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Translated from the Bangla short story (Chheley-Ta) written by Sandipan Chattopadhyay (1933-2005). The original Bangla text  was first published by Tarzan Minibook – 11 in 1980 and reproduced by Ripan Arya through his Facebook profile on 21st January 2015. Dedicated to Kamlesh the ‘solution kid’ and the Kamleshes of the world.
– Hey, do you have parents?
– No.
– Both dead?
-Yes
– Sisters?
-No
– Are you alone?
– yes
Silence.

  • what do you do?
    -i beg
  • how much do you get every day?
  • 20 paisa. 30 paisa.
  • is that enough?
  • yes
  • What do you eat?
    -MuRi, mostly
    Silence.

  • how much did you make today?

  • i haven’t begged today
  • why?
  • didn’t feel like
  • feeling sick?
  • no.
    Silence.

  • Nice shirt. Chains and all! did you buy it?

  • No
  • Did anyone give it?
    -No
  • Where did you get it from?
  • The drain
  • O
    Silence.

  • and the pant?

  • mom gave this
    Silence.

  • Saw your mom die?

  • yes
  • what happened?
  • she was sick
  • where did she die?
  • there. there.
  • what was her name?
  • Gouri
  • And dad’s?
    -Suryaprasad Singh
  • Ever seen your dad?
  • No
  • Mom told his name?
  • Yes
  • how long back did he die?
  • many days
  • what’s your age? Seven?
  • many days.
    Silence.

  • Are you sick?

  • No
  • Do you feel any pain?
  • No
  • Can you sleep?
  • Yes
  • Where do you sleep?
  • Here
  • On this rug?
  • Yes
    -If it rains?
  • Let it
  • do you dream?
  • yes
  • can you recall?
  • no
  • did you dream your mom?
  • yes, once
  • can you recall?
  • no
  • how’s your shit?
  • hard and sticky
    Silence.

  • heard of Jyoti Basu?

  • no
  • Indira Gandhi?
  • no
  • Shakti Chattopadhyay?
  • no
  • Uttam Kumar?
  • I don’t know Uttam Kumar
  • Never seen a movie?
  • No
  • Where does the sun rise from?
  • Here, there, everywhere!
  • Do you know the name of your country?
  • Country?
  • This, the land, the soil where you are sitting?
  • BT Road
    Silence.

  • Aren’t you scared?

  • No
  • Of no one?
  • I’m scared of the police
  • You didn’t beg today. So, what did you eat?
  • That pipkin of curd
  • The one there that the shop has thrown away?
  • Yes
  • So, you scraped the curd stuck inside?
  • Yes
    Silence.

  • You know that dog?

  • Yes, it is my dog!
  • Your dog?
  • My mom used to take care of it
  • What’s its name?
  • Robi. Oi Robi – Ooss. Ooss.
    Silence.

  • Remember what I asked you first?

  • ‘Do you have parents?’
  • One of your eyes is huge and red – do you know this?
  • No
  • Don’t you look at mirrors?
  • Looked at one long ago
    Silence.

What’s your name?
Ganesh.


Translated by Atindriyo Chakraborty. He is a poet from Kolkota

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