Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Rosy’s Story: Not to Give in, Not to Give up

Sobbed with grief and humiliation she ran out of her school-gate and walked fast towards the Ramna Park which is a short distance from her school. She was so emotionally agitated that she damned care the traffic signal. If a microbus had not braked so hard and stopped instantly it might have run over her. She did not bother the driver’s grimy remarks, and stalked off.

‘Something awful might have occurred if the driver had not braked so hard, but it was better to have been run over by that microbus than my present situation, ’ she thought, and began to walk angrily along the shady pavement. The Ministers’ lodges are on both sides of the road. These posh areas of Dhaka city are well-known to her. She looked at her watch. It was 11-30 am. One hour and a half has passed since her exam started. It was her Class Nine final examination. Now she is out of the exam! Not only that, she was threatened to be out of the school with a transfer certificate. She is a plucked bud, a half-slaughtered chicken tossed about on the floor. 

It was Early November 2018. The year-final examinations in schools have started a few days earlier than usual due to the national election to be held in December. It was she, only she, who was out of the exam hall, she thought. Her heart throbbed with flapping sounds of birds on the trees above, the sound of car, the whistle of traffic police. She was walking towards the park, her eyes fixed at her feet so as to avoid the sights of passers-by; but all on a sudden she was startled. “Hey girl, Rosy! Where are you going alone this time, haven’t you any exam today?” “Over there, Aunty,” Rosy replied glancing at the woman’s face. Avoiding further query Rosy stepped ahead.

To have come across Sharifa Aunty was another mishap for her, Rosy thought. She noticed an ominous look at that woman’s face. She is an aggressive woman like Rosy’s mother and lives in the same multi-storied building at Shantinagar, where Rosy’s parents moved two years ago. She is well-connected with the Ministers, and possibly was returning from her visit to some Minister’s lodge, Rosy guessed. While walking, Rosy contemplates the story about that woman. Mrs Sharifa demanded that her daughter Rebeka always stand first in the class. Hunting the best notes and taking her to class-teachers’ private tables were her obsession. Last year when Rebeka failed to keep up her first position in the class, she flew into a rage. Losing control, she flung a kitchen tool at Rebeka, which accidentally hit her left eye. The injury led to the partial damage of her eyesight. Even in that state Rebeka was pressurized to recover her first position in class seven. The impact was miserable. Rebeka lost her sanity. A cute girl Rebeka now howls crazily. When she sees any girl in school dress, she shudders and wants to hide somewhere. She flings things at random when she is angry. Now the whole household was at danger. All these thoughts made Rosy more nervous because she also experienced similar rule of her mother.

The Ramna Park came to Rosy’s view. Now she would have to cross the Hare Road. Buses, motor cycles, cars were all running so speedily. At some hours of the day they are jam-packed. But now the road is free. Rosy loves this place. Clouds of dust, vehicle exhausts and smokes are less visible here because these are all absorbed by the shady groves all around. This shady space is as if an oasis in a desert. From other side of the road the tree tops were swaying gently to hail Rosy as an old friend of theirs. But she feels unresponsive.

On entering the park-gate Rosy looked around. At this particular hour of the day in the month of Agrahyan the park seemed bleak and solitary. Rosy looked at the narrow metalled road shaded by rows of Bakul trees on one side walling the Hare Road. She used to visit this place with her father. She also picked up the creamy white Bakul flowers under the trees. It was not the season of Bakul, but the sweet fragrance of Bakul, as if, had tickled her nostrils. She had not walked these paths for many years. During the last Eid vacation her father suggested a visit to the park. But Rosy’s mother flared up and vehemently rejected it.

The worries of her heart were becoming heavier. She was walking aimlessly. The sights of colourful flowers – clusters of flaming Rangan, red and yellow marigold, the green and tiny bhimraj, the nageswar and her favourite red and pink roses could not unload her worries. Some birds were lazily making sounds telling her something. It may be that a teen-aged girl in school uniform alone in the park at that solitary hour of the day was not safe. Her fear was not from any bears or tigers but from man-shaped bears and tigers who are more ferocious than them. She remembered the autopsy report of Sohagi Jahan Tonu who was raped and murdered in a protected area like the Mainamati Cantonment, Comilla. But no investigation could trace that humanoid ferocity. Now a days her mother also does not allow her to come to this park for another reason that the shameless lovers visit this park and they are glued here and there quite openly. The nicest spot of the park, Rosy felt, was beside the lake. She quickly moved there. The concrete benches were all empty. She looked around and saw a woman bathing in the dirty water at a distance. She sat in the middle of a bench spreading her legs. While her eyes were fixed on the lake water her mind was still roaming about her past present and even future. Suddenly she was startled with a very familiar voice. It was the voice of her father.

Her lips quivered, her heart began to beat faster. With perched throat she said, “How do you know I am here?” “Rosy, I know what had happened. Your Ashrafi Aunti tells me that she had seen you moving towards the park gate. And from the office of your school I got the phone that you were caught for copying in the examination with mobile phone. They have already issued a T.C and told me to pick it up.” Rosy burst into tears and her words lost into mumbling. Her head bowed down and Rosy’s father supported it on his arms. Her father Forkan Ahmed is a very kind-hearted man. But he is not a successful man due to his restless nature. He joined a government primary school. He left the job, sold some of his property inherited from his father and started a housing business in small scale. But within five years he had lost most of his capital. Trusting people too much and kindness to all made him quite incompetent in business. Yet, he is now running a small book shop. Although Rosy’s situation is like a bolt from blue in the family, he suppressed all his emotion to take care of his daughter. He said, “Rosy I am responsible for this mishap. If that mobile phone of mine did not get damaged with a fall, I had not have purchased a new one, and that phone had not gone under your possession.”

“No Abbu, never say that. I am fully responsible for this nuisance. I had snaps of two of my pages. You know that the screen is damaged. I was not able to read clearly and moved uneasily. It was so hazy.” 

“The screen is badly damaged, I know.”

“But Abbu, tell me, once you were also a teacher. Isn’t expulsion from the school too much for this fault? They can cancel my exam script at best.”

“Hmm, best school has best rule!”

“Abbu, what will happen to Ammu? Has she already known this?”

“May be, she has not known this, and I have not informed her yet. I could sense the danger. I fear she will faint  hearing this news.” Rosy remained silent and her father continued,

“Anyway, Rosy, don’t be upset. No much worry, dear. I’ll manage everything. I’ll request your Principal withdrawing your TC as she has called me to meet her. Now let’s have a good time. When you were small I used to take you here, you remember? In here, and over there, you ran a lot, played a lot, picked leaves and small white flowers.”

“Yes, Abbu, last year I wrote these childhood memories of mine in my exam paper. You made my childhood so enjoyable.”

Mr Forkan suppressed his own worries and tried to make his daughter normal. All one a sudden the father and daughter were full of life. They were enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds of the park. They moved a little, under a canopy, and looked up. Rosy showed, “Abbu, look there are nests of Shalik birds. Some birdlings are struggling to move and their mother has brought some food for them.” Both father and daughter enjoyed the sight for some time. Mr Forkan said, “Let’s have a round of this park. Most trees are now without flowers. It looks so beautiful when all these rows of Krishnachura trees are in bloom.”

Although Mr. Forkan was trying his best to support his daughter but Rosy could notice signs of worries in the face of her father. Sweats glistened his dark forehead and his grey and black beard. Rosy said, “We should stop walking. You are sweating a lot, Abbu.” They sat on a park bench from where the sky was visible through thin branches of a tree. Rosy was always fond of looking at the blue sky. She saw a huge number of birds flying high above the sky.  They  were having some small talk about the lives of those birds, when suddenly they saw a white-complexioned couple nearby. They appeared before them. They had a questioning attitude but seemed to hesitate to start a talk. Rosy said, “Excuse me, would you need to have any query? Are you from England?” The white lady answered, “Oh, no, we’re American. I have a lot of curiosity about this park, the trees and plants.”

Rosy replied, “O fine, people of Bangladesh enjoy the beauties of these trees and plants but they do not feel interested to know all their names. However, I can help you as far as possible to know the names.” Rosy tells many names and they noted down in their note books. They took the photos of all these specific plants. The lady and her companion was surprised with Rosy’s English accent. The gentleman said, “I have never heard any Bangladeshi speaking English with perfect American accent.” Rosy surprised them more by speaking the Australian accent, Indian accent and a little bit of Scottish accent. Last of all, the American couple expressed their desire to keep Rosy in their memory taking some photos together. So they had a group photo with selfie mode.

After their departure Rosy’s father said, “Rosy, I am really proud of you. How could you master those accents of English? You are really a talent.”

Rosy said, “Abbu, you don’t praise me this way. I’m worthless. How foolish were I to commit this blunder.”

But Mr Forkan assured, “Remember that man is not angel. To err is human. That you are repentant of your faults is all the more important. Repentance for a sin purifies man’s heart. Just take a lesson from your mistakes and never repeat it.”

“But Abbu, I don’t know why teachers have become so tough suddenly. Really I have lost some interest of my academic reading after my JSC exam. You know I read a lot in PCE, I mean Primary Completion Exam. But questions were found in the facebook before  each exam. Teachers were solving the problems in the examination hall. I was frustrated seeing all these things. Now I was thinking the same will happen in SSC exam. So I gave my attention to complete my French learning course with assistance of my computer software.”

“Don’t say that Rosy. Will you be bad if people around you are bad? There are many good people who help other people even by sacrificing their lives. You know the glorious past of our Language Movement of 1952 and our great liberation war of 1971. Try to keep fair. That you had studied well and had got GPA 5 in both PCE and JSC, that’s all. Don’t bother whether or not other students adopted unfair means or they were assisted by  teachers in the examination hall.”

Thus Mr Forkan was philosophical even when talking to other people. He valued honesty above any other thing. But he was also very much conscious about the evil that lurks all around in our society. When he had a great loss in business, he turned to stoicism to practise self-control and overcome his restless nature. This philosophy helped him to keep silent against his wife’s word-missiles.  At the moment Mr Forkan was thinking of his wife, he received her call: “Where are you? You know your daughter has been expelled from the exam hall and will be kicked out from school. It is you who are responsible for all these. Go to school and face the hell. I will not show my face to anyone for such an act of disgrace.”

Mr Forkan felt happier at least with such thinking that she had not queried where he was at the moment. He replied, “Okay, I am going to the school. I’ll manage everything.”

Rosy could guess her mother’s reaction over phone and said, “Abbu, I know that Sharifa Auntie has made a mess about my case. She has already informed many people by now and she is probably influencing Nipa Ms to give me a severe my punishment. It is Nipa Ms who caught me. You know mother sent me to her house for private coaching, but I left. I went to Marzia Miss and this infuriated her. She was trying to take revenge. You know her husband is a Secretary. Tell me Abbu, where did you see Sharifa Aunty and what was she doing?”

“At the schoo-gate and she was talking to some other women.”

Nervously Rosy said, “Let’s move and it is already 3pm.”

Mr Forkan held her hand and said, “Let’s have some refreshment from the park-gate. There, I saw many green coconuts. We will have a coconut drink there.”

Very soon they came out of the park gate. Rosy did not want to have any food or drink. Mr Forkan insisted but she was unwilling. Father and daughter took a rickshaw for the school.

The Principal of Rosy’s school was a middle-aged woman, famous for her ill manners dealing with the teachers and students. But she had three or four influential teachers who were directly involved in politics. Despite many allegations against her she had been in her position for more than a decade because she knew how to keep connected with all the influential people to stay safe in her position.

The rickshaw reached the school gate soon. Rosy soon took her father to the Principal’s room. They saw Mrs Sharifa coming out of the Principal’s room. Mr Forkan did not believe Rosy’s suspicion but he now smelt some sort of evil design. The Principal was sitting on her chair, and four people were seated in front of her.

Slamalaikum, Slamalaikum, Apa, I’m Rosy’s father. Could I come, please?”

“Stop. Rosy is your daughter?” She gave a very taunting look at him and said, “Pick up your daughter’s TC.”’

“Apa, please, please I’m begging your pardon, forgive my daughter this time, and I am taking all responsibility upon myself.”

“Why will you not take responsibility? You have given a smartphone to your daughter? And you have taught her its use in the examination hall. Like father like daughter. I am ashamed that once you were a teacher in a school!”

“Apa, apa please, my daughter’s result is good and she…. ”

 “Stop, who is your apa? You have not learnt manners how to address Principal of an institution like this,” said another man sitting there.

Mr Forkan was surprised how they have known all about him. His suspicion augmented about Mrs Ashrafi’s influence.

Yet he folded her hand-palms to show more humility and beg mercy for his daughter. “Madam/Sir, give whatever punishment you like, kindly withdraw the T.C, please,? ”

“ Shut up! What a nonsense! Too much irritating! I’m too much busy with my work, go to office and pick up your daughter’s T.C., ” flared up the she with a more taunting tone and ordered the MLSS to push him away to the office at once.

Rosy overheard all these standing beside the door.

Soon the TC was handed to Rosy’s father and he along with his daughter was pushed back to the gate. Rosy said, “Abbu, you go, I’ll not.  I’ll have another deal with my case. Please go. I’m coming some time later. Trust me.”

“What will you do?  When the hell comes, one should keep going,” said Mr Forkan still with a calm voice, and to face another hell that was her wife.

It was already about 4 pm. Not a drop of water fell into her stomach let alone any food. But the pangs of her heart was more terrible than her belly's. She wanted to recover her father’s honour whatever might happen to her lot.

“No, no, no, a trivial fault like that could never be paid with a severe punishment like T.C. And what a humiliation my father suffered for me! No begging mercy, no forgiveness, now I have nothing to lose.”, a rebellious thought  raced in her  mind. Like a mad dog Rosy rushed to the Principal’s room. Seeing her fiery eyes and mad rush the door keeper moved aside. In came Rosy without permission and hurled her boiling words in a thundered voice: “ You are Principal! Principal of this best school in the world. You have all the right to insult me, beat me, give me TC, whatever, but you have no right to summon my father and thus insult her. How can you utter such foul words, call him ‘nonsense’, not allowing him to enter the room, call ‘shut up’ and drive him away What was the need to call him to your school? Rosy said all these in one single breath.

The Principal and the teachers sitting there stood up from their seats and for a moment they couldn’t understand what to do or what to say at such a daring act of a school girl, never happened ever during their service life.

A group of teachers, the doorkeeper and office staff hurried inside hearing Rosy’s shouts, all said, “How dare! How dare!”.

Three female teachers and one male MLSS caught hold of Rosy-  Rosy struggling and still shouting, “Teachers like you have to learn manners, then teach students. You have stained the teaching profession.

A sparrow chirped piteously outside the room. Rosy burst into tears. A helpless little thing she is now! Some parts of her school uniform were torn off giving view of her petal-like skin around the waist.’

Like a hungry lioness, the hunt at her disposal, the Principal roared: ‘Peon! fetch the double cane-stick from the office room. And you people go out.’

By the time Rosy was pushed to sit on a tool. The peon gave the cane and went out of the room. Burning with fury the Principal ordered the peon to shut the door. Then she shouted at Rosy, “Tell me bitch, who  gave you this audacity! Ill-bred! Rogue! you want to teach us manners. Now enjoy the taste of your misconduct". No sooner had the words finished, the double canes began to fall upon Rosy’s back –thrash-trash-whack-whack. Rosy groaned and grumbled, ‘Miserable is she now, uttered piteously Abbu they are killing me!’ The Principal was more infuriated. Yet she stopped, and gave the canes to her teacher Nipa who caught Nipa in the exam hall and who influenced the principal to take all this decision. Like a cat playing with a rat, she caught Rosy by her hair and shouted, “ haramjadi, you don’t know me, stop howling.”

She thudded to the ground and saw, at a corner, an old leather belt with a metal end. So she wanted to play her sport with the belt. But she wanted to hurl it at the right place targeting Rosy’s hip. She positioned her and started hitting with all the wild might she had.  Suddenly Rosy gave a piercing scream and collapsed, the belt missed the target and hit her head. The Principal who was enjoying the sight now came up. “Pretension, pretension nothing has happened to the bitch like her.” The two teachers who were also sitting there came up and said, “No more beating, no more please.”

A veil of worries enveloped the Principal’s face  when one teacher said, “Madam, no stirring, no response, she lost her sense. It is necessary to call our doctor. Quick! ”

“Don’t be restless. Try healing her. Call the peons,” said the Principal, still adamantly.

Soon the doctor came in. The Principal said, “Doctor, something wrong has happened. From now we have become very tough about exams. In the newspaper you have seen that the RAB chief has declared that anyone involved in unfair means in the exam will be shot down. They will be given in cross fire. From now  there will be no question leakage, no help in exam hall. This rascal was copying with a smart phone in the exam hall. She is caught red handed by our teacher Nipa, and how dare the girl insulting our teachers justifying her act. And so a little beating. May be pretension. Please do the checking.”

While the Principal was uttering these words the doctor had already started examining the patient and with a sign of worry she said,  “May be she was hit at some sensitive place. I fear she needs some intensive checking, and it is better to send her to a hospital”

Rosy’s father completely forgot Rosy because he had to be busy with his wife Urmila Khatun.  Many a man in the world suffer like him without any fault. As she had seen the transfer certificate at her husband’s hand she rushed to the room and took a good number of sleeping pills  to end her life. Now she was taken to the same clinic where Rosy was taken. How suddenly misfortune descends upon the lives of humans as one of Shakespeare’s character says, Gods play with humans as the wanton boys play with flies and the sand-built houses.

The incident that happened to Rosy spread from one ear to another. Rosy’s classmates got aggrieved. The students of other classes also assembled. Next day instead of sitting for the exam the students brought out a procession. They wrote on placards “We want justice”. They chanted the slogan “Rosy apur kichu hale jalbe agun ei skule. Principaler kalo hat bhenge dao, gurhiye dao.” A group of journalists with TV cameras came to the school campus to capture the news. The Principal slipped away to avoid journalists and the TV cameras.

While Rosy and her mother were out of danger, a high powered investigating committee was formed in the school. The news even reached the Prime Minister’s ear. She gave a warning for an impartial investigation of the matter. The students for the first time found an outlet to express their grievances fearlessly. The complaint boxes were filled up with complaints. In the clinic Rosy’s mother recuperated after her stomach wash-up but Rosy had to be transferred to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib University for complications in the brain.

Within two weeks the Principal and the three teachers directly involved in torturing Rosy, were dismissed from the school. The students of the school were excited with the news. They felt that a favourable wind would blow now over their school. They were waiting to hail their hero Rosy in the campus. But Rosy’s health deteriorated. She was unable to talk and think. She could not recognize any one, not even her father and mother. She had a cerebral and traumatic attack. A psychiatrist was engaged for her treatment. One day the psychiatrist came to Rosy’s school. He held a meeting with the inquiry team and got all that had happened with Rosy. He got important clues. He called Rosy’s father and heard from him all about the Ramna Park incidence. The psychiatrist advised him to help him in the process of treatment.  

Next morning the psychiatrist took Rosy out with him. He first took her to Ramna park. After that he took a rickshaw and reached the school. They entered the gate. Rosy was still speechless and was looking agape. The doctor called Rosy’s father who, according to advice, came with an yellow envelop in his hand and embraced Rosy excitedly calling “Rosy, you are back in your school” No sooner had his words were out Rosy gave a loud cry calling “Abbu, Abbu”. The psychiatrist held a newspaper before Rosy’s eyes and asked her to read out some lines and Rosy perfectly did that. The psychiatrist excitedly addressed the students and said, “Now your Rosy Apu is quite okay.” The students began to dance while the doctor left giving some instruction to Rosy’s father and the students.



[Note: The names used in the story are fictitious.]

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