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

Maharaja Dahir Sen – Resurgence of Sindh – Part-III

Maharaja Dahir Sen – Resurgence of Sindh – Part-III

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 

Venue – Gandhi Memorial Hall, Delhi

Time – 2018

It’s six o’clock in the evening now, just half an hour before the show starts. This is the most important period of time. Bapi da says that this particular interval acts as a conjuncture, the right moment to forsake of one’s own present identity and to detach oneself with the circumstances around, and become moulded into the very character of the play. Closing the door of the dressing room he sat before the mirror. At this time, no one will come here. Before every show, Bapi-da’s strict instructions must be followed by everyone in the group. Now the tube light in this room has been turned off, only the light bulbs around the mirror are burning, in the midst of this bright light, as if a magical illusion is being projected in the mirror, in which every incidents of the drama continues to play in sequence.

The character he is playing today is drenched with a bloody history related to his own life. A large walled courtyard of a four-storied house, in which a group of men of various ages standing in a row, with darkness of death in their eyes and face, a black owl sitting on the branch of a bur-flower tree at a corner of the yard is wailing continuously, the foxes outside too getting intoxicated and impatient to taste fresh human flesh and blood, are yelling from the bushes around. They hide themselves for this particular dark moments of night. From a five-year-old child to a ninety-year-old man all are waiting for a terrifying moment. At that moment, there sounds a gunshot and the entire canvas has been covered with blood and guts of the men, and from behind the bloody screen, deadly screams of women and the toxic frenzy of a group of ghouls are emerging out, in a few moments bayonet thrusts create a round hole in the middle of the canvas, covered with bloody entrails, through which a new born baby gushes out along with stream of blood, having the festering marks of bayonet stabs all over its body.

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

Amidst of this bloody imagery, the new born baby project itself in a map of a new country. Closing his eyes for a moment, he saturates himself with the entire content, then, darkness appears all around, the first bell of the show rang.

From the beginning of the play to the end, he is in a daze, at the sound of the first bell he heads for the stage, the passage from the make-up room to the stage is terribly dark, this path can be compared to the darkness of the mother’s womb, the path through which an actor descend on the stage of life. The identity of the past, everything has to be cast off behind like a slough. Like every other time, Panchajannya Sen has shown the ultimate manifestation of his soul strength in the role of Major Vinayak Batra in the drama ‘Ekattar’ directed by Bapi Bose.

This particular play by Bapi Bose has been going houseful for the last two years. After receiving the ‘Mahendra Excellence Theater Award’ for the best play of this year, they have been invited to a drama festival organized by the National School of Drama in Delhi. Today, the festival was auspiciously inaugurated with their play. At the end of the play, like every time, he stands silently in the middle of everyone, at this time a strange expression can be seen in his eyes, this moment of Panchajannya can only be compared to the expression of spiritual power that can be seen in the body language of a meditating yogi after coming out of his meditation. He does not want to stand on the stage anymore after the end of the play. This time he prefers to sit in the make-up room quietly. But every time at the end of the show, Bapi da would come up on the stage to praise his drama and panchajanya, then he gets exemption. Today is no exception too.

After the play was over, Bapi Bose, after introducing each of his crew to the audience, said, “If one wants to experience the strength of theatre, one has to watch ‘Ekattar’. Every character in this drama is based on real life, my childhood friend Vishnu Sen’s family was attacked in Mirzapur, Bangladesh in 1971; this drama is the picturization of the terrible consequence of this family. My priceless achievement is Panchajannya, Vishnu’s only son, who has played Major Vinayak Batra, the main character of this drama. I have never seen an actor like Panchajannya in my thirty years of stage-life. He poured himself out completely while acting. Getting fully into the character and presenting that exactly is not acting, but worship. The pursuit of Panchjanya’s excellency is resulted to the winning of the Mahendra Excellence Award for ‘Ekattar’.”

After Bapida’s speech, the theater hall erupted with applause from the audience. Then slowly the crew left the stage. Panchjanya comes to the make-up room and closes the door and sits quietly. Every time Bapida arranges a separate make-up room for him. Although Bapida is his father’s friend, everyone calls him Dada, so he has also become Panchajannya’s Dada. There is no room for personal relationships here, Panchjanya doesn’t care about these little things at all; he has an uncanny ability to adapt to any environment. This is why he can easily get along with everyone and after a few days of association, the people around him tend to be controlled by him. In this way, besides acting, he does not forget to collect his personal privileges. A little later the make-up artist would come to remove his make-up, but before that he spends this ten minutes in seclusion. After sitting in front of the mirror for a while, there was a knock at the door.

Panchajanya expected the make-up artist to came, so he said, “Come in.” The door opened and two men entered with Bapida. Sometimes Panchajanya gets very upset and irritated with Bapi da because of some of these problems. To raise funds for the next play, he even agrees to sell himself, but there is no point in blaming Bapida, this is how the theater has to go on to survive, sadly there is no way out. Panchajanya assumed that these two men may have agreed to invest money in the new play and they are both his fans, so maybe Bapi da has brought them to meet him under some duress.

“The whole family of your grandfather was killed by Khan’s soldiers, his two sisters were brutally raped day after day and stabbed to death. Your grandfather is still carrying this pain in him. We are offering you the opportunity to take revenge to this insult to your family, as not everyone gets such chance.”

Panchajanya prefers to carry on the day-to-day performance of his personal life off the stage very gracefully. He can control and manage his personal feelings beautifully as the environment and situation changes. He looked at the two men with a smile on his face, standing up like a Hero. One of them gestured Bapi da to leave the room.

Bapi da turned back and told while leaving quickly out of the room, “Shut the door from inside, talk freely without worrying, no one will come here while I am there.”

“Bapi da has a personality problem, the guy is so crazy about theater that he can do anything for it.”

Panchajanya seems to be as Noti Vinodini himself, what a great sacrifice she had to make to keep this theater alive! In this era, actors also have to be exploited in various ways, did Bapi da has any such intention?

The second person lifted the door latch from inside and looked at Panchajanya and said, “There is nothing to fear, you sit first.”

Panchajanya is being asked to sit in his own make-up room! Also their body language is completely different from ordinary people, these two are looking at him in such a way, it seems that they are also reading Panchjanya’s mind. It is difficult to look at them for a long time, but Dadu says, “You shouldn’t show your weakness in front of anyone, as long as there is life in the body, you have to maintain the courage and strength of the mind.”

Panchajanya keeps sitting with his eyes closed. Now the first person said, “We are from ‘Worldwide Alliance for Reconnaissance’.”

Panchajanya with astonishment, “WAR! The most powerful international intelligence agency!”

The first person nodded yes.

Panchajanya has a deep fascination towards the mysterious activities of this organization. A friend of Bapida, Jitender Kaushik used to work for this organization, Jitender Kaushik’s life inspired him a lot, his self-sacrifice for Mother India is memorable.

Panchajanya controlled his emotions and said quiet normally,”But what can I do for you?”

One of the two said: ”We are looking for a suitable person for one of our special missions, your acting performance and personality attracted us to you. We first watched your performance two years ago, then have come to you today after your surveillance completely for the past two years.”

Panchajanya thinks of himself as very clever and intelligent, but he is unable to figure it out that how has he been under surveillance for the past two years without his notice. There is a lot of excitement he is feeling inside, controlling which he said, “But can I do such kind of job?”

The atmosphere inside the room is very mysterious, in the light and dark atmosphere around the mirror, everyone’s faces look different. The atmosphere is very quiet for a while, except the hissing sound of the fan circulating in the room.

After remaining silent for a while, one of them said, “The whole family of your grandfather was killed by Khan’s soldiers, his two sisters were brutally raped day after day and stabbed to death. Your grandfather is still carrying this pain in him. We are offering you the opportunity to take revenge to this insult to your family, as not everyone gets such chance.”

Another said, “Observing your performance in this drama, it is understood that you too still carry that insult in your heart.”

Panchajanya expressed his surprise and said, “But how did you know my grandfather’s mind?”

One of them laughed now, there was a terrible cruelty in this laugh. Laughing he said, “Every evening for the last two years a man goes to play chess with your grandfather, you know him?”

Panchajanya realized that he was completely trapped in their moves, there was no other way out of it. He said, “This person came to Delhi two years ago after being posted from Bhopal, now he has rented a house in Chittaranjan Park, he met Thakurda through Facebook.”

“Yes, everything is happening two years ago. Your grandfather now visits his house sometimes, he has told many secrets of your family to this person. That’s why we come to know.”

Two people stood up and said, “You have very little time in your hand, what you decide, tell by tomorrow morning.”

When they were going out, Panchajanya stood up and said, “How to let you know? Give your contact number.”

One of the two approached Panchajanya and said, “Your Thakurda is now at his dear friend’s house, today there is a special chess game. The competition is on, two more friends of his best friend are present there. Tomorrow morning when they will go to your house to drop your grandfather, you will open the door by yourself. That would be your consent.”

They both left the room and closed the door. Panchajannya dialed his Thakurda from his mobile, the phone is ringing and his heart rate is increasing.

After ringing several times, Thakurda picked up the phone. Before Panchajanya could say anything, Dadu said, “The game is at its pinnacle, don’t call now, we will talk tomorrow.” Saying this he hung up the phone.

In a few minutes the events happened as if everything was very normal, it was his duty to accept such normal situation and to adapt with it. (Continues)

Click here for Part-I , Part-II


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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