by Mithu Adhikary
Tokhon aami class IX e pori, Siksha-Satre. Baba chhilen Bolpur Sriniketan Block er BDO, quarter Chip Kuthite. Siksha-Satre amader Banglar shikshok chhilen boyosko Sri Kalidas Ghosh mahashay.Tar konishtho putro Rabidas chhilo amar sohopathi. Asombhob naughty. Amar nalishe se ekbar Banglar amar priyo teacher Sourendar kachhe bedharak uttam-modhyam kheyechhilo. Ektu hoito sudhrechhilo-at least amar proti! Kalidasdar Chhatai amader class hoto recess er por. Jodi ba kokhono ektu deri hoechhe, songe songe onar patent dialog “porer class er jonye boroi aage eshe porechho”. Amrao na shonar bhan kore je jar asan bichhiye dhupdhap bose portam- jeno kichhui hoini!
Debotosh sanyal (PSS er Reader hoechhilo pore, he is no more), chhilo amar next -door neighbor, class-mate ebong buddy. Asombhob bichhu chhilo- kintu baire jeno bhaja maachh tio ulte khete janena! Kotobar je or songe asan niye, kandher jhola niye maarpit hoechhe, bolar noi. Kintu onyo keu amar songe ulto-palta korlei, he was the most protective bro!
Dupurbela, Shubhadir batik er class kore, Subhashdar drawing class sesh kore khide pete niye jokhon bari phirtam, poth e porto Indu-jethu(daktar), Pijush jethu( sombad pathak) aar Sushil Mondoldar bari. Sushilda khub rashbhari aar ek Banglar teacher chhilen. Tai ektu somjhei choltam. Ta, sei Sushildar barite ek birat aam gachh chhilo, thik rastar uporei! Goromer shurute chhoto chhoto kacha aam e gachhta bhore thakto. School theke phirtam amra charjon, aami, Debotosh, Mana* aar Nandan*. Nandaner ektu Manar proti “iye” chhilo. Debotosh setake kaje lagalo ekdin! Bollo, ‘tui Mana ke impress korte chas? Sushildar gachhe uthe aam pere niche phel, amra kuriye nebo, tui ese Manake sobgulo diye bolbi, “tomar jonyo”’ . Nandan gachhe uthlo. Sobe aamra gota ashtek chhoto chhoto aam kuriechhi, hothat Debotosh bollo, “chhot”! Amra bollam “keno”? O bollo “chhot bolchhi”! Aami aar Mana ek chhut lagalam peyara-talar dike. Pechhon phire dekhi, Debotosh taraswar e “Sushildar gaachh er sob aam churi hoe gelo…o..o” bolei ek dour! Nandan er abostha ki holo dekhar soubhagya hoini!
Tar por dirgho goromer chhuti. Hothath ekdin dupurbela peon eshe ekta nil inland letter diye gelo jar upore aamar nam lekha! Jibone prothom! Ma-r mukh thom thome. Bhitore ki jani ki dekhbo ei bhabte bhabtei chokh gelo sender’s address er dike! Dekhi lekha Anjana Ganguly! Anjana holo giye Sukhomay Gangulyr meye. Seo porto Siksha-Satre. Ebar Anjana keno amay chithi likhte jabe eta mathay dhuklo na kichhutei! Jai hok khola holo- Ma r samnei. You had to see the letter to believe it! From top left corner to bottom right corner-prem prem bhasay lekha. I was stunned. How could Anjana write such a letter to me? But one thing struck me. The handwriting was nice and bold which couldn’t be Gublu’s!
In the afternoon, I showed the letter to my buddy Debotosh. He just had a look, and snatched the letter from me. Assured me that he would find out the guy and would sort it out . Told me to forget the episode! I forgot it for almost one year! Until one day Debotosh burst into laughter ! I was clueless! He took out a torn blue inland letter from his pocket and told me, “Janis, ami ek bochhor dhore majhe majhei Khudur Aloor chop kheyechhi tor ei chithitar doulat e” Maneta ki? I still couldn’t fathom out! Tarpor o ja bollo that was simply hilarious! He knew one senior guy in our school who was a bookworm and a topper , had soft corner for me. He was also known for his good handwriting! Poor thing’s study was sponsored by his Jethu. He was easily identified and naughty Debotosh terrified him showing the letter and had aloor chop on that guy’s account for one whole year!
Debotosh gone almost a year back. I called him up from Delhi two-three months before he passed away. He was Reader in PSS and writing a book that time. He was very unwell.Even then he was giggling like he always used to do. He told me, ‘I don’t go outside , you come over to my place whenever you are in Santiniketan, I have so many kissas to share with you!’ I wish I could go and let him burst into laughter one more time!
Folks: pl forgive me for using all original names barring *ones, because this is so original, so true, so unadulterated, that I did not like to change the names!
ADDENDUM: I just wanted to add this too.
A couple of years back I, alongwith my twins, my daughter and son, went home during Mela. They were in sixth standard then. I had a knack to share my childhood stories with my children. My daughter used to enjoy those sessions very much. This was just to value-educate them about the openness of co-education system prevailing in Santiniketan. And I shared this inland letter episode too.
However, on 8-i Poush night during baaji, I,alongwith my kids and a group of family members, were treading the Mela ground. Suddenly I found a guy tapping me from behind! I got very irritated, just turned back and Lo! The man greeted me with a grin, and said, ‘Mithu, right?’ I took a few seconds and greeted him back ‘Hey Kalidas, long time’! He smiled and pointed towards the sky, said “ Baba is up there, its me Robidas”! Before I could say sorry, my little daughter shouted at him, “Tumi i aamar Ma-ke chithi diyechhile na ? Amar Baba-ke to dekhoni!” We were simply dumbstruck! Robidas stated fumbling, ‘no, no… I never gave any letter to your Mom. Ei Mithu, bol na …., ei je aamar wife…., bol na re, kokhono chithi diyechhi toke?” Robidas’s wife was smiling. I immediately understood my daughter mistook him for Manas*! We all burst into laughter- and had a great fun time! It was really really hilarious!