Haseeb came to Parramatta Shopping Mall in Sydney with his family to shop. In this country, on the last day of the year, all shops offer discounts on products. The sale starts from early morning till night. Haseeb is very tired from wandering around and sits alone in the food court with a cup of coffee. He is trying to relieve his tiredness by sipping his cup of coffee.
Looking at the busyness of the shopping mall, Haseeb feels that customers will buy everything for the next year today. At that time, a middle-aged woman came in, begging frantically. He sat down on the sofa right next to him, not having room around. Haseeb moved a little and made room for the woman.
The woman sits down and mumbles again with annoyance.
‘What an exaggeration. Fakini’s group, in a frenzy, bought everything they saw. In fact, it is not said in words, if you want to get married, you have to see the Khandan. The boy married a woman of his choice.’ The words came to Hasib’s ears. He wonders who the Bengali woman is teasing in this busy shopping mall. Haseeb turned his head and saw no one else around the woman. He felt a little curious.
In the heat and exhaustion, the woman took off her hijab. Then he took out a bottle of water from the bag and drank the water and calmed down a bit.
Haseeb looked at the woman and said, ‘How are you? ‘ The woman took a moment to recover from the shock. Then he said, ‘Oh well, you are Bangladeshi? By asking the question, the woman may have started to think, this boy has not heard about his previous cheek? Then he sat with his head down.
‘Apa, my name is Hasib. I came for shopping with my family. I am tired and sitting with a cup of coffee. The rest of the family is shopping. You also look very tired. I brought some cold juice for you.’ Saying this, without giving the woman a chance to speak, Hasib brought a bottle of juice from the shop and handed it to the woman.
The woman hesitantly took the juice. Haseeb opened the juice bottle and handed it to the woman again.
Woman holding a bottle of juice as if thinking. Then looked back with a questioning look and said, ‘what did he say your name? ‘
The woman’s gaze turned to Haseeb’s face. He said with surprise, ‘Is your name Chapal?’
Haseeb managed himself and said, ‘Ji Apa, my nickname is Chapal.’
The woman said in a surprised manner, ‘I am your Molly Apa.’
Haseeb went back to that past of the nineties. Dr. After Milon’s martyrdom, the anti-dictatorship movement in Dhaka University peaked. That’s when Molly met Apa on the street. Molly Apa was a final year Master’s student, the leader of a women’s hall. Even though Haseeb was an honors student, while agitating, meetings, sharing food, processions and chats were going on together from day time till late night. At that time Molly Apa seemed very stubborn and stubborn to him.
One day Haseeb was walking along the sidewalk of the banana garden. Suddenly a rickshaw stopped next to it. Molly Apa called from the rickshaw, ‘Get up in these shoes. There is a lot of work.’
Chapal got into the rickshaw. As soon as the rickshaw passed the speed breaker in front of Rokeya Hall, both of them jolted a bit. Suddenly Molly Apa asked, ‘Do you smell anything, boy?’
Haseeb calmly said, ‘Where are you? ‘
Molly Apa looked sweetly at him and asked again, ‘Don’t you smell anything?’ Haseeb replied with a bit of a blush, ‘Your skin smells like you. Just then the rickshaw jolted past another speed breaker. Instantly, there were gunshots from both sides of the road, loud noises of cocktails and smoke all around.
Haseeb returned to the present.
Molly Apa said, ‘That day on the way to the rickshaw I could not find you anywhere after the loud noise of gunshots and cocktails and the smoke all around. The next day I learned from your friends that you have been taken away.’ Saying the words, he looked inquisitively.
Haseeb remained silent. His wife and children returned after shopping. Molly Apa’s daughter-in-law and granddaughter stand behind the grandmother. The two families completed the introduction phase.
Before leaving, Molly Apa suddenly hugged her granddaughter’s neck and said, ‘You know brother, I once fell in love with this boy, hehehe.’ Haseeb and other members of Molly Appa were quite taken aback. Shocked, Molly stepped forward a little embarrassed with her great-granddaughter.
Molly took a look at her daughter-in-law Hasibs and bowed her head in shame, “Please don’t mind.” A few years ago, when my father-in-law died in a road accident, my mother-in-law was devastated. Since then he can recall certain memories clearly. He can’t remember many things. Even seeing many mental doctors in the country did not help. So I brought Sydney for treatment. Nothing seems to have changed. Please forgive mom. We are all going to the country next week with Amma.’ After that, Molly Apa’s daughter-in-law left with Haseeb’s wife’s mobile number with her own mobile number.
Getting into the car, the wife said to make Haseeb feel better, ‘I got your favorite olive color t-shirt in your size today.’ Then he took out the newly bought t-shirt from the bag.
Haseeb subconsciously said ‘oh well’. The wife said with hypocritical indignation, “You don’t have the nature of saying “Oh well.”
Author: Sydney expatriate writer and journalist