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THE BANDOPADHYAYA FAMILY OF DEEGHALKANDI

17. Friends Forever

 

Every evening, the children assembled around the tulsi plant in the courtyard for prayers and soon after, sat down to study. But during Sri Sri Thakur’s stay, they would sit around Thakur to pray. That day after the prayers were over, Thakur said, “You all sang dasera prarthene purna kara dayamaya. So the prayers of all the boys will be granted but what about the girls, ‘dasi’?” No sooner did they hear this, all the girls started singing, “dasi ra prarthana purna kara dayamaya...”

One early morning Sri Sri Thakur sat outside in the verandah with his devotees all around him. He lifted his head up and looked around for some time and exclaimed, “I don’t see the girls today. What’s the matter?” Before he could complete the sentence, all the children appeared one after the other, each carrying their baby brothers or sisters along with them. Thakur couldn’t hide his smile when he commented, “I don’t think my friends here can sing and dance today. What to do? The girls really have a donkey’s life. They won’t even move until and unless they are pushed hard.” When Malati heard them being compared with donkeys, she scowled and quipped indignantly, “Thakur! Why did you compare us with donkeys? Thakur looked at her face that had gone red and answered, “No my dear. I didn’t point at you. I was commenting on your mothers.” Malati’s mother said, “What can we do, Thakur? We are always busy with household work. If these girls don’t help then who will take care of their little brothers and sisters?”


After the children left, their grandmother came, paid her obeisance to Thakur and stood beside him. Thakur smiled at her and said, “My mother is proud of the fact that whenever Thakur comes, he prefers to stay only at her home.”

The mother also replied in the same tone, “That’s not the fact, Thakur. I am proud not only because you stay with us in this home but for the fact that you live in our hearts and have made that your home.”

Thakur then got up and said, “Okay, let’s take a tour of your home today.” Thakur went around the entire place and at the end of his tour found himself in front of the kitchen. The ladies were busy cooking. He stood leaning on the doorway, watching the ladies of the household busy like the worker bees and asked, “What all are you making today? How long will it take?” Then he came back to his room and lay down in his bed. The ladies, after finishing their work, came and sat around him, massaging his feet.

Thakur got up and asked, “Can you oil my locks today?”

They replied, “Should we call the house help?”

Thakur shook his head and said, “No, today it’s your turn.”

Malati jumped up and started putting oil in Thakur’s hair, untangling the locks while the rest of them massage his hands and legs with oil.

“What’s the time now?”

“Thakur! It’s 11 ‘o’ clock.”

“Okay, then let me go and take my bath. Let’s go over to the pond today. I will swim and you can hold onto my feet and float in the water.”

The children were elated and their smiles grew bigger and bigger touching both their ears. All of them jumped into the water one by one and kept swimming, holding onto Thakur’s feet following his instruction. No one wanted to come out.

As it was getting late, Bhuvan Maharaj shouted from the edge, “All of you have been in the water for hours. If you all don’t come out of water now, Thakur will fall sick. “

“Yes yes, we are coming out” quipped Sri Sri Thakur and in the next instant held Suradhuni’s head and forced her into the water twice. Then he laughed out loudly and said, “That was my revenge for making me swim in water for so long.” Suradhuni had gulped some water in. She barked back, “Okay then. I won’t play with you anymore, won’t even talk to you.” Bhuvan Maharaj followed Thakur out of the pond, got a towel and wiped his body dry. As Thakur sat on the chair, Malati came and started combing his hair. Suradhuni’s face flushed with anger as she stood next to Thakur, fanning him. She was determined not to speak with Thakur anymore.


Thakur looked at the puffed up face of Suradhuni and mocked, “Hey, what happened? Why are you behaving so strangely today?” Suradhuni looked away without responding. Thakur continued, “Why is your face so heavy today? What in the world is the matter with you and who are you fanning like a robot?” Still no response. Thakur was quite amused and kept smiling at the behaviour of Suradhuni. Then he said, “Okay, tell me what is it that you want from me.” As Thakur kept on asking, Malati interfered and looking at Suradhuni asked, “Why don’t you answer?” Thakur kept repeating his question, “What do you want?” In the end Suradhuni replied with a heavy voice, “Whatever you wish Thakur?” Thakur remarked, “Do you see this fan. I will give you a blow with this.”

Suradhuni promptly replied, “Yes, I know. What else can such a hard-hearted person like you give? It’s okay. I don’t mind the blow. But make sure it doesn’t hurt.”


…to be continued

Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”




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