It was a jubilant college day and we were frantic in excitement. The whole department was excited as it was the first time our college is participating and sending their representatives to Chitora. The day was spent with a hectic schedule, though I felt nice, something exciting, perhaps for the first time in my life after my father’s death. I felt important. All my friends were cheering for us. Soma, Anita, Moinak and I were chosen from our department when we submitted our plans to the Head of the Department a week ago and today was the official approval of it.
“Now you have to add innovation to your data and design the prospect to complete the presentation paper. Get it?” We four nodded simultaneously at the inquisition of H.O.I. And everything was settled at that time.
After returning home I rushed out in search of Shanti and Mohon, my bosom friends. I believed they could help me in my survey of the condition of women in rural areas. I was bubbling with exuberance as I was trotting through the ridge of the paddy field. Shanti had promised to bring forest mushrooms when she would go to collect dry leaves. Mamoni would make a delicious dish if she remained in her cooking mood. At least Sabana Apu would be there to help her. Sabana apu took care of Mamoni and household matters. Her husband was very favourite to my father and he had the sole responsibilities of our farm, containing just some paddy fields and a sugarcane one. Father could not look after them himself except for his holiday vigilances. He trusted Rafik Chacha as his brother and he also never gave any chance to regret.
The Non–Digital India, Chapter- Four, Life Beyond Love, a Novella
When I reached Shanti’s hamlet, her 2-year-old son Shiva was playing near his grandpa’s stretched legs with other kids half naked and mud-stained. After the death of her husband, the in-laws’ family threw Shanti away along with this kid. Shanti came back to her poor father. She was trying to make ends and meet with hard labour but it was no fairy tale to be easily solved. She and I were schoolmates also. She always supplied me with delicious wild berries, Jamun, and mushrooms from childhood and I helped her in her studies. Though Shanti could not continue her study after completing High School our friendship never got betrayed and nothing could drive us apart. Whenever she came to visit her parents she used to meet me and showed how mercilessly she was tortured and bitten by her husband’s family. I felt relieved the day Shanti came back finally after the death of her husband drowning in an intoxicated condition. But that was not the end of her problem as I thought.
“Bishu uncle where is Shanti?”
He could not listen.
He rose his ancient eyes and murmured,
“I don’t know what is written in my fate. And this poor child, what for him?”
I took Old Shiva, as I endearingly used to call him, in my hands and kissed him. Only he could provide the right knowledge. Bishu uncle’s deafness directed no direction only his eternal fruitless grumbling.
He pointed his tiny finger to the road. I caressed him a little and then went out in search of her. On the road towards Mohon’s Cyber Café I met Shanti. She was taking a fresh bath in the pond.
“Why are you bathing this afternoon? You will fall ill.” I shouted.
In my school days, I often used to go to the pond on Sundays, to try swimming with a huge bucket. I liked to dip myself in that cool transparent water. But not now.
“Shanti I’ve something to tell you. Get out of the water first.”
“Aatri I know what you want to say. But I’ve not got any mushrooms today. Two women are snake bitten when they search for mushrooms in ant hill. I do not take chances.”
“You should not search for mushrooms anymore. It’s risky. I am going to Mohon. Hurry up, fed Old Shiva and I’m coming from Mohon.”
I went away. Shanti dived fast into the cool water.
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.