‘কড়ি দিয়ে কিনলাম’
‘The things that money can buy’…and can’t!!
কড়ি দিয়ে কিনলাম (Kori Diye Kinlam)
‘The things that money can buy’
Translations never do justice …but who cares!
There were only a handful of them left, faintly peach and pearly-white. ‘Kori’, nothing but shells, Budhdha’s shell, hidden in a woven basket, smeared with crimson and casually forgotten in the darkness that usually settles at the back of the shelves of grandma’s almirah.
‘So, these were coins? From which side?!!’
I was seven…or maybe eight or to be precise, had just entered an age when I didn’t deny, rather new things made me wonder!
Dida, also being in that ripe age to understand that all questions need not be answered, simply smiled back!
“Ok! They were coins then!”
I accepted, my fingers and my mind playing around with the tiny pearls.
“But what could you buy? Why on the earth would anybody give you anything in return for something which you can get from the seashore!!!? Didaaa..are you listening?”
My eyes were as round as the new striker of the carrom board! It was an ask, but deep down, I knew, the answers won’t be straight. Dida never revealed the mysteries of life, rather she kept on stirring them like hot milk on the stove, till it boiled and bubbled and thickened into sweet heady porridge.
“Your Dadu bought me with those!”
Surprisingly, I got an answer this time. But what an answer! Shouldn’t have asked in the first place, I thought. With that, she smiled, that very wicked smile which used to make me uncertain and a tiny bit uncomfortable.
“Bought you?! What if he returns you?”
“We are also returned!!”
Her eyes lost that twinkle and something sad settled around the corners. I was still seven, or maybe eight, or to be precise I had just stepped into an age where words started having double meanings and yet I was unable to read between the lines.
Dida, with her hairs all turning pearl like the little shells, was a ‘Buddha’ indeed.
She stretched her hand, touched my chin and kissed her fingers back, said, “Not all can be bought ‘didun’, but who will tell that to men!”
She pointed at the shells, lying helpless on the floor, “Look at them, they are just ‘Kori’, worthless with time.”
I read Bimal Mitra’s novel (Kori Diye Kinlam) much later. Dipu’s grandpa believed that all can be bought with ‘kori’ but then, he never had a grandma like mine!!
(Artwork: Piu Mahapatra)
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