By Altaf Shahnewaz
The name of the river is Someshwari; former Garo names are: 'Simsung'; 'Chimgiri' etc. But our focal point does not concentrate on the history of the river only rather we shall focus on the spontaneous waves of 'Chimgiri' which is carrying a lot of anonymous stories behind it's back especially the mysterious story of Kristi Charja Rangsha, daughter of Binyamin Aareng and Shantana Rangsha, a happy Garo-couple from Birishiri, Netrokona district. Yes! This is the compelling narrative drama written by prominent Bangladeshi poet 'Altaf Shahnewaz' based on Garo society that resides in a specific locale near Someshwari. Yes, this is the story of 'Nrittokee', the dancing Kristi Charja Rangsha, our heroine.
The drama opens with the worship of 'Saljong' (God of Fertility) and 'Tatara-Rabuga' (creator of Earth) including the worship of other Gods too. In the second chapter the writer gives the readers a very positive impression of the prevalent surroundings from which they cannot come back. The scenic description of the road compels us to forward only. The road gradually stretches to Bayankhali, Deidukun, Gudalikanda, Zaria and ultimately we reach onward at Birishiri, Netrokona, the place of crying Sheranjing. "Why crying? At first the question comes to our mind" We shall just try to discover it later on. For this very moment, we shall accompany the narrator now who is giving us the portrayal of Kristi Charja Rangsha. Charja is very much absorbed in worshipping 'Jesus Christ' inside the Garo Baptist Church chanting the hymn. During the chant, Charja tries to reach at Bethlehem; at least Charja's devoted body reminds us so.
Charja's mother appears in front of us in the third chapter and takes the mouthpiece from the writer and she successfully narrates which continues up to the last eleventh chapter. From her description, we come to know that Charja likes to dance. Dancing is inherent inside her since her childhood when Sesame (the Moon God) would flashes Charja with His light. Charja likes to dream as well as she is very much caring about her mother. While walking with her mother, Charja asks:
: Why don't you walk carefully mother?
: You are with me dear so I can walk very certainly.
: You talk as if you were a woman of sixty.
During the conversation, Charja's mother informs us the likeness of Charja towards dancing, the rain tree and the nest of 'Sangma' bird (the Mayna). Someshwari would enchant her and through the continuous spell of Someshwari, Charja would discover the untold story of Garo community. She is not an attentive school-going girl; she does not like the traditional study rather she is very much attentive to nature. She divulges all her lonely emotions to nature. She wants to sing a song dedicated to Sangma, Tuntuni and others sitting on the 'Chambil', a special Garo-tree of the region. Very often Charja loses herself inside the nature. She hears someone is changing herself form her inside. She twists and for the first time uncovers 'Sheranjing', the legendary heroine of Garo-ballad. She continues conversation with 'Sheranjing'. Charja would meet 'Sheranjing' since her childhood; not face-to-face but at every narrative opera staged anywhere throughout the area.
"I knew you, Sheranjing but I could not understand that you reside just inside me" says Charja. Their conversation goes on and ultimately we, the readers, blend ourselves with the emotional and distressed feelings of both 'Sheranjing' and Charja. Time elapses and with the passage of time, Charja retreats and withdraws herself from dancing; we should say that 'Sheranjing' urges her to retreat. Charja stops there: she does not sing, she does not dance.
She surprisingly discovers that she is a dancer from mythology who invites everything to take part with her but no one responds. As her sequential emotions pile up, she weeps and tries to get rid of her grievances. She also tries to identify the reason as well as tries to identify some sins hidden inside her. No bird comes to accompany her and share her feelings. No 'Khamal' (an experienced Garo-priest) can rescue her from her unknowing illness.
We know time is like a palimpsest. 'Nrittokee' the narrative drama ends here but the plot whips us to go on at least upto the next part of the drama. And being a palimpsest 'Nrittokee' also keeps its indelible traces into our minds increasing the thirst for reading more. It needs to be mentioned here that the book is very much attractive for containing so many Garo-poems and Garo-mantras as well as containing songs. The other characters such as Jatindra Ruram, Charja's dance master, Sulochona Cisim also try to flourish in the plot. The monologues of Charja and the dialogues between the mother and daughter also mesmerize the readers.
To conclude, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the narrative drama 'Nrittokee' casts a mind-blowing spell on the reader at its inception by its title first and obviously it is the charisma of 'Altaf Shanewaj' who transfers his emotion through the narrators and characters especially Charja. Thus Charja, the lonely dancer, gets flourished. While reading from the jacket page, the readers will surely unite themselves with the charming description of the book. In a word, the book is a magical touch of a lonely legendary heroine of Garo-community. So why late? Let's start reading the book. The book is published by 'Chaitanya Prokashon' and the price is Tk. 130.00 only.
The reviewer is a poet and a banker