Translation of Narendranath Mitra’s Short Story
HEROINE Director Animesh Chaudhury came to Chitpur to sign a contract with Malati Mallik. He got an excellent opportunity to make his own film. Earlier Animesh was an assistant director. The producer, Boikuntha Poddar was a miser person. He gave only eighty-five thousands and demanded for a good movie. It was a challenge for Animesh. He had to face this, as he was a new filmmaker. However, he knew that he has to spend near of about one lakh. He needed to work hard to keep ahead. He did almost all the works by his own presence. From the initial stage he ran here and there, he gave hard time in almost every part of the work.
Malati was not so famous in acting, yet she had to play a minor character. The role was short that was the reason she was given that role. She had to play the role of a wife of a worthless husband, a mother of a hungry boy etc. But, Animesh did not get Malati, even after the evening at her home. The servant Khantamoni said, “She has gone outside with Babu*. Should I say something to her? ” Animesh gave a name card to her with pale face. That whole evening was spoilt. Vinoy Chakroborty, lived at Joy Mitra Street, was an old friend of Animesh.
Animesh used to visit his house frequently. His wife Labonno, offered him tea, coffee, including other delicious food. Animesh also gave them tickets of some new movies. He did not go there for a long time, as he was quite busy with his new direction and after returning from Malati’s house, he decided to go there to make himself free from these burdens for the moment. At least he would enjoy their company. He entered in a narrow gali*, where Vinoy lived in an old broken house. He was poor; he did not get any good job though he bore a good qualification.
Animesh enjoyed their company, as they were very simple. He could feel a simple generous affection from them, which he did not get from that miserable city. Some loud arguments were going on inside the house. It was stopped by the sounds of knock at the door. Vinoy came, “Who is it? ” Animesh called him by his name then Vinoy could recognize him. He opened the door and asked him to come in. But Animesh did not get that warm welcome which he usually got. He entered in the room. After entering into the room, he found nothing organized. Everything was misplaced.
The shirt was tasting the dust on the floor, some paddy corn made the floor golden, the broken mirror on the floor was reflecting lights here and there etc. Labonno was silent and sad. Animesh got everything from the situation. A few minutes back the tornedo of anger came and ruined the decoration of the room. Vinod gave a stool to sit. Animesh said, “I think I have disturbed you. It was in climax, I can guess all these from the unorganized situation of the room. Vinoy offered cigarette, both of them lit the cigarette. “I am fed up with my life. I was not aware of such problematic situations of family life.
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Which couple does not have sons or daughter? Whose son or daughter dose not suffers from disease? A father always does his best. I also did, but I have limitation,”- Vinoy said with a sad voice. Labonno was silent but listening to the words she shouted, “My son would have died due to typhoid. None thought that he will be alive. ” She pulled that little boy before Animesh and said in sad tone, “Look at my little son. Does he look like a normal boy? He can not walk properly, even he does not get proper energy in his left leg. I went to doctor, he advised to fed him well.
If he is feed well he will be recovered soon. That is why I asked him to bring Oval tine. But I did not know that a father can behave like this with an unfortunate son’s mother. ” At the meantime, the boy started crying. Perhaps he felt pain in his leg. Labonno took him in her lap and said, “My sona* … Do not cry… Your uncle will condemn you. Do you know your uncle is a good photographer. He will take your photos. Animesh, you have to take a good photo of my Bintu. Labonno smiled. That unexpected smile attracted Animesh. She was fair, tall and possessed a sharp nose.
She bore a different kind of sweetness in her face. She was nearly twenty-four. Moreover, her body was much more attractive than her face. Poverty could not loot her attractive beauty. Animesh was gazing at her and by observing this Labonno lowered her face and asked, “You have totally forgotten us. Why not, after all you have become a busy director. ” “Nothing like that baudi*”-He answered with a smile. “It is not fare Vinoy. You should take care of Bintu. Why did not you bring Oval tine for him? ”-He asked Vinoy. “Why did not you bring! It was not only Oval tine but the other commodities also.
You know, it is the last week of this month. I get only seventy rupees per month. I am not careless father but I can not. ”- Vinoy answered with tempted voice. Few seconds everything was silence but suddenly Vinoy strangely laughed and said, “If she wish more to take care of her son, she could have got son from a rich man, not from a clerk. ” “Listen to his vulgar words”-Labonno said. Animesh snubbed at him, “Do not speak rubbish! Where did you learn such vulgar words? ”Vinoy remained silent. Animesh was looking at him with compassion. He was not more than thirty but he was looking like a man of forty. Have you managed any part time job? ”-Animesh curiously asked. The answer came in negative. Labonno took out two cups, sugar and tealeaves from the selves and went out through the back door. The little boy hobbled towards the mother. Vinoy calmly said, “You have become director now, if you can give me any short role. ” Animesh laughed at him and said, “You want a role! You can not even speak properly before any unknown person and you want to act. Then I have to give you the role of a dead soldier. ” Animesh looked at him after his mockery and said, “How will you slay the slain?
A dead is always dead in real life and reel life. ” Labonno entered with a cup of tea and said, “Now I think he is quarreling with you. He has become so grumbled in these days that he can not think anything but quarreling. ” Taking the cup from Labonno, Animesh answered, “Actually he wants to act on screen. He would not be able to perform so but if you try, you can. I am sure about it. Do you wish baudi? ” Labonno laughed and said, “Is it so? Then definitely I wish, after all you are the doirector. ” “I am not joking. I am serious Vinoy. If you agree then I can give a short role to her. -Animesh. Animesh explained everything regarding the need of that character. Vinoy was laughing. What was wrong with that? In those days zamindar* women are also showing their interest in this profession. It was a very short role. Labonno had to be given a perfect role; a role of a diseased son. They had to give only four or five shots. She did not even have to speak more. She had to meet with husband only once. Most of the scene would be with an old doctor. Bintu would also act before camera. She would be paid more than three hundred rupees for that short scene. Three hundred!
Labonno could not speak for a long time but Vinoy and Labonno were staring at each other. She could pay all the dues which she took earlier for Bintu’s treatment, she could buy healthy food for him, new cloths she would give him also, she would open a bank account for her only son with twenty-five rupees. Labonno would buy new cloths for Vinoy to make him happy. At last, if Vinoy gave permission she would buy a new saree* for her. Although she knew, that Vinoy would buy a new saree for her. “You are joking. ”- Labonno said. Animesh answered, “I am serious baudi if you agree I can manage. ”
Before leaving the house, he again requested Vinoy to think over it. Vinoy had to take concrete decision before ten’o clock in the morning; otherwise, Animesh would sign a contract with another person. He had already finished half of the movie and rest of it should be finished within forty-five days. He could not delay more. “Labonno had agreed. ”-Vonoy brought the news in the early morning but he requested Animesh to change her name. “Is it your wish or her? If she becomes famous then you have to regret for it,”Animesh said with a smile. Malati had come to the studio at the middle of the day. She was above thirty.
She worn a multi coloured saree, her lips were filled with pink colour, and tried to cover the black shed under the eyes with powder. “You are late Miss Mallik. I have signed the contract with the other person,” Animesh surprisingly said. Malati also shockingly shouted, “What! You said me to come before twelve. Please…look at your watch. ” She showed her wristwatch to Animesh. “I have appointed a new person today in the morning, I was in a hurry. I have to start shooting from tomorrow morning. Apart from this, I think you are not perfect for this role of a mother Miss Mallik,” Animesh calmly clarifies the things.
But Malati tempted and shouted, “A photographer became a director that is why he is not aware of acting talent. Do not forget your position. I have walked over such irresponsible director throughout my life. One swallow does not make a summer, mind it Animesh. ” Malati left the studio and then it seemed that a village got relief from the storm. Vinoy once came to studio with wife and son to show them how things happen. All were very curious about it. There was only one day in between, no time for rehearsal. Bintu was a golden discovered, as the director needed a diseased boy. Fortunately, he got it in real.
Next day Animesh brought his friend, friend’s wife and son by his own car. Suddenly the director came across with Malati Mallik at the doorsteps of the studio. Animesh asked her the reason behind her sudden appearance in the studio, in a calm voice. “I have come to meet your new star,” Malati jealously looked at Labonno and said. Malati left the place after taunting him. Labonno asked Animesh, “Who was this lady? Why was she staring at me like that? ” “She is not an ordinary lady. She could take your position but I… ” rest of it he did not express. Animesh had explained everything to producer.
If Labonno could play the role then the producer had to pay less money and apart from this it would also be beneficial for promo of the movie, after all a daughter-in-law from respectable family would act on screen with her own son. “Laxmi* has appeared in my studio. How sweet her face is! Take her to the refreshment room,”The producer Boikunthababu* warmly welcomed her. The shot was ready. A lowered middle class family with a diseased son, he diseased son was lying on the old and dirty bed on the floor. Irresponsible father was somewhere enjoying with his friends. The doctor would not start his treatment if he was not paid.
Nobody would be there to call the doctor. The mother had to come to son and she had to go to the window to look for someone. She had only sect in her two wrists. There was necklace in son’s neck. He was crying that was why the mother gave him to wear. Would she remove that necklace from that sleepy sick son? Yes… She had to. She stole golden necklace from sona came out from the home at stormy night to call the doctor. All these were the first day’s take. Aimesh made her understand repeatedly. But Labonno could not. Her face reflected wonder but the shot needed extreme sorrow.
She was feeling shy as the other person present in the studio was staring at the new actress. At last, Animesh said with irritation, “Where is the time to be shy? Your son is suffering from disease. Go and sit beside him. ” Repeatedly Animesh made her to understand but repeatedly she failed to do that. She could not perform the shot. A strange fear gripped her. She even could not look anybody, not even her diseased son. Animesh took her to the rest room and said, “You could not baudi. ” Labonno lowered her face in repentance. Malati was sitting just beside the producer. She was laughing loudly to see the situation.
The producer requested her to act that particular scene. She could not deny the producer’s request, however she demanded thousand rupees for that particular scene. She came back from the makeup room in ten minutes. She harshly asked Animesh, “Where is your boy Mr. Director? ” There was no boy in the studio except Vinoy’s son. He agreed for benevolence. “Is this your boy? What can I expect from a clumsy director like you? How can I be his mother? I would not even touch that boy,” Miss Malati said in a high-pitched nasal voice. However, Malati acted that scene very well. Bintu started to cry but she managed it by giving him toys and paisa.
Then she started to take care of that diseased boy. Her acting impressed everyone. She did better than Animesh’s direction. “Don’t mind Mr. Director, after all I am his present mother. I know better than you that how to take care of a son,”Malati said with a light smile. She beautifully acted that ‘necklace scene’: “How can I steal this from my own son? ” Then she started sobering. Boikuntha also became compassioned to see this scene. That scene would be the best possible wealth of that movie. Everyone had accepted that. “Where is my check? ,” Malati spread her hands towards the producer.
Animesh happily congratulated, “I am really satisfied with your acting Miss Malati. How could you act such scene so realistically? ” “All this was because of jealousy Mr. Director. Hope you got to know that who is real mother and who is step,” She said looking at Labonno and left that place. Animesh wanted to leave them at their house but both Vinoy and Labonno disagreed by nodding their heads. Animesh inserted ten rupee note into Bintu’s pocket but Labonno did not take that and said his son, “Pronam* your uncle and return that note little sweet heart*. That is worthless for you. Uncle would give you chocolate later on. “I am sorry baudi. ” “Why should you sorry Animesh? ” Labonno calmly said and left that studio. That movie ran well for four weeks after the release. It meant Animesh was successful in his first attempt. Everyone had congratulated him but only Vinoy did not come. Animesh thought that they were bashful for the last time that was why he came to friend’s house with two tickets. Health was degraded, clothes were more dirty and old, the room was emptier, and some of the furniture were missing in that room. However, Vinoy happily welcomed, “Welcome Mr. Director. I thought you have forgotten us. ” I came to know you have earned fame in that movie a lot,” Labonno happily said. “How can you taste the sweetness of the sweet from other experience? Take your tickets, watch that, and say whatever you want to say. You can criticize also,” Giving the tickets Animesh said. Now his eyes on that naked diseased boy, he has become sicker. “He was not fully recovered baudi? Again any disease…” He could not finish his talk, somebody knocked at the door and a heavy voice was coming in. Vinoy looked at his wife and whispered, “Shit…! Shit…! ” “Who…? ” Animesh asked. Vinoy again whispered, “House owner, Govinda Pramanik.
He has come for the rent. I do not have the money. This month I did not get the full salary. They have cut as I took some earlier. ” Then he said to Labonno to said that he was not in the house. Labonno once looked at Animesh. Vinoy said, “Don’t be shy before him. He is my childhood friend. ” “Why should he believe you? He has listened to your voice,” Labonno said calmly. Vinoy fully covered his body with a gown, laid on the bed, and said, “Say him that I am seriously ill. ” Labonno went out to face that man. An old man entered into the house with Labonno. He would be more than fifty, healthy, and had gray hair. What happened to you, Vinoybabu? Fever…? ” The old man asked. Labonno said, “No uncle… He does not care normal disease. But he has vomited twenty five times from the last night. ” Govinda babu stepped back and said in wonder, “Twenty-five times? What are you saying? ” Animesh could recognize the effect and a kind of real reflection was floating over Labonno’s face for her husband’s ill situation. Govinda babu said in tense, “It is a very bad time. You have to take care of him properly bauma*. ” “No relatives are here, crisis of money and above all this problem. He is the only person who earns in the family.
I could not find any way that is why I called my uncle. Hope you have heard the name of doctor Madhu. Even he at first got nervous to see him. ” Labonno expressed all these with a broken voice. She uncovered Vinoy’s face, called him, and gave the news of Govinda babu’s arrival. “No…No…bauma. Do not disturb him. Let him take rest. I thought I would say him about the fare as it is already second month. I should not say today. I sent Binod but he did not get Vinoy. ” Govinda babu sadly said. Labonno replied that Vinoy himself would go to him and would pay his fare after his recovering. She also requested not to send Binod.
He was schoolchild and he should not waste time. Labonno suddenly said Animesh, “You know Animesh, Binod is a very good boy. He is calm and quite. Moreover he is an honest boy…” Animesh stammered, “Yeeessss…. That is right. ” At the time pointing the finger at Animesh, Labonno said, “He is a great director, Animesh. Vinoy’s childhood friend. He has come to meet with Vinoy after getting the news of his serious illness. After sometimes Govinda babu got up and said, “I have to leave today but if you please say him…” “Definitely uncle, when he will be recovered, first of all I will send him to you.
Please sit for a moment, let me bring a cup of tea for you,” Labonno said with a smile. But Govinda babu disagreed and left the house. Leaving the gown on the bed Vinoy got up and said Animesh that he was also a good director. Animesh was silent for a long time but now he made himself easy and said, “Yes, that is true but more credit goes to baudi. She does not need any director. Looking at Labonno he said, “You are in no portion less than Malati Mallik. Why did you scare that day? ” “Malati also would have scared in my place Animesh. She could not maintain all the things as I maintained.
She is the actress of reel life but I am the heroine of real life. ” The natural tear came to witness the real situation of real heroine’s life. I do not know who was greater but I can say that for Malati it was a mere profession but to Labonno it was for survival. *** *Babu- A respectable person. *Gali- A narrow path. *Sona- A call from the mother to express affection. *Baudi- Sister-in-law. *Zamindar- Rich and royal. *Saree- A cloth worn by women in India. *Pronam- A sign to show the respect to the elders in Hinduism. *Bauma- A affectionate call for daughter-in-law. ——- By, Eeshan Ali