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An Unusual Farewell

About Kathakali Mukherjee

Kathakali Mukherjee, born 1971, was a student of Sanskrit – Epigraphy and ancient Indian history. But her interest in language and literary studies led her learning another couple of European languages as well.
She worked for media libraries in Kolkata; also spent several years as technical translator, process and team manager with German and Indian software companies in Bangalore. Currently staying in Gurugram or Kolkata, she is engaged with reading and writing.
Apart from experimenting with short stories, she works on literary translation of fable and fairy tales as well as historical fictions. She is exploring the treasure trove left by esteemed Bengali and German authors between 18th-19th centuries these days.
She writes poems during her busy days when time does not permit her to sit at the writing desk.
Her blog: https://medium.com/@KathakaliM and https://www.indiblogger.in/kathakalim
Her self-published works:
"You and me" is a collection of poems https://www.amazon.in/dp/B01NCSMHK9/
And her effort of translating a selection of articles from Lokrahasya “Secrets of the Humankind – Satiric Articles by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay,”: https://pothi.com/pothi/book/ebook-kathakali-mukherjee-secrets-humankind

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The inspector discovered Pada standing at one corner outside the gate of his quarter.
“What’s that in your hand, Pada?” – the middle aged police inspector, father of four children did not fail to notice a bunch of wild flowers in his hand.

That was the inspector’s last day in the village. As an imperative of his service, he was transferred from one sub-division of the district to another every two years. He was allotted large comfortable accommodations everywhere. The past colonialist government tried making an infrastructure to ensure comfortable life for the law-keepers of the land, the practice of which was still being followed by the independent government. The inspector’s wife had given birth to his fourth child in this quarter couple of months back; reason she was not being able to look after packing and other arrangements this time after the transfer order came.

The inspector had sent for a luggage van in the morning. After passing instructions to the porters to pack everything nicely, he was coming towards the gate – worried that there was no sign of the van but time was running out.

Instead of the van, he saw Pada standing outside, that too with a bunch of wild flowers! He was surprised. He did not expect Pada to give him a farewell!

Pada, a boy of about fifteen, used to look after cattle in a village home, a neighbour of the inspector. The inspector and his wife were in good terms with the villagers. They invited not only neighbours, but also their servants for lunch during religious feasts in their home. So he knew Pada well; had found him bringing wild berries for his kids at times, but the bunch of flowers was really unexpected.

Pada was visibly embarrassed before the inspector. Fumbling, he replied, “This is for Gudia didi. She loves these flowers and told me to bring them before. I could not, ‘because these bloom at higher branches of the trees. Today you are leaving, so I thought I should bring a bunch.”

Gudia was the ten year old daughter of the inspector – the eldest one. He noticed Pada’s bringing wild fruits for her. The servant had to take cattle every day to the grazing field on the outskirts of the village surrounded by wilderness. Wild berries were abundant in those areas and the servant’s bringing those for the kids did not seem anything unusual.

But on the day of his leaving, he noticed Pada’s teary eyes, his anxious face and trembling hands holding the flowers carefully. The inspector’s voice softened. He didn’t know how to comfort him. “You feel bad that we are leaving, Pada? Wait, I will call her, you give her the flowers yourself.”

The inspector turned back to call his daughter forgetting the luggage van.

He occupied a powerful position in the society as well as in his professional sphere. People’s making offerings to please him and expecting some boon in return was not new to him. But the expression of the devotional love that expects nothing in return touched his heart. On the day when everything was being taken away, here was a moment that was meant to stay. This boy, his teary eyes, these flowers, he would carry all his life. Who wastes time ranting over a van, which he’d forget after his belongings were carried and dumped?

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