A Short Story
Original (In Assamese “Bon Bogorir Cha”)
by Minakshi Goswami Borthakur
Translated by Hridayananda Gogoi
[Summary of the story: The story is
all about struggle of a simple and village woman Bonti, who despite odds
and pains in absence of her husband, has been involved in all activities
to grow her only son Dhan. She has faced such a problem from one of her
neighbors called Naram. He has been trying to take undue advantage from
her in the absence her husband Naren, who left her even in her
virginity. The story develops in such a way that once by chance one
stranger Ananta had come to her home to get rid of bullets and had got
involved up to the extent that two souls and bodies could attain ever in
life. Soon after Bonti became pregnant Ananta had to leave her because
of his involvement with the militant groups. In course of time, she has
become the mother of Dhan and kept the eyes in darkness that she has
been bearing the off springs of her family in order to respect her
mother in laws too. Ananta has come back loosing a leg of his own. In
response to his mother Dhan has accepted him and taken responsibility by
himself. The main viewpoint of the story is the humanitarian approach of
a woman. The mother in law has found that she can not leave her daughter
in law without having a chance of meeting a close one who can take care
of the later in her absence. Dhan is the gift of that time which Bonti
has developed in course of social evils till she attained a moment when
she has got the chance to establish him as the son of Ananta, who has
come back at last. ]
: “You are not going to school today.”
: “Why not, I won’t remain absent before exams? Teacher asked me just
: “Let him say, but you can’t go today. I am saying this.”
Dhan has got such an embrace from his mother that he realized there
might be something for which she has prevented his going to school.
: “Ok, I am not going. But I am just coming back from Robinda’s home. I
have to learn two arithmetic problems.”
: “No you can’t move anywhere, stay at home. You have not heard me?”
: “O my God, what happened today? Is it a bad forecast for me? Don’t go
this way, that way?”
Dhan has become angry. He has started filling soils at the roots of a
nut tree. His interest lies in getting an earthworm. Otherwise how he
will pass the day!
His mother came near to him and said, “What are you doing? Why are you
digging the soils near the betel leaf tree?”
His mother came with an angry mood. He saw her face and thought that she
might be facing something very serious.
Bonti drew a petal out from the banana tree. Bulk of earthworms fell
down. Few were jumping here and there. She said to him, “Take these, but
don’t go across the bamboo forest. Many people are gathered there to
finalize the marriage at Konlora’s home. You need not show your
He has caught the knife at her hand and said, “Can you give me the
: “Give me, give me. I have to do lot of works. You please go inside. Do
not say about ordinary things.”
Dhan has started saying like an adult. He left for the channel with his
Bonti stayed there for a moment and saw his steps. Then like a new bride
she took care of her sador and went towards Konpai’s home.
Konpai was collecting some ferns at his gate. He asked her, “What
happened? Why you are running restlessly like the brown cow of Buben?”
She replied, “How you will know it? If yes, then, by evening you will
say me like the she-goat of Rupen.” She was relieved of saying so.
The cow of Buben’s home is absolutely unruly. Wherever she goes she torn
the rope and destroys bamboo fences. As soon as she enters, she starts
eating restlessly. The man who goes to send her out must be a bold;
otherwise he will be tossing about in pain. And who else does not know
about that goat of Rupen, she is a headache for the whole village. Only
she knows how to enter through the splits of bamboo fence. In contrary
she is tied with two bamboo splits in her neck.
Konpai has become more interested. She is very talkative and playful in
the whole village. Nobody could get an escape playing tricks and saying
lies. She will find out the roots of all. Whenever she stands for the
truth, she will raise her voice even people from seven villages
gathered. Everybody knows it, that’s why a man like Phuleswar is still
in her bond. Each and every home in the village has some problems from
the men. But, in case of Konpai? Nothing, Phuleswar is also afraid of
her. Her strength is not less. Few jealous and unscrupulous people of
the village like to call her as Hirimba. This name is popular in the
village, but no one sounds in front of her.
After the death of Bonti’s mother in law, she likes to prefer Konpai in
any problem. Bonti has got a feeling of writhing in agony of saying
something. Konpai has come to nearer and asked,
: “What is the matter?”
: “I have seen him coming today.”
: “Is he, when?”
: “In the early morning.”
: “But, why you are afraid of him?”
: “If he comes today!”
: “Where is Dhan?”
: “He is near the channel with his fishing hook. I have not sent him to
: “Ok, don’t worry. Get him out saying strictly. This is not the proper
way. Let him also have a good lesson.”
: “What do you mean? He will announce it in the whole village.”
: “Let him do, what will be the result?”
: “Dhan’s appearance has become exactly like Ananta. Do you see?”
: “Let him get, then? Why do you have such fear? Go to your home, go
Spitting out with betel nut Konpai has crossed the courtyard a fast with
a bunch of sorrels in her hand. Bonti has come back. Blowing the burning
charcoal with her mouth she has filled the fire place with some twigs of
trees. All of a sudden the fire place has eagerly come up. Keeping the
pot with water for boiling she has gone to see Dhan once and came back.
He has arranged two banana leaves to get rid of sunlight. Now he is
under the protection of shades. She has discovered a creel in the handle
of the long knife kept on the wall of the kitchen while she is about to
wrap her sador on the waist. As soon as she noticed four shingi (a kind
of muddy water fish) and two kawoi (a kind of muddy water fish) she has
become pleased with a smile. How he has caught all those fishes in a
short while? Therefore, people say about his good luck. If the plants of
wood-apple, coconut do not remain alive in someone’s home, they ask him
for plantations. In Biren’s home while they are about to sow paddy
grains for growing seedlings, they ask him to sow the first fist.
She has called out him loudly: “Come my child, have a cup of tea.”
Though he has responded, but was late.
So she came to him taking the teapot, two bowls and with some molasses.
He has become pleased with a smile.
: “Give me, give me…… You should know that even you call me I can’t go
leaving the fishing hook. Once I had been there, but came back again
because you were not there.”
: “Ok dear, who will eat lots of fishes?”
: “Oh, what do you say with an evil eye? Who did tell you to say such
: “Leave it aside. Have your tea.”
Picking the teapot with a towel she has divided two cups of tea.
He has started to taste the hot tea. He said to her, “I have come to
know why you prevented me from going. Why do you women, stumble on the
pretences of others?”
: “What have you known?”
: “I have seen Naram. Perhaps that might be the reason.”
She remained quiet. Last time what sort of nuisances he had created.
Since then Dhan started to realize the body of his mother as female. So,
whoever comes he is used to say: mother you go inside. If necessary he
takes stocks of all works, he begins talking with others. Actually,
their works mean bamboo-cutting, dealer of sanchi tree or dealer of
beetle nuts. He is enough to solve such problems. The household
requirements are filled up by the selling out things from their garden.
In the season of jackfruits vendors come daily. If Dhan does not remain
at home, Bonti now a day never feels comfortable for bargaining.
She has felt a thrilling sensation as soon as taking two cups in hand.
She has heard a sound as if someone, through the front door, has entered
into the house. She has come to inside a fast. Yes, Naram has arrived
and occupied her drawing room. As soon as he has seen her said, despite
calling so many times I have got no response. So I am sitting here.
: “Why you are coming here again?”
: “In search of you.”
: “Why do you need me?”
: “Have I not told you that during the time of rasa festival I will
bring you home!”
: “I asked you not to do that.”
: “Think it. If others could touch your body, could make you pregnant,
then why not you pass a night with me?”
: “No, I can’t.”
: “Listen, don’t come into fray. Give me a baby boy only. Rest is not
your business. I will send back this barren woman to her mother’s home.”
: “You go please. Don’t disturb me. I have told you- it’s not possible
: “Listen to me. I know that you are very clever. I will recognize Dhan
as step-son. I will be agreed to give the whole lands near namghar in
the name of Dhan. Are you satisfied now?”
: “No, you go from here safely. Otherwise I will call him.”
: “What, are your son able to uplift your courage?”
: “Of course yes, he is fifteen now. His voice echoes the voice of his
: “Hey hey, is it so his father’s voice? Whom? Naren or Ananta?”
: “Whatever you think. Go out, out.”
Bonti has tried to expel him from her home.
He was about to leave and said, “I will come on day after tomorrow. I
have come to know that on that day you will enter into the fourth day of
your menstruations. Try to send your son somewhere”.
: “You bustard, why you are here?” She said.
She was shivering out of anger and perturbation. But as soon as the face
of Dhan came to her, she became calm. She has been carrying two types of
fires, one of her inner world. The other came, because of people like
Naram. At dusk her mother in law stayed with her keeping her hands on
her head. She was her pathfinder. But she had passed away. In the
meantime Dhan has learnt to stand nearby her. He has learnt that. Bonti
has come to the kitchen with a fresh mind.
She has cooked a curry of shingara fish with fern and tuber of the arum.
Before giving a final touch she has increased the strength of fire and
gave some juice of sour lime. When the curry became ready she has
uncovered the pan and noticed it with a fire stick. The curry is now
ready to serve. She has kept the pan down from the fire. Then she has
put rice into the cooking pot and kept it on fire. In the meantime Dhan
has given some puthi fish. She has taken some big fishes out from those
and gave into the hot frying pan. After some time she has turned that
upside down with a ladle and displaced the entrails from those small
ones. Dhan likes that roast prepared in a dry pan. After dropping those
roasts she has fried other fresh fishes in deep mustard oil and kept
aside. Then she has burst some methi and dropped a glass of lemon juice
with salt and turmeric. She has asked Dhan: ‘Give me a bamboo spike.’ At
the moment she has observed the frying pan, but the fire is not up to
Dhan has thrown two bamboo sticks. She has taken two kawoi fishes and
sewed their ears and kept on the burning charcoal. It is believed to be
good eating if you get the roasted fish on Saturday and Tuesday. Of
course the best time is Saturday. People say if shani is bad it helps to
recover. But the grandmother of Dhan prevented roasted fish from the
She has left for extracting water from boiled rice after preparing a
mixture of roasted fish with onion, salt and mustard oil. Dhan has a
nature of eating warm rice. She does not like it. She says to him, “How
do you eat hot meal?”
After getting a bath he has wrapped a towel on his waist and came to the
dinning room and sat down into a small tool. She has looked at him for a
long time. Really this has reminded her of her Ananta. He also came here
and sat down like him. He ate food from her. Today Dhan has got
everything ---his beauty, his qualities and has filled up the void.
Both of them came back to their room and closed the backdoor. Dhan has
decided to design a handle for his knife. She has preferred a lap in her
bed. Every village woman likes to have a lap in the noon. She likes too.
During the time of harvesting and ploughing only there is shortage of
time. The sun prepares for setting during the lunch hours in winter.
There is no time for rest. Long days ago her mother, while coming back
from paddy fields after changing locations of she-goat, said to Bonti,
“Come, dear konchuwali, give some rice sour to the cattle. I am going to
have a lap.” If there was a weekly sitting of haat she never had any
sleep. Her father went for haat. He took out all fruits and vegetables
from his own garden for selling. At that time her help was inevitable.
She tightened everything for him, even a milk bucket from the hidden
pocket. Then konchuwali came out with two cups of tea and handed over to
the parents. The duty of her mother was to start selling by giving a
beetle-nut. She must buy at least two bananas from the carrier. One day
an interesting incident took place. During that time her father had hide
a handful of malbhog banana inside the meji of straws. Three days ago
her brother Nandu saw that the bananas were kept covered carefully by
some leafs. While, next day he saw that the bananas were missing, he was
searching everywhere. But it was in vain. He found neither in the paddy
house, nor in the kitchen. Her mother was not aware of it. Everybody
came to the conclusion that the positive result would be displayed by
the carrier itself. Yes, that was correct. Her father made the bananas
ready for sale and kept covered in the carrier. At that time he did not
inform even his wife. Then she had forwarded a one rupee. Her father
said, “Take something quickly. I am in hurry.”
“Hey, father of konchuwali, if you give me a banana, it’s enough for
Her version had made him a smile. How was that, I couldn’t take a banana
even by hiding from these people.
“Ok take few.”
Then all of them were laughing loudly. She was still remembering, how
her mother went to the kitchen with a handful of banana. But, where is
that day, where is that time? One day konchuwali Bonti was married to
namghoriya Naren. He was younger than her father by four years only.
Nobody was ready to hear her cry. Then she was fifteen years only. In
most of the villages the girls were marriageable at their fifteen. She
was also married at that time. At home the mother and her son only.
But after few weeks he left his home. The fact which her mother in law
and Konpai knew was that her husband did not touch her body. In this way
she had passed seven years. She had to take care of whole things,
including home, paddy fields etc. If necessary, she had to go to the
haat. The brother of Konpai only helped her weekly by selling some
vegetable items. Since then the contractual ploughing had been made in
their paddy fields and as a result her mother in law was getting only
half of it. But she had been managing her home by selling half of the
productions. This way the whole year was managed. Of course this process
did not last for a long time. Her mother in law felt in sickbed. She had
lost her vigor and energy. Bonti was in her perfect time. The old woman
sat besides her with a sad mind. She felt that as if she was earning
sins by bringing other’s girl. In spite of this Bonti did not utter a
word, nor she expressed anything. She was totally different, sometimes
sitting before she asked her, “What will happen to you after my death?”
She replied, “What nonsense do you say, had I been not here who would
take care of you?” The woman was expressing her pain of perseverance, as
if she was taking a stone on the bosom of her heart. Bonti read out
kirtanas just near to his bed.
In an evening of those days somebody knocked at her door. Bonti has
lightened a lamp and opened the door. Then, pushing the door a man has
entered forcefully. Leading her to a state of surprise he has closed the
door himself. Then he told her in fear, “I am escaping from the police.
If some villagers find me, they may hand over me to the police. I need a
place to stay for two nights only. I won’t harm you at all.”
She said suddenly, “Wait for sometime, you see, without the knowledge of
my mother in law I can’t allow anybody to stay with us. Even there is no
male person in our home.”
He said, “I know I will convince your mother.” He went to her bed
Touching the feet of her mother he told, “Mother, kindly give me
permission to stay for two nights.”
: “Who is there? Is it Naren?”
She was trying to touch him at her bed. He came nearer and touched her
hand and said, “Mother, you know I am like your own son. I am asking to
stay for two nights. I am in great trouble.”
“Ok, my son, stay here as long as you feel.”
Bonti has viewed the man through her veil. There is blood on his arms.
The shirt has become red. She has prepared boil water.
“Hey, come over here.” She has called the man. He has sat down on a tool
and kept something nearby. She has asked, “What is that?”
“Revolver?” She uttered suddenly and pressed the inside door.
: “Nothing will happen to you. Don’t be afraid of it.”
She has asked from that position, “Why are you carrying that with you?”
: “It is required.”
He has made a sound of groaning. Pressing the arm with another hand he
said, “Give me some boiled water into a bucket.”
Having fear she has brought that bucket, used for giving boiled rice
water to the calf, and poured water into it. He begins to wash the wound
with a towel. But as the backside remains unseen for him, he has said to
her, “Put the handled knife into fire. It is required.”
After putting the knife into fire she has again tried to wash his wound.
It’s difficult. The flow of blood has not been stopped. The head of a
hard black thing has been seen. He has shouted while fingers touched
that steel like hard head.
: “Ah, bring a knife.”
She has forwarded the knife. He has said, “Don’t give me. You catch the
hard black thing with the head of this knife and bring it out.”
: “No, it’s not possible for me.” She has been frightened.
He said loudly, “Bring it.” She has marked the revolver and noticed his
face. Then with the help of the hot head of the knife she has brought
out two inches long hard steel. At once the sharp flow of blood has come
out and made her sador red. The floor also has become red. He has
pressed the wound with his fingers.
: “Ok, keep it carefully.” She said and went to bring some herbal.
Getting crushed he has overlapped the herbs upon his wound. He made a
smile and looked at her face.
: “What has been bound by the doctor?”
: “This is herbal medicine. It will dry up within two days. Once there
was a wound in our father’s foot by the plough. Look, as if this size,
just as long this middle finger. The herbal medicine cured it. This will
do for you.”
He remained standstill and looked at her. How is this woman, who has
been caring an unknown man in the middle of the night! No, she has not
been a woman even. She is a very innocent girl. She has not asked his
name at least. Suddenly she has found that standstill face and left that
place with the bucket of water.
On that day she had to give him water while washing face for dinner.
After eating he got a sleep at the retiring room. Bonti had also got a
sleep nearer to her mother-in law. In the late night a pair of
unfulfilled eyes remained without bliss of twinkling. Somewhere in her
bosom some sort of bubbles were rising out of her sad emotions.
Days entered into fourth. During these days she has come to know that
his name is Ananta. He belongs to a village in the lower Assam. However,
she could not find out the cause, for which he has been moving around.
The wound of Ananta has come to an end. The old woman asked Bonti from
her bed: “Come here.”
: “What happened to you mother?”
: “Where is he?”
: “He is scrapping and smoothing a handloom beam at the rice pounding
: “Don’t allow him to go. That man has gone, but never comes back. If
this man goes, he won’t come back.”
: “He is meant not for us. How I will keep another man mother?”
: “If you decide to keep, you will be able to do. Ask him for a son.”
The decision was overheard by Ananta while coming to drawing room for a
beetle nut. She has come slowly towards outside. She has never enjoyed a
company of a man, but during these four days she has been experiencing a
man. She has taken care of him, experienced care and today what does her
mother in law say like this? She feels uneasy to look at his forehead.
He has stood near to her and tightened the bundle of reeds used for
walls through his knife. A bit of dry soil has fallen down. She has
covered the spot quickly by her hands as if she has covered nakedness
which her mother in law uncovered just now.
He has sat together with her. The whole night has passed. She is a very
simple woman, a shelter of emptiness. Really, she is totally empty after
all fulfillments. They have talked. Where is the beginning of a wrong
time? Which has never asked for an end?
She has narrated how she had to start a family with an aged man. That
man never puts a look on her, not even has touched her. Even he never
calls upon her name.
With complete surprise he has heard her voice attentively. And towards
late night he has come very close to her. It seems so close that she
even understands that she has a body of her own. At last she has come to
know the touch of a man.
Her mother told her that marriage is required to purify women’s bone.
The unmarried girls are ceremonially impure. And if she dies without any
issue the males are supposed to go to hell. Even in such cases the vedic
rituals performed by such males are meaningless. She, keeping herself
amidst his arms, has asked whether he has a son or not.
: “I am not married.”
: “What? You are unmarried? Mother has told me that childless man has no
escape from the hell. I don’t have a child. Although my male has died….”
She has stopped.
: “How long time you have passed without him?”
: “Seven years.”
: “Are you interested to live in this way?”
: “What shall I do?”
Just after some time she has asked him,
: “Are you going away?”
: “Yes, I have to go. I will be going whenever orders come from the
: “Whose order? Where you will go? Why you will go?”
: “We are members of militants. We are fighting for an independent
Assam. I have been keeping myself away from my home for the last five
years. I have not seen anybody of my home. It is injustice for me
sleeping with you. But you have sacrificed everything for me.”
: “You don’t go away. I am not going to leave you. Where you will move
restlessly with this wound?”
: “I have to go. I have nothing to give you. Whatever I have it’s all
for the nation, all for the party. I can not be tightened up with a
: “You have lots to give me. My mother in law also said like this.”
Both of them have got frightened because of a sound from the bed. They
made a smile.
: “Look, sometimes we have to run away even because of hearing a sound
of our own breathing.”
In the midnight two frightened breaths have spoken each other, looked
their eyes and tightened their bodies nearer. The sounds of two breaths
have become one.
The woman lying like a rotten wood has got up. Bonti has become
frightened just thinking of a possibility might come from Ananta. After
fulfilling all unfulfilled needs he has got raised and sat on the bed.
The woman, after getting all fulfillments, has offered gratitude to him.
This kind of attachment has tightened both for another two days.
On the third day of fulfillment while he was in sleep a small instrument
kept near his head has made a sound. He has untied the embrace of Bonti
and sat on the bed.
: “Piyoli is speaking…”
: “Yes. Is it final?”
: “I am coming just at the moment.”
: “Ok. All right boss.”
Bonti has heard his response only. All of a sudden, not even allowing
her to say something, he has got up and put on his shoes and tightened
the buttons on his shirt. And he has kept his weapons in proper
: “Yes darling, I am going. It’s my time now.”
: “Are you going? Just, right now ?”
: “Yes, I have to go now. Come up. Open the door.”
She has asked, “Who is Piyoli?”
: “I am.” He said.
She has caught him forcibly from the back side.
: “Look, Leave me, I have to go. If I survive I will come back one day.”
: “If something remains!’
: “That is your luck.”
He has touched the feet of the sleeping mother and vanished in darkness.
Bonti has started crying. This crying has given by Ananta. She has never
thought that such a woman living in isolation without any feelings years
after years could cry loudly in the late night.
After two days of this incident her husband has appeared all of a
Her mother in law has said, “Get out him.”
She has stayed in full bloom in a corner of the house. His mother has
given the news that she is pregnant. She has warned him, “Get out.”
The man stayed in the verandah of namghar for two nights and has left at
once. The two women have asked her whether he has come to her bed before
She has felt it right to let others hear that yes, he has come to her
After three months later Ananta has arrived in the mid night. He has sat
for some time keeping his knee down.
Then he has whispered her, “You will be mother of a baby boy.”
He is about to leave and said with lots of confidence, “You will take
sandur for me, I will never die. I will come back one day. Take care of
He has turned from the door and said, “Do you know, they have killed
four of my people. They also killed my father and brother during the
torture. My mother has died because of unbearable pain. My sister has
disappeared. The version of Haren has made it confirmed that an army
party has taken her away. He has gone away in the darkness of the back
: “Bonti, you please remain for me, I will come back soon.”
She remembers only that saying. He has left. Since then Naren has been
growing a son of bhakat. Many changes have come to his life. His mother
has expired. His son has become old. The houses have got lightened. Only
the eyes of Bonti have remaining alive. She opens her door in the
midnight. She extends her sights as far as she can in the midst of hole
in the pedal shed. She jumps up even hearing a sound at any moment. She
cannot remain in peace, even in her bed. She tries to give her eyes rest
but sleep never comes to her. It seems as if, since several days, a
cruel expectation has been keeping her alive. Yet she has been in happy
mood with her son Dhan. But after so many years how Naram has got this
news and started to destroy her foods and all. That is a mystery now.
Dhan asked his mother, who was restless in her bed, and said, “You
should not be worried about anything. I will teach a lesson to Naram.”
Dhan was busy in repairing a handle of the knife.
His mother has got frightened. She has found that the grace and beauty
of Ananta has been exposed in her son. What’s right, he can do whatever
he desires. She has made a jump from the bed. “Look me here and give the
He could not find any cause why his mother at once has gone away taking
the knife. After tightening the she-goats Bonti has gone towards the
cowshed. She has put some paddy husk over the fireplace. In the evening
it has to be burnt out. The two cows are pregnant. They are to be kept
away from mosquitoes and other bites. All of a sudden she has remembered
that the shradha ceremony of her mother will be on the day after
tomorrow. How Naram would approach to her among lots of people. She has
felt that Dhan, who is drinking a cup of tea, really resemblances with
Ananta. In his presence it’s a fact that her chest has not frightened at
After combing her hairs she has taken sandur and gone to the gateway. He
told her, “You will take sandur for me. I will come back.”
Then, at once Dhan has reached to her while she was talking at the
gateway of Konpai and said, “Come mother, quickly. My father is coming.”
: “Father?” She has looked him in surprise. Dhan knows everything too.
Then, whether he is saying for Naren or Ananta?
She has run after her home in a hurry. Who? Who may be? He has told me
to come back. Is he really? She has found a crippled man.
Yes, that stout and strong man is Ananta. He has left only one of his
legs. Yet, he is coming back to her.
In the meantime Dhan has taken out the artificial support and given his
own shoulder. It’s very delicate now…
Puthi: a kind of silver color fish.
Singara: a kind of small fish.
Kawoi: a kind of muddy water fish.
sanchi: a kind of tree which juice is used in preparing perfume.
singi: a kind of muddy water fish.
Rasa: the festival related to the birth of Lord Sri Krishna.
Methi: a kind of masala used in food preparation.
Shani: the planet Saturn.
Haat: a weekly market in villages.
Meji: a tall & thickly dropped wood/straw.
Namghoriya: a person performing daily rituals in temples in vaishnav
Kirtanas: Prayers in vaishnav cult.
bhakat: a person engaged in ritual activities.
namghar: temple in vaishnav cult.
sador: a long cloth wrapped by Assamese woman to cover her body.
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