Friday, February 6, 2009

The Balloonwalah

I was waiting for the last bus.
Road is empty, only some street dogs running, some pedestrians walking silently, a shopkeeper closing his shop, one or two beggar trying to sleep in wretched corner of a broken house. It was almost twelve in the morning.
A chilled wind is blowing. It is February but still wind has the last bite of winter before the spring arrives.
Rashbehari, a busy junction of Kolkata now quietly beginning to get silent. A thin layer of dew slowly making the silver tram-lines wet..thus the silver lines sometimes shining.

And at that moment I found the Balloonwalah coming.
His tall, thin figure with bunch of balloons held by string in his hand.
He came towards me and smiled and said, ‘ Akta Balloon Babu?’(Will I take a balloon?)
I often take balloon from him not only because I like the smile of the simple man seeing a balloon sold but also that to give my small six years old nephew ‘Poppye’ a balloon each morning when he gets awake from sleep.
But today I was in no mood of buying a ballon. As today was Poppye’s birthday and I told this man to bring me twelve balloons to me yesterday night so that I can gift it to Poppye this very morning to make it special.
But yesterday only the Balloonwalah did not came. And thus I lost the chance to wish Poppye today with those balloons and see his priceless heavenly smile!
‘Babu aj balloon neben na?’ (Babu, no more balloon today?)
‘No, I said, ‘Why didn’t you came yesterday? I told you to bring a dozen balloon for me..why?’

The person looked at my eyes.

My irritation came back. I said in local dialect ‘You destroyed all my plans!’
The balloonwalah took two balloons in his hand and said ‘Take these two Babu!’
I nodded. No, I am not going to take any one.

‘Why you didn’t came yesterday?’
The balloonwalah looked again and then said if in a dearth of searching words,
‘Kal mera beta mar gaya Babu!’
(‘Yesterday my son died babu!’)
At that moment the last bus came and stopped in front.
I stepped up.
The bus started to move.
I have now myself lost all the words.
Instead I turned.
Through the empty, silent, dark night of Rasbehari I saw the tall, thin Balloonwalah walking slowly with heaps of red balloons in his hand.
I found that he is at this very moment not only a Balloonwalah.
But a person, a father who throughout his life would go on selling balloons to thousands of kids each day but none again to his dead son.
The Balloonwalah walked on.


Little Girl Lost said...

sometimes we hold our own anger so close to ourselves that we are blind to someone else's pain. this was a beautiful post.

Apnar blog tao khub shundor.

Little Girl Lost said...

thank you shubhodeep.i've become a follower of your blog, i liked it so much. i hope you'll drop by to read me sometimes.
albaat bangali. bangal o bolte paren :) amar naam amritorupa.

Little Girl Lost said...

ami tomar theke olpo choto. nischoy tumi bolte paro.
Ager post gulo portlei bujhte parbe, ami thaki bharoter morichika-shohor Jaipur e.

blog er upper right e ekta option dekhte parbe, Follow This Blog. ota te click kore nao. next lekha dilei update peye jabe. amio taai korechi.
tahole ei blogging er moha bishwe hariye jawar bhoy thake na. :)

Annie Wicking said...

Subhadip, what a wonderful story! thank you for sharing it with us. I love the deep mean and how easily it made one look in on yourself.

best wishes my dear friend, (((Hugs)))