Jiten Roy

As a child (may be about 5 years old), I used to accompany my father to Natore town whenever he would come to town for business. He had to bring me with him, because he knew that – I would cry ceaselessly if he didn’t. So, whenever he would come to town, he would ask me to freshen up (i.e., bush my teeth, wash my face, hands, feet thoroughly, and dress up). That was kind of a routine ritual for me to go anywhere with my father. I used to love his companion, and he knew it. I did not mind to walk 3 miles in the scorching sun with him. That burning Sun did not bother me a bit because, I knew, there is a treat waiting for me after I arrive in town.

After arriving in town, first thing my father used do is – enter a sweet store (named Gobida Seba). He would order either Rashagollah or Sandesh for me. As I used to start eating, he would leave the store. The store owner knew us both very well. Some time he would ask his workers to bring sweet as soon as he saw us entering through the door. It was kind of a routine for him also. He knew that I will be sitting there all day long until my father finishes his business in the Town. I had a special seat by the window near his desk. He knew that he will have to babysit me for the rest of the day. When my father would leave – the owner would give me more sweets (Kachagollah, Nimki, etc.) and would not charge for those goodies at all. This is why I was so fond of coming to this Town.

Before entering into the town, we used to pass a postmortem center (Marakata Ghar), police station, court house, SDO (Sub-Division Officer) house, general hospital, and post office. After that we would cross over a bridge on the Narood River to finally enter the main town, where all the shops were. This bridge used to fascinate me; it was one of the wonders to me at that time. How did they build such a huge (~100 feet) bridge, I used to wonder? Yes, that was a giant bridge to me at that time. There was another thing that used to make me wonder also. That was – there were a few crippled people (Oo-toor) on both sides of the bridge (exit and entrance). They would chant Lai-La-Ha-Illal-La, Janer-Malik-Toi-Allah, Praner-Malik-Toi-Allah (I think the meaning of this chant is – Allah, I praise you for you are the owner of my life and death). They would chant ceaselessly all day long from early in the morning till dark, sitting under the scorching sun. None of those people could walk or see. How do they come here every day – I used to wonder? My father occasionally would give me a few changes to give them. I would wonder if Allah, at all, listening to anything they are saying; if not, why? These people could commit no crime? They are being punished for what? I had no answer; still I don’t. That very question haunts me, and I am still waiting for the answer.

When I hear people say – if you call God in the right way, He will definitely answer. Can anybody call God in a better way than those crippled people, I still wonder?  On September 11, 2001, we saw people jumping off one of the tallest buildings on the earth to death. As some phone conversations reveal – they were all calling God ceaselessly for help before jumping off and also during their fall to death. They were all praying to God for help to survive the horror. I do not know if any of those fallen people survived. If not, why? Were they not calling God the right way?