Bamboo Flower, a novel – Part 24
By Akendra Sana
contd... from last Sunday
Priyo and Johnny wanted changes at “The Voice”. For Rajen, it was status quo as long as he could bear the occasional loss and could write the editorials.
The conversation they had regarding the property and the possible new construction was uppermost in Rajen’s mind even though there was work together.
The cousins were fully aware of the wishes of their grandfather. Yet, a town house was different from what would be there in the village. If grandfather Ibobi were alive and given the circumstances he would have asked them to sell off the property in the village to buy a piece of land in the town either together or separately for the two cousins.
Now things were different. The two young men did not even appear confident to make a successful transaction, even if it was only to sell and buy.
It was beginning to appear that the possible new construction in the southern part of the plot was the only common interest for the three young men. It always used to be Johnny and Priyo expressing their eagerness to have the new construction started and for Rajen to tell them that the rats menace had to be tackled first before any new venture.
‘How about leaving this place for a while?’ Johnny was provocative as he wished to be seen looking for answers except that it elicited a sharp ‘WHAT?’ from Priyo.
Johnny did not stop and said, ‘What I meant was that we all could evacuate for some time, smoke out the rats and then return after they are taken care of.’
Rajen, who was quiet all this while, slightly raised his voice and said, ‘Don’t you think we should do everything possible to combat the menace head on?’
‘Abandoning the place does not ensure that the rats would be gone after some time’, he continued.
‘Yes, we cannot be irresponsible to simply leave and wait for better times,’ Priyo joined in.
‘And yet of course we cannot possibly be making as much effort as Brother Rajen would want to combat the rats.’ Priyo continued. Both Priyo and Johnny were not fully convinced that the rats problem was as enormous and serious as Rajen had wanted them to believe.
‘It is true that the rats cannot be subjected to attempts to control them from a distance. But are we sure of what have brought the rats in such large numbers? Can it not be the ready availability of food? If there isn’t anybody their supply of food would be curtailed and their number may reduce.’ This was now Johnny reasoning.
‘What are you boys discussing? You don’t leave your parents even if they are terminally ill. I don’t know what has become of you. The land you inherit is as good or as bad as your parents are.’ None of them could be sure when Thoibi came in and what exactly she had overheard. However, it was certain that she had at least overheard what Johnny had said.
There was not going to be any interesting change, thought Priyo. He was now appreciating the merit of what Johnny had said when aunt Thoibi interrupted with her parents and land. Yes, leaving the place for some time was definitely a calculated risk they could take, he told himself. He further reasoned to himself that there was a possibility of returning to a healthy piece of land, which could serve to be their home for the future.
So when Priyo and Johnny were together in the confines of their bedroom, they now shared a bedroom as most unmarried young brothers did, that evening, Johnny spoke out, ‘So, we are stuck. We can’t expect to have a new house built because of the rats, according to Brother Rajen. We cannot leave the place so that the rats leave. What do we do now? What are we waiting for?’
To his ears, Johnny sounded exactly what he felt like speaking out, thought Priyo. It was only that Priyo could not muster up that strength to speak out in so many words even in private. There seemed to be some affection and sympathy for Rajen, he told himself. He kept quiet and did not respond immediately.
Johnny did not say anything more but there were signs of frustration building up. He went up to stand on the foot mat and rubbed his feet as if there were stubborn dust on them although he had been using sandals all the while.
Priyo then said, ‘Let us make an attempt to talk to Uncle Prakash. We can find out if he can influence Brother Rajen.’
Prakash Singh, as a close friend of Priyo’s father in the past, still wielded a certain influence on the family. And this was a hesitant attempt Priyo had to make for his and Johnny’s sake.
‘We know that Uncle Prakash has a lot of affection for us. But will he make that extra effort for us?’ Priyo again spoke out.
‘Good. This will be something to find out if he really cares for us.’ Johnny opined, not sounding convinced.
It was decided that Priyo would approach him alone without the knowledge of Rajen, if possible. He of course would come to know from Uncle Prakash. Moreover, that would definitely send out the message that they were serious about this matter of the property, both of them reasoned.
‘Should we not speak to Aunt Thoibi before we do anything?’ This was a different voice from Johnny.
‘Why? It is true that we have not yet specifically spoken to her about this matter. But hasn’t she already expressed her wishes more than once?’ Priyo was to remind Johnny.
‘I can, of course, gather that she had said that there could be a new construction and that we should not abandon the place. But I still think that we must ask her how she would like us to settle down.’ Johnny gave focus to what they had been thinking.
‘How are we sure that she will not say that we should wait for the rats to cool down?’ Priyo queried.
‘Then, it is about time that we told them rats or no rats, we have to carry on with our lives.’ Johnny replied.
‘And isn’t it a little odd that it is this place which is most seriously affected by these rodents?’ Priyo could not help stating the obvious.
‘If we keep telling ourselves that the rats are dictating our lives, I do not know what future we have,’ Johnny said as if the future was suddenly more important than it ever was.
‘Johnny, let us also get this clear to ourselves that the rats are serious business and that we should also do something about them’, Priyo almost reprimanded his cousin.
‘Moreover, we need the support and cooperation of Aunt Thoibi and Uncle Prakash and of course, Brother Rajen if there has to be any change’, continued Priyo.
‘Here we are expecting Brother Rajen to condescend to go against his own interests. Let us not fool ourselves. Brother Rajen knows more than we do of grandfather’s wishes. So, is it a wise thing to try to seek Brother Rajen’s co-operation in this?’ Johnny grew more vocal.
‘You have had your say. Now let me say what I have to say.’ Priyo spoke up without raising his voice and continued, ‘Since we do know what were grandfather’s wishes, it will only be fair to seek the help of all so that a change can be made.’
‘So are we only going to wait? This is of course, what everybody will want.’ Johnny said.
‘I know that we need to know where we are heading. Then, we also need to be practical. We can’t be pushing really hard to achieve something that is difficult at a particular moment but may perhaps be possible at a later date. So should we not wait if we have to?’ Priyo reasoned
To be continued...
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