Bamboo Flower, a novel – Part 52
By Akendra Sana
“Bamboo Flower”, serialized here, is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual person, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental
contd. from previous Sunday
“The Voice” was now doing reasonably well, which of course only meant that it was self-sustaining and he did not have to worry about the overheads unlike on many occasions in the past.
And it was nice that Priyo had taken interest in the details of the enterprise.
He now wanted to do something more to combat the rats menace again. He wanted to scour through all the written information he had received recently to find solutions that were more effective. The bamboo, “Lai-Wah”, introduced by Nini was useful only in the granary. What reaction paddy had with the bamboo twig or how the rats avoided the place was something he knew he would never know.
But then, he also within himself knew that Bamboo had that inner strength to withstand the change of flowering and regenerate. Decay was not permanent. Rats were strong in their own ways but they had never been strong enough to destroy bamboo as such.
However, there was already an urgency to do something. Only yesterday, did his mother tell him that Tomba was very upset because of the rats. It seemed that there was a promising pumpkin plant in the south-western corner of their backyard and that Tomba had spotted some rats near the plant.
Everybody knew the amount of time Tomba spent in that corner of the garden. He had taken care to water and put manure to nurture the plant since he must have thought that it was in a portion of the backyard not touched by the rodents and that the plant would bear fruit.
Mornings were for clearing any unwanted growth as Tomba went about nurturing the plant. Grass took no time to take roots. He took care to develop the clear portion around the plant into a nourishing loamy patch. It soon had a darker shade compared to the surrounding background. Watering was done both in the mornings and in late afternoons.
After a long time of disuse of his skills, Tomba seemed to have awakened to a new calling. It must not have been easy for somebody not to be able to work on the soil when he knew what all could be done on a fertile plot of land. In the entire struggle, Rajen went through to control the rats he had never thought of what someone like Tomba was going through.
Tomba would not even allow anybody to get near the pumpkin plant in his eagerness to make it strong. The early monsoon had, one day, covered the patch with water with the tender stem of the young pumpkin plant in the middle of the pool. He took the tenderest care to drain out the water to the nearby southern open drain. It took almost two days to dry and to regain the original nourishment.
The pumpkin plant was a little shoot when Tomba first discovered it. Training and experience told him that he could nurture it. In fact, he desperately wanted to do something satisfying and this was the right opportunity. It has been long since he last tried growing anything because of the rats. There just was not any safe place. Therefore, when he found that the rats were not to be seen near the young pumpkin plant, he wanted to take the plunge to nurture it to full growth.
He used to take out the garden implements to tend the plant as it was growing. The two and half month of tending was now showing. A beautiful “Sana Mairen”, Sana is gold and Mairen is pumpkin when translated, was there. This was a species of pumpkin, which had a rich golden hue flesh, and was considered a superior variety amongst people who knew vegetables.
He was waiting for the day, it had to be morning, and the pumpkin would be ready to be plucked and taken in. Those were exciting days. He would clean the skin of bird droppings when he went near the pumpkin every morning and every late afternoon.
Indeed, it was early morning when he saw what he did not ever want to see. Tomba just could not believe what was there. The full-grown pumpkin was half eaten by who else, the rats. The rich golden hue of the pumpkin flesh was so strong and so fresh that he could not take his eyes off for a very long time.
This was an unusual situation now. The spoilt pumpkin at home had made everyone upset seeing Tomba trying to overcome his very private grief. In office, Priyo kept on talking about the rats, crows and owls of Nini, explicitly expressing his unwillingness to carry such stories any more. Rajen knew that he could not say anything more convincing for Priyo to understand than what he had already said. He still genuinely felt strongly that they made a refreshing change from the regular dose of hard news of violence in the neighbourhood and corruption in the centres of power.
And as he read every new piece that Nini sent, he used to wonder if writers also had something like method acting. He did not know why but he had by now started wondering if Nini would write about Tomal Shegaiba or Tombi Angaobi or for that matter about the spoilt pumpkin. But then he knew it was not possible. He had only himself to blame for thinking on such lines. So whether a writer had to experience hunger to write about poverty convincingly or to experience such intense feelings of love, grief, happiness, sorrow or hatred to write about them more intensely, he knew he would never know.
To be contd…
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