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SILENT NOISE – a Bangladeshi short story

SILENT NOISE – a Bangladeshi short story

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Published by ekram.kabir
This is a story about helplessness of a woman who faces flood waters creeping in her home in an urban setting; this is based on a true incident. Jackie is writing more short stories...
This is a story about helplessness of a woman who faces flood waters creeping in her home in an urban setting; this is based on a true incident. Jackie is writing more short stories...

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Published by: ekram.kabir on Jun 17, 2008
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10/19/2009

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S
ILENT
N
OISE
– a Bangladeshi short storyJackie Kabir
There was no bus at the stoppage; it was five thirty in the afternoon and there should beone I thought to myself. May be it had been delayed because of the heavy pour. So Iwaited…. one bus came and brushed passed leaving me standing as a helpless bystander.It was full to its steps like the poodles on the roadside….overflowing. Nothing else could be seen in the heavy rainfall, just some privately owned cars rushingto their respective destinations. It had been pouring heavily since morning and I was quitesure there would be no usual vehicle for me to ride home. Panic stricken, I started to walk to see if there was any other type of transport. In the mean time I got wet and wascontinuing to get wetter even though I had the umbrella. The raindrops fell diagonally Icould barely save my head from getting drenched. I wonder what happens to all thevehicle during the downpour. It seems as though they all vanish in an unfathomable way.‘Come on! Come on!’ I heard someone shouting giving me the feeling that if I missedthis one I’d be doomed for eternity! With out any hesitation I ran along to be hauled up by the helper of the vehicle.It was a Rider; a four-wheeler to carry ten to fifteen passengers most of whom are scanty-wage people like myself and it was the helper who was trying to attract attention of the passengers like myself. I thanked my lucky stars and hopped in. It was so jammed-packedthat I almost felt sick when I got inside. The heat of the engine mixed with the body heatof so many people in a small cubicle made the inside of the vehicle almost unbearablyhotter. I felt nauseous as I sat down squashed between two elderly people, as it continuedto rain. The people inside the rider were talking amongst themselves:‘Allah’s wrath is pouring on us. We were boiling for the last two weeks and look at ittoday, it’s raining as though the sky is going to fall on us.’‘What can you expect with the things that are going on in the country!’Some one else was saying something else which I couldn’t be bothered to pay attention toas I was too caught up with my own thoughts. Had I shut the window this morning beforeI left? Can’t recall doing so. Oh my god! Some of my books are scattered on the bed withthis kind of heavy pour it’s bound to get drenched. When the vehicle jerked to a stop Icame back to my immediate plight, this is as far as the automobile goes. I couldunderstand the reason as soon as I got out; the lane on which my house was located wasflooded completely. The whole area looked like a river and the buildings sprouting fromits bed. There was a strange unfamiliar smell that struck my nostrils as I tried to approachmy house on foot. The water was above my ankle at the mouth of the road as Iapproached further the water level increased gradually. It was above my knee my trousersmade my legs feel heavy and it became more difficult to walk and I suspected that I
 
might fall into a hole or something. There was an empty rickshaw coming in the oppositedirection giving out ripples all around me. As I asked him if he could take me to the endof the lane he said I’d have to pay him 15 taka. Fifteen taka! where 5 taka was more thanenough on a usual day. Near to tears I agreed as I didn’t want to waste any more time tosee what awaited me at home. By now I was completely drenched ‘kakbheja’ as theywould say in Bangla. And parts of my body exposed to the road water started itching.I lived in a house with a family of four and it was a three-storied building on the road.Ours was the ground floor. It was my third year with the family and I became a member of the family. My real family lives in Khulna and before I stayed with these people Istayed in the university hall devoid of all facilities of a regular family life so I was quitehappy to get all that I missed in exchange of a portion of my salary. The best person inthe house was the five-year-old Rumki who was simply adorable. Even her mother couldn’t take her away from my bed and so on most nights she fell asleep on my bed.Apart from Rumki’s parents there was Rumki’s grandma who was an elderly person andstayed in the adjacent room to mine it was also the families living room.As my rickshaw approached my house I could feel that the daylong rain had left uswaterlogged. I went inside quickly and unlocked my room.It was already dark and I put the light on.The whole bed was soaked on the window side. The red and black-stripped curtain wasreduced to a black piece of cloth stuck to the windowpane. The water had tricked downthe wall was spreading on the ground.“Auntie see how hard its raining today?Rumki ran to my room with her usualenthusiasm. She had a pretty face with a flat nose and a bob. She was so thin that shelooked even younger than her age.Hurriedly I removed my books rubbed them with even wetter scarf of mine.“Oh Auntie you are all wet!! Can I get wet too?”“No you can’t, you will get a cold my dear!” I tried to explain.Quickly I took shower and got changed. In the mean time the rain continued. And as itwas getting darker the water level also started rising. Slowly but surely. Our grandma runaround with one of Rumki’s ruler with which she was measuring how quickly the water was rising. We were scared that the house might get flooded if the rain doesn’t stopsometime soonIt didn’t stop.We cursed each car that passed through the road as it left huge waves which came over the verandah almost got inside our main door. We took turns checking how far it was
 
 before we were flooded. And finally at around nine at night when we were getting readyfor our dinner the water seeped inside, with the smooth fluidity of a snake through our main door. The waste water pipes gave out water in the opposite direction both in thekitchen and the bathrooms in a matter of 10 minutes the small house was over flown with pitch dark, filthy water.Grandma shouted “Oh dear God! What are we going to do? The water with all the filth inthe world is getting in my house! What sin have I committed to deserve this?”Rumki’s mother and I frantically ran around to put away carpets electric wires of thetelevision and radio. Everything had to be piled on the dining table, the Chest of drawersand even the television stand. I suddenly remembered to take clothes away from the bottom rack of the chest of drawers as the water might get inside soon.“Bhabhi (addressing Rumki’s mother) remove all the clothes from the lower shelf otherwise they will get wet.”Promptly we went to our respective rooms for clearing our bottom shelves. The water rose inch by inch and we just watched. It’s unimaginable feeling for someone who hasnever had the experience of being flooded. We were estranged. It was as though we wereshipwrecked in an island without ever having any hope of getting rescued. I have heard or seen news clips on television of villages getting flooded in the rainy season but never hadthe experience. I lived in a place in Khulna where it never floods due to the Sundarbans .Even my grandfather couldn’t ever recall seeing that area flooded.Everyone but Rumki looked as though they have lost the most valuable thing they owned.The drain water mixed with rain water along with all the dirt of the road seemed to haveinvaded our private sanctuary; it had violated our innermost dignity. Life seemedmeaningless now. All our furniture were immersed in a feet water and I could almost seegerms crawling along the body of all of them.“Don’t throw it!” I heard Rumki’s mother shouting.Splash! Splash!I came out to see what was happening. Rumki was throwing showpieces and whatever she could get hold of in the water. And as the water splashed she clapped her little hands,it was like a game to her.Rumki’s mother was desperately trying to refrain her from throwing things but shescreamed and kicked her legs in the air as her mother tried to take her in her arms.I intervened and took her to my room and as I put her on my bed she sat there quietly for a split of a second as soon as I turn my eyes from her she threw my comb in the filthywater. I gave her a stern look.

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