The Girl

Canon EOS 300d Digital
Girl Child Indian Student Village Face Portrait

With great expectation the teenaged girl asks —- Will you keep me, O Babu? She wears a dirty frock torn near the armpit, dark is her complexion and bare-footed, but her face is very innocent and two eyes have an impression of passionate simplicity. Haripada Bhattacharjee just after finishing lunch and sitting on the extended terrace of his tile-roofed small house takes with closed eyes deep puff from hukka through a long pipe. Rubbing his hand over his fatty abdomen just like overturned earthen pitcher Haripada replies — Oh, don’t disturb me. The girl is still hanging on with her intimate request —Babu, please keep me. I shall wash your utensils with the leavings of the meal, sweep the room, prepare your bed, massage your leg … Then she embraces his hairy legs with her two tender hands. Haripada rolling the sacred thread into his fingers shrinks himself with great hatred — don’t touch me, don’t touch. A low-caste slut. Don’t profane my Brahmin-hood with your dirty hands. Be off at once. I won’t keep you. I have many other … Haripada holds his tongue somehow. He measure’s the girl from top to bottom and becomes nostalgic. Her eyes are now full of tears. Being highly refused she steps forward to leave from there forever with her starved feeble body. Suddenly with a passionate and affectionate voice, Haripada calls her — Sujata, my daughter. You come back to me at last. The girl cannot but to get extremely surprised with such a new name.

 

At Ramghat after bathing in the holy Gangetic water Haripada gets purified. But he becomes extremely surprised as well as embarrassed not to find out his dhoti and towel. This shocks him very much and their sudden disappearance unfixes his mind with a dangerous thought how he would go home. He looks around helplessly. Suddenly he discovers Mohini shamelessly smiling at him. “How do you feel now, Thakur? You are just like Lord Krishna of the Kaliyug. We are a thousand paramours of yours. Being highly enraged he says — O, you sinister woman. It is your job to hide my dhoti and towel. Give them at once or I must teach you. Mohini is not at all ready to leave Haripada easily. She cuts joke and makes fun with her frolicsome style. She says — I came to know you have kept a teenager to look after you in your house. She is sexier than we are. Again being extremely furious Haripada almost shouts — Hold your filthy tongue.

 

– O, now I can understand. We are all tasteless to you, Thakur? Our happy days are gone. Now you possess a very young slut. In your very old age, you are playing the role of a lady-killer, Lord Krishna!

 

– You bloody bitch. Shut up. Don’t say like this. She is my daughter. Mohini continues her flirtation. She says Daughter or just like daughter? Haripada confirms — She is my Sujata.

 

– Ha Ha! She is your Sujata? But how is it possible? She died being drowned in water ten years before.

 

– Yet she is my Sujata. I have got back my lost daughter. 

 

– But what’s of us? I am your most favourite kept. Don’t disappoint me. Come to my house at least once a week. I shall be waiting for you.

 

Mohini smiles mischievously and throws dhoti and towel over Haripada’s face. She leaves the place and Haripada takes a deep sigh.

 

— Sin, sin everywhere!

 

Touching Gangetic holy water he promises since today he will never keep any contact with all these unholy women. He has done a lot of sin in his life. Now the time has come for atonement. He wants to be happy with his lost daughter for the rest of life.

 

Recently there is a decline in his profession of the priesthood. It is a market of competition. Nobody calls a Brahmin pundit and priest like him as before for worshipping the household deity. In the name of worship, wrong Sanskrit mantras are often being uttered and chanted. Aged Haripada cannot cope with the existing situation. Most of the time he remains jobless. But the girl never complains and always tries to keep pace with the changed situation. Gradually, she takes the place of Haripada’s daughter. One day Haripada finds out the gold necklace of his family deity stolen. He cannot understand who can steal this. He madly searches every nook and corner but does not find out. Doubts strike in his mind. He calls the girl and enquires of the stolen necklace. She remains silent and cannot give any proper reply. Being highly enraged Haripada beats her ruthlessly and locked her in a room. She is also denied to have a meal for two days. But punishing her daughter in this very inhuman way as a father he also cannot get peace in mind. He cannot sleep and toss in pain over the bed all night. He thinks to beat the girl is indeed unjustified because there was no solid proof that she herself had stolen the necklace. Only based on mere suspicion he should not at all impose such capital punishment on her. Lying on the bed he thinks if his own daughter would steal the necklace he could beat her so mercilessly. This proves that he cannot accept the girl heart and soul. He promises in the very next day he must beg pardon to her.

 

Waking up Haripada sees the sky is overcast with dense clouds. Very soon the rain will set in. His mind is burdened with the sad thought of the girl. How is she? Will she ever forgive him? Suddenly he gets highly surprised to see the door open and the room is quite empty where the girl was locked in. He searches out everywhere but cannot trace out any sign of her. Doubts again overcast his mind. Why she escaped? Suddenly he discovers a folded letter near the altar of the family deity. With shaking handwritten on the letter — “Babu, believe me. I am not a thief I have found out the necklace from the heap of stale and used flowers. It has been kept in its exact place. You are my real father. You give me love, affection, shelter and also a new name, a new identity. I cannot betray with you. Moreover, you are not like the previous Babu whose house I worked as a maidservant. Given a chance he lay beside me and made his bed-partner He also beat me. I somehow escaped. I know nobody loves me except self-interest. I know my place will be either Sonagachi brothel or Lilua Home for orphan girls. Believe me, Babu I cannot be your Sujata. Sujata has died truly and forever.” Reading the letter Haripada’s eyes get moistened. He madly rushes out of the house and shouts — Sujata, my dear daughter. Where are you? Where are you? Suddenly the rain breaks in the shower and the sudden flash of lightning bedazzles his vision.

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