a short story
‘Dheu’ finds relief, as the bus starts rolling the
jammed-streets of Dhaka. Though, it’s comparatively lesser-jam than
usual. It’s past-noon into late-afternoon. There seems no rush in school
children returning home. Office-returnees will hit the streets at 5 p.m.
Dheu finds herself fortunate to have got-off before the usual
office-break. Crossing the concrete-jungle just after the airport, some
green starts emerging, the green-tapestry being quite obviously,
artificially landscaped. Yet, one can smell the aura of the
Beauty-of-Bengal. The subdued Autumn afternoon-sun, sparkling in
youthful embrace at both sides of the road, as if the leaves dangling in
ecstasy. The sky seemed infectiously spreading beyond… in clear lush
blue color. After quite a while, today, Dheu’s eyes had an opportunity
to quench its thirst at nature. Each day, like a machine, she pushes
herself to get-up & down through the maddening crowd overcoming the
daily hassles in returning home.
Today’s Autumn afternoon is of a different flavor. Dheu’s eyes, mind,
lips were busy in silent interactions, before realizing herself… dancing
to the Autumn’s rhythm like an excited butterfly, she is startled to
hear her name called: “Dheu…Dheu…” Dheu expresses surprise:
Inan: …you? …where from?
Dheu: …I’ve the same question…
Grabbing each other’s hand like Shornolata (an entwined branches of
creeper-plant)… golden-touch of the four hands sparkle, as if being
spell-bound by the touch of a touch-stone. The much familiar two heart’s
blood-adrenalin flow rapidly. The serene Autumn is suddenly disrupted by
the untimely storm emerging … in the minds of Dheu & Inan, just like
helpless fading-voices of people tormenting in a storm. Inan babbles in
Dheu... Dheu…will you get down at Farmgate?
…lots to talk about….lots of things…
Dheu, as if the wild gusty winds of her inner-storm, subdues her lips
for an answer, she nods affirmation. They got-off and sat in a
Restaurant. Inan was searching Dheu in her mind for a quite a while…
nurturing in a silent-cage from childhood. Dheu acknowledged that upon
leaving Inan, her heart became a barren desert. Her fiery-breath gains
momentum. Nostalgic memories of childhood engulf her mind….how they ran
around the green fields of their village home, playing games, getting
soaked in the monsoon rains, clay-laden…how they wrestled-out their
youthful-energy, wriggling together on carpets-of-sand at the river
banks, sometimes lips exchanging flower-nectars…lost in the abundance of
yellow flower-gardens… all of which, frantically yearns to the
nourishment of the fiery desires of the heartland. Accumulated agonies
have now transcended into a concrete-cage within.
Inan sadly expresses, that there’s no time now, to rekindle those lost
beautiful memories. She’s only carrying the burden of agony of a
parasite. The pains of which, like silent dark-clouds, taking a
permanent abode. Each day, driving her in desperateness seeking Dheu… so
that, she may ease her overbearing agonies. She’s fortunate to be
touched by the Touch Stone, whose supposedly legendary magical touch
would turn her long accumulated dark-clouds into gold!
Dheu asks, so who is this parasite?
Inan responds: …it’s the one with whom hearts were exchanged.
The union, that blossomed a colorful love-flower; which, with
soft-touch, hand-in hand… the embodied dreams she had so endearingly
nurtured... resting upon the bosom of the infinite ocean of love. The
naked parasite casting her in the shadows of ever engulfing dark-clouds…
From the corner of her eyes, accumulated teardrops roll down her
sundried cheeks of the late-afternoon. Mountains of melancholia inside
her torments her even more as, in some unpredictable moments,
two-flowers blossomed yet another flower, from the same branch stemming
from the umbilical fathoms of the blood-seed. Ferrying across the oceans
of torment, overcoming utter sadness through the years of struggle…
gift-of-nature unfolds with a life on mother-earth. Her only gift alas!
…is now, having to grow-up in painful and unbearable environment.
Dheu’s eyes fill with tears in progression of her warm breaths… The
prince-charming in a stallion, who elevated her in the wings of dreams,
has now ironically transformed into a black-hawk. The evil-claws
tattering and wounding her wretched bloodied-self… like a hunted prey,
grasping, an almost dying wounded bird.
Dheu on returning home, goes straight to bed, lying down she recalls
Inan’s words. Her best friend suffering so terribly, lost in a
fathomless hole of torment & struggle. The lotus of love is then only a
mere weapon of deceit for the male (?) …with this weapon they embrace
love and with it they destroy as well. Dheu intrinsically transcends
herself reinforcing a stone-of-heart and finds strength in herself, not
to be vulnerable to the so-called extended hands of pure love. She
refuses vehemently in self-actualization, committing to fight such
temptations of the male advances made in the pretext of love; all in
retrospective to Inan’s unhappiness. Deep down in her mind, she promises
not to ever seek a male as a life-companion.
Dheu is a long awaited gift-of-love of her parent. Little Dheu, with
much dreams, love and care had repeatedly been steamrolled with the
struggles of survival, while growing-up. Demands of survival from early
childhood had conditioned her journey in this beautiful world…the hard
way, still striding ahead, to become a complete human being! Her own
education, being on one side, while trying to meet the economic needs of
the family, thus remaining busy with daily Tuition (teaching); she
hardly has any free time. Mr. Ali Reza, is a simple government employee.
As usual, the salary at the end of the month goes mostly to paying
house-rent. The rest is dedicated to running the family survival-cost,
which is not enough. At that pressing situation, Dheu extends her
support to Mr. Ali. Overcoming rough & tough roads of intense struggle,
today, Dheu and her three sisters are self-reliant. Carrying
long-burdens, following footsteps of a friend, Mr. Ali Reza today, is
exhausted and passing days of retirement. He no more has the lingering
burden of poverty. Though the bright glow of the Autumn sky bestowed the
family with self-reliance, however, now & then, unpredictable, hovering
cluster-of-clouds overcast their life. Mr. Ali Reza’s life despite being
apparently satisfactory, however, remains without peace. Mr. Ali had
repeatedly failed to commit Dheu into marriage. Customarily, they can’t
even arrange the marriage of the rest three daughters because of her.
Sania, regularly prays five times, each time asking the Creator so that,
she may consent for marriage. Even the Creator was unable to nudge
Dheu’s adamant mind.
Dheu is Sania’s wealth of an umbilical-bonding, with whom she had
ageless dreams. Shattering those dreams, Dheu has self-banished herself
in a box-within. Sania is troubled because she is answerable at the
dock-of-society. Yet, she is not spared. She often faced insults from
people whose perception is framed in a regimented mind. Sania is
determined to talk to her daughter directly. She will pull-out that
imprisoned self. It can’t continue like this! She is not beyond the
On finishing dinner, everyone’s watching TV except Dheu. Sania is
surprised at this, as tomorrow being a holiday. There’s no rush-factor
in the morning for anyone. It has become a normal practice to gather on
week-ends for TV and/or chat, discuss issues & family matters. Because
other days everyone remains quite busy. Sania’s forehead, frown in
deep-thought. Though, her eyes apparently appear to be watching TV, yet,
her mind is lost somewhere else. If not to others, but Mr. Ali’s eyes
like a detective detects… “Sania, Sania…” she’s startled at hearing him
call. In an affectionate voice Mr. Ali says, “Sania…what are you
thinking?” Without answering him she enters Dheu’s room. Dheu was
speaking over the phone. Sania without speaking a word quietly sits
beside her. Dheu realizing her presence, taking the phone off her ear
she turns around standing-up. Taking the phone back to her ear she
tells: Inan, have to go now, talk to you later.
Sania regains her posture from momentary trance. She was hoping to
understand the reason behind her unwillingness for marriage. But, she
was frustrated at realizing that she was talking to her childhood
friend. Sania, affectionately putting her hand upon Dheu’s head, she
murmurs… it’s been a long time that Inan came to visit us, would you ask
her to visit us? Dheu informs that she being a professional Journalist
hardly has time. However, Dheu assures Sania of her request. Sania while
affectionately caressing her hair, informs Dheu: she is her eldest
child, it’s a social-norm that parents rear their children, growing-up
and at one-time, they are sent to their ‘in-laws’. Though, it seems very
painful, however its happiness overruns the pains. Besides, it sets you
free of your social responsibilities and its due obligations. Have to
face many embarrassments from people in many different ways. Sania,
takes her hand off from daughter’s head. Her facial-features, instantly
turning into a hard negative expression. Grabbing her hands strongly she
said: …Dheu, today you must tell me, why you are unable to consent in
marriage? … Dheu quite peacefully in normal gesture hugs her mom and
replies: no reason, like I said before, that I’ll not marry, even now I
am saying that I’ll never ever get married. Get the other three married.
Don’t have to think & worry about me. Think about your other daughters.
And let me assert again, in future do not ever talk to me about
Sania, with a saddened dark-face departs her room. Mr. Ali Reza’s
assumption was correct. He already knew that she will be even more hurt
by her daughter. He is however, unable to rationalize. The little girl
who had grown, always helping-out the family dedicatedly… from tit-bits
of house-chores to major responsibilities, had never spoken a word that
could hurt her parent; never did she let the younger sisters understand
the pains of struggle that she underwent. This very girl, get very upset
at the utterance of any marriage proposal. Dheu is very adamant at
compromising this. Usually during the holidays guests come to visit.
Except for Dheu, the three sister’s friends also visit. Upon finishing,
the morning breakfast Dheu as usual, remain busy assisting her mother
The youngest sister Chocolate enters the kitchen to inform Dheu that her
friend Shochyo is here visiting. Saniya’s face brightened up. It’s
indeed after quite a while, did any friend of Dheu come to visit. She
was unaware of any male or female friends of Dheu, besides Inan.
Shochyo is busy playing with the TV remote without being interested in
watching, just eagerly waiting for Dheu. Wiping her hands with her
scarf, she comes and stands in front of Shochyo. Shochyo immediately
lets go of the remote and asks her to sit. While sitting on the next
sofa, she says: …so, finally you had to come-up to my house…? Shochyo
smiles in affirmation….can’t lose hope so easily…I think I got to see
the last episode… The once-upon-a-time girl, who respondingly took hold
of the hands and brought him to an utopian dream-island, is now
snatching-out the dream-light and leaving Shochyo in utter darkness.
Yet, Shochyo is grasping desperately to reach for the banks. The
cosmetic-free face looked charming. Though, Dheu was of a little dark
complexion, her facial-features stood-out attractively with a serene
peaceful-sweetness look…a craving attraction for Shochyo. And restless
he like a wounded-bird, yielding in refuge, subdued in a dark-hole on
being clawed by the eagle. All schemes to win Dheu’s heart have failed,
yet not for a moment can he forget her.
It was during the first day at the University, that she accidently
stumbled over to meet Shochyo. It was then, that like an electric-spark
their relationship grew to a close-friendship. Shochyo could apprehend
the love she had for him. However, Dheu being a pragmatic woman, her
first love couldn’t subdue her obvious vulnerabilities. Shochyo hoped
that, upon finishing his studies and getting employed, that Dheu would
respond willingly to his proposal. He had got such indications from Dheu.
But in reality, it was just the opposite. Dheu is subtly ignoring
Shochyo. The more, Shochyo wants her closer…Dheu, like a mist fades
away…faraway. Saniya, is silently praying to the Creator, should her
daughter change her mind. After crossing so many hurdles of her
struggles in life, she is now faced with her greatest crisis. A slight
ray of hope fills her eyes but obstructions overwhelm her. Shochyo with
sad face leaves the room. Saniya is shocked. Her suppressed unrest-full
mind erupts in agonizing pain.
The roof of the two-storied house was quite charming. Dheu has nurtured
the rooftop garden with many different plants & flowers. Despite her
busy household chores, Dheu dedicatedly finds time for her rooftop
garden. The holidays, allocating even more time for this. Dheu, standing
in the middle of her garden was observing the surrounding
concrete-jungle, when suddenly a pair of hands close her eyes. Dheu on
touching her hands calls out: …Inan! Leaving her eyes, Inan stands close
next to her. Dheu enquires, that just a while ago, she was on the phone
with her, how come she didn’t mention about her intended visit (?). Dheu,
I wanted to surprise you…aren’t you happy? Inan, do I have to tell that
? …can’t you tell by looking at me? You know Dheu, I felt the urge to
see you. My son went to his grandma’s house. I was missing you very much
in my empty house… squeezing Dheu’s two cheeks Inan expresses. It’s only
been a day since we last met and your desperate …responds Dheu. Do you
really miss me? enquires Dheu. Inan with a suppressed smile on her face
replies: …not at all! …touching Dheu’s lips, she softly murmurs: shall I
leave then? should anyone don’t feel the need to remember me, what’s
with m?…I too, won’t feel the need to remember… Holding Inan’s nose
softly, Dheu says: …Cut your acting, let’s go inside. Ok, I’ll go inside
but on one condition, you’ll come with me to my place, I’ll talk to
aunty about this. You have my word Inan, I’ll go with you…
They went inside and sat in the living-room. Saniya was happy to see
Inan and requests her to convince Dheu: …she is adamant at not marrying;
you must help her understand…
Inan very specifically and clearly explains… As a human, one has his/her
own self-freedom and one should not be deprived of this freedom. There
was once a time when, compulsive evil-norms of society unjustly enforced
people to sacrifice their personal-freedom…particularly of women.
Because, women being dependent on men in one-way or the other; a result,
of a long held male-dominant society, throughout the ages. Even now,
women are silently sacrificing themselves in the male-dominant society,
being deprived of their own rights. It’s not expected by the women of
the present society. Not as women or men, but as human, every person has
their own self individual freedom. Everyone ought to respect that.
People should live with their individual preferences. It’s unfair and
inhuman to interfere on personal-freedom. Parents expect the welfare of
their children. In context of which, children need to grow-up complete
and self-reliant, whether girl or boy. It’s not right for the parents
nor the society, to intervene & interfere in their individual freedom,
should, that is not a factor of harm for anyone. As parents, it’s their
responsibility to accept their children’s welfare and happiness …that’s
what Inan thinks. Despite understanding Inan’s explanations, Saniya is
unwilling to break-away from the so-called traditions. Not with
understanding, she lost her battle with her daughter. Many years have
passed. Dheu has found her real freedom. No one interferes with her
own-world. Inan and Dheu starts living-together. In the meantime, Dheu
has adopted a child. Inan has been divorced from her husband for the
last ten years. Her son studies in College.
They have an organization named “Human Love”, without any
social-acceptance. However, they meet once every month in
secret-meetings. Many couples attend these meetings. There are both
male-couples as well as female-couples. The key agenda of meeting being:
‘The building of a progressive and improved quality of living’ for
better & beautiful life.
In this regard, their primary work will be that, based on their own
capabilities, each couple will take-up the responsibility of one or two
Street Children. By providing them with proper environment, they will
grow-up striving for a better life, alongside their education. Though,
social-thinkers, the so-called guardian of social-values… think, that
the winds of the western-world have immersed our society into decadence.
Even these matters are considered a curse of the western-society. This
is a very wrong concept. If one recalls historically, it will reveal
that ‘this’ existed in all societies. Those nations, who have
acknowledged ‘these-love’, are condemned for wrong-doing. This is the
bias opinion of this society.
Dheu queries: why is this love called perverted?
Inan replies: …it’s a matter of perception. Society is only used to
seeing heterosexual-love, therefore when something new is added, the
society being conditioned by regimented social-norms (traditions,
values) thus are unable to digest this. It is only a natural phenomenon
to endure love between to humans. Whether it’s woman-woman or men-men…
what does it matter? But society remains intolerable.
Inan at onetime had the company of man. But later, due to many reasons
she undergoes a change of heart. With the innate changes of mind she
also experienced, much changes with her feelings of physiological
sensitivities as well.
In fact, it’s not a complex-substance inside people that unfolds lust.
It’s a liquid substance. Liquid is fluid and as such can change anytime.
And Dheu remained ignorant about all this. The women’s attractions to
men, she too had nurtured herself. But Dheu didn’t have the scope to
experience such attractions into ecstasyc union of the senses. Much
before that could happen for her, Inan swayed her away into a new world.
That was, an intensely romantic night. Dheu’s childhood friend Inan:
Upon finishing her High School, Inan came to the City. Dheu, passing her
College from her village got admitted in Dhaka University. Mr. Ali Reza,
at one point, transferred his job to the city in order to better support
their kids education. It was after eight years, that she had met Inan on
the street. Since then, they often remained in touch, talking almost
daily over the phone. One fine day, in the evening she arrives at Dheu’s
home. Talking through the night, about their childhood yester-years… she
In the middle of the night, she suddenly started feeling a different
kind of feeling… Dheu despite her surprise, in a state of euphoria
succumbed to her feeling-good sensualities. That’s how a human-love
unfolded. Their hearts and minds too, embraced in union. Though being
denounced in the eyes of society, they have discovered the values of
their own life. From the threshold of conflicts, a streak of
bright-light out of the non-ordinary reality of the blind society, had
reached-out and touched Dheu and Inan… the light, ever encompassing them
have enlightened their otherwise broken-lives…***
(Translated by Iqbal Husain)
(Published in Kafla Intercontinental
- Summer 2013)