It was raining for the last seven days. Every day I woke and expect the morning would be cloudless. But the situation only worsened day by day. The village transport system had already been disrupted. I could not reach Samayita as no bus was passing the Sonajhuri Bridge. It was a low area and water might enter the engine. No driver was daring to take the risk. I came back home and tried to call Shubhradi but the mobile tower was not working. In the late afternoon, I was strolling in the garden trying to call the convent. Mamoni looked tensed.
“What is the matter?”
“Aatri people are saying the damp may get collapsed any time.”
I never faced a flood. I heard the story of the devastating flood of ’78 from my parents. Though the area was flood-prone yet we were in a safe position. But what to do if the barrage crumbled down?
“Then what should we do Mamoni?”
Basu uncle came rushing.
“Boudi the damp has collapsed near Ryganj. Water is entering. Carry whatever you think is important upstairs. I’m also coming after an hour.”
“What can we do?” Mamoni looked puzzled. “Aatri is too weak now and Sabana has already gone.”
I saw the fear in her eyes, the same helpless fear that I saw on the day of my father’s death. The doctor said she should be kept away from deep worry. But this situation was totally new to me.
“Mamoni let’s go. Don’t get panicked. I am fine now, and we can do it.”
“Boudi I’m coming. Don’t worry”. He darted out. Everyone was in an emergency.
“What will be with my garden, my cactus beds?” She yelled.
“Just come and help me to carry the food and urgent things upstairs. You will think of your cactus later.” I hurried home totally annoyed and tensed.
As I peeped my head from the upper-storeyed room I saw water rushing through the roads with catastrophic violence. The whole village was frantic with alarm. Suddenly the area took a wartime situation, disturbing everything. I started collecting important and urgent files and papers, medicines and food items. But I did not find Mamoni to join me. Water was in the bathroom, kitchen and all around. Already it touched my heel so in the garden it must be knee length.
“What the hell Mamoni is doing there?”
I called her at my highest pitch.“Mamoni, Mamoni?”
I got no answer but there was no situation left for me to go in search of her leaving all these. Within a few seconds, water would swallow everything. I needed to save the important documents though I felt anxious for her.
Basu uncle entered with his youngest son and Mohon. I felt so relieved. We all started carrying things upstairs.
“Where is aunty Aatri?” Mohon asked.
“I am calling her sometimes. I don’t know what she is doing in the garden?”
“ Mohon I’m going for her. You took the things. We should search him first.”
“We also went with you uncle.”
We took a torch and went to the garden. It was already dark and no moonlight could pierce the dense leafy foliage. Water was entering at a great speed. I was almost tumbling unless Basu uncle caught me tightly. We searched and screamed. Then we heard a groaning. There was she, among the cactus at the foremost corner, half-drowned.
I screamed in panic and tried to rush but I could not. Water was already at my breast level. Mohon and Basu uncle carried her up. She had broken her leg and got a heavy injury on her head while trying to rescue the cactus tubs from water. When we took her in light she was bleeding severely.
I was totally panicked. The sound of water suppressed the shrieks of my screams.
Basu uncle and his son remained with me while Mohon went to call others and to manage something so that we could take her to the hospital. Others gathered near our home in the water. All were shocked by the sudden flood and the sudden news of Mamoni. But Mohon did not come back yet. I felt helpless and wrecked. I wanted to take her in my little chest and fly leaving behind this flooded world. Oh! God how cruel it was to observe her in pain and blood.
Basu uncle called doctor Hemanta. But no one could come immediately in this situation.
Mom gradually collapsed, when the water swallow the ground floor. Her head injury was severe.
Mohon returned with a tube and bamboo-made boat with others.
I cried out hysterically.
Basu aunty took me in her arms but I was in no way to be soothed. Everyone was stricken with sudden grief and danger. I yelled till my voice cracked and I could not cry any more.
They were hurrying as the water was rising. Mohon brought Doctor Hemanto. He gave the death certificate and they carried her immediately as there will be no upland to burn the corpse later.
I stayed at home with others. They stayed with me ignoring their household danger.
They collected wet bamboo stalks, place them side by side and tightened through rope in front of my eyes. Now I’m not that teenage girl to stay away from any mortification.
When they took her away my heart wrenched in tremendous pain as I lost my everything.
Why has life brought such catastrophe for me again and again? Why?
Whom should I ask?
Who was there to answer me?
To be continued…
Hey, I am Munmun, the phoenix fabulist who wants to tell you stories. I love to read stories and I love to weave stories. I feel life is an amalgamation of multiple stories, colourful threads, and threads of pain, pleasure, hope, and hopelessness. We just need to pick those hues and arrange them, knitting them with our own emotions and perception. So let’s celebrate the stories of life.