Embrace the nine spiritual days of Durga Puja (Navratri) with a beautiful dialogue between a forest ranger of Sundarban and writer Somashis Gupta. The quest of a mysterious lady acquitted from murder charges, leads the writer to a tri-Nayana (the third eye) woman empowered to destroy evil. Does the lady symbolise the modern-day Sita and Durga?
“Calcutta HC acquits the Goshaba murder accused from all charges.”
This headline piqued my instant interest while sipping my Makaibari. No not just the news, but the picture attached with it. It was of a lady clad in a red saree, her hair was unbound which gave her a wild look, yet her silver nose rings depicted domestication. She looked very familiar, but to whom?
“Hello! Dada, how are you?” Imran answered my call with a warm welcome. Since it was springtime now, I intended to honour his long-pending invitation. Imran was the forest ranger of Sunderbans.
“I am good mate, was thinking of a trip to Sundarbans,” I said
“Oh! Finally? I am so happy Dada, when do you plan to come?”
17 hours later, I was driving to Godkhali, where a pontoon boat awaited me. Shamiron Haldar, the beat officer, greeted me with a salute as I boarded.
“Do you know about this lady who was acquitted from murder charges recently?” I asked Shamiron while crossing the Bidyadori.
“Murderer? Don’t say murder, Sir she is our rescuer; she saved us”
“Really? How?” I was somewhat surprised.
“You will come to know with time.”
With an early walk in the bungalow’s courtyard, I saw the cough flowers still had the dews on, and I said Ah!! Kash. I decided to have tea in the neighbouring shop.
Boloram Ojha the shop owner, seemed quite friendly; I asked, “Boloramda do you know about the lady in this news?” showing him the paper cutting.
“Yes, Babu, we all know her.” Said the man.
“Do you know her house?”
“She stays…..” Boloram paused as he saw Imran approaching, who said, “Dada, I was looking for you, come; let’s go, will show you around.”
My restlessness with each passing time increased. 4 days have passed since I read the news, and yet no information about the mysterious lady who looked so familiar. I decided to ask Imran.
“Any idea about the lady recently acquitted from the murder charges?” I asked over breakfast.
“Oh, you read about it? She killed Hundur”. Imran said
“Who was Hundur?” I asked.
“He was a mafia leader who destroyed anyone who tried to stop him. A demon who was involved in all kinds of anti-social activities. I am happy he is dead.”
Imran continued, “he was a master of disguise, so it was difficult to catch him, but still, we managed to arrest him several times, but due to the support of Lokesh Dhali the MLA, he escaped the law.”
“Wow, sounds quite a story. Can I meet this lady?” I asked
“I don’t know where she stays, Dada.”
I was determined to meet her as if some external force was hauling me. But how? I wondered as I walked through the fisherman’s village where I found some light from Ampayana Majhi, an old fisherman. He said.
“Babu, you are looking at the wrong place. She does not stay here.”
“Where does she stay?”
“She used to stay here with her parents, Jagarnath and Maynavati. I remember how she acquired the wisdom to control the tri gunas. You know Babu, I have never heard anyone chant AUM better than her.” Ampayana continued “In fact, she was the centre of attraction of the entire village. With her company, we all attained spiritual consciousness. Shee gave us the sense of discrimination to overcome negativity. She even taught us pranayam for generating energy.”
“Wow, quite a woman,” I said
“There is more, I remember how confident she was, and she increased her consciousness to the higher state of existence, experiencing pure bliss and thus always was fearless to fight any evils.”
“You make her sound like God”, I laughed. “Anyways, do you know where she stays now?”
“She fell in love with Rudra. She was extremely loyal and dedicated to the man, so she went with him to stay in the forest after their marriage.”
“The forest?” I was surprised
Ampayana laughed and said, “Yes, Babu forest, for a man like Rudra staying in the forest is obvious.”
“He is into meditation and naturopathy. The clamour of the village disturbs him”
“So, are there no tigers there?”
“Of course, but they learnt the art of living with nature.”
I narrated the entire incident to Imran and asked him to arrange a boat for me to visit the forest. But to my disappointment seeing the forest was strictly prohibited.
I was upset, agitated; I had to find a way to visit the jungles. What if I hired a private boat? With such thought, I went to Ampayana.
“I cannot take you their Babu, too risky.”
“But why? I will pay you handsomely.”
“No, Babu, I will not go” He was pretty firm and left my company.
“Babu”, an old man approached me “, I will take you, but I have a dinghy boat.”
Kevat was waiting for me at the jetty. His boat seemed as weak as him, but for me it was the most luxurious cruise. I saw the boat was loaded with a barrel of drinking water, a wood oven and some food supplies.
“How long will it take us?” I asked
“We should reach there by dawn tomorrow.”
Finally, our Titanic sailed at 3 in the evening. I should have informed Imran about this voyage but realized he would have never agreed to such a crazy idea.
Kevat was rowing the boat, and I could see civilization slowly vanishing down the horizon as we reached Matla river. The river gets its name from the turbulent waves, which behave like dipsomaniacs, and soon I realized why. This roller coaster ride was no fun in the small boat, which went on endlessly.
“HELP” I heard Kevat and saw him struggling in the water. “Help” again, he shouts, but this time weaker before disappearing in the waves.
It was dark. I tried to reach the ore, but another wave overturned the boat completely, making me struggle for dear life; the end was near I realized. I found a log from the dinghy and tried to hold on to it before losing consciousness.
THE 9th DAY
“….ashwagandha…..jal….manjistha … “
Hearing these voices, I tried to open my eyes ..couldn’t..tried to look again and saw I am lying down in someone’s lap …I turned and saw…
….it was her the mysterious lady, but she is no longer mysterious she is someone I have seen many times….she is ….she is.
Relating to Ampayana’s words. I saw her ‘tree gunas’ symbolizing the Trishul, ‘chanting of AUM’ – the Conch Shell, ‘centre of attraction’ hence Chakra, spiritual consciousness’ – Lotus, ‘sense of discrimination’ symbolized by Sword/Kharga, ‘generating of energy’ -Bow and Arrow, ‘confidence’ – Thunderbolt, ‘Consciousness to a higher state of existence’ – Snake, ‘Fearless to fight evil’ – Axe, ‘Love and dedication’ symbolizing Mace/Gada.
“Joy Jogindro jaya mahamaya , Mohima ashim tomar….”
Featured Image : Digital illustration using original photographs by Subhashis Munshi and Raunak Sarkar (www.instagram.com/_raunaksarkar_)
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.