Fill in the blank
Mr. Bhuiyan finally got the drift of the light at the end of the tunnel after a narrow escape from his 3rd time stroke. 'I have cheated death!' Hilarious, he boasted to himself. Upon returning from the hospital gazing at the white ceiling from his familiar bed he felt content that his family would not to miss him.
Rafan had been playing around him all day. 'Dadu, I won't study today, I have already done with my Fill in the blanks home work.'
'Did you weep for me when I was in the hospital?'
Rafan nodded and threw his teddy bear at him grinning.
Raihana from the next room hollered, 'Let dadu have some sleep Rafan, you are yet to finish other home work.'
Raihana could not yet get over the distressing news that she received almost a week ago. She was struggling to keep her composure and Rafan was bearing the brunt by getting hit even for a trivial offence. Now the onus of looking after her ailing father-in- law was an additional tax on her. She again called Rafan at the top of her lungs and ventilated the anguish to some extent.
'I did my Fill in the blanks homework ma', Rafan responded crankily.
'I checked and all are wrong. You must redo. Last term you did not receive 'A' grade for the mistakes in this topic.'
Rafan slumped at the study table lamenting, 'grownups are really carefree, at least they don't have to do homework.'
Nafisa was her childhood buddy. She was famous for her perpetual giggle and glee, she was popular for her warmth and openness, and she was enviable for her acumen and inquisitiveness. Raihana swept off by nostalgia for a while and Rafan woke her up by nagging, 'What if I don't fill the blanks ma?'
'The sentences will be incomplete.' Raihana sighed.
'Why do we have to fill the blanks ma?'
'This is the rule, otherwise you can't pass.'
Raihana did not even disclose anything to Mamun yet. Mamun, 2nd boss of the forensic medicine department of a medical college is a real hotshot and busy bee. Nevertheless as a gregarious husband before going to bed he used to mutter in her ears, 'Do you know today I dissected three supposedly murdered bodies, two of them are housewives.'
'Didn't you feel miserable for them?'
'Not at all, I toy with the lifeless bodies.'
'Why do people kill each other Mamun?'
'This is inevitable. Civilization began with a murder. Did you forget Habil Kabil's story?'
Even though sometimes Mamun in his nightmare led the huge procession of cadavers and after reaching his very house number 34, ordered, 'Get up Mamun, and join us.'
Mamun woke up sweating and performed his 'tahajjud' prayer.
Next morning while teaching Rafan how to draw a circle Raihana received a call from her another childhood buddy Chumki. She informed her with an astonishing tone, 'Do you know yesterday I saw Nafisa's husband in a rickshaw with a pretty young girl.'
Raihana got stunned in disbelief. Everything was happening beyond her anticipation. She could vividly recollect the tea party where Nafisa played the role of her solace and guide following her being ditched by Arif Hasan after a prolonged ten years of abortive courtship. She consoled her, 'Nothing is everlasting Raihana. Move on, certainly you will find someone who will repay your trust.'
'Are you happy with your hubby Nafisa?' Raihana was eager to know.
'My husband is an excellent guy.' Nafisa retorted confidently.
Now Mamun's love and sense of responsibility is obliterating her wound. But what actually happened to Nafisa? What made her so precariously impetuous? She carried on incinerating within and drowned in despair. Rafan salvaged her by querying, 'Ma, what is the beginning of a circle?'
Raihana got perplexed. 'I don't know.'
Rafan persisted, 'Ma, what is the end of a circle?'
Raihana's wit deceived her. 'I don't know either; ask your baba, he is a science student.'
Having done with his Maths homework, Rafan peeped at his Dadu's room. Mr. Bhuiyan was gazing at some old photographs. Rafan calmly sat on the bed. 'What are you watching dadu?'
'Your grandma's photographs.'
'Where did grandma go?'
'She returned to God.'
'Will I return to God as well?'
Mr. Bhuiyan began to cough vehemently. He is not feeling himself today. 'You talk too much Rafan.' He prevaricated.
Rafan guffawed. 'Dadu do you know what is the end and beginning of a circle? Mom doesn't know the answer.'
Mr. Bhuiyan endeavoured to get rid of his unrelenting cough. 'I have no idea.'
'But I know.' Rafan simpered, 'A circle doesn't have any beginning or end, and it just goes on and on.'
'Who told you?'
'Baba secretly told me last night. He is a science student, he knows everything.'
Mamun returned from the hospital late at night. He seemed dispirited and detached. Before going to bed as usual he opened up under his breath in case Rafan overheard, 'Today I dissected a girl's body who committed suicide.'
Raihana got startled.
'This is the first time I felt wretched for a dead. The girl was in her wedding sari; with dark red lipstick and decorated henna on her hands she was making mockery of death.'
'Was it Nafisa's body? She was always fond of dolling up. Raihana got extremely horrified to drag the issue in this midnight and pretended to fall asleep.
During such tiring and hefty days Mamun had his nightmares. This time he along with the girl in full wedding regalia led the massive procession of the cadavers. After reaching house number 34, the girl shrieked, 'Get up Dr. Mamun, this is the time for you to join us.'
Mamun's dread was intercepted by a loud wailing of their maid. He rushed out of bed perspiring heavily, and discovered Mr. Bhuiyan was gasping for breath and sitting beside him Raihana was calling in an ambulance.
After couple of days, Rafan didn't have to sit for homework as both ma and baba were dismayed since dadu went to God forever. He came in dadu's desolate room with his teddy bear. Dadu's bed was neatly prepared, his sandals were nicely arranged on the rack and clothes were hanging as if all were set for his return. Suddenly he located a chubby lizard from the corner of a shelf poking out his head and was intently observing him in surprise. Rafan found it very funny and threw his teddy at him grinning.
The writer is a English Teacher, DPS STS School, Dhaka