ইংরেজী সাহিত্যের ছাত্র হওয়াসূত্রে সবসময়ই বাংলা গদ্য লেখার আগ্রহ ধরে রেখেছি। কারণ ইংরেজী আমার মায়ের ভাষা নয়। ঔপনিবেশিক ভাষায় সাহিত্য চর্চা আমার পক্ষে সম্ভব নয় বলেই আমার বিশ্বাস। তার পরেও নাতিদীর্ঘ প্রবাস জীবনে আমার অ-বাংলাভাষী বন্ধুদের আমার বাংলা উপন্যাসের মলাট আগ্রহভরে ছুঁয়ে দেখতে দেখেছি। ওদের অনুরোধেই ইংরেজীতে লিখতে হলো। আমার ইংরেজী জ্ঞান সামান্য। এতটা সাহস দেখানো উচিৎ হচ্ছে কী না জানি না। তবে আমার বিশ্বাস অন্ধ হলেও প্রলয় বন্ধ থাকে না। তাই আমার প্রথম ইংরেজী উপন্যাস "দ্য ডেইলী ব্ল্যাক বেইরী"-র প্রথম কিস্তি তুলে দিলাম আপনাদের জন্য।
মন্তব্য দিয়ে আপনাদের প্রতিক্রিয়া জানানোর পাশাপাশি ব্লগে চোখ রাখুন আমার পাতায়। পুরো উপন্যাস আসতে থাকবে ক্রমশ:।
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The Daily Blackberry
By Maskwaith Ahsan
( All characters and events are fictitious. Any resemblance to any one alive or dead is mere coincidence. The author cannot take responsibility for his vivid imagination.)
Lucifera walks as if he is swimming in the wind. An old-fashioned man, always suited & booted, his Chaucer English resounding Beowulf, Luci is fond of talking. But he is a tedious talker of the empty-vessel genre. Now you may ask who is Lucifera and why am I talking about him. Is he a character out of Dr Faustus?
Good question. Our Luci is a sleep-walker still haunted by the colonial century. A man who missed the ride out on our time-machine. Hairstyle that reminds of Joseph Conrad's anti-heroes, and a fetish for African food, commonwealth women and blackberry. He boasts of his blackberry as Moses' stick -- a 24-hour-schizophrenia to rule his colony. Till the age of 50, Luci's character was as good as that of Mr Bush: the only monogamist man in the world of Laura. Past 50 Luci tries to add some romanticism to his failing humours: he follows Gordon Brown's hairdo, memorises toxic paras from Don Juan and forgets his lunch-hour if there is a young commonwealth girl sitting across him.
But don't mistake. Luci is a self-made man, started from big zero and approaching an even bigger one. Fishing was always his favourite past-time, but now he doesn't need to visit Scotland or North Sea resorts; colourful fish are easily catchable in his dry office room, his neo-colony, the daily blackberry. Check out Luci's list of catch for the day.
Dialogue with Islam
A four foot eight girl, secular, forward-looking and an emancipated Muslim. Naina alias Nanny, wearing a tight white T-shirt with President Musharraf ambushed on the chest and hipster jeans for the rest. She is a bold campaigner of the war against terrorism, a great admirer of Musharraf because he played a major role in dismantling Taliban hangover in Pakistan.
Lucifera stares at this young star, spellbound and motionless -- short height but what a long sight into politics. "I have good news for you Nanny. You will get the job."Nanny waves her eyes from behind specs, not knowing how to thank this pre-old man. "But how? I can't write.""Leave that to me darling. You can think, that's enough for us.""Luci, I know a lot about honour killing too."Nanny appears almost in tears, "Do you know how badly subjugated are they. Our male-dominated Muslim society treats them like slaves. An inch across the social borderline and the mullah's spell out fatwa to kill them publicly by stoning."Nanny bursts out in tears. She wails and murmurs for Muslim women. Luci holds her hand, sympathises on her shoulder and promises: "Nanny, you are our symbol. You will break the silence. Blackberry will offer you a strong platform."
Gandhi Ji Seeks Appointment
Luci hates when the phone rings in the middle of his absorbed discussions on honour killings or the war on terror. His secretary reminds him of Rakesh's appointment."Tell him to wait."Rakesh, a senior journalist, has to wait for goddo. Busy with Nanny, Goddo was trying to make her laugh at old Reader's Digest jokes. The door suddenly opens. Out comes Nanny looking like a happy bride with a smiling Goddo smiling beside her. "Nanny, come to me any time you like."With the same wave of his head Luci changes the geography of his jaws, swallowing his smile before turning to Rakesh. "You have got only ten minutes."A tribute to the 60th year of Indian Independence, Rakesh is working on Gandhi Ji's philosophy. Why not? After all, Rakesh boasts of an uncanny resemblance to the great leader: semi-bald-headed, round specs and the simplicity of proletariats."You have prepared a story on 1946," asks Luci."That's 1947, the year of Indian Independence.""I know, my grandfather was a British soldier stationed in Delhi at that time.""Will you take a look at what I have written.""I am busy right now. Don't get so emotional about the half-naked leader. Make the article short and dry. Is that clear?"Rakesh has no choice but to understand, as Tahmida, another commonwealth young girl, is already hanging by Luci's door. Walking through Lucifera's long corridor Rakesh has a smile of a son who never had a father, just like that of Gandhi Ji's.
Nobel Laureate Prof. Yunus, the banker of the poor, thinks that poverty is Third World's capital. Indeed, the poor look on Tahmida's face, a lower middle-class helplessness enveloping her body, relay her capability of drawing the attention of the World Bank or IMF. Our own World Bank chief, Wolfowitz, read Lucifera, anxiously asks Tahmida, "What ails you, why do you look shaken and dazed.""I can't do night-shift. I am ill. The doctor says I need an operation."Tahmida starts to cry, shaking and sobbing with the fear of the illness-monster. Luci doesn't know how to cry but he gives it a try. "don't worry, have patience, have faith on me. Now give me a smile. The same dazzling smile you gave me on the piano evening."The compliment alone appeases Tahmida's pain. "Luci, there is a mobbing structure in my section. I was scolded by my section-chief for coming late to work. You know we got home late after that piano evening.""Don't worry, I'll take care of that old hogger. Media scenario is changing fast and there's no room for the oldies here. You are young, I will crown you darling. You are such a gem. If I could clone you, blackberry could topple the herald Tribune. Poor eyes glittering like marbles, Tahmida laughs. The room shivers with the echoes of a running horse. Lucifera's warm hug engulfs her in a closeness of a demi-god."My mentor, my Luci."On her way out Schmidt's feels her forehead for heaviness of the promised crown. It was a bird-twittering summer evening. She pinched an SOS SMS: "Will you not visit me at the hospital?"