The stranger

Jackie Kabir A whistle tore through my eardrum as I walked along, I could see a teenaged boy through the corner of my eye. He was standing beside the tea stall and making the noise with his hand in his mouth. I was returning home through the street with my grocery. apacket od salt which I ran out of last night, some flour and some candles in case we have powercut later the day. I didn’t need a rickshaw as the shop was just around the corner. The boy whistling must be someone from the neighbourhood. I didn’t turn to look at him. It didn’t really matter. After all what else can one expect where eve teasing is considered as a norm of the society! It’s not only pretty girls who get harassed everyday.But any woman with a vulnerable age (meaning less than 40) will be facing this kind of assault. Now it’d be different if it were a girl who wears the attitude “I mean business” with a tomboyish look then, perhaps, no one would bother her. After climbing four flights I let sigh out of relief as I put the bags down after opening the door. As usual, I was fumbling with the keys. This two-room apartment was my little heaven after getting married to the man of my dreams couple of years ago. I rearrange my bed, my closet, showcase in as many ways as I can every now and then. I do the cooking and cleaning. There is also a part-timer who comes for an hour to help me in the mornings. As I was lazing around the bell rang; I thought what an unusual time to ring the bell! And to my surprise it was my husband who was flushed and shiny from the sweat. Even before I could greet him he took some kind of device with lots of wires and some smaller pieces of instrument and put it under my bed. I was about to ask him if I should fetch him lunch but he was gone as fast as he came. I was standing on the small verandah in the late afternoon enjoying the orange ray of sunlight on my small balcony as I was having my evening tea. I always take my time while having tea; it’s like a luxury to me. I recalled it was while having a cup of tea I looked into this gorgeous guy’s eyes with whom I fell in love.

I was coming back from college with my friend as we saw this man coming at us; little did I know I’d get bonded with him in the days to come. “Hi! how are you?” the guy said to my friend. And who might you be his eyes said to me. “Oh Kollol bhai how come you are here? On this part of town?” “Came to see a friend. Would you like a cup of tea?” My heart skipped a beat when he looked at me again and my friend introduced to him and informed me that it was her cousin. We went to a nearby coffee shop and I had tea while they both had coffee. All of the thirty minutes we were there; our eyes locked, heartbeat synchronized; chitchat went along. His big set eyes told me he wanted me to trust him. With his wide forehead and a straight nose which beamed confidence of an aspiring businessman. The next time it was just the two of us; oblivion of the rest of world in another café. Eleven months went by and he sent a proposal to my parents as the custom of our country. Even though young people are finding their suitors more often than ever; it still is customary to send proposals to the family in Bangladesh . As I looked up I saw a police van approaching our lane. They asked a boy on the street about a house so the van came towards my house, I understood some policemen got out of the van and walked in my house. Were there four or five of them and what did they want in my building? “They must be going to some other flat.” I thought aloud. But the bell rang!! In my house!! Must be some mistake I told myself. As I opened the door five uniformed officers burst in like a swarm of bees, as I stood dumbfounded. The leader asked

“Where is the machine?” “What? Why? What machine?” I asked trembling. “The illegal VoIP machine that Mr Kollol owns. This is his flat; isn’t it?” “Yes it is Mr Kollol’s house but what is VoIP machine? My husband is a businessman; he runs a shop of fax and phone. I don’t know anything about VoIP” I sobbed. “VoIP means ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’ it is used to transfer data to different parts of the world. Only the government has the right to do so. But people like your husband is giving the facility to people and robbing the government.” “You are mistaken. My husband is not like that.” “We want to search the house” said the rude man and even before he finished his sentence his men went around looking for the what ever it was they were looking for. One of them shouted from my bedroom: “I found it, sir!” I froze. Tears rolling down my face. How could my husband do it? Did he do it to frame me up? Is that why he didn’t speak to me? Oh God what I am going to do now? The leader was saying something I couldn’t understand. The last part of the sentence was “you will have to come with us.” “I don’t understand why do I have to go with you and where?” I screamed. I found myself following them as they put something metallic on my wrists and was pulled me along.

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