Stay tuned to our new posts and updates! Click to join us on WhatsApp L&C-Whatsapp & Telegram telegram Channel
L&C-Silhouette Subscribe
The L&C-Silhouette Basket
L&C-Silhouette Basket
A hand-picked basket of cherries from the world of most talked about books and popular posts on creative literature, reviews and interviews, movies and music, critiques and retrospectives ...
to enjoy, ponder, wonder & relish!
Support LnC-Silhouette. Great reading for everyone, supported by readers. SUPPORT


August 14, 2013

On entering the gate, I heard a muffled cry. No, it was not emanating from the bushes around. It seemed to be coming from the depths of the past, from times that now belong to history.

By Banaphool
Translated by Subhajit Ghosh
Taj Mahal

It now seemed as if Shahjahan and Mumtaz’s dream was beckoning me. I was spellbound! I kept on looking in amazement.

The first time I went to Agra was to see the Taj Mahal. I still vividly remember the grand view that the Taj presented even before I reached Agra. The train was getting closer to the town when a fellow passenger shouted out loudly, “Look there, you can see the Taj Mahal!” I obeyed that order instantly.

The view of the Taj, in broad daylight, from a distance, was anything but inspiring. It seemed a pretty ordinary monument. Is this Taj Mahal?

Yet, I kept on staring. After all, it’s the Taj Mahal! Shahjahan’s Taj Mahal!… late evenings found captive Shahjahan sitting on the verandah of Agra fort and looking wistfully at the Taj… Taj was the memorial to his beloved Mumtaz… Besides Mumtaz another man lies buried… possibly still his body is there… by the side of the Taj. Dara Sheikh. Soon, this ordinary looking monument went out of view.

It was the day after full moon. The moon was not visible as yet. That day, towards late evening I went to see the Taj for the second time. I can still remember that experience. On entering the gate, I heard a muffled cry. No, it was not emanating from the bushes around. It seemed to be coming from the depths of the past, from times that now belong to history.

Slowly, I inched forward. Soon the minar, minaret, the tomb became visible.
The moon appeared. It now seemed as if Shahjahan and Mumtaz’s dream was beckoning me. I was spellbound! I kept on looking in amazement.

A few days had elapsed since that date with the Taj. Which contractor had earned how much from the Taj, which hotelier turned into a millionaire because of the Taj, which rickshawpuller extracted exorbitantly from innocent tourists — all that has become stale news for me now.

I have seen the Taj several times, watched the monument touched by the different shades cast by moonlight, as much as by the light, during the seasons, morning, noon and dusk. I have even watched it on new moon nights. at dusk and dawn, that it no longer appears extraordinary to me now.

I am working as a physician in a clinic at Agra. Taj Mahal attracts me no longer. But one day — okay, let me start from the beginning.

That day after my duty at the OPD, I was coming down the steps taking off from the verandah, when an old mussalman came in through the gate. He was carrying a huge sack on his shoulder. He was barely able to carry the massive load. I thought he was a fruit seller. When he lowered the sack, I found he wasn’t. What he held was a burkha clad woman.

The man approached me, gave me a salaam and in chaste Urdu said that he had carried his begum on his shoulder for medical check up by me. He was poor. He couldn’t have paid my fees had he called me to his house. That’s why he brought her there. If only I would attend on her! His eyes begged.

I went near and smelt the stench. After taking her inside my clinic I removed her burkha (she protested a lot. Then I knew the source of the foul smell). Half her visage has become festered. Her right face was badly disfigured. Her protruding teeth added to the ugliness. It was extremely difficult to bear such horrid smell. This patient carried through great distances on shoulders by her husband, couldn’t be treated effectively unless she was admitted.

But there was no room to take her in. So, I arranged a makeshift bed on the verandah of the hospital, temporarily. But I couldn’t keep them in the verandah for long. The stink became more intense and intolerable. Other patients voiced their protest. Even the compounder, dresser and the sweeper refused to go near her.

The old mussalman remained unruffled. He was all along looking after his wife with outmost care. When everyone protested, I had to remove them from the verandah. There was a huge tree near my clinic. I asked them to stay under its shade. And they stayed there. Everyday the man came and took the prescribed medicine from the hospital. At times, I went to administer her injections. Days sped.

One day, it was raining heavily. I was returning from a ‘call’. I saw the old mussalman standing there in the rain. He had tied a shawl to the end of a tree and was holding the other end in his hands. Beneath the shawl, sat his begum. Unhesitatingly the man stood there trying to shield his wife in this manner.

I turned my car. Just a shawl could hardly protest his begum from this downpour. I found her completely wet, and she was shivering. She smiled in a diabolical manner. I checked and noted that she was running a high fever. I said “Bring her to the verandah of the hospital.” The old man asked “Does she have any chance to survive, huzoor?”
I had to tell him the truth – “No.”

The old man stood there silently. I came away. The next day, I found the old mussalman and his wife had disappeared from there.

A few days later, I was returning again after attending a ‘call’. While coming through a field I sighted the old mussalman. He was engrossed in something, so deeply engrossed that he seemed immune to the scorching heat of the sun. What was he doing? Was it in any way meant to help his dying wife? I inched forward. He was making something with bricks and mud.

“What’re you doing, miya sahib?”
The old man got up and respectfully gave me a salaam.
“I’m burying my begum, huzoor”
“Yes, huzoor”
I stood there silently for a while. Then I asked him, “Where do you stay?”
“I move in and around Agra. I beg for my survival, huzoor”
I said, “Strange, I didn’t see you before in Agra. What’s your name?”
“Fakir Shahjahan”
I was stunned. I found no words to react.

About the writer: Banophool (1899-1979) was educated at Patna Medical college. His real name was Balaichand Mukhopadhyay. He was a qualified pathologist. But perhaps, he was more gifted in writing remarkable stories. His noteworthy novels includes ‘Jokhom,’ ‘Soptorshi,’ ‘Dana’ (all in Bengali) and many others. Winner of several prestigious awards, he was conferred the Padma Bhusan by the Indian Govt. in 1975. Several of his novels have been made into films, noteworthy being Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome, Tapan Sinha’s Hatey Bazare and Arohi, and his real-life brother Arabindo Mukhopadhyay’s directorial ventures like Agniswar and Kichukhon.

This short story was first published in (between 1999 to 2002).

Silhouette Magazine is a platform for gathering myriad views on film (and allied art forms) and to continue with the flux of discourse. The Silhouette publications are our attempt to achieve this goal.
All Posts of LnC Silhouette Magazine

Hope you enjoyed reading...

... we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting our creative, informative and analytical posts than ever before. And yes, we are firmly set on the path we chose when we started... our twin magazines Learning and Creativity and Silhouette Magazine (LnC-Silhouette) will be accessible to all, across the world.

We are editorially independent, not funded, supported or influenced by investors or agencies. We try to keep our content easily readable in an undisturbed interface, not swamped by advertisements and pop-ups. Our mission is to provide a platform you can call your own creative outlet and everyone from renowned authors and critics to budding bloggers, artists, teen writers and kids love to build their own space here and share with the world.

When readers like you contribute, big or small, it goes directly into funding our initiative. Your support helps us to keep striving towards making our content better. And yes, we need to build on this year after year. Support LnC-Silhouette with a little amount - and it only takes a minute. Thank you

Support LnC-Silhouette

Creative Writing

Got a poem, story, musing or painting you would like to share with the world? Send your creative writings and expressions to

Learning and Creativity publishes articles, stories, poems, reviews, and other literary works, artworks, photographs and other publishable material contributed by writers, artists and photographers as a friendly gesture. The opinions shared by the writers, artists and photographers are their personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of Learning and Creativity- emagazine. Images used in the posts (not including those from Learning and Creativity's own photo archives) have been procured from the contributors themselves, public forums, social networking sites, publicity releases, free photo sites such as Pixabay, Pexels, Morguefile, etc and Wikimedia Creative Commons. Please inform us if any of the images used here are copyrighted, we will pull those images down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Today’s Motivation

<div class=at-above-post addthis_tool data-url=></div>Learning quotes on growing up and helping others.<!-- AddThis Advanced Settings above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Advanced Settings generic via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons above via filter on get_the_excerpt --><!-- AddThis Share Buttons below via filter on get_the_excerpt --><div class=at-below-post addthis_tool data-url=></div><!-- AddThis Share Buttons generic via filter on get_the_excerpt -->
Learning quotes on growing up and helping others.