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BARREN

Published : Saturday, 23 January, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1216
Shanta Farjana

Au-u-u-u...

The sound of crying dogs came to Rahmat's ears.

Sometimes it seems very close, sometimes it seems that the dogs are sitting far away and crying. Rahmat can't open his eyes.  However, so far he had no sense; he can guess that, he smells of dirt near his nose.  Fruit peels, discarded vegetable parts, leftover fish and meat, dirty tissue-cloth-paper, baby diapers, many days old stodgy polythene and much more.

The back of Rahmat's shirt is getting wet. Something soft is groaning under his lying right hand.  The dying small animal breathes once after a long time, then releases again.

Assuming it a rat, he shows mercy to the poor creature. People may have been beaten and left speechless. People avoid pretending not to see the thousands of injustices that happen in front of their eyes;  But if the little soul can be caught with a trap or glue, people celebrate its death with various pains. Rahmat left a long sigh, slowly.

Keu-u-u-u...

The dogs keep barking.  Rahmat tries to open his eyes again. But can't.  However, it seems that they are sitting very close and crying. Probably close to his head.

Rahmat Ullah's house is in Noakhali. He had some land of his own. He used to cultivate it. Ramiz and Khabir, his two young sons also worked in the land with their father.  Khabir also has own shop at three turns road after the pond. Ramiz is lazy.
He walks around the land for an hour or two than leaves.  Sometimes he goes to the market and sits down. He doesn't like to work. Because of this, the two brothers used to quarrel all day long. And for all these, there was a quarrel prevailing between the two of their wives over the utensils, cooking and the stove.  

Rahmat Ullah feels deep pain in the middle. He has aged up. As much hard work as he could do before, now he can't. One day, while having lunch, Khabir raised the issue.

"Dad, you have aged. How long will you remain alive? Divide all of your wealth between two of us."

Rahmat Ullah was taking red spinach cooked from the pot on his plate.  Hearing his son's words, he put the spoon in the pot again.
The eldest son's wife Jobeda began to fan her father-in-law with a hand fan.

Ramiz took a bite of green chilli with full of rice and said, "Father, Khabir said the truth. You've become old. Why should you maintain all the trouble? You are only suppose to eat and relax."

Standing at the kitchen door, the lame dog is waiting for the master. Bulu is very good. If Rahmot doesn't feed him all day, he never puts his mouth in the rice pot, never shows anger.  Spreads his front legs and lies down quietly his head on it.

Without answering the boys, Rahmat took the plate of food and put rice with fish on Bulu's plate, then left to the market. That whole night Rahmot sank in a deep thought.

He thinks about the dividing property between the boys. Ramiz's laziness, Khabir's stinginess, his own age, all together, Rahmat Ullah couldn't make a concrete decision.

Rahmot was startled by the touch of something hairy near the head. The dog pulled a soft, heavy piece of cloth or a blanket over his head. The dogs are sniffing him after a while. For a long time, an insect has been biting his big toe. Maybe there's blood, too. But Rahmot does not feel pain.  There is only the feeling of muttering. He can't open eyes. They are like closed doors of a closed room.

Khabir went to the market once when he was very young. He was walking holding his father's hand.  As soon as he came home, he started crying to his mother. "I want to eat beetle, I want to eat beetle."
Rahels started laughing at the boy wants eating insects.

"What you want to eat? How will you eat beetle!" Khabir was still crying. "I will eat that black beetle on the red." Rahmat didn't understand, but took his son running to the market again. The boy showed the father the black insect on the red! Rahmat bought a watermelon to his son with a smile. Khabir sat on his father's shoulder and returned home eating watermelon happily.  

On that day, Rahmat's neck and throat became wet and sticky with watermelon juice. Still, the son's happiness is the father's happiness. Tears roll out of Rahmat's closed eyes. He feels that there is sticky juice of watermelon still on his throat. Suddenly there was a noise all around. The siren sounds.  Very close.

Regret in the voices of the people.

- Oh Almighty! Is he dead or still alive?  
- Who knows? The dog was barking. Heard that, I came and saw this body in the middle of garbage. So, I have called in 999 quickly.

- That's how polices have also arrived.  

The police grabbed Rahmat's legs and hands and got into the van.
He used to swing baby Ramiz a lot in this way.  Ha ha ha, the child laughed like lightning. Rahmat also smiled at the child's smile.  

For the last few days, 60 years old Rahmat had problem of breathing and it increased. Keeping him away from treatment, the boys abandoned him as a Corona patient and left him in this dustbin in Comilla.

Rahmat Ullah wants to cry his heart out.  But, the soul is slowly drying up. Even though he is a father of two sons, he will be buried as a barren corpse today...

[Based on a true story happened during the Coronavirus pandemic in Comilla, Bangladesh.]



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