ছো বলো, আমি তুষারের জন্য অন্য মেয়ে পছন্দ করেছি।

মেয়ে পছন্দ করেছেন মানে?

হ্যা করেছি তো আমার ছোট বোনের মেয়ে রেশমির সাথে আমি তুষারের বিয়ে দেবো। এখন তুমি বলো তুমি কখন চলে যাচ্ছো। আর আমি তুষারের সাথে এ ব্যাপারে কথা বলেছি ওর কোন আপত্তি নেই, তোমার কাছে আমি আমার ছেলের একটা সুন্দর স্বাভাবিক জীবন চাইছি, আশা করি তুমি এটা নিয়ে কোন রকম ঝামেলা করবে না।তুষারের দিকে তাকায়ে দেখি ও ওর মায়ের কথায় সায় দিচ্ছে, আমার সাথে সংসার করতে চাইছে না।

সবার দিকে কিছুক্ষণ তাকিয়ে থেকে বললাম ঠিক আছে, তাড়িয়ে দিতে চাইছেন চলে যাব, তবে এখন নয় যেদিন তুষারের বিয়ে হবে সেদিনই সবাইকে মুক্ত করে চলে যাব, আর ফিরবো না, কখনো জ্বালাতে আসবো না। তুষার আমার দিকে তাকিয়ে বলল সত্যি তো? হ্যা সত্যি চলে যাব।

আজ তুষারের বিয়ে, মহা ধুমধামে না হলেও বেশ আয়োজনই করেছে, একটু আগে তুষারকে দেখলাম শেরোয়ানি পড়ছে, আমিও বেশ সেজেছি, আমার স্বামীর বিয়ে বলে কথা সেই সাথে আজ যে ওর মুক্তির দিন আর নতুন খুশির দিন। তুষার বরযাত্রীসহ বের হবে আমিও ব্যাগ এ কাপড় গুছিয়ে চলে যাচ্ছি এমন সময় দেখি তুষার বর বেশে সেজেগুজে রেডি হয়ে আছে, খুব হাসিখুশি লাগছে, ওকে ছেড়ে যেতে মন টা মানছিলো না, তবুও যে যেতে হবে। যাবার আগে একবার দুচোখ ভরে তুষারকে দেখে নিলাম, তুষার আমার থেকে মুখটা ফিরিয়ে নিলো।তুষারের কাছে গিয়ে বললাম, তোমার নতুন জীবন অনেক সুখের হোক, বিয়েতে তোমাকে দেবার মত আমার কাছে কিছুই নেই, তবে এই ছোট্ট একটা উপহার তোমার জন্য, নাও। কাগজ টা তুষারের হাতে দিয়ে সবার সামনে দিয়ে বেড়িয়ে পড়লাম, কেউ আটকালো না। চোখ দুটো বাধ মানছে না অশ্রু অঝরে পড়েই যাচ্ছে।

খুশি চলে যাওয়ার পর তুষার ওর দেওয়া উপহারের কাগজটা খুলে যা দেখলো তাতে ওর সারা শরীর কাঁপছে, চোখ দিয়ে জল পড়ছে। ঘরের সবাই উৎসুক হয়ে তাকিয়ে আছে তুষারের মুখের দিকে, কি হয়েছে জানার জন্য। কাগজটা পড়ার পর তুষার দাঁড়ানো থেকে বসে পড়লো, শরীরটা যেনো অবশ নিথর দেহের মত লাগছে।কাগজটা অার কিছু নয়, এটা সেই রিপোর্ট যেটাতে লেখা আছে বন্ধ্যা খুশি নয় বন্ধ্যা তুষার, ওই দিন ডাক্তারের রিপোর্টে রেজাল্ট এসেছিলো তুষার কোন দিন বাবা হতে পারবে না, সেই ক্ষমতা তার নেই, আর খুশি সম্পূর্ণ সুস্থ ওর কোন শারীরিক অক্ষমতা নেই।

রিপোর্টের ভিতরে খুশির একটা চিঠি আছে তাতে লেখা আছেঃ

তুষার,
আমি চাইলেই প্রথম দিনই সত্যিটা বলতে পারতাম, আমি শুধু দেখতে চেয়েছিলাম রিপোর্টে আমার দোষ আছে জানলে তুমি কি বলো, তুমি যদি একবার আমাকে বুকে টেনে নিয়ে বলতে তুমি আমাকে ভালবাসো সন্তান না হওয়ায় তোমার কোন আক্ষেপ নেই, আমার কপাল ছুয়ে একটু শান্তনা দিতে তাহলে আমি সারা জীবন তোমার মুখের দিকে তাকিয়ে জীবনটা পার করে দিতাম, সন্তান সুখ বিসর্জন দিতাম, কিন্তু তুমি তা করো নি, তুমি আমাকে ত্যাগ করেছো, তোমার থেকে আলাদা করেছো, ছিঁড়ে ফেলেছো ভালবাসার বন্ধন। রিপোর্টের ব্যাপারে মিথ্যা কথা বলে তোমাকে পরীক্ষা করতে চাইনি শুধু দেখতে চেয়েছিলাম তুমি আমাকে কতটা ভালাবাসো।তুমি হেরে গেছো।
চলে যাচ্ছি পৃথিবীর যেখানেই থাকি প্রার্থনা করি তুমি ভাল থেকো, সুখী হও।

সংগৃহীত।

কিছু রয়ে গেল…

কিছু রয়ে গেলো ?


ছোট্ট শিশু কে রেখে আয়ার জিম্মায়
অফিসে যাবার জন্য মা পা বাড়ায়
আয়া প্রশ্ন করে , ” দিদি , নিয়েছেন তো সব ?
চাবি , চশমা , মোবাইল আর ল্যাপটপ ?
থমকে যায় মা , ভাবে যাকে সুখী দেখতে,
এত ছোটা , উপার্জন , ছেড়ে যাচ্ছে তাকে !


গোধূলির ম্লান আলো – বিষন্ন বিকাল
মেয়েটির চোখে জল – ওর বিয়ে কাল
অন্য পুরুষের সাথে, এসেছে প্রিয়ের
কাছ থেকে ফিরে নিতে চিঠি অতীতের
প্রেমিক শুধোয়- দেখ, সব ঠিক আছে ?
কোন কিছু রইলো না তো আমার কাছে ?


বর কনে চলে গেছে – কনের পিসিমা
বলে , ” ভাই দেখ – কিছু রয়ে গেলো কি না
একবুক দুঃখ আর অশ্রূকে লুকিয়ে
বাবা দেখে ফুলগুলি গিয়েছে শুকিয়ে
সস্নেহে যে নাম ধরে এত ডাকাডাকি
নামশেষে যে পদবী – রয়ে গেল তা কি ?


দীর্ঘ কর্ম জীবনের আজ শেষ দিন
পিওন বাবুকে বলে , ” সব দেখে নিন
অফিসে নেই তো পড়ে কিছু আপনার ?”
বাবু ভাবে – চলে যাওয়া দিনগুলি কার ?
জীবনের সিংহভাগ কেটেছে কোথায় ?
আদৌ কি সব কিছু নিয়ে যাওয়া যায় ?


মানুষ করেছে ছেলে অনেক আশায়
সুপ্রতিষ্ঠিত আজ সে আমেরিকায়
অতি প্রিয় পৌত্রীর মুখেভাত শেষে
দাদু আর ঠাকুরমা ফিরে যাবে দেশে
ছেলে প্রশ্ন করে, ” কিছু গেল নাতো রয়ে?”
সবটাই — বাবা ভাবে নিরুত্তর হয়ে


শেষকৃত্য সারা প্রায় – বহ্নিমান চিতা
“রয়ে গেল নাতো কিছু ?” প্রশ্ন করে মিতা
পিছু ফিরে দেখে ছেলে -আকুল চেষ্টায়
শেষবার পিতৃমুখ যদি দেখা যায় !
মুখ থাকে বাক্যহীন , জানে শুধু মন
যা রইলো তা সঙ্গে তার ই রবে আজীবন


একেবারে কিছু যদি না ই রয়ে থাকে
যাবার সময় কেন এত পিছু ডাকে?
সবাইকে যেতে হবে – তাও খালি হাতে
অধিকার বোধ কেন তবু সবটাতে ?
এইটুকু মনে রেখো, যাবার সময়
পিছু থেকে ডাকবার কিছু যেন রয় !

Poet unknown but it is a brilliant work…

Friends

The septuagenarian gentleman sitting across me on the lower berth of 2-AC in the Kolkata-Bhubneshwar Express train has been engrossed in his smart mobile phone right from the beginning. In fact he had taken out the phone as soon as the train rolled out of the Howrah station. He was frantically typing out in between light laughter, smile and muffled guffaw. His dress of kurta-pyjama and a sleeveless jacket with the blanket loosely spread over his legs suggested that he is the quintessential Bong Bhodrolok. I guessed, by his demeanor that he must have been a teacher in a college or university. I also thought he must be going on a vacation unlike me who has to attend a boring seminar in the morning as soon as I reach Bhubneshwar.

The gentleman kept glancing at me intermittently as if trying to figure out if a conversation could be struck. The train for some unknown reason has been relatively less crowded and that made the air conditioning work with double efficiency and I was feeling little chilly. I spread the blanket over myself and made myself comfortable in a half lying up position before taking out my phone to check mails and messages.

Finally, the gentleman asked me, “Are you feeling cold, my son?” Now, hearing “my son” I was convinced that the person on the opposite berth surely have been a professor. I said, “Yes, a little bit.” He continued, “The last coffee vendor will come in few minutes, have a hot cup, it will comfy you up.”  Soon the coffee vendor appeared and we took two cups and then the chit-chat started with usual question-answer that any Bong on first acquaintance would like “Where do you live? What do you do? Are you married and how many kids? What are they doing etc?” He also revealed, as I had guessed, that he was the professor of Bengali Literature in Calcutta University. Thereafter there was silence and I wondered what to say! But the professor broke the silence and asked, “How is life treating you? Are you able to spend time with your loved ones?” As I was figuring out what to say, he again said, “I mean are you finding the life sweet or bitter?” I smiled and said, “It is sweet, sour and spicy, all at the same time.” I reflected upon the everyday scene… leaving for office at 9am only to return around 8pm, completely exhausted not just with office chores but driving through ever increasing traffic on the road. Then, having crossed the honeymoon period long ago, there would be some sort of losing argument with my wife or she would be having a fight with Piyali, our daughter on issues like “Why do you get up so late in the morning? Have you done your homework? Why haven’t you finished your food? Have you packed your school bag? Why haven’t you made your bed? Why are these books scattered all over the place? Why are you watching television instead of studying?” The list is endless… sometimes I would lose my cool and scold both.

Professor, took a deep breath and said, “My son, this is the best period in the life… don’t ignore and let it pass by, enjoy this lovely sweet-sour-spicy time with full enthusiasm, give it all your attention and love. There will come a time when only the silence will greet as you reach home, the bed is perfectly made, by some ominous magic the arguments of mother-daughter has been resolved forever. You will have the urge to undo the bed, scatter the books all over just to break the deafening silence with their arguments. The urge to sit with your little one as she attempts to solve that mathematical problem will be immense. You will realize that everything is in its place but the solitude will engulf you, overwhelm you, perhaps, you will search the familiar sweet smell of your little one, your ears would yearn for her constant chatter. No one to say bye as you leave and no one to snatch the TV remote, no one to take the egg yolk from your plate, it will simply dry up on your plate. The daily shrill voice on the other side of your mobile will become weekly then monthly to finally occasionally. She will come for two days and will take back the sweet dreams that you have painstakingly building now. The power of your eyeglass will increase; there will be more medicine to consume than food. The sleep will elude you as well.”

Every word, the professor said, hit me hard as I started visualizing the future… I asked, “So, what and how do you suggest the life should be lived?”

Professor thought for a while and then said, “No one will look back at you if fall like the winter leaves, you will be gone looking at the greenery at the top of the tree. You will have to reinvent, renew yourself like the new leaf on the tree. Locate your old friends wherever they may be, renew that warmth of the friendship. The warmth of the bonfire on a chilly wintery night can only come from the friends through uninhibited laughter, stupid jokes and all that bonhomie. That is why, I keep fiddling with my mobile phone… the old childhood friends keep sending jokes and tidbits that light up my world, keep me alive. Keep up the friendship that you developed long ago in your childhood; do not lose the camaraderie in today’s rat race. I am going to a gathering of my friends which we have every three months… we call it G2G, acronym for Get Together!! We have music, jokes and uninhibited laughter; we relive our youth for two days… take in the pure oxygen of friendship, extend our live every three months through this G2G.”

Next day, early morning, when I got down, there were around 15 young septuagenarians talking animatedly with the Professor and laughing like teenagers at some of their jokes, perhaps. The professor turned around and shouted, “My son, these are my little green leaves, my oxygen.”

I do not know what will happen 20 years hence? Will I have the strength in my fingers to type on the mobile? Will the eyesight be gone completely? I know for sure the cacophony of the G2G will go on but perhaps I may not hear a single word, I may not even remember any of them as my memory gets consumed by the dreaded Alzheimer’s. But the show must go on… the camaraderie of the friendship must continue…

 

Note: Received the Bong story without any reference to the original author. I decided to repost this beautiful realistic piece in English and dedicate it my own group of friends… the friendship developed many moons ago in the classroom, in the football field of Raisina Bengali School; we fondly call it Mastans of RBHS 80.