Moirom Doesn’t Know What Rape is
Translated from the original Bangla by Shabnam Nadiya
The day Jashim did it to her in the dheki-shed, Moirom had thought, “Oh hell!”
It was over before even the slightest trace of pleasure had awoken within her. She had not enjoyed any of it. Instead, anger was born within. All she had understood was that Jashim was forcing her. But, after all, he could force her if he wanted to. Jashim was in love with her—that was how she consoled herself. But she couldn’t figure out why the word “hell” had entered her head. As the days went by, she couldn’t get the word out of her thoughts. When she told Jashim what she was thinking, Jashim had replied, “But I love you. Don’t I Moiri?”
Moirom had nodded her head in agreement. She had said nothing. She hadn’t felt like saying anything. She felt nausea. Her body felt revulsion—as if her skin had no pores, they were all squirming insects. Damn it, was this love? Love had soured for her before she had barely begun to understand what it was. But Moirom could not explain what love had grown into. So her mouth filled up with spittle. As she splattered the spit all around her, she felt that her body was no longer hers—it had become Jashim’s. If someone addressed her as Jashim, she would answer quite easily. She would say, “Why’re you calling? I’m making tea now. I’m adding the milk to the tea, stirring in the sugar.”
She shivered violently the next instant. She thought her body was also like tea: just like tea, Jashim had sipped it. While Jashim had been draining her, she had turned cold—just like tea. If her body was a cup, then what was it that had gathered in the dregs of the cup? Wide-eyed, she looked at herself.
Then she covered her face with her hands. She felt like weeping.
The news was first broadcast by Jashim.
The enormous banyan tree that rested between the residential area and the marketplace of the village stood with its branches spread out day and night. Jashim had set up a teashop around its roots. It had taken quite a bit of effort. He had had to borrow, had to bargain with people, had to procure ramshackle stools, kettles or cups from different people. He had even managed a couple of wooden stools from some of them. Nosiron khala had even given him one of the two chimney-lamps that she owned. She had told him that she would occasionally fill the lamp with kerosene for him. He was awfully happy with how people loved him. How many people would have been able to make the stall a going concern from absolute zero as he had? He had built a small stove with bricks. When he stuffed it with dry wood after pouring on some kerosene, the stove blazed like anything. Then he made tea.
There were moras and jolchoukis set out all around. That was all the seating arrangement consisted of. In any case, the youngsters preferred to sit on the banyan roots. They lay flat on their backs on the roots quite easily. Their backs did not ache, as if the roots were smooth planks under them. Some even passed the time lying face down on the roots, resting their cheeks in their hands. And the ones who were mere day-labourers simply plonked down on the bricks that lay here and there around the tea-stall, their legs sprawling. They liked munching on muri which they kept in the waist-pouch of their lungis. The villagers praised Jashim’s cleverness. They said, “That boy sure has learnt how to do for himself.”
Someone else said, “Maybe he’s a bastard. That’s why he’s so clever.”
Another agreed. “You’re right. If he wasn’t a bastard then how come there’s no news of his parents? He hangs around the marketplace, and lives off its pickings.”
A group of people laughed uproariously. Jashim listened to all this but paid no heed. He himself knew nothing of his parents. No one had told him when he had become an orphan. He did not even know when they had died. He no longer bothered his head about all that. That he was alive was his biggest joy.
When Jashim announced the news that day, about a dozen people had just picked up their cups of tea. The afternoon sunlight begun creeping into the unfenced teashop through the gaps in the banyan leaves. The sunlight cast shadows on the faces of a few, making them look rather nice. It smoothed away their weariness and refreshed them. Square shadows tumbled on to the ground as well. As if a young girl had painted alpana on the roots of the banyan with a delicate hand. The sun had not touched Jashim’s hairless face. A bushy branch shielded his face from the sun. It seemed as if the banyan tree felt a special affection for his flat, squashed face. Jashim looked at all the faces one by one. Then he focused his gaze on the young banyan leaves that hung in front of him and said, “Seventy year old Nurali Howladar’s got seventeen year old Moirom pregnant.”
At first, everyone present was stunned. The teacups poised in their hands were not raised to their lips. Those who had raised them halfway put them back again. Then someone hooted in laughter. As if he had been waiting since birth to laugh just that laugh. Everyone’s attention was focused on him, they felt that the devil’s smile had appeared on his face. He was Hamed Molla of the village, a dealer in the marketplace. Hamed Molla turned his face away, as if shielding himself so he would not have to explain the reason for his laughter. But no one looked at him. No one thought that there was any reason to give him importance. Everyone understood that there were some people who pleasured themselves with perversions. Hamed Molla was enjoying the news within himself.
Then the eldest among those present demanded, “Jashimma, where’d you get the news from?”
A mysterious smile fluttered at the corners of Jashim’s lips. He kept himself secret and said, “I get to know things. I have so many ways of knowing.”
The way he inverted his lips, moved his hands, blinked and made other gestures deepened the feeling of mystery. No one asked a second question. But the elders were irked at his slickness. Everyone sipped their tea at the same time to get rid of their annoyance. Laughing loudly Jashim said, “Go on and take a look, Moirom is puking right now. She can’t eat anything. Her mother's panic-stricken. A woman alone—the number of things that she has to take care of! Poor thing!”
Someone remarked in an angry voice, “Is Moirom your slut that you’re the only one who’s getting all this news? No one else in the village knows anything. What a smart aleck!”
Jashim spoke no more. He realized that more talk would open up a can of worms. He filled the tea stall with derisive cackling to conceal himself from the others. The laughter undulated like waves as if touched by the sun’s whorish caress. At that moment laughter was some living beast or thing, whose ghostly aspect cast a pall under the banyan tree. A few left the gathering, annoyed. Because they had witnessed the mother and daughter struggle to survive up close. Only the young men leaned against the tree roots and told Jashim, “We know that you’ve been seeing Moirom. But the girl is dumb. She doesn’t have a clear head.”
As he dunked the teacups into the bucket of water, Jashim said, “Not untrue. You’re quite right. That girl is an absolute chippy.”
Again, that hoot of a laughter. But this time a certain amount of satisfaction was added to it.
Then came Qurban’s sharp query, “So how did the old bugger get hold of Moirom? Are you an idiot?”
“It’s all God’s work.” Jashim replied impassively. Again that smattering of mystery in his gesture. These fellows had never seen him grow so unknowable before. The behaviour of this unschooled kid was like an educated person, unnerving them. The young men were surprised as they gazed at Jashim’s impassive face. They repeated, “So how long’ve you been seeing Moirom?”
“Maybe around four months”.
“That figures alright then.”
Now the young men snicker and wolf-whistle. The shadow of the late afternoon light fell on Jashim’s face. Daylight seeped diamond-shaped through the leaves. Oh, how beautiful this village was! Sadness welled up within everyone’s thoughts. Sorrow transformed into another name for life and stood them in front of their own bodies. At that moment the urges of the body were something else, beyond mystery. Jashim began packing up the teashop for the day.
Daylight was waning.
Even so, they saw Jashim’s eyes glow in that dimming light. As if his eyes were a lighthouse showing the way. The young men swore at him in their minds, “Bastard.” One of them asked desperately, “Won’t you marry Moirom?”
“Yeah, I will. Why wouldn’t I? I certainly can’t marry anyone else.”
The young men were taken aback. When darkness descended under the banyan tree, Jashim lit a kerosene lamp. The lamp was blown out by a gust of wind. He lit it again and set it within the shade made out of betel-nut husk. The lamp burned but did not shed much light. Darkness fused within their eyes.
Nabin said, “It might rain tomorrow. I don’t think you’ll be able to light your stove. What’ll you eat?”
Laughing, Jashim replied, “I’ll just drink water. I’m used to having water since I was a kid. I’m also used to going without food. I don’t get stuck for anything.”
Nabin said forcefully, “Rainwater might get into Moirom and her ma’s dheki-shed. The roof leaks. There seems to be a shortage of thatched roofs. See, there’s a shortage of good thatched roofs!”
Again Jashim flooded the surroundings with laughter. He said, “Where the roof leaks, moonlight whoops it up. The game gets good—Blind man’s buff. I can catch fairies in the moonlight. You guys don’t know how to play. You have to be a man of the streets, of the fields to know the game.”
The young men grimaced and swore at him. Jealousy scrunched within their teeth. They realized that even at his age Jashim had seventeen year old Moirom right within his grasp. The shackles of ownership were harder than steel, chains that Jashim could forge with his own hands. No doubt, the boy was a hard boiled case.
They left the tea-stall. Jashim stuffed his pots and pans into a gunny sack. The other guys had already left. He slung the sack onto his back and came to stand in front of Moirom’s mother Sakhina’s house. Early evening had passed; it was the darkest moonless night. There was no moon in the sky. People were used to it. Their eyes were accustomed to darkness, they had no difficulty in recognizing the way. And of course neither did Jashim. In the dark, his two eyes became ten. Jashim had felt no grudge towards life. Neither did he have any complaints.
He knocked on the door gently.
Mother and daughter were husking rice. When her husband had been alive, Sakhina had arranged for this dheki in her house to husk rice. Now this was her sole means of support. The two of them barely scraped by on what they earned this way. Sakhina opened the door after Jashim had knocked twice. He pushed the door open and entered silently. He put down the sack he carried in a corner. He said without any preamble, “The whole village knows that Moirom’s got Nurali Howladar’s child in her belly.”
Moirom was sitting beside the dheki. Before she opened her mouth to say something, she squawked briefly as a prelude. Sakhina immediately raised an admonitory forefinger. She said in a stern voice, “Shut up. Finish husking the paddy. When it’s done, it’ll be rice. The husk will be separated. Nurali will swallow the rice. You’ll eat the husk.”
“And what’ll Jashim swallow?” Sakhina and Jashim both understood that there was no simplicity in Moirom’s words. Sakhina replied in a quick voice, “Jashim’ll eat the rice and the husk—everything.”
“What’ll you swallow Amma?”
“My world is bigger. In that world I have a daughter, my daughter has land, a house, oven, banana tree behind the house, pigeons…”
“Okay, okay, stop it. You’re a big eater. You have the hunger to eat, you just don’t have the power to do so.”
Mother and daughter chuckled. Jashim laughed. He wanted to fuse with their family and create the concept of family in his own life. Sakhina flung the separated husk from the end of the kula upwards, scattering it in the air. What kind of game was this? None of the three understood. The one with the least understanding was Moirom. Although at this instant, the world revolved around her.
Jashim laughed raucously in his own style and said, “Moirom, come outside.”
“What do you mean why, I don’t feel like it. I just won’t.”
“So stay. I’m going. I’m hungry.”
“What kind of hunger?”
Moirom giggled and rolled over. Her laughter did not burn Jashim. He enjoyed the pleasure in her laughter. Moirom had no idea how and when she gave him pleasure. Only Jashim’s sixth sense could tell. He stood awhile, hoping that Sakhina would say something to him. But Sakhina said nothing and went on husking. He realized that it would be no use tonight. He left. Again a descent into darkness. It was easier for him to find his way in the dark. Jashim disappeared beyond the trees.
The wind entered the open doorway. Sakhina shut the door. She knew that Jashim had no place to stay. He slept in various shops in the marketplace. A predator’s smile tugged at the corners of her lips. She had cast her net for just such a boy. She had faith that she would be able to net this fish. She was certain now. Her wish was to make a boy who had no one else her son-in-law. Then all of them could take care of this household. Her household had shattered after the death of her husband. Her daughter’s house could become the wind in the sails of her household. Another family, a household was Sakhina’s deepest desire. For that one needed a house, land—and so many other things. Who didn’t like to dream? If one had a dream in the heart, the days went well.
Jashim walked on, dreaming. He had sat on the dheki in Sakhina’s shed and told her, “We need earth. We’re people of the soil, land and farming, that’s what we do. I want to bite into the earth. Why shouldn’t we have our own land?”
“You want to earn land through me?” Moirom had snapped at him.
“People should do what they can.”
“Don’t try to teach me what should or shouldn’t be. I don’t like learning too much.”
Moirom had picked up a fistful of husk.
“I’m warning you, don’t scatter the husk.” Sakhina had scolded her daughter. She said again, “We’ll have to sell the husk to get money. We need to buy oil and salt.”
“I want to have a fried egg. I’ll soak it in the water of panta-rice.”
“Alright. We’ll get you an egg.”
Jashim had dragged his ass and sat near Moirom. Sakhina had picked up the basket full of rice-husk and said, “I’ll go and sell the husk to Jabal’s mother. The old woman has a lot of ducks. I can get a couple of eggs off her as well.”
As soon as Sakhina had gone out, Jashim fell on Moirom. He said, “Just say yes, Moirom.”
“With that old guy?”
“That old guy will give you land to build your house. If we can get that land, then that crow will lay eggs in our nest.”
“With that old guy? My first time…”
“No, not the first. The first time is you and me. Right now…”
Then, in that one wild instant, thousands of crows had cawed in the dheki-shed. As if this was not a moment illumined by lightning. As if it wasn’t thorny with the steps of horror pursued in the dark silence—a flower blossoming in the darkness. The meditating Shiva had emerged against the blood-red aura of the oleander. His conch-solemn voice had enunciated, Earth, unseal your doorway.
The earth had opened its gate. It was time for the earth to receive, it was prepared. The noisy laughter of the children standing on both sides of the way streaked towards the plains. Some of them were yearning for a glimpse of soil. The missive of that advent flowed within the veins of the earth.
Moirom had scrambled to a sitting position and rearranged her clothing. Her body had begun withdrawing in intense irritation. That a man’s body could mount one’s own, before one even understood anything—this realization had awakened a deep revulsion within her. Jashim had tried to take her hand and pull her close. He had said, “Why’d you move away, come here.”
“No.” The bitter tang of Moirom’s voice had struck Jashim’s ears. Still, he had said in a soft voice, “Didn’t you like it Moiri?”
Moirom had snapped at him, “Hell!”
At that moment of memory, Jashim’s body stiffened into wood. Moirom’s bitterness had not made him happy. It was not his failure, not his enjoyment of pleasure, it was just Moirom brushing him off that saddened him. At that point in his thoughts, Jashim stood still in the middle of the road that went through the field. Despite containing the anger of Moirom’s bitterness within himself, he shivered inside as he cherished the memory of his first time. He himself couldn’t tell how long he stood trembling. That day, after a while Moirom had asked, “This thing that happened with you, was this right? We’re not married.”
Jashim’s spontaneous answer had been, “So what if we're not married. We’ll get married.”
“Oh, okay. That’s okay then. But what if we don’t get married in the end?”
Jashim knew the answer to Moirom’s question. But he had not told Moirom that then this would be rape. He had gazed at Moirom’s voluptuous body. Poverty had left no shadow on her. How had she turned into such a robust girl? That was why old Nurali wanted a son of her.
That was the proposal the old man had made one afternoon as he had grabbed Moirom’s hand. He had said, “You give me a son, I’ll give you land for your house.”
That day Moirom had squeezed the old man’s hand and asked, “What’ll you do with a bastard son?”
The old man had snapped, “A son is a treasure. A son is the line. If it’s a girl it’s a bastard. People don’t want to marry it. If it’s a son then there’s no trouble. A son is a crown.”
Moirom had gazed in wonder at the old man, her eyes glowing. The old man had swallowed that gaze and said, “If it’s a son then angels enter the house.”
“How pathetic, for this you have to fall at the feet of some female. Okay, I’ll give you a son. A light for your line.”
Moirom had not been able to control her laughter as she fell over giggling.
When they heard this strange thing from her, Jashim and Sakhina began weaving their dreams of land. As she talked with her mother and Jashim, Moirom sat down on the dheki carefully with her legs hanging and said, “I want some water.”
Jashim poured a glass of water from the earthen pot and brought it to her. He sat at her feet and proffered the glass. When Moirom finished drinking he said, “That old man shoots blanks. Else, how come none of his four wives have kids?”
Sakhina went out to put the rice on the stove. She was very happy. Today she would heap her daughter’s plate with rice first. Then Jashim would get some. Sakhina had understood that even though Jashim was a man, at the moment Moirom was the one who had much more power. The fire blazed in Sakhina’s stove.
Moirom moved a bit away from Jashim and said, “With that old geezer?”
“So what? Didn’t you understand what happens? It’s nothing.”
“Who says it’s nothing? I feel disgusted.” Moirom’s eyes blazed.
“Think about it. We’ll get land. A house. Think about it, you won’t have to live in the dheki-shed of someone else’s house anymore. Say yes?”
Moirom didn’t speak. She laced her hands in Jashim’s hair and pulled. She asked, “Does it hurt?”
Jashim unwound her hands. He turned his head and looked at her. It seemed as if there was the sound of thunder in Moirom’s body. It alighted on Jashim’s head with a crackle. Then suddenly Moirom asked, “When’s our wedding?”
“Whenever you say.”
“Truly? You’re not lying?”
“Do weddings happen on the say of women? Are women so precious then?”
Again Moirom laughed loudly. Jashim could not laugh. The planks within his chest hardened. He realized why Moirom was so precious. Nurali Howladar wanted a son of Moirom. And he himself wanted land from Moirom, the land that Nurali had promised her. Jashim believed that Nurali would keep his word. If they could have him deed the land before he took her to bed, then who could stop them! Nurali was a rich farmer in the village, but he carried with him the sorrow of not being a father. Nurali had held Moirom’s hand and said, “I love you Moirom. I won’t take you to the household of a second wife. I prize you above that.”
Moirom had bared her teeth and snapped, “You old jackal.”
“I haven’t grown old Moirom.”
“Right, you’re not old at all. People say that you’re seventy.”
“I’ll give you land. You’ll give me a son.”
Moirom’s daze did not disappear. A vast wonder drew a closed circle in front of her. An enormous stick poked and punctured the circle in an instant. Moirom had felt no disquiet within herself. But when Sakhina and Jashim egged her on after they had heard of Nurali, she quite enjoyed the game. She realized that she was no longer a seventeen year old young girl. Her mind had aged. She couldn’t think of the events around her as off the wall, something beyond her control. The whole thing was quite organized. Now the thing had to be manipulated in her favor.
Moirom slowly emerged from the thoughts of her seventeen years. How great life was! It flowed in laughter and play. Moirom could laugh uproariously whenever and wherever. She could float her laughter over whoever she wanted. The seventeen year old Moirom loved being a woman. Nurali had given her the respect due to a woman and asked her for a son. She would go to Nurali to get some land. She wanted the earth. Could a person live without soil?
As they walked the paths to and from her home and the marketplace, the stories Moirom told Jashim had no end. She couldn’t walk fast in the darkness. He wanted to reach the marketplace quickly. They had saved some rice for him at Nokul’s store. He was hungry too. But as he walked he stumbled every step of the way. He returned again to Moirom’s tales. As if Moirom was telling him, “Don’t you know, Moirom means flower.”
“What kind of a flower? Does it have a scent?”
“There’s no scent. It’s a dried flower. You can keep it for a long time. When someone’s birth pains begin, you have to soak the flower in water. If the flower revives in the water, then there’ll be no suffering during childbirth. And if it doesn’t, then they both die.”
“Who told you such a thing?”
“Romizon Bua. She knows a lot of stuff. When she talks it seems like the words are drifting down from the sky.”
“Then you’re an amazing flower.”
“I’m not a flower myself—the meaning of my name is flower. Dad used to say my daughter’s like a flower.”
“It’s the same thing. There’s no end to your charm either.”
“Dad used to say my daughter’s an absolute idiot.”
Jashim’s ears flooded with Moirom’s laughter. He reached out his hand in the darkness, as if he could touch Moirom. He balled his hand into a fist, within which sweat gathered. His pace quickened strangely, as if he was moving at the speed of the wind. His voice dispersed in the wind: “Moiri, you’ll be mother to my child before marriage. Don’t worry about what people will say. Girls are getting raped all the time in this country. What difference does it make to anyone? Is there any justice in this land? Well? Is there? Say, I rape you, then I marry you. Then everything’s fine and dandy. Society cools down. And if I become father to a child that’s the fruit of rape, then society will hold me so dear. They’ll say, There’s not another boy like him. I’ve thought of everything. First we’ll have a child. Then land and a house. We’ll shore up our lives. Moirom, you and me, we’ll turn this society into a cage. They’ll be locked up in the cage. We’ll lead them around with rings through their noses.”
As soon as Jashim neared the bazaar, Kafil grabbed hold of his hand. He ground his teeth and said, “You son of a bitch.”
“Why’re you cussing me?”
“Didn’t you say that seventy year old Nurali Howladar’s gotten seventeen year old Moirom pregnant?”
“I was right.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t answer so many questions.”
“Son of a bitch, it’s all just a drama you’ve cooked up. That kid isn’t that old bugger’s, it’s yours.”
Jashim laughed uproariously and said, “That old bugger’s sterile.”
“Well?” Kafil grabbed the back of his neck, “Am I right or what?”
“Let go. It hurts.”
Kafil’s grip tightened. Jashim tried to free himself from his grasp with both hands, but couldn’t. Kafil hissed, “Am I right?”
“Nurali wants a son. The guy understands love. A lover boy. He knows what love is.”
“You son of a bitch, talk about yourself.”
Kafil did not let go of his neck. Jashim pushed him suddenly with all the force in his body and said, “That old guy’s words are my own. Now get lost, you son of a bitch.”
“So now you’re that old guy?”
Jashim laughed and said, “I’m getting married to Moirom in a few days. I’ll treat you to rice and beef curry then.”
Jashim disappeared into the darkness. Kafil stood and watched him leave in the darkness. His anger grew. He felt a desire to revenge himself against Jashim. The next instant he cursed himself for a cowardly rat. Then he thought, he lacked even the sharp teeth that rats had. He started on his way in the dark. If it was daytime he would have lain down in the earthen borders of the paddy fields with his eyes shut. That way he could escape from his surroundings if only for a while.
The day that the thing happened with Nurali, Moirom’s heart broke. At first, the old man lay her down on her back and examined her thoroughly. Then he turned her over. Then when the aroused old man kneaded and crushed her with his bony body, she screamed, “Oh hell!”
When he heard the word hell, Nurali’s spittle-moist mouth began ejaculating words—Death is land, home, the dove, the gourd plant. Death is the oven, the rice pot, plates, the salt pot. Death is winter, rain, night, the fucking of a young husband! Death is death—childbirth in the house, the son’s wailing. Nurali laughed loudly. Moirom realized that this was Jashim’s laughter—it was identical—there was no difference between Nurali and Jashim. She grew inert. She thought, “Let Nurali do whatever he wants.” She thought that if she could just cross this pulserat, this bridge of destiny, there would be hell—a home like hellfire, a husband like the devil. Oh what joy! She picked up the orna that lay fallen beside her and wiped Nurali’s spittle from her face.
Now they were sitting on the veranda of the Sub-Registry Office. Nurali sat on the office bench for a while with his legs hanging down. He could not sit like that for long. He folded his legs back up on to the bench. His was a time of joy now. There was a glow of invisible laughter on his face, as if he really was not here at the moment. He was inside the ancient temples of all lands in the world. The devotee-maids of the temples surround him. Who should he go with? He had to go with someone. He had an elderly wife at home, no children. Both of them wanted children. The elderly wife had told him, “Do not wait for me any longer. Produce an heir.” Nurali, the temple priest, smirked. He has produced so many children, he has lost count. He had intimidated the girls into keeping their mouths shut. He would arrange settlements for them with some young man or another. Or else just have it aborted. But this time he wanted a son. Nurali was overwhelmed with joy. He dozed. He would throw that son of his in the faces of his four barren wives and say, Look, look at my power! He leaned his head against the wall and dozed off. The people around him could hear him snoring.
Moirom looked at Nurali. She felt like laughing. During his moment of passion that day, Nurali had said to her, “I love you Moirom. Love is sacred. A son of love can never be a bad son. I desire to love. I’m not old Moirom. The man who can love, can he ever grow old, Moirom! He never does.”
At that moment Moirom had felt as if the ghost she had been afraid of in her childhood for no reason at all was standing right in front of her. She had felt like laughing. It was lovely, seeing a ghost.
Sakhina asked, “Why’re you laughing, girl?”
“A ghost.” She pointed at Nurali with her finger.
Sakhina laughed as well. At the sound of the laughter, Nurali opened his eyes. “What’s up?”
“They’re calling you. You have to make your thumb-print.”
“Thumb-print?” He sat up straight.
“If you make that thumb-print, then a katha of land will be mine.”
“Yeah, I’ll make that thumb-print.”
Nurali went in front of the Sub-Registrar and made his mark. He wiped the ink off his finger with the rag hanging next to him. Then he took Moirom’s hand and came and stood outside. Sakhina was behind them.
“I want some muri and bananas. I’m hungry.”
Sakhina whispered, “You’ll throw up.”
“So what? If I puke it’ll stop this dizziness. I’m sleepy.”
The servant accompanying Nurali brought muri and bananas. They moved away from the road and sat under the jackfruit tree. Moirom ate the muri and banana and, within a short while, began vomiting.
Nurali watched the scene and said in a gleeful voice, “Wonderful Nurali wonderful! You’re going to be the father of a son.”
Moirom turned away suddenly and said in a low voice, “Not you, you old man, Jashim’s going to be a father.”
With woven-fences and straw Sakhina raised a house within a few days. A week later Jashim and Moirom got married. There were dark circles under Moirom’s eyes. Her jaw had become pronounced. There was no joy in her. All of life was tasteless now. Jashim caressed her and asked, “What’s the matter?”
Moirom made no reply. Impassivity eclipsed her, as if living had lost its meaning. Then Jashim sat her on the bed and urged, “C’mon. I’ll make you forget all your woes.”
Again the same thing. Again—and again—Moirom felt like throwing up. She was not well. But where was the joy? Jashim asked in delight, “Are you happy Moiri?”
Moirom replied in a bitter voice, “Hell!”
“Moiri sweetheart, we’re now man and wife.”
In the same manner, with a voice even more bitter, Moirom replied, “Hell!”
Published in Parabaas, April 20, 2011
The original story "Mariam jane naa dhorshon kee" by Selina Hossain
is included in the collection Sakhinar Chandrakala published by Ekushey Bangla Prokason in 2007.
Shabnam Nadiya. Shabnam Nadiya is a writer, poet and translator. Her work has appeared in the anthologies....
Illustration by Ananya Das. Ananya Das has authored several books. She is based in Pennsylvania.
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