Back to Home
Archana Borthakur is a
freelance journalist. She writers short stories and poems. Many of her
writings appeared in leading magazines & newspapers. She got several prizes
for stories and poetry in Assame at state level.
The Notation of Silence
Phulpah does not speak, nor does Phulpah smile. Phulpah even does not sleep.
What does she do? What? Like A female deer she looks on but sees nothing. I stay
nearby. Phulpah even does not see me I say nearby. Phulpah even does not see me.
I say. .
'Phulpah; look at me. Phulpah, sing a song.'
Nah, Phulpah does not sing. To make her laugh, I play clown; paint variegated colours in my face. Clutch my throat and make my voice like a pipe. Pressing the nose start singing - 'Oh! Who will bring voice to silent Prince?'
Phulpah does not laugh, does not look, nor does it chase me with sunken eyes. What on earth has happened to her?
Moi Gandhijir dore horn
Shodai shatya path at rom..
( I will be like Gandhiji, will always trad on the path oftruth)
Who reads? A boy with a running nose screams sitting on a mat on the yard. Every time he get'up, pull his pant with loose elastic up. Yet his enthusiasm. for reading has not gone.
'Bapukon, Bapukon. Have your meal before the lamp goes off.' Bapukan comes closing the book.
'Ma, what's the meaning for path of truth?'
'The path where there is no injustice, In which no one gets irritated if
trodden. That is the path of truth.'
So said Bapukan's mother by mashing two halves of Bhatkerela, potato boiled in the hot stream of rice mixing with mustard oil and black chilly brought from own compound. The women's, who defined the path of truth, face has appeared as a state of wax in the half dark glimmering light of the lamp.
'Ma, yours share of rice? 'Here I've taken'
She scraps the left ara rice with a handleless ladle. Bapukan get up and leaves after having his share.
Filled with hunger and fatigue, Bapukon's mother dreams a dream with her eyes opened-of a full meal, of a house which has a roof strong enough to present rain water from powering in , of a new dress over Bapakon;s body. 'Bapukan, Bapukan,' his mother shaken voice could be heard.
What will she say! She knows not how much Bapukxm will have to
study to turn her dreams into reality. Bapukan asks again, 'Ma' did you call Me?'
Bapukon draws a map on a blank sheet.
'What is it?' -mothers surprised Question.
'Its our country.'
'What is this?'
, It is Srilanka.'
, Oh! Our Ravan's Lanka! How long does it take to there, Bapukc.n ?'
'I not know.' Bapuko:n really does not know.
'Donot go anywhere leaving me, my dear.'
A gripping fear always chase mother. She went to fetch water in dusk.
The guy who was playing flute came near.
'I love you more than my flute'
-The young woman turned withered. Everyday she got late fetching
The tune of flute started hunting her .all.day long. In the evening at the bank of river. The tone of flue got grinded in her bossom
One day some one sprang to life' inside her. Crazy as she become, went to the bank of the river. The grass in her well known place could not still get up. She sat there,. No , the flute playing guy did not come. She hard later people talking -The son of MUZADAR has gone to foreign to study. Without father Bapukon has born.
Phulpah is drozing while sitting. Holding her arms, I took her to bed. Like a cat drenched in rain she slept. My hesitant hand on her arms. While on sleep Phulpah drag me close. An identical smell! Loujing my head on Phulpah's bossom, I slept.
Bapukons studied. His mother made arrangement for him to study
even by being hungry.
The woman was drawn in a dream that she sow with her eyes open.
What did Bapukon do studying?
After getting the result of the final examination of University Bapukon
returned. He had passed with flying colours. His mother did not know how he fared in the examination. 'Bapukon will be an established man studying,' The promise she made to the bank of river was going to be turned into reality. Her
joys knew no bounds.
'Our Bapukon will be a professor'
Fire caught Bapukon. Water teasted him. The jungle made jibe at
Bapukon .. Bapukon got lost. Turnig to a 'man' Bapukon left home. His mother cried like anything.
'He drew pictures of new places. Those turned evil and called him.' Secretly Bapukon also dreamt a dream that of independence,
Reading his dish, Bapukon's mother waits till the dead of the night.
Bapukon will come and say, 'Feeling so hungry, mother!
'But Bapukon does not come. With ready dish, loose hairs long nails like a ghost the women waited. People started to evoke fear in the minds of children who disturbed other-'Lo Bapukon's mother will catch you.'
The rice gets eaten by ants and bugs. If the bugs do not get eat they crawled in the body of the woman that waits like a while and hill. Sometimes they even bite - she does not move. She looks an the black ants on the white rice. After Bapukon left, their no scarcity of nice in her home. Two strong built boy, carrying gues leaves a sack filled with rice in the home.
Earlier, people from the village car;ne to see the lonely woman. But all were afraid Qf the fire that caught Bapukon. They stopped coming gradually. The village turned like a place that is driven by epidemics. Even in the
midnight, the boys carrying gun came. They ask for rice like they did in their own home. Hike the owner, they even do not spare the incubating duck. They
cannot be scolded like own child.
The mouths of people were stiched with fear. The village was crippled with fear of gun, of boots, raw blood. Amidst those if people met, they cursed Bapukon's mother - for giving birth to a child like this. A set of olive coloured
man continued to comb the village. The uninterrupted laughter of the river bank froze in the hearts of daughters and wives hike untouchables, they struck to the corners of their houses. Therese no telling when, in search of the boy that left home the clothes will be laid bare. No one can'tell
A boy, smells like Bapukon but his mother doesnot know who comes home offen. He calls her mother, hugs Her, combs her hair, clips the nails, changes the clothes to new, forcefully feeds rice. Bapukons mother gives a blank stare. Even a screeching cockroach frightens the boy. He clutches his black thing kept in waist, like. Bapukon, his face gets withered. In a low tone, he talks something that Bapukon's mother understands nothing. Country, independence, discrimination, capitalism those are very obscure terms for Bapukon's mother sometimes she feels a sort of affection for the boy that smells like Bapukon. Caressing his cheeks, hugging the boy she gives warmth of her love. Even after the boy's departure, her chest retains the smell of the boy. I
In such a night reaches a in distinct tune of flute to Bapukon's mother. Like a woman with fever, she sweated in front of the man. He called her with a tender name left at the bank of river at fast 'What has happened to you?' Bapukon's mother cried. Though wanted yet he could not touch the woman. 'I grew my family outside I have a pair of son and daughter. For a long time you have be~1j\ pqming to my mind. My wife and daughter have not came. ,Son has came along. Jje is planning to build the village a new. In that village you would not have to live like this.'
The woman could notaftter a word. Though wanted to she could not ask if his son is like Bapukon. The man said a lot without asked a thing. The woman did not understand anything. His talks seemed to be against Bapukon's - 'What's wrong if the village gets modern?'
From that day Bapukon's mother got even more vestless. Whom to exchange for whom. Whom did Kunti of Mahabharata wants - Kama or Arjun? That men standing besides her said, 'do something?' What she will do? Is there anything left for doing? They did all. That white boy was laying in the Bank of river like he was thrown done violently in the month. The whole village cried with overwhealming sorrow. The man did not came to her. They barred him from coming. The man that was beheaded was a traitor they told. That he tried to sell his country to others. No one could stop Bapukon's mother. She ran to the bank of river like mad. It was like Kunti in Kurukshetra
caressing the dead body of Kama for the second time................... its your brother!
The boy that smelt like Bapukon did not came anymore. Had he come, she would have told him that the man said 'Tell me Phulpah is not he my son?'
The boy that smelt like Bapukon also got killed by the police.
That Phulpah ... who on earth she is to me? What is the existence of
the soul that is called I. I am not Bapukon neither I am that flute playing guy, I means not the white guy. Yet I know the woman called Phulpah. I also know Bapukon Know his perturbation, his igno~ance, his helplessness when called as bastard by his fellow plamates, his anger, his wants all 1 know. I even know
the boy, Who crossed the seven seas and thirteen rivers and dreamt a lots of dream of his fathers land. Even before his death, he was not awer, what his
fault was. .
Then who am I? May be I am a consciousness! I am a stream of feelings. I am soul keeper of the half dead woman called Phulpah. No one can kill me, No one can separate me from Phulpah.
" Nainang sindanti shastrani, Nainang dahati Pawakah"
Trans/ated by : Angarag Bhuyan
Back to Home