[Meaning of few Bengali terms: Dadu: grandfather; Dida: grandmother; Dadubhai: grandson; Didibhai: granddaughter; Baba: father; Ma: mother]
Six year old Babu came running to his Grandpa, “Dadu, Dadu can you take me to the river bank. I have never seen people travelling in boats. Please Dadu, please, please.”
“Ok Dadubhai, I will take you there, just go and ask your mother.”
Babu ran inside the house to ask his mother.
Sumana, Babu’s five year old sister came running from inside the house, “Dadu, take me also with you.”
“Sure Didibhai, will you then marry me.”
“No Dadu, I do not want to marry you.”
Kamala, their mother came from inside, carrying a warm cloth for her father-in-law, the river side is generally cooler, and it could be windy as well.
“Do not give trouble to your Dadu, or else I will double your homework today” Kamala warned her son.
Subimal and his wife , Babu and Sumana’s grandparents came to visit their son and daughter-in-law. His son is a chemical engineer in a fertilizer plant, who immediately after graduation got this job. Kamala, their daughter-in-law was a student of English literature in the same university. They became friends and gradually became more than friends. When he became an engineer and got the job, he first told his mother about Kamala. His mother, completely unprepared for the situation and not knowing how to react simply asked if the girl is beautiful. After marriage Kamala joined as a teacher in a local English Medium school. This year during the Durgapuja holidays Subimal and his wife came to visit their son.
It takes about half an hour by walk from their company provided quarter to reach the river bank.
On their journey Babu and Sumana were talking non-stop, they wanted to tell everything that happened in their lives till they met their grandpa during their last visit, which was three months ago during the summer holidays.
“Dadu” suddenly Sumana asked, “are you angry with me?”
“Why Didibhai, what have you done?”
“I did not want to marry you.”
“You broke my heart, Didibhai, what have I done, why have you rejected me?”
“You look old, Dadu.”
“Next time when you will see me I will look much younger, will you marry me then?”
“Sure Dadu.” Now Sumana is happy, she wanted to see everyone she loves to be happy.
As they were approaching near the river, the landscape started changing rapidly, as if the land suddenly disappeared.
From here boats leave for different destinations. The river is very wide here as this place is only about 60 kilometers from the sea. To reach to other side of the river by steamers it takes about one-and-a-half to two hours, the time varies due to the direction and speed of the wind.
On reaching their destination, Babu got very excited. It was the endless river, the huge steamers, fishermen’s large boats in river everything was so new to him. They had never been to this side of the town before. The splashing sound made by the collision of water waves against the boats sounded so musical to his ears. He was mesmerized, how anything so beautiful like river can exist and still people do not always talk about it. From now on he will only talk about river and the boats and nothing else.
“Dadu, where these people are going” Babu asked.
“They are going to a town, which is on that side”, Subimal pointed to the other side of the river.
“But I cannot see.”
“Because it is very far, but it is there.”
“Why are they going?”
“Somebody is waiting for them.”
“Will they come back again?”
“Of course, they have to.”
“But what will happen to them who are coming?”
“They have to go back where they came from.”
“Are they not all going to the same place?”
“No Dadubhai, they are going to different places, you see boats are separating away from each other in the middle of the river.”
“Why are they waving their hands from the boat?”
“What your mother does every morning when you go to school?”
“She waves at me and I wave at her.”
“For how long?”
“As long as we see each other.”
“When I cannot see her any more, I look inside the bus, and talk to my friends.”
“And when you reach the school?”
“There I meet my real friends, who are in my class and we start playing. I got it now, Dadu.”
Babu, again started looking around him and lost into his thought. He imagined himself in his school bus, and his Baba, Ma, Dadu, Dida, sister all are waving at him. Suddenly his school bus turned into a boat and the road turned into the river and the boat started drifting away from the land. Soon everyone went out of his vision, he was not sure if knew anyone in the boat or if they came in his dream ever, he looked at the other side of the river, could not remember if he has seen any of them before or even in his dream. He suddenly felt a pinch from his sister and got alert.
“Can we go into a boat?”
Subimal remained silent and his face looked very different to Sumana.
Suddenly Sumana said, “Dadu can we go back home?”
Author: Mintu Ghoshal
Follow him on facebook: mintu.ghoshal.9