Dulari’s Colours

About Sufia Khatoon

Sufia Khatoon is an Editor, Translator, Author, Poet, Artist, Illustrator, Designer, Social Activist and Philanthropist, Curator, PR and Event Manager.
Her Poems and short stories have been published in various National and International anthologies.
Her Bengali poem got featured in Tollywood Movie ANTOR SHOTTA starring Soumitro Chatterjee recently
She has Co-Founded Rhythm Divine Poets group initiating poetic movements globally.
She has received recently Amio Santa Award 2017 for her social efforts.
She is an Art Curator, Artist and Illustrator having exhibited her works in more than 20 group shows in reputed art galleries and widely appreciated for her solo show on Peace and Voices. She has illustrated International Poetry books of repute.
She is the owner of Sufi's Touch, a lifestyle designing brand that focuses on artistic products and recycling art.

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Dulari’s face shadowed by the tall, enormous and haunting 200 year’s old Banyan tree in the graveyard of one of the dingy lanes of Tangra, Kolkata, was like the crimson Sun of Summer. Disappearing yet quite distinctly visible. Today was like any other day, the graveyard welcomed another dead body, mourners and the ceremony of the dead always left an aftertaste of fresh flowers of grief in passerby’s. Sometimes Dulari would shed tears, sometimes she had only words of solace for the grievers and sometimes she had nothing to say. She had been living in the thatched hut in 24 no. graveyard in south of Tangra with her seventy year old ailing husband, who had been serving as a grave digger to the land owners for the past fifty years. She was in her mid- forty’s with no children and no dreams.

As a fifteen year old bride, Dulari had sworn to never to go back to her life on the streets. Even if Prakash was a bit older and rough at times with her, in her twenty years of marriage he had never kept her hungry. Hunger was an entity that made people do anything.

How could she forget the lecherous remarks, the lusty touches of strangers, the fear of death and an uncertain future? Had it not been for Prakash, she would have been either sold off or forced into the sex trade. Prakash offered her a life of security. The vermillion red mark was everything for her but now it too was uncertain, sooner or later waiting to submerge like the setting Sun.

Here, in the graveyard, she was safe and free. No one dared to enter in the tomb of bones because of an strange fear. For her though, the dead bought solace; it was the world of humans she was more afraid of.

This was her usual routine. She would tier herself out so that she wouldn’t have to think about the time when she would have to live on her own. She was very much capable of earning for herself but she didn’t know how to defend herself if that time ever came.


Three months had passed after the last rites of her husband. Dulari was learning to live on her own. She had started working as domestic help in Saira Khanum’s house in the upper middle class section of the neighbourhood. Saira too was a widow with a seven year old daughter Shabana, who was her strength to live life to the fullest. She worked with an NGO for the self-development of women by training them in various vocational courses.

During her mourning phase Dulari had prepared herself to face the world. Every day for some time she would go around the neighbourhood looking for various odd jobs. It was a tough time but she hadn’t given up. She had realized after a while, how dependent she had become on her husband and how independent Saira was, irrespective of being a woman and a mother. She was an inspiration to all the women in the NGO. Her husband had died in an accident when Shabana was only four years old; since then Saira worked day and night to support her family and she did it without any fuss or regret.

Slowly Dulari found a new voice, she would accompany Saira to her trips in the villages where the women would work on group projects and talk about their dreams. She joined the courses to learn about the new technologies and scopes one could get to make life better.

There was nothing wrong in dreaming or being a woman. It didn’t matter if one was born on the streets or a rich family, being an individual with a voice was the one thing that could change our lives and the lives around us. She found a new hobby, a passion for painting and she would spend hours in picturising herself in the vast open landscapes. She would take long walks, she made friends with complete strangers and shared her story proudly with the children.

Everyone was excited about the month of festivities, especially Holi in Kolkata. The city shops were lined up with spray guns, colour pigments, colour balls and everything one needed to play Holi with friends and family. Shabana too loved to play Holi with her friends. Dulari was helping her to prepare for the Holi party in Dua housing complex. Everyone in the neighbourhood was invited – the liftman, the helps, the dudh wala, watchman, rickshawala‘s, van pullers and everyone who knew Saira and her warmth.

Shabana brought back flashes of her once innocent dreams.

Dulari loved playing Holi on the streets. It was one festival that bonded everyone, no matter the differences, the fights, the sorrows – everything was forgotten and forgiven while playing with colours.

Dulari’s colour was green, like the vast fields of mustard flower dipped in the fresh musky green of the earth. She remembered her first Holi with Prakash. She had worn sky blue salwar kameez that she had received as blessings from her mother. She had no one now except Saira and Shabana, seeing them play with colours healed her lonely heart. She felt for the first time she belonged somewhere, a place where everything was beautiful, everything was pure. Soon she was immersed in the merriment and laughter with a prayer on her lips for those who had no strength to love life, and to find themselves again.

People no longer scared her, neither the dead. She had later moved out of the thatched hut with memories of some good days, leaving her fears and her past far behind while the old Banyan tree still sheltered the dead.

The worst had already passed her and now it was time to move on. Live a colourful life maybe?


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1 Response Comment

  • Rakesh Pandey13/03/2017 at 1:18 PM

    A very beautiful story! Loved the detailing! ?

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