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Bindu’s Son: Sarat Chandra’s ‘Bindur Chhele’ (Chapter – 2)

May 15, 2024 | By

LnC brings you Bindu’s Son, Lopamudra Banerjee’s translation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novella Bindur Chhele — a beautiful story of a mother’s unwavering affection for her son. Enjoy Chapter – 2 of this unusually moving, emotional saga of love, sacrifice and pure human bonding, published every Wednesday as a Special Series 📖💕

Continued from Bindu’s Son: Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Four years later, Amulya’s haate-khori ceremony was celebrated in a grand manner, marking his first initiation into the world of reading and writing.  The very next day, Annapurna was busy in the kitchen the whole morning, and then, Bindubashini summoned her. “Didi, Amulyadhan is here to offer his pranaam to you, do come outside,” she said.

Annapurna came outside, and was pleasantly surprised to see Amulya all decked up. He had kohl in his eyes, a tilak in his forehead, a gold chain in his neck, and his hair tied, like a crest on the head of a bird. He was wearing a yellow printed cloth; in his hands, he carried an earthen ink-pot tied to a rope, while in his arms, he carried a few palm leaves wrapped in a tiny mat.

“Amulya dear, please stoop at Didi’s feet and offer her your pranaam.” Bindu instructed, and the boy obeyed his aunt.

Annapurna was astonished that Amulya didn’t wear socks and shoes today, nor was he dressed up in western attire. She laughed to see his new get-up and said: “So you are capable of this too, Chhoto Bou! Is the boy going to study somewhere?”

“Yes, I’m sending him to the pathshala (village school) of Ganga pandit…Please bless him, Didi, so that this special day in his life becomes fruitful!”

She turned to her servant now and instructed: “Bhairav, listen, you must request Pandit Moshai specially in my name, so that nobody beats up my boy.”

She went up to Annapurna again and said: “Didi, take this five-rupee-note and arrange for an offering neatly… you can send the money to the pathshala through the hands of Kadam.”

She planted a kiss on Amulya’s cheek in deep affection and lifted him in her arms.

Annapurna’s eyes gleamed with moist tears; she turned to the Brahmin cook woman and said: “Look at her, she is so busy with her ‘son’, even though she didn’t carry him in her womb. If she did, God knows what else she would do!”

“I think that might be the reason why God didn’t give her a child; she must be eighteen or nineteen, isn’t it?” The cook replied.

Bindu, or Chhoto Bou didn’t let the conversation gain any momentum…In a few minutes, she returned alone and asked, quite animatedly: “Didi, why don’t you request Bor Thakur (elder brother-in-law) to construct a pathshala in front of our house? I can invest all the money required to finish it!”

Annapurna laughed out loud at such an outlandish suggestion. “Chhoto Bou, the boy hasn’t even walked beyond a few steps, and you changed your plan so soon? Why don’t you go along with him, and sit with him inside the school?”

Bindu felt embarrassed. “My plans haven’t changed, Didi! But I can’t help thinking of my boy…To have him distanced from my eyes, and in front of my eyes are so much different, isn’t it? There are so many naughty boys around, what if they bully and beat him up? He is so much younger than them!”

“Let them!” Annapurna retorted. “Boys beat up each other all the time! Besides, all children are the same, Chhoto Bou, if their parents can risk their lives and send them to school, why can’t you do the same?”

Bindu didn’t like the idea of comparing with others one bit. With discontent brewing within her heart, she replied: “Ah, what are saying, Didi? Suppose, someone pokes his eye with the edge of a pen, what will happen, tell me?”

Annapurna realized the workings of Bindu’s mind now. She laughed and replied: “If such a thing happens, you will consult a doctor! But let me tell you the truth—I wouldn’t have imagined such an incident even if I wracked my brain for seven days and seven nights! Good Lord, so many children go to school every day, I’ve never heard them poke each other’s eyes with a pen in all my life!”

“Can’t such an incident occur only because you haven’t heard of it? Who can say what might happen by chance? Okay, just discuss it as a suggestion for now, then we will see what happens…” Bindu said.

Annapurna replied with a solemn voice: “I can well imagine what is going to happen! When this thought has crossed your mind, would you leave without making it a reality? But let me tell you, I’m not going to talk about such a queer proposal! But why don’t you tell it yourself…It’s not that you don’t talk to him!”

Bindu was visibly annoyed. “Oh yes, then I’ll have to take the plunge! I can’t send my son so far away from me every day, whether you all like it or not, whether he can continue his studies or not, I don’t care!” She blurted out, and turned to Kadam, the maid. “Kadam, didn’t I tell you to go away and arrange for the offering for the pathshala? Why are you still standing here like a fool?”

Annapurna noticed Bindu’s angry demeanour and got busy again, starting to following her instructions. “Wait, I’m getting it ready! Chhoto Bou, don’t be so impatient! Let me ask, won’t your son never grow up? Would you be able to keep him protected under the anchal of your sari forever? Why don’t you think about that?”

Bindu didn’t care about replying to her sister-in-law’s remarks. Instead, she called out for Kadam. “Kadam, go and give the offering to Gurumoshai, the teacher and bring back my son, after pouring some dust from his teacher’s feet on his head! Tell Gurumoshai to come and visit me in the evening!” She added in exasperation: “How would I hammer some sense in somebody who wants to remain ignorant? If I say, someone might bully and beat up my little boy, pat would come the reply: Would you be able to keep him protected under the anchal of your sari forever? For your information, I didn’t come here to seek your advice about what I would be able to or unable to do, did I?”

She went away from the scene hurriedly, as soon as she was done with her fiery remarks, not even caring to wait for a suitable reply.

Annapurna stood still, surprised and shocked. Kadam said, looking at her: “Don’t keep standing here any longer, Ma! You never know, she might come back again any time… Once she is determined to make something happen, even the Almighty cannot deter her from her path!”

That very night, Bindu’s elder brother-in-law was reclining in his bed after consuming his daily dose of opium, with the tube of his hookah tucked in his mouth. Just then, he heard a loud, ringing sound at the door.

Jadav opened his eyes with a lot of effort and asked: “Who’s there?”

Annapurna came to the room and declared: “Chhoto Bou has something to tell you, listen to her.”

Jadav sat up with conscious effort, getting to know of Bindu’s presence. “Chhoto ma, what is it?” He asked, curious.

Jadav was extremely fond of his younger sister-in-law Bindu. Bindu, however, didn’t speak; Annapurna spoke on her behalf: “She has a feeling that Porro and the other boys will poke her son’s eye with a pen, so you need to build a pathshala (school) inside our house.”

Shocked and afraid, Jadav dropped the tube of the hookah from his hand and asked: “Who poked his eye? Let me see how it is!”

Annapurna picked up the tube and laughed: “Nobody poked his eye yet! She fears if someone does it…”

Jadav stabilized himself and heaved a sigh of relief. “Ah, I see, it’s a hypothetical situation! I thought someone really…”

Bindu, who was hiding away at a distance, was exasperated beyond measure at Annapurna’s words. “Didi, didn’t you say you would not bring yourself to talk about such a queer, outlandish proposal? Why did you come to talk about it, then?”

Annapurna had figured out herself that the style of her talking wasn’t appropriate, and that it wouldn’t have good consequences. She was literally scared to decipher the deep nuances of the low voice speaking to her. Instantly, all her anger was directed towards her innocent husband; she confronted him and said: “All along, I knew that opium interferes with the eyesight of a man, does it affect his hearing too? What did I say, and what did you hear? ‘Let me see how it is!’ Why? Did I tell you, Amulya has been blinded by an attack? Good Lord, what a terrible plight I’m suffering!”

The quiet, peaceful Jadav was rather intoxicated after consuming opium, but after all this, his intoxication was getting over. At the end of his wits, he asked: “Why? What happened?”

Annapurna replied, annoyed: “What has happened is wonderful! It’s really a nuisance talking to such a man! It must be the suffering of my sins!” Telling this, she left the room in a mad fury.

Jadav asked Bindu: “Ma, can you tell me what happened?”

Bindu hid herself at one corner of the door, and replied softly, “If we could have a pathshala at one side of our store outside…”

“Well, it’s not a big thing at all! It can be done certainly. But who would teach your boy, in that case?” Jadav replied.

Pandit Moshai, the teacher himself had come today. He said, if he gets ten rupees as his salary every month, he can bring the pathshala here and start working. But it is my request that funds should come from my own money that is in the bank, as the interest amount.” Bindu said.

Jadav was happy at this proposal, and assured Bindu: “All right, Ma, I will arrange for some folks to start the work from tomorrow…If Gangaram can start his pathshala here in our property, it is indeed a good thing!”

Bindu’s anger diminished, getting to know of her elder brother-in-law’s instructions. She entered the kitchen with a smiling face and noticed Annapurna sitting there with a glum face, while Kadam, the maid, sitting close to her was making strange gestures with her face and hands, as if explaining something serious. As soon as the maid saw Bindu entering, her face turned pale as she uttered: “Good Lord, there she is,” and abruptly ended her remarks.

Bindu was clever enough to gauge that they were discussing about her only. She confronted the maid and asked: “Good Lord, tell me what you were explaining just now!”

Kadam’s voice became parched in terrible fear. She gulped a lump in her throat and uttered incoherent words: “No, Didi, it’s just that…Boro Ma was telling…suppose…”

Bindu interrupted her and said in a stern voice: “Go and do your work now!”

Kadam didn’t utter another word and ran away from the scene, relieved.

Bindu came up to Annapurna and said: “I see, the advisors of Boro Ginni are quite efficient! They should have a salary hike from now onwards, they deserve it!” When she was a happy soul, she referred to Annapurna as Didi, but whenever she was angry or annoyed, she addressed her as Boro Ginni, the elder mistress of the house.

Annapurna, flabbergasted at Bindu’s gesture, replied: “Go, go and tell your elder brother-in-law about it, he might sacrifice my head for it! And to think of that man, and the way he indulges you! He might utter at that very moment: ‘What did you say, Ma? Yes, you’re so right, Ma!’ Let me tell you, Chhoto Bou, never in my life have I seen someone as fortunate, as privileged as you! I wonder what great luck you were born with, all people in the house shudder in the fear of your presence!”

Bindu, though feeling a bit angry with her sister-in-law’s accusations, laughed to notice her gestures and the way she talked. “But you aren’t afraid of me, are you?” She asked in jest.

“Who said I’m not?”  Annapurna replied. “The one who doesn’t bleed in his chest, seeing you in your feisty, temperamental avatar is still in his mother’s womb, I say! But listen, this temper of yours isn’t good for you, I warn you! Are you still a kid? If you could have children, you would surely be a mother to four-five of them by now…But then, why would I only blame you alone? That old man who pampers you day and night is the one responsible for everything!”

Bindu replied: “I admit, Didi, that I was born with a great fortune! Many of us are lucky to attain wealth, prosperity and a luxurious life, and that isn’t really a big deal…but having such a God-like elder brother-in-law is my great Karma, the outcome of my rigorous Tapasya (penance) of many births and rebirths!  It’s my destiny, Didi, what would you gain in envying me for this? But I will beg to differ with you…He isn’t the one who spoiled me and pampered me to no ends, but you!”

Annapurna waved her hands excitedly and said: “Me, of all people? Nobody can make such a statement about me! My reprimanding acts are very strict to say the least…but then, my ill luck, nobody seems to be scared of me! Even the servants and maids dare to quarrel right in front of my face, as if they are my masters, and I, their obedient servant! If it were anybody else, such acts would not be tolerated…”

Bindu giggled loudly while Annapurna rambled on. Then she replied: “Didi, you truly belong to the older era, the Satya Yug, why did you have to be born in our times? Why, no servant ever dares to quarrel with me, or even in front of me!” Suddenly, she came closer to Annapurna and kneeled down in front of her. She wrapped the shoulder of her elder sister-in-law with her two hands and demanded: “Didi, tell me a story!”

Annapurna shoved her away angrily. “Go away from here!”

Meanwhile, Kadam, the maid came running, and announced: “Didi, Amulyadhan has cut his hand in the nut cracker! He is crying in pain!”

Bindu stood up instantly and raised her voice. “Where on earth did he find the nut cracker? What were you all doing?”

“I was making the bed in the other room, Didi, I didn’t know when he entered Boro Ma’s room and…” Kadam tried to explain.

“All right, all right! Go away now!” Bindu shouted and left the room in a fury. After a while, she came back with little Amulya in her lap, tying a wet cloth around his bruised finger as a bandage to heal his wound. “Didi, how many times did I ask you to keep aside dangerous objects like the nut cracker? This is a house with a child, isn’t it?” She said.

Annapurna replied, annoyed. “What outlandish suggestions you come up with, Chhoto Bou! Would I lock up the nut cracker inside the iron chest just because your son can enter my room at any point?”

Bindu retorted in terrible anger. “No, no…from tomorrow, I will tie him with a rope, I tell you…then he cannot enter inside your room!” Saying thus, she stormed out of the room with the child.

Annapurna addressed the maid: “Kadam, did you hear what she just said? Have you ever heard that a nut cracker is locked up inside the chest?”

Kadam tried to utter something, but stopped suddenly, with her mouth agape.

Bindu came back to the kitchen in her usual feisty self and declared wrathfully: “If I ever see you discussing our talks with the servants and maids as your mediators, I warn you, I’ll go away to my parents’ home with my son!”

Annapurna replied: “Go away, if you wish! But let me tell you, we will never bring you back here then, even if you bang your head and beg to come back! Remember that!”

“I don’t even want to come back!” Bindu said, and stormed out of the room with a sombre face. After a couple of hours, Annapurna stepped inside Bindu’s room with loud footsteps. At one corner of the room, there was a table and there, Madhav Chandra, Bindu’s husband was studying the papers of a court case. Bindu, on the other hand, was reclining with Amulya on the bed and telling him stories.

“Come and have your meal now.” She ordered Bindu.

“I’m not hungry.” Bindu replied.

Amulya quickly wrapped his arms around his aunt’s neck and said: “Chhoto Ma won’t eat today, please go!”

Annapurna scolded him severely. “You keep your mouth shut! This boy is the root of all evil! Chhoto Bou, what a spoilt, pampered boy you are raising! You’ll suffer the consequences, I say! You’ll cry then and acknowledge that I said the right thing!”

Bindu whispered something in little Amulya’s ears, and he shouted: “Will you go now, Didi? Chhoto Ma is telling me fairy tales!”

Chhoto Bou, it will be good if you come to eat right now! If you refuse me, I’ll make sure that both of you are banished from this house by tomorrow! Change my name if I won’t do that!” Annapurna ordered rather angrily, and stormed out of the room.

“What happened to you both?” Madhav asked, curious.

“Nothing new, just the usual outburst of Didi’s anger!” Bindu replied. “You know, I just told her to keep away dangerous objects like the nut cracker from kids, and that seems to be my greatest offence! Hence such an outburst!”

Madhav got the drift and replied: “Go now, and do as she said…Don’t create a ruckus anymore! The way Bouthan (sister-in-law) is treading her angry footsteps in the house, Dada might wake up any moment.”

Bindu lifted Amulya in her lap and went towards the kitchen.

Bindu’s Son Special Series is published every Wednesday.

Click here to read the chapters

Sarat Chandra Bindur-Chhele (Bindu's Son) english translation


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Lopamudra (Lopa) Banerjee is an author, editor, poet and writing instructor staying in Dallas, Texas with her family, but originally from Kolkata, India. She has a Masters in English with thesis in Creative Nonfiction from University of Nebraska and also Masters in English from University of Calcutta, India. Apart from writing and editing some critically acclaimed books and being awarded with the Reuel International Prize for Poetry (2017) and for Translation (2016), she has dabbled in all genres of writing, from journalism and content writing to academic essays and fiction/poetry. She has been interviewed in various e-zines, literary blogs and also at TV (Kolkata) and at radio stations in Dallas, Texas. Very recently, she has been part of the upcoming short film 'Kolkata Cocktail', a docu-feature based on poetry, but her love for writing feature stories go back to her journalism days when she interviewed people from all walks of life and wrote essays and articles based on them. She loves performing poetry as spoken words art and has performed in various forums in India and USA.
All Posts of Lopamudra Banerjee

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Today’s Motivation

<div class=at-above-post addthis_tool data-url=></div>A part of us is aging, the body; however another part is still young, the mind. Learning wonderful new things is an ongoing and a never ending process.  The satisfaction that comes along with lifelong learning is immense.<!-- 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 -->
A part of us is aging, the body; however another part is still young, the mind. Learning wonderful new things is an ongoing and a never ending process. The satisfaction that comes along with lifelong learning is immense.