Paritosh was brought up in a joint family of seven children where he was the youngest amongst his brothers and sisters. He has heard the past glories of his family as Zamindars (Land Lords), which influenced him in many ways. From the glimpses of the ruins of their ancestral house, he fantasized that there was something intrinsic in their family during the past.
Even after the abolition of Land Lord ship in India , the material comfort of his family was never compromised by his parents. Their family had a vintage car ‘Morris Minor’ which was probably presented to his ancestors during British rule. The festivity of his village and family was normally governed by the various auspicious occasions of their ancestral temples. History reveals that about 500 years ago while on the way from Nadia Navadwip to Sri-Kshetra Puri, lord Sri Chaitanya stopped for a while and stayed in their village, a princely state and accepted the chastity of the king and the lord in reciprocation to king’s devotion towards him, presented his wooden sandal which was worshiped for years in the region. Later it was shifted to Vrindaban by an unknown saint for worship.
To keep surcharged the atmosphere with divinity, the successors of the king built several temples. After the abolition of Zamindari, while the properties of the all kings and Zamindars curtailed, no much attention was given for the maintenance of the temple.
The chorus of pious Gita Govinda with enchanting combination of various musical instruments which were reverberating the atmosphere experiencing the cosmic consciousness with divine joy became feeble gradually. In due course, the temples turned to be the deserted monument; the unattended idols were deprived from day to day rituals. The sanctified souls of the pious royal family might have screamed and shaded tears to see their beloved lord being neglected.
At the age of ten, Paritosh left home against his unwavering passion for the family and village. Situation was farfetched for him to leave the family for taking up studies outside, which was truly not in favor of his will. With the enticement of one of the relatives, his father was bent upon to send him out of the village incase he wanted him to be a successful man in life.
Paritosh along with his father left for the designated place for him to appear the written examination for getting into a boarding school. Those days there were only the passenger trains as the mode of faster conveyance. Along with his father, Paritosh boarded into the train around evening time. He felt as if all his childhood reminiscence, he is leaving behind in haste at the pace of the train’s velocity.
A frenzied passion was bothering him as if he has stepped into the remoteness in life and not going to have the delight of staying together with his family.
Sitting close to the window of the train, Paritosh was browsing over the vast pervaded greenery mingled with the color of the setting sun. Most of the time he was trying to camouflage his tearful face from the co- passengers. He felt as if the most beautiful phase of his life had ended without being seen. He felt being deprived from listening the choir of the birds at his courtyard, the battering sound of rain and smell the odor of the village soil after the first shower.
The sweet memories of pilfering sweets from the storeroom potted by his mother for the guests and wrangling with his brothers and sisters to pick up mangoes from the mango groove in the early summer mornings baffled him. He would be dispossessed in experiencing the foggy winter of the village and watching the exhausted farmers carrying the harvested crops rhythmically over shoulder with bamboo fulcrum.
Some how, he managed to spend the night in the local train and the next day early morning arrived at the designated Railway station. Those days there were no sleeper couch to spend the night in comfort. Sitting tight on the wooden bench, Paritosh was tired and hungry. On his insistence, father took to him a kiosk where Paritosh was served with hot Poori and curry and got freshened up in the railway waiting room.
After the sunrise, they hired a rickshaw to go to the ferry stand from where they would head towards their destination by a steamer. He was going to have the first time experience of the journey in a steamer and was overwhelmed to see vastness of the water mass. Though he did not have any fretfulness or concern for the interview, but the moment he arrived in the school, he felt bit nervous seeing so many well turned-out boys from effluent families getting down from the chauffeur driven cars. Those day’s wearing a full paint was an intimidation of western culture and due to the fact that Paritosh was brought up in village environment, he was not familiarized to such elegancy.
After all formalities were over to put him in the boarding school, father left him alone giving some advices and left the school premises. The image of his father gradually misplaced from his vision and with a heave of shy he looked back to the giant hostel building adjacent to his school. He quietly positioned him self on a broken culvert next to the hostel building. Paritosh felt as if one of the cells of the jail in the hostel building was put aside for him and he had been left alone in an unknown world.
The school was located at close proximity of a Cotton Mill. The whining sound of the machines from the factory coupled with the shift closing siren completely disconnected him from his domestic environ and he felt as if he was left alone in an unknown land by his cruel family. He slowly walked down towards the hostel and wanted to explore more details for his continued existence. He quietly approached hostel warden and enquired about time table where he found a group of parents consoling their children by cheering them .
One long-limbed boy of his age group looked at him with a tearful eye and wanted to put into words his state of affairs which was similar to him. The boy extended his hand to Paritosh and introduced himself as Pravin.
“Hi , Pravin , my self Paritosh “ he replied with a timid voice. Both of them made conversation for a while and departed when hostel bell rang for the evening prayer.
Paritosh skipped the prayer and went straight to his assigned room where found total eight no of his room mates were to be accommodated including him. Most of the cots were still empty. He had chosen one of corner bed and opened his box placed below the cot. The aroma of the rice cake packed in banana leaf carefully kept by his mother in his box reminded the evening snacks normally his mother prepared at his village house. He sensed as his mother is calling him from a distance to relinquish the hide and seek game he was playing with friends in his court yard and his mother washing his soiled feet and making him fresh for the evening Tiffin after which he had to rush to the tuition class along with his other brothers and sisters.
With bash on the door by the a puff of air, his shrouded mind unveiled the present state and he consoled himself that he was in a different world. He was not able to conjure up as to why the hell out of all his brothers and sisters who were blissfully placed at the village, he had been beleaguered to remain away from home.
It was a full moon night of summer. The sky was partly cloudy. He came out to the verandah looked out side. On his left he found the illuminated factory and the other side cluster of hutments. He looked up to the open sky where the moon was partly visible at the back drop of mass of gray cloud. He again got back to his reminiscence of the festive mood of his village in such time of the year where the idol of deities from various village temples assembled in the center of the village. All the deities placed in well decorated wooden cabins were taken in a procession along with chorus of holy songs and orchestra of traditional music instruments . Finally the deities would ferry in the pond systematically kept in a row over the wooden raft constructed with cluster of narrow boats. It was a great pride for the children who could get on to the raft with favoritism as to which family they belonged. The festive season continues for nine days and the deities encircle the pond in ascending order of the day count up till completion.
During this festival , hundreds of small shops congregate with varieties of house hold commodities as well as numerous food stalls. As a normal practice in their house , all the children in the family were remunerated one Ana each ,equivalent twenty five paisa towards their pocket money.
He felt suddenly fidgety and rushed to the wash room located one corner of the wing and shut the door from inside. In seclusion, he lamented with a suppressed tune for a while and decided to return back home without further delay. Quietly, he picked up his stuff and started descending the staircase gently. Due to so many new entrants getting into the Hostel, no body could notice his move nor enquired.
In the darkness of the night, he came down to the lobby calmly .At the exit of the Hostel , the watchman stopped him and asked him the reason for his deserting the hostel so soon. He took the old man into confidence and deliberated his predicament and his final decision to go back to his village. The watchman out of sympathy was determined to help him .He hired for him a rickshaw and directed to drop at the nearest railway station which was 10 Km from the Hostel.
Not being perturbed over the consequence of the financial loss that his father has already suffered, shattering his father’s dream for a glorious future of his son , he headed towards the Railway station .It was night 10.00 O clock , the passenger train was scheduled to arrive within an hour. After fetching his ticket standing in a long queue ,he sat in the wooden bench of the platform waiting to board into the train. He was not able to conjure up the idea as to how come he had congregated so much valor to pay no attention to the regulations of the hostel and travel in the mid night train alone .
The whistle of the steam engine was heard from a distance and he became alert . Meantime , a poor man claiming to be a porter volunteered to help him to board in to a compartment against a remuneration of ten paisa. Some way or other ,the porter managed a space on the floor where he could place his box. Through out the journey , he placed him self on the box and reached his native station in the early morning . He horridly hired one rickshaw and started for his village.
It was early summer morning and the village street was partly crowded with the onlookers who had been retuning from the whole night opera show during the festive season. One of the known villager asked him :
“Hey what’s the matter, yesterday you only left for your new school and how come you’re back so soon”.
With the loud interrogation from the villagers , the others became intrusive and started conversing within them. Paritosh felt like hitting the stupid man hard on his face to quiet him forever. Without giving any attention to the man’s query, he guideed the rickshaw straight to his home.
All his brothers and sisters who were just awaken from the sleep got flabbergasted to see the bewildered creature stepping into the main entrance of the house with a heavy face. The news spread like a wild fire within the family. His father had returned in the last night with gratification in the mind that he had been able to place his son in a good school for which he never anticipated even in his sixth sense that just in the next moment he was going to suffer a severe jolt.
His mother supported him out of her sheer blind love and advocated the idea for Paritosh’s re admission in the village school. His father did not utter a single word at the instant but latter on deep from his heart he said :
“Probably It is predestined that I should be punished by the almighty to see a distressing future of my son.
The very statement was reverberating in the year of Paritosh; he now made up his mind to go back to the school on the next day. In the early morning of the subsequent day ,he boarded in the same train where he traveled just 48 hours before. What a containment he experienced backed up by the strong will power and he was not the same personality who was lamenting on his ill fate yesterday. He felt as if he was hearing the inner voice and his conscience giving him the courage as to be seasoned man and no fright would engulf him any more. He waved his hand to his father from the running train and switched off the door of his reminiscence
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Akhil Das.
Published on e-Stories.org on 01.01.2010.