Home Books & Authors Maharaja Dahir – Resurgence of Sindh – Part-XXI

Maharaja Dahir – Resurgence of Sindh – Part-XXI

Maharaja Dahir – Resurgence of Sindh – Part-XXI

The English translation of a novel ‘Maharaja Dahir’ authored by Kolkata-based renowned novelist Debasree Chakraborti in Bengali language. The novel has been translated by Rajesh Giri

Nagarparkar, Tharparkar, Sindh

Year 2021

On the one side of the rugged faded nature all around, there is Karoonjhar mountain range, made of granite rocks. In the vast stretch of wilderness in between, there are small white painted mud houses with hay thatched roof on which peacocks sit screaming; It has been evening for a while, still there is a sweet honey like hue of twilight pervading in the nature. In front of the house in the muddy floor of the yard, a neem tree, with lower part of the trunk, is surrounded by mud wall on all four sides. In this time, a cold breeze blows from across the mountain streams. Budhdha baba every day at this time sits under the neem tree and talks to his brother on video call. Budha Baba’s brother lives in Jaisalmer.

Sanghamitra looked at it once and covered his head and face with her veil and left the house. Today is Maha Shivratri, her mother along with their neighbor women has gone to perform puja at Bholenath temple on that hill; her father is not at home for the last three days; in the middle of every month father goes somewhere for three-four days keeping his employees in charge of the shop, then comes back again. Since Mithila’s departure, no one in this house speaks openly in front of her. Her parents have changed somehow these days. Since the disappearance of Mithila, her mother has increased the ritualistic jargon of puja, she now observes Vrat about three days a week, then breaks Vrat by going to the temple with her neighbors in the evening. Now at home no one talks to anyone unless necessary, but even though everyone has changed, Sanghamitra has not. If everyone changes, then their true existence cannot be retained. Thinking the words in mind, she walks towards the market. There is no attempt of development by the government here, the road to the market is through the desert all around, but there is no paved road in that sense. Peacock’s screams are coming from all sides. There are so many neem trees around this area; peacocks are sitting on these trees. Ahead there is Raja’s house, one of the few Muslim houses in this predominantly Hindu area. As she passed by Raja’s house, she saw a deep well (idara) in front; someone is sitting on the couch of an ancient temple by the side of this Idara. It is dark all around, so one who is sitting there is not clearly visible. Seeing Sanghamitra coming, the man stood up, came forward and walks towards the back of the temple with her. There is no one here, the surroundings are silent, only the call of the peacock can be heard. It was quite dark behind the temple now. Sanghamitra said, “Sarmad, it is not safe for me to stay here with you, hurry up.”

Sarmad took out a small thing wrapped in paper from his pocket and handed it to Sanghamitra and said, “Hope you have watched the video well?” Sanghamitra nodded in agreement and said “Yes I watched. But did you come just to deliver it, or do you have other plan?”

Sarmad said, “What would you do knowing that? Complete the task that is given to you first.” Sanghamitra walked out of the back of the temple in a hurry with the bag on her shoulder; it was very difficult for her to walk on the rocky path, but she had to endure this difficulty to reach the destination. Kerosene lights are burning in small mud huts far; in this region electricity was cut off for ten to eleven hours a day at a stretch; today is Shivratri. When Mithila was there, Maa used to spend the whole night in the temple on Shivratri, but nowadays Maa has changed. She doesn’t spend long anywhere without her.

It won’t be possible to stay out for long; she walked very quickly towards Nagarparkar market. When she was close to market then the electricity connection re-established, and the market in the distance sparkled; she entered the market scanning all around. Market shops are illuminated. She quickly walked through the alley and reached a dark place; there in the darkness she started knocking at the door; after knocking several times, a middle aged lady opened the door and said with a smile, “Hey Sanghamitra, come, come inside.” When Sanghamitra entered the house, the woman hugged her and said, “I really can’t wait for it anymore; I will be truly carefree if the nikah is done soon.” Sanghamitra said, “Ammi, I have already become one of your family by my heart and soul, I myself also do not like to come here hiding myself anymore like this.”

Raja Dahir - Bengali book
Maharaja Dahir – A novel authored by Debasree Chakraborti in Bengali language

The lady wiped her tears and said, “The coming day of jumma (Friday), everything is being arranged.”

“You know, my daughter, in our religion, when both husband and wife follow the Sunnah of Rasool (Prophet, PBUH) and his Companions, peace, joy and happiness will flow in their lives.”

Sanghamitra’s eyes twinkled. She insisted, “I myself am fully prepared mentally to accept Islam.” Hearing this, the lady raised her hands and said, “May Allah Ta’ala (Allah, The Great) grant taowfik (endurance) to all the husbands and wives of the Muslim Ummah to live according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. Amen.”

Sanghamitra also joined her hands and said Amen, and asked, “Ammi, where is Ahmed?”

The lady smiled and said, “He is there where you have met so far.”

The house is surrounded by a high earthen wall, a large courtyard, on one side of the courtyard; there are small houses made of bricks and mud, with thatched roofs. From inside of these rooms, electric light falls on the outer courtyard. Sanghamitra knows where she has to go. She quickly walked into a room and saw Ahmed is working on the couch with his laptop. Seeing Sanghamitra entering the room, he quickly got up and went to the door and closed it, then the two embraced.

Ahmed says in a choked voice, “Sanghamitra, this moment is like jannat (Heaven) for me. Just five more days, then on the day of Jumma we will be united.”

At that moment the bell rang in the market temple of Nagarparkar. Shivratri puja started in the evening. Sanghamitra saw Ahmed’s mobile phone next to his laptop. She said, “Today mother has gone to the temple to offer shivratri puja, I left budhdha baba alone and came running to meet you; my tongue is getting dry, will you bring some water?”

Ahmed held both sides of Sanghamitra’s cheeks with both hands, looked into his eyes and said, “This thirst won’t quench with water alone, I am thirsty for almost eleven days now; you have to quench my thirst before leaving!”

Ahmed replied while quenching his thirst, “My aunt’s sons have come as refugees from Raqqa, Syria. They have been invited tonight.”

Saying this, Ahmed left the room. Ammi’s kitchen is far away from this room; there is a huge earthen pitcher; it will take four to five minutes for Ahmed to fetch water from it. At this time Abbu stays in the Masjid and Ammi never come to this side when Sanghamitra comes to this house. Sanghamitra kept her eyes on the window and saw Ahmed walking towards the washroom. Very little time in hand, she quickly picked up the mobile phone from the side of the laptop, opened it, stuffed the device given by Sarmad into it, closed the mobile and put it back in its original place. The task was not very easy, but after Sarmad sent her a video on WhatsApp, she completed the task very easily. This house has fast internet connection throughout the day. Even if the electricity goes out, fans and laptops can always be run in Ahmed’s room. After finishing the task, she gasped and looked at the laptop to see a web page open, which had written about the suicide bombers, Sanghamitra started to go through the web page; suddenly she heard Ahmed’s voice, she stood up. Ahmed came and put a glass of water in Sanghamitra’s hand and shut the door and turned off the light in the room. A nice aroma of pulao and gosht (Rice and Meat) cooking are coming in the room.

Ahmed said while untying the pajama rope, “Mahemans (Guests) are coming in a while, hurry up.” Sanghamitra asked keeping the laptop aside and lied on the bed taking off her pajama, “Guests? So late at night?”

Ahmed replied while quenching his thirst, “My aunt’s sons have come as refugees from Raqqa, Syria. They have been invited tonight.”

The cot is making creaking noise on the floor, when they heard the knocking on the outer door. Ahmed got up quickly, gasping and said, “Sanghamitra, today you leave; only five more days left to nikah; it is better that we don’t meet before.” Ahmed left out of the room refastening his pajama; Sanghamitra stood in front of the window; she saw, when Ahmed opened the door, fifteen people entered the house, and their faces are fully covered with black cloth. Sanghamitra took a picture of the website still open on Ahmed’s laptop with her mobile phone and quickly stood by the door again. When Ahmed took the fifteen people to the living room on the west side of their house, Sanghamitra quickly left the house. Now the shops in Nagarparkar bazaar tend to close after sunset. All except a few shops are closed; Sanghamitra walks out of the dark lane and crosses the road towards her home. Shivratri puja is going on in the market temple; the dark desert starts after crossing the market. Walking through such a dark and rough path reminds her of Mithila. These days, the mind has also become very strong, tears don’t usually come to eyes, but while walking on this dark path, tears came to her eyes today. From Dadaji’s she hears about Lakshmibai, the queen of Jhansi, who fought with the British to protect her kingdom. Today she feels herself like Lakshmibai; she has almost sacrificed her life to save the dignity of women of her community; she doesn’t feel at all doing all this with Ahmed. But she considers all this as a part of the war against the enemy. She is just fighting like a soldier. While thinking all these, she was passing by the Jain temple, when Sarmad came from the side and stood beside her. Being conscious of Sarmad, Sanghamitra got surprised and said, “You are still here!”

Sarmad said, “Fifteen Islamic State militants went to Ahmed’s house for dinner. There is a secret meeting there today. After you came out, two more people went there; it is not clear who they are. Did you understand something?”

Sanghamitra’s blood get boiled up, as she suspected; it might be about to happen. She said, “Before I left, Ahmed was looking at a site regarding suicide bombing on his laptop; I think they are going to attack by sending a suicide bomber somewhere. I have taken a picture of the site; I am sending you on WhatsApp.”

Fifteen Islamic State militants went to Ahmed’s house for dinner. There is a secret meeting there today.

Sanghamitra sent the picture of that website on WhatsApp and deleted all the messages to herself and said, “It is done, now I have to return home, mother may have come.”

Sarmad said, “On the way back from the temple to the village, there is a big peepal tree; someone killed a herdsman and hanged him; the Nagarparkar police has now closed that road. Chachi (Aunt) will not be able to return before tomorrow morning. You go home, I am accompanying you to some distance.”

Sarmad and Sanghamitra are moving ahead; the light of Hindustan from beyond the barbed wire of the border falling on the sands of Thar of this side; they are moving ahead; the trilling of crickets is emerging from the bushes nearby. (Continues)

Click here for Part-I Part-IIPart-III Part-IV Part-V Part-VI Part-VIIPart-VIII Part-IX Part-XPart-XIPart-XIIPart-XIII Part-XIV Part-XV Part-XVIPart-XVIIPart-XVIII Part-XIX, Part-XX


Debasree Chakraborti - authorDebasree Chakraborti is a renowned novel writer of Bengali language. Based in Kolkata, West Bengal, India, she has done Master’s in Modern History from the Kolkata University, and authored some thirty books, mostly the novels, with historical perspective and themes. Her most recent novel is ‘Maharaja Dahir’ that covers the history of Sindh from 662, the year of first attack on Sindh by the Arab armies till date.

Rajesh Giri - TranslatorRajesh Giri, born in Kolkata, had his early schooling from Kolkata and then from Medinipur—a village in Bengal. He graduated from Calcutta University with Physics and Maths and Master’s from Burdwan University in 2016. Now he is associated with Adhdhyaan educational institution teaching Physics. History enthusiastic Rajesh Giri is particularly interested in the ancient civilization of India and other regions like Egypt, Mesopotamia, and North America. He loves traveling.


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