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Bindu’s Son: Sarat Chandra’s ‘Bindur Chhele’ (Chapter – 4)

May 29, 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 – 4 of this unusually moving, emotional saga of love, sacrifice and pure human bonding, published every Wednesday as a Special Series 📖💕

Bindur chhele episode 4

Chapter 4

Jadav and Madhav had a cousin sister Elakeshi, the daughter of their paternal aunt, who was not solvent economically. Jadav would often send her money to manage her household finances. Since quite a few days, Elakeshi had been writing letters to Jadav expressing her desire to send her only son Naren to him for his studies. But one fine day, she herself appeared from Uttarpara along with her son. Nobody knew exactly what her husband Priyanath did in that town, but in a couple of days, he also joined his wife and son. Naren was a sixteen or seventeen-year-old boy. He would wear his dhoti with fat borders with multiple folds, that was considered quite fashionable, and would comb his hair at least eight to ten times a day. His stylish hair parting was quite a spectacle to behold.

After the evening, the women of the house were seated together at the verandah adjacent to the kitchen, and Elakeshi started talking about the extraordinary looks and attributes of her darling son.

“Which class are you in?” Bindu asked, inquisitive.

“In Fourth class!” Naren replied. “Royal reader, grammar, geography, arithmetic, decimals and lot of other stuff…You won’t understand all that, Mami (Aunt)!” He added quite haughtily.

Elakeshi looked at her son’s face with pride and said to Bindu: “So many books he reads, Chhoto Bou! A mountain of books, I must say.”

“Can you bring out the books from your suitcase tomorrow and show it to your aunts, my child?” She asked Naren.

“Okay, I will.” Naren replied with a nod.

“But it will take quite some time for him to pass his school, isn’t it?” Bindu asked, curious.

Elakeshi replied: “It wouldn’t take him long, Chhoto Bou…He would have passed not once, but at least four times by now! It’s only because of his wicked teacher that it hasn’t been possible yet…May he suffer the worst torment in the hands of God! He himself knows what an evil eye he has cast on my son…Is he granting him promotion to the next class every year? No, out of sheer envy, he is making my boy sit in the same class year after year!”

Astonished to hear this, Bindu remarked: “Is this true? I have never heard anything like that happen!”

Elakeshi replied: “This is real and this is what is happening to us! All the teachers in the school unite when it comes to bribing! I’m a poor woman, after all, how on earth would I obtain the money to bribe them, tell me?”

Bindu listened to all this silently. Annapurna expressed her heartfelt empathy, hearing the words of her sister-in-law and said: “Ah, such a pity! Is it fair to torture someone like this? Such an abominable act, really! But we are blessed that we don’t have to face such a situation here. Our Amulya is rewarded with good grades and brings home books as prizes every year; we don’t have to bribe anyone for this.”

Just then, Amulya appeared from nowhere and slowly sat on his Chhoto Ma’s lap. He wrapped his arms around her neck and whispered in her ears: “Tomorrow is Sunday, Chhoto Ma, can you please tell Master Moshai (tutor) to go away today?”

Bindu laughed and said: “This boy, I tell you, Thakurjhi (sister-in-law) is so addicted to stories, he wouldn’t go anywhere now!”

“Kadam, tell Master Moshai to go, Amulya wouldn’t take his lessons today!” She ordered the servant.

Surprised to witness Amulya’s childishness, Naren remarked: “Why Amulya, you’re a big boy now, and still you sit on a woman’s lap?”

“Only that? You know, every night he…” Bindu was giggling as she was about to disclose a secret.

Restless and embarrassed, Amulya shut her mouth with his hand. “No, Chhoto Ma, please, don’t tell!”

Instead of Bindu, Annapurna revealed now: “He sleeps with his Chhoto ma every night, even now!”

Bindu added: “Not only that, he still clings to me like a bat every single night.”

Terribly ashamed and embarrassed, Amulya hid his face in his Choto Ma’s bosom.

“Shame, shame! What a silly boy you are, really! Do you read English?” Naren remarked.

Annapurna replied on his behalf: “Yes, of course he does! He reads English in school all the time.”

“Really, he reads English?” Naren exclaimed, in disbelief. “Let him say the spelling of ‘engine’! I’m sure he won’t be able to!”

Elakeshi remarked: “Those are difficult words, and he is just a kid…How can he spell it?”

But Annapurna still implored Amulya to spell the word. Amulya, on his part, kept his face buried where it was.

Bindu pressed his head tight against her bosom and said: “How would he attempt spelling it if you all keep embarrassing him like this?” Then, she looked at Elakeshi and said: “He will pass next year. His tutor has predicted that he will receive a scholarship of rupees twenty, and you know what? He has decided to buy a horse with that amount of money, just like his uncle!”

Even though this was true, everyone thought it was a joke, and laughed at Amulya’s sheer childishness.

Elakeshi addressed Bindu directly now, and said: “My child Narendranath is not only a great student, he has other qualities as well. How well does he act in theatre! Once you watch him perform, your eyes will be brimming with tears! Once he enacted the role of Sita, and what a role it was! Can you enact that part here and show your aunts, my child?”

Right then, Naren sat on his knees, folded his palms and started delivering his dialogues in a high-pitched, nasal voice: “Aryaputra, at what an inauspicious hour, this maid of yours…

Bindu became restless at this and said: “Stop, stop, please…Borthakur (elder brother-in-law) is sleeping upstairs!”

Startled at Bindu’s gesture, Naren went silent.

Annapurna was mesmerized by this very brief glimpse of Naren’s acting prowess. Hence she remarked: “Let him also listen if it reaches him! It’s the tale of Gods and Goddesses, after all, and it’s auspicious, isn’t it, Chhoto Bou?”

Indignant at Annapurna’s expression, Bindu said: “You go on listening to the tale of Gods and Goddesses, then, and allow us to leave!”

Naren, puzzled by now, said: “Okay, then let me enact the role of Savitri!”

Bindu replied, sternly: “No.”

Listening to Bindu’s voice, Annapurna gauged deeply in her consciousness that the matter has turned quite serious, and it wouldn’t end here. Elakeshi, still a stranger in the household didn’t understand the implications of Bindu’s words, or her cold behavior. In a lighter vein, she remarked: “Okay, leave it today. He can do it another day in the noon time, when the men of the house go away for work…. Ah, he has such fine skill in music too! Can you sing that tragic song of Damyanti to your mamis (aunts) one of these days, my child? Once they listen to it, they won’t wish to leave you!”

Excited at the prospect of showcasing his talent, Naren asked: “Can I do it right now?”

Bindu’s whole body was scalding in terrible anger; she remained silent.

Annapurna replied rather quickly: “No, no, let’s not do the singing now!”

Naren replied: “Okay, then I’ll teach the song to Amulya soon. You know, I can also play musical instruments! Treketa tak, the rhythm is quite tough, Mami, I tell you…Can you pass me the brass utensil, the hearth for once? Then I can demonstrate some of it.”

Bindu gestured Amulya to leave and said: “Go to your room, Amulya, and do your studies!”

Amulya was listening, mesmerized, and didn’t wish to leave so soon. He whispered softly, “Can we sit some more, Chhoto Ma?”

Bindu, on her part, didn’t utter a single word. She lifted Amulya silently and left for her bedroom along with Amulya. Annapurna had understood the reason of her abrupt departure from the scene very well. She had also clearly gauged Bindu’s fear that Amulya would be spoilt in the bad company of Naren, and hence, she wouldn’t entertain the idea of Naren staying in their house for his studies. This thought made her anxious and disturbed her sanity. She said to Naren: “I request you, Naren, my child, please don’t act or sing in front of your Chhoto Mami (aunt). The angry woman that she is, she doesn’t like these things.”

Elakeshi, out of her wits by now, asked in an inquisitive voice: “Doesn’t Chhoto Bou like acting or singing? Hmm, that explains why she left so abruptly!”

“Quite possible!” Annapurna said, and added: “One more thing, dear Naren. You are most welcome in our house, and study well to lessen your mother’s pain…But…don’t mingle with Amulya much…He is just a kid, he’s much younger to you.”

Offended by such words uttered by Annapurna, Elakeshi remarked: “You are right; after all, he is a poor man’s son, he should act and behave like one! But let me tell you, Boro Bou, is your Amulya only a child, and my Naren, a ripe, old fellow? As much as I know, they might be just a year apart, and by that measure, my Naren cannot be considered that old, compared to Amulya! And didn’t he see the sons of rich men in his life before he came here? You know how many sons of royal families were there in his theatre group?”

Embarrassed at this sudden attack, Annapurna replied: “No, Thakurjhi (sister-in-law), I didn’t mean to say that—I only said…”

“Well, I clearly understood what you said, Boro Bou!” Elakeshi stopped her mid-sentence, and said: “We might be dumb in your eyes, but not that dumb either, not to comprehend your words. But since Dada requested us that Naren will stay in your house and continue his studies here, I brought him with me…Do you think we were starving, or unable to meet ends?”

Annapurna felt like dying out of shame. She replied, in a desperate, pleading voice: “God only knows, Thakurjhi, I didn’t mean to say anything disrespectful! I only said, Naren should work hard to remove his mother’s agony, to…to…”

Elakeshi stopped her again and said: “Well, well, let it be. Naren, go away from here and sit outside, I say! And don’t mingle with the son of your rich mama!” She shoved her son away from the scene and left along with him.

Annapurna stormed into Bindu’s bedroom and blurted out, in terrible insult and agony: “Listen, do we have to stop mixing with our relatives because of you? Do you have any idea how insolently you left our gathering today?”

Bindu replied, calm and composed: “Why would you have to stop mixing with them, Didi? You can live with them to your heart’s content, but let me abscond from here with my son!”

“Where would you flee?”

“Don’t even think I will share the address with you the day I will leave.” Bindu replied.

Annapurna said: “I know that very well. Would you leave any stone unturned to belittle me in front of our kith and kin? Alas, all my life I have been suffering in hell because of this woman!” Just as she was about to leave the room, she noticed Madhav entering. “Thakurpo (younger brother-in-law), you better go away with her and stay separately in another house, or else banish this bride of yours! I can’t bear with her anymore, and I had to let you know of it clearly today!” Saying this, she stormed out of the room.

Astonished at this sudden display of Annapurna’s temper, Madhav asked Bindu: “What is the matter, tell me?”

Bindu replied: “I don’t know. But the elder mistress of the house has ordered my banishment, so send me away with my son.”

Madhav understood there had been a domestic scuffle, hence he remained mum. He quietly picked up the newspaper lying over the table and went outside.

To be continued….

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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Sakhi Bhaabona Kaahare Bole — English Translation of Tagore’s Song

Rabindranath Tagore and India’s First Electrical Recording

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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