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Kuber & Alaka

It was on an evening, during one of my summer vacations to our village , I heard this news. Badabapa informed as he returned from the weekly village market , "Kubera Buda passed away. I have to go for his funeral preparation"

"What ?!" Exclaimed Badama, who was then draining rice gruel from the cooked rice pot. Even my mother gasped an awe. Everyone in the house including my father, grandmother, brother & cousins gathered near Badabapa to get more information.

He narrated:

 “It was at the twilight when Vishnu Bhai was on his way to the market, just casually knocked at his house to enquire about his well being, the old man did not answer. Even the door was not locked from inside. As he entered the house he found the old man laying on the floor on a grass mattress. He thought the old man was sleeping. He tried to wake him up by gently shaking him but he found the old man all cold and stiff. The old man died in sleep while he held an old cotton Shari; may be of Alaka Kudi.

I must go now, villagers must have gathered for the last rites”

"The old man must have died, grieving his beloved wife", said my grandmother with sadness as badabapa and my father left for the old man hut.

"Yes," Said badama sitting still near the kitchen.

Grandma narrated of her own....

When I came to this village after marrying your father-in -law, Kubera was then the most jovial man and the eligible bachelor of the village. His father, Ananta Dada, was then working in Calcutta. They were then the  richest family in the village. Though rich they were, but gentle was his mother and was very near and dear to me. Her name was Sundari. As name as beautiful was she. So was his son, Kubera. He called me Kunatali Nuabou. and to him (Your Father-in-law) he called Bhagu Bhai. Since we were of equal age, we had a good teasing friendship. That fellow teased me like anything. For a year or so, since I was new , I tolerated. As we became more acquainted, it was I who surpassed him in teasing.

"When he got married?", asked my mother.

"It was about three years after our marriage", Replied Grandma and continued

His marriage was altogether a strange affair. It was one early morning all of a sudden, Ananta Dada came to our house and said to your father-in-law, " I am getting Kubera married today at Gorakmuth. Please come for the wedding, son"

"What?!  all of a sudden? with whom" asked your father-in-law, " and when did you arrived from Calcutta?"

"These are too many questions and I will answer all of them, but not now . I have to call many people in the village and I have very little time", replied Ananta Dada.

The whole village was in curiosity and to many of them it was against normal customs. Many even resisted the marriage. But the old man was determined.

It was only at the Gorekh Muth the whole truth was revealed.

Kubera was getting married to a girl of about 15 to 16 years of age.  Round fair face, unlike any common village girl in the vicinity.

Ananta Dada told everyone that, he has brought the only daughter of his old poor friend in Calc in view of giving marriage to his only son Kubera, for which he had promised the former.

Someone in the crowd asked , " Why such a rush?"

 To this the Ananta Dad had replied

"I just can't keep a young virgin as such in my house. You people will raise many questions."

"Now also, we are asking questions, What is her family background?", many among the villagers shouted at the old man.

"My fellow friends, this village is not just everything you see. The world has changed. Our Country is partitioned"

"Partitioned? what do you mean by partitioned? and what is her relationship with this partition" he was asked again.

"At least  all must be knowing that. Our country got freedom from British rule recently. Though the British left our country but made a big breach by partitioning the country in three parts. West Pakistan, India & East Pakistan. My old friend's native is in the parts of present East Pakistan. To secure the future of his only daughter, he requested me to take care of his daughter. And I am just Keeping my promise given to an old friend"

"Is she Hindu?" shouted one from the crowd.

"Yes, She is Hindu?"

"What caste?" asked somebody in the crowd

"Caste was never a matter for me. All I know, she is Hindu, beautiful & a suitable choice for my son", Replied the stubborn old man.

"What Kubera feels about it?" Your father-in- low among the crowd asked to the old man.

"Kubera is my son. He is my blood. He knows, I will never push him into darkness"

There was an affirmative simile in the face of kubera.  

The marriage took place.

The girl was indeed beautiful like a doll with round face. And the funniest part was that she did not know a single word in Odiya. Whenever she was asked any question she would shyly look towards Ananta dada for a translation.

"What Kubera, How will you mange?"  I teased him, " You should start learning Bangla Bhasa"

"Why should I, Why there is nothing in the world to do? she should learn odiya instead"

I went near the girl, and asked her, " Nam ki tumar? (What is your name?)"

She looked me in a strange eye with a beautiful smile in her face and replied, " Amar nam Aaloka" (May name is Alaka)"

"Samporke ame holo tumar jaa" (I will be your sister -in- law In relation)

"eeego, ki sundar bangla tumake asi" (Oh! god, so good bangla you speak)

" How come you speak Bangla?"  all of a sudden I interrupted grandma.

"Boy, I lived nearly two months in calcatta when I visited my brother who was then working  there in Britannia company. Then I learnt the language", Boasted grandma.

"But Alaka khudi could speak odiya", said badamaa.

Yes, she picked the language fast. May be within months after marriage she was almost speaking in odiya.  

So happy they were, a small little family.
Kubera and Alaka were left alone. Being childless Alaka was tagged as "Barren Woman" by women folks and never welcomed in any pious occasions in the village. Kubera disliked this treatment to his wife and consider whole village as his enemy. He was transformed from a friendly Jovial attitude to a hostile Grinch type of attitude. He was feared by children and one point of time consider the devil of the village and his wife a dreaded witch who sucks blood at night.
It was one odd day, the villagers decided to made him move out of the village. Your Father in law resisted the decision but no one was there to support him; Rather we were  threaten to get similar treatment if we were going against the decision. That day the poor woman cried like anything. She kept on requesting me Kuntali Apa , "Please do Something". 
All I could do is to  just to shed tears for her. I was helpless.
That day Kubera moved out of the village and made a small house near his agricultural field. And the couple lived there till the end of their lives; they never moved back to their original house in the village. 
After couple of month when hostile atmosphere in the village was normalized and people realized that Kubara & Alaka was wrongly blamed and were plotted out of animosity with Kuabar ; Few people including your father in law, went to apease Kuabera and requested him to come back to his original house in the village. Kubera declined to return and said that they are at peace in that little hut. 
As our agricultural land was near Kubera's hut, I used to take after noon meal for your father in law and sat for few times with Alaka and at times pack extra curry or dish for the couple too. She used to love my cooking. But I always carved for her appreciation; which she never gave after that fateful event when they were mercilessly thrown away from village. 
Alaka loved all of my sons, specially his father (Grandma pointed at me). She would have been a loving mother if  God would have blessed her a child. 
Remaining all you all know....
I was in bhubaneswar that year, may it has been more than three year,Alaka Died, is int it?
"Yes" replied Badama, " I very well remember that day, Kubera Dada cried like a child and was cursing the whole village for its merciless treatment to a homeless woman. The whole village was standing in shame."
Grandma started crying, as she tried cover her mouth by pulling one end her veil covering her head. All our eyes were moist.

But the happiness lasted for short. It was revealed that Alaka could not conceive and have a baby.

It shocked Sundari Khudi a lot.  She went each and every temple, offered alms but in vain. She could not see the face of her grandchildren and died few years after. Shortly after Ananta dada also died. 


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