Her mother and my mother had suffered trauma.
The 1971 Bangladesh riots destroyed their homes, their heavens, their dreams
They saw live violence beyond human description. Many being witnessed now in this world. The uncles and aunts who used to once sit with Muslims, eat, sleep, share secrets with the Muslim brethren were cut into pieces.
Some mercies my mothers as children. But, the elder sisters who were grown up and unmarried, were raped, and their breasts were cut, they were hung in the homes from the waist, left to bleed and die.
The men were hacked into several pieces.
Some of them were their school friends, some were uncles, some were people who shared lands with them.
There were a few left in their 189 member families and those few came to Chowmuni to run away.
One of my mother’s uncle spend five days in the pond breathing through a stalk of lotus. The day he eloped, his skin was swollen, white and his eyes could not be seen. The one who helped them run away was a Muslim too strangely.
He gave them all Burma’s, wearing which at the dead of the night they ran off, in the steamer. But, the steamer took off and just near one of our grandmother, the head of Suleimaan chacha landed. She shrieked with horror, and my grandparents brought the head here in Kolkata and they themselves build a grave for him in their own campus. The head was kept in a trunk amidst a shower of some leaves preventing decay and ice sheets.
Later, each of our lands, trees, ponds and the entire business was written in his family’s name.
The strange part was the destroyers were Mussalman and the saviour was also Mussalman who lost his own life for betraying the brethren. He had four small kids and strangely he reminded he mother of Sulaiman Chadha’s face when her mother met the driver. He was that tall and well built with almost a similar face.
She could not stop from thinking that the same face had come to her, the one which saved her small hands, saved her self respect. She did not tell Shrum but she knew. Shrum saw New Kumar in the face, and her mother saw Sulaiman chacha, the lad who got married to a beautiful girl and bore twins twice. The elder pair was four years old when he lost his life. The man who would bring them dates, the one who brought them Kabuli Chana from kabulistan, Afghanistan where his in laws stayed. The one who took her to the fair, bought her orange ice creams, bought her Puri, chole as food.
The man who told her stories of love, hate and war.
She could never forget that man, she could forgive them for what they did to them, but never what they did to him, their own for doing something he thought was right amidst millions who took it as betrayal.
She hated them for long, she despised them, was thoroughly scared of them, she was scared long until one day she met this guy, she did buy him a pair of shoes when he lost his while they went to tour the Mazaar of APJ Abul Kalam. She served him food, she gave him her love in the motherly form. Really did she find her Chachajaan in him for a moment?
God might have done good by building seven faces similar. They truly paid homage and ended their journey of twelve years in that land.
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