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Parag Kumar Bhattacharyya
Kumar Bhattacharyya (born May 1, 1950) hailing from Assam is a scholar
of repute as well as a creative writer in Assamese. He is also
a poet, lyricist, script writer for Radio and Television. Dr.
Bhattacharyya had been successful in earning a niche for himself in the
world of Assamese fiction. he has published twenty two works of short
story and novel. These are highly passionate and touches the heart of the
readers for its closeness with the actualities of ordinary day to day
happenings. he has presented many papers in national and international
seminars and read out poems and short-stories in different literary
sessions organised by Sahitya Akademi and CIIL. it is also worth
mentioning that he did a research work under the sponsorship of ministry
of HRD, New Delhi, on Tagore and also translated Tagore's masterpiece "Ghare
Baire" which was published by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. He Participated in 2nd International
Writers' Festival (21-24 March 2006) organised by IICCA at Kurukshetra,
Yamunanagar, Paonta Sahib & Haridwar
Original story (in Assamse)
by Parag Kumar Bhattcharyya
(Translatcd by Dr. Parag Das Gupta)
Nayan came and stood beside his mother's bed. She lay inert- a serene and benign
countenance, with a faint smile still lingering on her lips. She had as if
bathed in the sacred water of purity and got ready to embark upon her final
journey. Only the mark of sandalpaste was to be put on the forehead.
Nayan had been to Mysore a few days back to attend a literary seminar. He had brought a box of sandalwood powder therefrom. While coming home he had can-ied the box with him. Now he ran back to his room and came out with iL he smeared his mother's face with the powder and then emptied the box over her body. He stood for a long time there, head bowed, before the supine body of the woman who was about to bid adieu to this mortal world. Not a single tear dropped down his eyes. His heart had got too hardened. A desert had settled as it were upon his heart and started pressing it from all sides.
Time 'was ticking by. Nayan slowly sank his face into his mother's lap. She raised her hand with great effort and began to play with the hair on his head. Could death S9uld-oc so beautiful and fascinating'! - he mused a.nd felt as if his mother had suddenly returneu from her journey to the divine world to shower the spring of her affection upon his body. Her loving touch soothed his soul and her pleasing smile brightened up the whole place. A sudden inexplicable gush of emotion swelled in his heart and he broke down completely. His ,two brother standing behind too burst into tears. But their father, standing a little off, betrayed no emotion. He was busy looking after the an-angements being made for his wife's impending journey. The cries of his sons put only a momentary lapse in his concentration. He felt relieved, for Nayan's burnt out heart badly needed a shower of tears. He cared not for his other two sons. He could easily see through the false tears of the two rascals.
Only a couple of days ago Nayan had learnt of his mother's ailment. He had been too busy all these days to enquire of her physical condition. Strangely, he did not even drean1 of her once. Rather he had been thinking of his Grandpa Biswambhar Chakrabarty all the time. Oftc1n he had visualiscd the old man holding him by the hand and blessing him. That man had always been an'unforgettable memory for him.
Biswambhar was a great Vedantic scholar and also vastly learned in the scriptures.No. memorial stood in his name or no annual meetings held in his memory but it was admitted on all hands that such a scholar had never been born in that region. What a personality he hadand what erudition! Nayan was immensely fortunate to have this man as his guide while preparing for his graduation. Granpda had been his inspiration all his student life and this inspiration conducted him to obtain his Masters and then his Doctoral degree and finally the coveted University lectureship and guideship. Now he was a recognised and revered scholar but what was he compared to that learned man ? Nothing just the holder of a few degree!
Many a time he had listened with rapt attention and wide adminnion to his Gradnpa's discourses on the Gita or his sonorous rendition of the scriptures. At such moments-lle would rcalise his own littleness more acutely. He had often felt like throwing away his Milton and Spenser and Shakespeare and taking to this study of the holy texts under tlle guidance of that saintIy master.
But the son of that great man- Nayan's father- was his perfect antithesis. He had earned a lot through his timber business and wanted Nayan too should follow suit. But Nayan had his Grandpa before him as the ideal and the model. He,was a student of English leterature, but he learnt the essentials of Indian culture and literature from his Grandpa and the two literatures, blended together, gave a new shape and form to his learning. Gradually his name and fame spread all around. That was the most hectic and busy period of his life. He studicd French too after doing his doctoral degree and even went abroad to do post-doctoral research. During all these years he had no time to think either of his haughty and uitterly matcrialistic father or his mother's loving and affectionate countenance.
The fact is that from his childhood he had seen his mother as a not-entity in tlle house. His father's over-bearing personality had eclipsed her identity and subdued all her essential virtues and inclinations. He believed that a woman should have no say in domestic affairs., no freedom of thought, feeling or action. Nayan observed that his mother too had adjusted herself fully to the system imposed by the master of the house. And she had no regret or grudge too on that account. She had reconciled herself to tile system WitIl all her heart and Nayan had always seen her face wearing a benign smile of contentment. Her child like simplicity did not desert her even after she became the mother of three sons. She always sought to embrace one and all with her motherly love and affection. But her husband never cared to know the woman he had made his wife. His haughty and rude attitude compelled two of his sons to leave tIleir home and stay separately. But yet the mother never believed tI1at she could hav.e any tiling to say in the matter.
Nayan had a strange kind of love and respect for his mother. To him she was the ultimate in motherhood. He would sympathise with her plight and try, whenever possible, to show an extra an10unt of love and care as if to compensate for what she missed from her other two sons. She would often insist upon Nayan's staying with her in the house. but her pleadings would be stiffled by her husband's sharp outcry: " What do you want to make of your sons, eh ? Let them go their own way what do you want to achiev by keeping them tied to your apronstring, eh 'I Nayan is not an ordinary man, do you know that? A foreign-returned university scholar. My father was a mere 'master' of the village Tol' and do you know what my son is? A profcsor of the university. " Nayan would cut short his father's exuberance and cry out. " Don't say like that father. I am a pigmy beside my Grandpa. I shall never be able to equal him even if I try all my life."
The mother listened to the exchanges without even comprehending what it all meant. She knew nothing about Nayan just as she had no idea of her father-in law's greatness or his range of knowledge and learning. She had never been made to know anything of the worldgood or bad. Living under the antocratic rule of her hasband. she had become just a lifeless shadow of that man. She knew little even of her own children She knew only what her husband asked her to know. Even problems and adversities is of life affected her very little. She would be perturbed only if he wo'uld be taught to do so, as it were.
And leaving behind this wonderful lady to her isolation and loneliness, her three sons settled elsewhere. Two of them had given away to gain material affluence and the other- the youngest one-to earn more and more fame and honour.
Time knew came for her to take leave of a world she know so little of. Her Ulree sons were now around her and she should have been elated beyond measure-but now her consciousness was fast sinking into the sea of oblivion. She was on fler way to Ule world of eternal bliss. No words came out at her lips- only tears streamed down Ule corners of her eyes.
An unbearable agony pierce Nayan's heart as he sobbed silently His father watched the dying' woman from a distance and then came and sat beside her. He put his palm softly on her forehead and uttered slowly; " Don't you see all your sons around you? They all have come to bid you farewell. I told you, they all would come one day to you from wherever Ull~y arc. Now that they have arrived, close your eyes and sleep peacefully.
The mother obeyed his command and close her eyes that would never again see the light of the world. Nayan looked at those eyes resting so peacefully. No other eyes in the world could cool and quieten his soul in a like manner, he felt. Now those eyes would never again look smilingly at him!
Nayan looked at his father. The old man put on an expression that betrayed no emotion. He watched intently the face of his companion of long years. Nayan thought tllat his fatllcr did so perhaps to make sure she did not dcfy his command and open her eyes again!
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