Bangles


Jannatul Ferdous Tulona


Mizan Mia was on his usual morning stroll wearing an unusual smugness today. If his passers-by were not half-beat to death by the toils of summer and work, they would surely be entertained to hear him faintly humming “ek je chilo shonar konna…”, devoid of the original lyrics and melody of the song. His face was coloured brightly with a melody, and ripe with dimples that became occasionally visible this lucky morning.

For those who did not know, the guest appearance of his jolly mood was brought on by the sweet burden of fresh notes in his dirty pockets. Not a lottery, but surely by the will of his lucky stars — his maternal uncle had come for his annual visit to their ragged, one-bedroom living place from a heavenly place called “Bidesh”, and he did not come with empty hands. His uncle was not only rich but also a generous man. Some of his generosity was now inside Mizan’s pants. Mizan felt rich, too.

He pondered for a while whether to head straight to his destination, and use up all his new found fortune, or to hang out on the streets for longer, dreaming of becoming a taxi driver in “Bidesh” some day. The former desire won, without a doubt. He could not wait to use his superpowers today.

Elbowing through the mass of men and women crowding the bazaar, he reached the farthest end of it, to a woman in her forties, guarding an assortment of jewellery. He was greeted with “Ekhane ki re?” — in a tone of equal amounts of suspicion and sarcasm blended well. “Churi kinmu,” he replied with pride.

Khadija, the jeweler, inspected the integrity of his intentions with a frowning face. Mizan inspected the stacks of bangles showcased before him. He was unable to choose the prettiest design. There were classic single-coloured columns of glass ones, followed by an array of criss-cross, stone-embedded ones. A particular green, pearl-laced dozen of bangles finally stole his heart. Using up all his wealth within a minute, he made the purchase, increasing Khadija’s surprise instead of dispelling it. Khadija’s frown followed Mizan until he disappeared into the crowd.

Forty minutes later, he was seen again, in a different crowd — a classroom of 65, which was a Maths class. The extra colour on his brown cheeks and increased nervous reflexes had no connection with his affinity for the subject, but rather for the fair girl with brown hair, seated silent like a stone, two rows ahead. Her name was Mim. That was almost all he knew about her, and the fact that she had no friends. She had a collection of multi-coloured bangles which she would shuffle carelessly in Maths class, and her favourite colour was green. The last piece of data had been detected by Mizan himself, as she wore the same green dress to school every day, and sometimes, with a dirty hijab. While the rest of the class waited for the exam results,  maintaining a nervous murmur, Mizan waited with his heart ringing like a fire alarm, clutching the white box hidden carefully beneath his shirt.

Miss Rupa entered five minutes later, with a weary smile on her forever vibrant face. Her pupils were too young and excited to detect the difference. She handed out the papers one by one, calling out the roll numbers. Mizan was number 33, and he walked up without any anticipation to collect the report of his sins. Just as he was about to fold it to hide the marks, a 60 percent caught his eyes. Mizan would not be this shocked if Mim had come up and talked to him. He had maintained a constant failing grade from class five to seven. He imagined that he would do the same this year, despite all the extra homework given by Miss Rupa.

Apparently, fate was flooding Mizan Mia with fortune this year! Slowly, in disbelief, he went back to his seat. He was unable to look at his teacher. Guilt and gratitude overwhelmed him, as he remembered the countless times he stole her shoes, hid her glasses, and played insane pranks to drive Miss Rupa crazy. With the papers in his hand, he felt foolish. He realised what she had done for him and the class, with her relentless patience and care. Interrupting these thoughts and the chaos in the class, Miss Rupa called for attention, to deliver the saddening news that would make her voice, and her students’ hearts heavy. It was the last day of school for her.

Months ago, she had applied for a transfer to be united with her family back in the city. As she was going soon, she felt as if she were being banished from her own land and people. Her students began to walk towards her in pairs and groups, hugging and holding her until they had covered her up. Only Mizan stayed back. Grief had weighed him down; he was unable to move. He felt sour with sadness accumulating in a lump that was blocking his throat. When Rupa had finally managed to free herself from the crowded embrace of her crazy students, she felt better. She had had enough hugs for a year. Shaken and disheveled, she rose to travel to the corner of her room to pick up her bag and belongings. And there, she discovered a white box lying on top of the table. In a state of confusion, Rupa opened it to discover perhaps the most beautiful dozen bangles she had ever been gifted.

Green, with pearl lace on top.

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