Idle gossip and character assassination are perhaps the easiest things. But, do we ever realise its consequences. Subhajit asks a pertinent question in the short story.
“Did you hear about that girl’s murder last night?”
“How? I didn’t know that!”
The whole of Rani Rashmoni Lane had gathered at Jharbati, the house of Mohini Sen. Mohini had been the butt of gossip for the last three years when she came to this house. An abominable woman (as considered by the women of the lane), she didn’t have any moral restraint. Her eye-catching beauty, her voluptuous figure called for menacing looks from the men of all the ages, leading to such remarks out of envy from their women. Naturally, the sudden death of such a famous lady of the town left the people in shock and it didn’t take much time for the news to spread. Some stated that it was an obvious incidence done out of rage, the women being blank and very few sighed, looking at her corpse lying at the courtyard.
The police had arrived and had already begun searching the house to find out clues and anything that could have a relation with this suicide (interpreted as a murder by the residents of the lane). Mohini had hung herself from the ceiling fan using her sari that night; nothing could be found out from her room. Few constables were trying to control the panicked crowd and the officer was busy interrogating the servant, Madhablal about the previous night. During his investigation, one of the constables came with a piece of paper and informed that it was found inside a diary kept at the kitchen and that it was a suicide note. The officer was about to open it when the crowd, outside, broke through the barricade and entered the house.
“Will you please tell us what, exactly, has happened? Have you found out the killer? We also need to look at our safety, Right?! We live here with our families. Who knows what happens? “Who told you that she was murdered? She committed a suicide!”
“Whatever! We have been living here for years but nothing of this kind has ever happened o…..”
“Okay, Okay! Wait! See, this is the suicide note that she has left. I am going to read this to all of you. I hope this clears all our doubts.”
The officer had begun reading the letter. The crowd, that was howling few minutes ago, was then eager to hear the contents of the read. The silence was being rhythmically broken by the pattering drops of water from a nearby tap. Only the officer and the tap spoke, none else.
“I won’t be disturbing you again. Neither will this letter reach you. I just want to say that I didn’t deceive you in these twelve years of our love and marriage. I wanted to make you realise your faults that I could also walk down the dark lanes. That’s why I left my house every night, not to entertain the males but to save my brother. Ask the doctors at the hospital about my brother’s ailment. Where would I get so much money? So I opted to sing at the bar. What else? You think I didn’t try for a job? Well, thanks to people like you. Taking advantage of lonely girls is what they have also learned. From how many wolves would I escape? Yes! I sang all night and came home at dawn. The person who dropped me was my friend, not my bed-mate. The bartenders paid me more respect than you all. I was not taught wrong at the orphanage, all the flaws belong to you and people like you, either predating on us or beating us to death. You think I didn’t know that you were here? I have known you the best of all others in all these years. So, I kept misleading my neighbors to save them from the tedious task of pretending and lying to you about me, thinking, “If me being bad saves my child, then so be it.” But what did you do? How could you? To punish me, why did you take my only ray of hope away, by running over him?! Didn’t you feel guilty? Didn’t your conscience speak to you, being his father? What was his fault? Did I know you wrong to this extent?
“My brother’s friends have taken the responsibility of curing him. I am now relieved. But a life without purpose is no life. When the reason lives no more, what is the use of this living? It is better to be absent than living alone.
“Stay blessed, stay happy. Give your new family a better life than what you have given me.
“Komol (Mohini Sen)”
A silence, full of words, full of revolts, brewed in the air of courtyard. It was broken by the women neighbors who sat near Komol’s body, gently browsing their fingers over her head and lamenting. The neighbors had turned red in shame and speechless after listening to the letter.
“We didn’t ever expect this to happen, couldn’t ever imagine. What a pain she carried with her all these years and we…”
Sighs! “If we could interact with her just for once…”
Komol had lived a perfect life. She began her new life with gossips when she started residing at the lane and so did she, at her sunset. She was a matter of gossip for the residents in these three years and would remain the same, lingering, even after her rest. Unlike a celebrity, Mohini, turned to be a spicy gossip of the town.
In fact, gossips are spicy.
Note: Mohini: Seductress, Jharbati: a fusion/bunch of lights, Komol: soft and tender, Rani Rashmoni: She was a zamindar’s wife, the landlady, founder of Dakshineshwar Kali Temple.
Pix from Net.
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