Hafijur, a College Boy

“Tell me about your neighbourhood.”

“Oh, sir! It was wonderful. We were happy to live here for a long long time. There was no communal tension at Galakata. hindus and muslims live alike. We were all friends and brothers. My friends are all hindus. People are fine, peasants. We dine with them in marriage and funeral,” he continued like a well versed village historian.

“It’s good. But why do you look so tensed?”

“No…yes, a little bit. Come with me and I’ll tell you.”

He took me to the middle of the haat. I noticed a temple in one side of the haat. Bamboo poles and wooden structure are being set for the upcoming celebration of Durga Puja. “Some muslim hawkers from long time sell vegetables here. Now Puja committee members tell them to vacate the place immediately. And the muslim hawkers decline. An altercation has ensued. The issue has been politicized. And some cases have been launched by both hindus and muslims against one another. Police patrolling is going on. At night youths of both communities leave their homes for the fear of being arrested.”

He then guided me to the middle of the haat, and pointed to the line of communal division.

“And what about the buyers?”

“Oh. It’s no problem sir! Anybody can buy anything from any shop keeper. In case of buying articles, the border line can be crossed. But left side is reserved for the hindu hawkers, and the right for the muslim hawkers.”

I understood the frivolous peculiarity, predicament and complexity played by both hindus and muslims against a bleak and shattered tapestry of unfathomable poverty, dirt and dust, illiteracy, superstition, religious and cultural prejudices and ignominy, corruption and sycophancy.

“What about the tea shop?”

“The owner is a hindu, Paban Barman. And most of the customers are muslims. They sip Paban’s tea and gossip lazily and pass the day somehow. All poor peasants or peddlers or drivers or small traders or labourers.”

I made no comment. What he thought I didn’t know. The story of the division of the haat was so depressing. And I heard such staff from my childhood days from far and near. It was perhaps my lot to be burdened with such dull vistas of human tragedy.

He then took me to his shop and told me another interesting case of communal division. “Sir, you can’t find the fissures by one or two or ten visits. You have to live here to know the subterranean communal cracks sometime latent and sometime volcanic ruling the destiny of our people.”

I gave no particular attention to his words, as the themes were too mundane and bizarre, and they have no real basis. An elderly wizened muslim with wrinkled face, aged almost seventy, in topi and lungi sat beside us. He looked vacant and blinked his eyes, and eyed me sheepishly but said no words.

“There is a school and midday meal was cooked by muslim women of a self-help group. And the hindu children didn’t take the food,” he lamented.

Hafijur’s face had been now more pale and dry as if he had been well past of his prime. But he is merely a college guy. His words came haltingly. An agony wrung his heart. He looked terribly bewildered. I became restless and heard him no more. I stood up and took leave.

@abusiddik, 18th Oct, 2018,

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100 WORD STORY: A DUFFER

“How are you?”

“Fine, but finer today!”

“How so, win lottery?”His friend looked animated.

“No.”

“Then what?”

“ Uh…A helluva thing!” The man said and secretly laughed.

“I’m confused!”

“And so I! But don’t worry brother; life itself is so. Isn’t it?” He lit a cigarette fixing eyes to the splattering clouds.

His friend put a puckered face, and sat silent and sad.

“Brother,” he said after a while, “finally find a queen in the jungle. Ah! A helluva thing! She never hears books, schools…It’s a deal, brother, it’s a deal!”

“A duffer!” His friend spat and left.

@abusiddik, 27th sept, 2018

You know me not

You know me not as I a rustic,

You know me not as I don’t brag,

You know me not as I don’t tread

Your smooth highways, and

You know me not as I drink honey and dew

In unsung hinterlands

Among the rough peasants and woodmen,

You know me not as I shy,

You know me not as I an Idler,

Do nothing you reward and aspire.

happy reading, my friends!

@abusiddik 10 Sept, 2018

Tomorrow you find me nowhere.

Tomorrow you find me nowhere.
Come, and see the desolation!
The four white walls will breath our smell, And the cot where we sit side by side and Caress your cascading hair and talk many wonders lie empty now.

I will be gone far far away, and never meet again.
But you come and alone walk the path of Old days of milk and honey.
Come and weep, and when warm tears Glide your sunken cheeks, eye , my dear,
The old landscape painting we so admire.

Believe me, it was not my fault
Nor yours. Forget me , but not forget
The misty morn, and the cool evening, and
The deserted path we walked hand in hand.
And forget not the rustle of the dry leaves, and the mimic of the whistling birds.

@abusiddik 6th Sept, 2018.

Hundred Evenings I saw the Man Naked

An old man used to squat in a dimly lit hut.
He was eighty above, and tall and fair,
But now wizened and crooked.

Hundred evenings I saw him naked,
And counted his protruding rusted ribs,
And oft my eyes glued to his sculptured face.

Never had I seen him laugh or weep,
A stoic look he wore, and passed his dead days,
Muttering and mumbling.

A thousand tales his eyes cherished to tell,
Tales of rose and war and hunger days,
But where were the listeners?

Outside it was dark, and the smell of the wood,
The sparkling stars and the scythe moon
And the silver leafless trees spun a tale of their own.

@abusiddik 5th Sept, 2018.