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The Boy— Sandipan Chattopadhyay

Sep 17, 2022 | Fiction | 0 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Anujata Bhattacharya

Oyi, don’t you have parents?
No.
Both dead?
Yes
Any siblings?
No.
You are by yourself?
Uh-huh

Silence.

What do you do?
Beg.
How much do you make?
20 paise, 30 paise
That enough?
Uh-huh
So what do you eat?
Muri and all.

Silence.

How much did you make today?
I did not beg today!
Why?
Didn’t feel like it
Not well?
Nah

Silence.

Did you buy this zipper dress?
No.
Did someone give you?
No.
How did you get it then?
Picked it up?
From where?
The drains.
Oh.

Silence.

What about these pants?
Mother gave.
Did you see your mother die?
Uh-huh.
What happened?
She fell sick.
Where did she die?
Over there.
What was she called?
Gouri.
And your father?
Saryu Prasad Singh.
Seen your father?
Nope.
So mother told you his name?
Yes.
When did he die?
Long ago.
How long?
Very long.
How old are you? Seven?
Many days.

Silence.

Do you have any disease?
No.
Any pains?
Nah.
Sleep well?
Yes.
Where?
Right here!
On this rag?
Uh-huh
And when it rains?
Will see
Do you dream?
Uh-huh
Can you remember?
No.
Haven’t you dreamt of your mother?
I did, once.
You remember that dream?
No.
How are your bowels?
Is it hard?

Silence.

Have you heard of Jyoti Basu?
No.
Indira Gandhi?
No.
Sakti Chattopadhyay?
No.
Uttam Kumar?
Don’t know any Uttam Kumar.
Ever seen cinema?
No.
Where does the sun rise?
Here! There! Over there!
Do you know the name of your country? The land on which you are?
B.T. Road.

Silence.

Are you scared?
No.
Aren’t you afraid of anybody?
Afraid of the police.
You didn’t beg today, so what did you eat?
That curd bowl.
That which the shop threw away?
Uh-huh
Ate the leftover?
Yes.

Silence.

You know that dog?
Yes. My dog.
Your dog?
My mother raised it.
What’s its name?
Robi. Oyi Robi… uss… usss!

Silence.

What did I ask you first? Don’t you have parents? One of your eyes is red and very big, do you know?
No, I don’t.
Don’t you look in the mirror?
Did once, a long back.

Silence.

What’s your name?
Ganesh.


Also, read a short story by Tamil writer, Akilan , translated to English by Dr. S. Vincent, published in The Antonym

Then The Flood Came— Akilan


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Sandipan Chattopadhyay (1933 – 2005) was an Indian Bengali writer. His 1961 book Kritadas Kritadasi changed the landscape of Bengali fiction and made his name. A staunch anti-establishment figure and a supporter of creative freedom, he was one of the pioneers of the Hungryalism Movement, also known as the Hungry generation, during 1961–65.

Anujata Bhattacharya teaches English language and literature in a school in West Bengal. She loves interacting with people and enjoys learning new things.

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