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Mom’s Waiting

Translated by Quazi Tanha Fatima

Published : Saturday, 23 December, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1038

Mom knows that today is Eid. So she is happy today. On other days, however, she is not so happy. From the morning to evening, she sits by the yard of the house and waits for her son.

She doesn sleep at night. She keeps a lantern lit near the door and keeps the door open all night. Her mind says that her son will come quietly, maybe tonight because, on this night, he touched Moms feet and went to war.

The night was a bit cold.  A tingling breeze was blowing. The Kumar River was blowing beside. The sound of rustling was coming from the forest of whistling pines beside the calm Kumar River. A painful emotion was raising a silent modulation of a sad melody of the violin in Moms heart.

Mom stroked her sons head. She smiled suppressing the sorrow in her heart and said, "Go, baby, return as a winner. I can hold you in such trouble of the country."

The boy smiled, "Pray that I may come back flying the red-green triumphal flag after freeing the country."
Mom smiled, but didn say anything.

Moms naughty boy has gone. Mom looked towards his leaving path. Once, while walking along the narrow, he disappeared into the darkness.

When the boy has gone!
He went to the neighboring country crossing the border of the country. There he took training for war. He learned how to shoot the enemy with a rifle. He learned the technique of throwing grenades. He learned how to defeat the enemy in a guerilla manner.

After finishing the training, he went to the battlefield. He defeated the enemy in the battle of Sonatundi. At Nohata, Hatsreekal, Sreepur, Mujdia, Meengram, Zoka and Atharkhada fields, he fought with the army of the enemy in big battles as a hero. When the news comes to Mom, she becomes very impressed by his bravery.

Then a long time passes, but no news of the boy comes. Mom only knows that he is fighting at Shatrujitpur.
He is not alone; Lalu of Sahaspur, Majid of Amtali, Hasnu of Tupipara are also fighting there.
In this way, a few more months pass.

Suddenly, the drum of victory plays around. People with red-green flags in their hands are cheering all around. Moms eyes sparkle happiness- freedom has come. The day of victory has come in a new guise.

Mom smiles and sings. She runs out of the house and joins the procession of many people and children of the village.

Mom goes to the outpost playground with everyone. The war returned freedom fighters are gathering there. Mom looks for her beloved naughty boy. She runs to freedom fighters and says, "Has my son returned?"
Some say, "I don know your son."

Some say, "No, he has not returned yet."

Mom goes to another- "Have you seen my son?"

He laughs, "No, I haven ."

Mom runs to another freedom fighter-

"Who are you?"
The young freedom fighter recognizes Mom. He becomes sad seeing her. Still he says her, "How are you Mom? I am Lalu."
"Lalu! You are Lalu of Sahaspur! Where is my boy?"

What will Lalu say now? He thinks a little, then forcefully brings a little smile on his face and says, "He is fine. He will come. He hasn come yet, but he will come".
"Will he really come?"

"Yes, Mom, his camp is far away."
"When will he come?"

"He will come- maybe it will be a few days late."
Lalu feels that he has done a great wrong. How will he tell Mom that her boy will never return?

The boy is no more. He was martyred by the shelling of the enemy at Shatrujitpur. His dead body was also taken away by the enemy. How will Lalu tell it to Mom?  

Mom goes home. Before going, she tells Lalu- "If you meet him, tell him that I have prepared duck meat and hotchpotch for him. You will also come."

Mom goes. Lalu stares at her departure. His heart twists in pain. Tears rolls down both sides of his eyes.

No, the boy never returned. But Mom still idles away the hours of waiting. She tidies up the books on the boys reading table every day. The boy was studying in ninth grade. He used to draw pictures and write poems.

He loved Mom very much. Mom sees his notebook of poems every day. He wrote many poems about Mom. Mom doesn know how to read. She calls the neighboring fourth grader girl Bakul.

She gives the notebook to her and says, "Read, Im listening."
Bakul recites the first verse of the notebook-
Mom, you are the vesper

You are a bird
I want to stay forever in your heart…
Mom laughs and says, "Read more.
Bakul reads the next part-
Mom, you are the bright moonlight
Of the moonlit night
When I see your smile,
I become mad…

Mom laughs, "My boy is really mad. I am the moonlight, a bird!"

Bakul also laughs. She says, "He loved you very much, didn he, aunty?"

Mom shakes her head. Then how she becomes. Her eyes become full of tears. She stares at Bakul affectionately. Bakul, understanding her sorrow, goes home.

That Mom. This Mom is now everyones Mom. Everyone in the village calls her mom.

The boys classmates are much older now. Some of them work in the town, some teach in the village school. They come to Mom when they have time. They greet Mom.

When Mom sees them, she forgets the sorrow of the boy. Now she no longer asks like before- "When will my boy come?"

So did Mom understand that her boy will never return. So why does Mom wait for him? Why does she sleeplessly wait keeping the lantern lit?

Moms boy is no more, so all boys are Moms today. So Mom calls the boys of the neighborhood Khoka. She caresses their head. They also call her Mom.

Today is Eid. Mom is happy. The children of the village will come to her in groups to invoke blessings. Mom will give them payesh to eat. The boys friends will bring gifts for Mom.

Lalu of Sahaspur, Majid of Amtali, Hasnu of Tupipara will come. They work in the city. They will bring new saris, shoes, praying mats and rosaries for Mom. Today is Eid. They bring these every Eid.

Mom waits for her boys. Kajoli is a small village on the banks of the Kumar River. She is this Mom of a two-straw-roofed hut of the village. The Mom of one boy- is still alive as the Mom of hundreds of boys.

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