The fortunate tenants
Ten years ago, a family with dreams and eight off springs- four sons and four daughters, - two earning and six only eating came to a small town leaving the village for good. The town gave them a tenement to dwell in with less shame and much satisfaction, with nobody to know their misfortune, their shame of poverty.
They get asleep dreaming the future and wake up recalling the past. In the morning the two earners go out to work cursing the little ones for not studying properly, for disturbing their sleep, in the worst situation for devouring their income. Still the parents kept on believing in Allah, praying in Arabic, shedding tears and demanding mercy.
The parents being unable to give them a reasonable fortune, being aware of their foolishness of giving birth to so many children accepted them cursing as their dues.
Ten years- so long for a family with the wildest dreams, but time marches on taking tolls, giving one's worth due to their endeavor, fit for their dreams, soothing the scratches on the face, drawing the black line below the eyes, reviving some pride hidden under inferiority complex.
The eldest son crossed 35 for whom no family seems to be preparing their daughter, doesn't even find a girl suitable to share his bed in the garment factory where he works, because of pride grew in the days of glory, of riches and of affluence. The parents seemingly sad but content in their heart for their son not demanding matrimony in his 35, often wail for better days to be grandparents.
The second one more cunning than the rest has somehow managed a job with an income reasonable for his graduation and the country's economic stature. For two years or so he is heading the family decisions. His honesty is lack of courage, his cunningness is silence in the time of family chaos, his sin is unbridled lust for love, his goodness is the devotion for the family.
The third one, the most disobedient and extravagant of late who got himself settled in a govt. office a desk clerk, giving less money than dream is thought to be the worst of eight.
The fourth, a daughter too beautiful to live in such a tenement without any room of her own to change her dress on her return in the evening after a toiling day in the primary school teaching kids of lower echelon often smashes things on the slightest excuse of not getting her face wash in the right place she left in the morning. She was the first to spat on the family dream marrying a colleague with less family honor.
They are still too poor and thus too haughty to accept her marriage but the girl was infected with his secret vice of love for art and literature. Their living separately is on the other hand a relief as her sleeping bed has been emptied and thought to be due for the fifth girl who is waiting to be home permanently after her five years in the University for a Law Degree.
On the beginning of their tenth year in their life in exile as they believe, good news began to rush in like summer rain- the third one getting a job with a lucrative pay, the fourth (first daughter) being appointed a govt. primary teacher, the fifth (second daughter) enlisted in the bar as a lawyer.
The primary teacher still had the conscience to pay gratitude back with a considerable part of her paycheck. The sixth child, a good obedient daughter just entered a medical college with a scholarship. The seventh in a college with the hope of a good future the family never expected. And the last proved itself worthy not to be a matter of worry for the parents. But as human experiences, fortune has always been followed by evil.
The officially head of the family, the father died after coughing some days. The disease was not properly diagnosed. The blood mixed with his cough was hardly noticed even nobody thought of his being hospitalized until the day he died silently. Only after a few months the women who replenished her strength to paddle the sewing machine thinking the welfare of her off springs got herself paralyzed after her second brain stroke and took the bed for good.
The primary teacher spends her weakened with the mother and returns giving others advice on how to take her care. In the late night family gathering, everyone requests the eldest one to look for a wife. He emphasizes his age and passes the ball to the second in command's court. Such family meeting often ends in joking, laughing and kidding with the younger ones that once caused too much irritation to remember.
The eleventh year ended with the marriage of the two brothers and lawyer's introducing her fiancé to the family. The marriage rituals were due enough for a family upcoming in the middle class, the seventh child's going to foreign university to study applied physics in UK. The family integrated by poverty is now getting disintegrated by the dreams fulfilled. The sisters are living with their husbands, the brothers with their wife and newborn children.
The tenement roof they shared for eleven years in sorrows and happiness is still a temple with the mother living with the third and ever disobedient son, but worth visiting once or twice a week. The old woman is now a burden on the way of their victory like a wounded war mate on their shoulder. All they are waiting for the day to show her the final respect with utmost mourning, tear and Arabic prayer in front of her grave.
The writer is working as a teacher in Annada Govt. High School, Brahmanbaria