Friday, February 29, 2008


Angana was a motherless child. She was hardly six years old. Unlike her mother, she possessed no extra-ordinary beauty. Her skin was not fair, her cheeks did not turn pink under the hot sun, and she did not have curly locks. She never looked like a li’l princess. She was a simpleton, a plain-Jane in true sense. But what made her different from the rest of the crowd was her pair of eyes. Big-black eyes in the shape of lotus petal. It was where she resembled her mother.

Angana’s father never hated her but never loved her too. He always kept himself busy in his work. He used to leave home early in the morning and come back late at night. Angana was left in the care of Rosa aunty, the caretaker. Rosa aunty was great and loved and cared for Angana a lot. She was only paid for taking Angana’s care but she showered her immensely pure and selfless love on her too. Nobody in this world can take the place of a mother but Rosa aunty at least tried her best to be the substitute.

But what Angana craved was the love of her father. Many a time she used to be awake late at nights just because she wanted to have dinner with him. And used to wake up at dawn just to plant him a good-morning kiss. But all this had always resulted in Rosa aunty getting a big scolding from her dad. Thus Angana had stopped waiting for her dad. But only the darkness of the night knew how she still craved to sleep on her dad’s lap. How she craved to hear stories from him and how she craved to give good-morning kiss to him every morning. (But inside her heart there was a deep faith which still laid unshaken that one day her dad will love her…but no one knows when.)

Angana’s dad was not bad at heart. It was not that he did not want to love her only daughter but he was helpless. Why??? … Because whenever he used to see Angana’s face, it reflected the face of his dead wife to him. He was deeply in love with his wife but what made him almost hate his only child was the death of his wife. Yes…Kangana (Angana’s mother) died while giving birth to Angana. Someway or the other the father blamed her only daughter to be the reason behind her wife’s death.

On one fine vacation, he sent Angana along with Rosa aunty to a sea beach for few days. Two other servants also accompanied them. He did not do this to get rid of his daughter but just to spend some time in seclusion. He was actually tired of ignoring his daughter day and night. He himself wanted to have a day or two off from playing the painful hide-n-seek with his daughter. To be very honest it was becoming quite unbearable for him to see the pain…the never ending wait…and the hopeless hope in his daughter’s eyes.

At the sea-beach Angana loved to walk bare-foot on the sand. While the other children were busy making sand-castles and collecting shells and colorful stones, she kept herself busy in walking bare-foot on the wet sand. She was never interested in building sand-castles …may be because time and circumstances had turned her more mature than the kids of her age…or may be because what she wanted was a home and not a dream-castle. In fact she was more interested in watching the crabs, the turtles, and the insects busy making holes inside the sand. Colorful fishes …unaware of human-existence…playing inside the sea water attracted her more than the colorful shells. She took more interest in observing the birds feeding their small ones rather than throwing stones in the sea water. She loved the wetness and the saltiness of the sea. But her heart used to cry when the sea-waves used to break-down into pieces on colliding with the sea shore. While every body else heard the giggling of the sea wave, she heard the painful cry of it.

On one such fine morning after having her favorite meal- Maggie, Angana came to the sea beach along with Rupu (one of her maid-servant). As usual she was exploring the joy of walking bare foot on the wet-n-cold sea beach. Suddenly something hit her bare-legs. With curiosity she kneeled down to see what it was. Ah! It was a fish bone! … A bluish white colored…fragile fishbone …with two broken bones on the left side…and one red spot on the tail bone. She picked it up with utmost care. Anyone else in her place would have thrown it away or wouldn’t even have picked it up. But she did pick it up in her small gentle hands with great love and care.

“Angu! ...Angu! … Where are you? Come here. It’s already late. Rosa aunty must be waiting for you! ...come! It’s time to go back!”… Rupu’s harsh voice reached Angana’s ears. Along with her harsh voice Rupu also came to the point where Angana was standing with her new found treasure-the fishbone. As soon as she saw Rupu, she hid the fishbone behind her back. But alas! Rupu’s eagle eyes failed to miss that Angana was hiding something from her. “What is it..? Show it to me Angu. … Yak! A fishbone! Give it to me and wash your hands…quick!” …Rupu snatched it from her hand and threw it away…far…far away… no one knows where. Angana’s heart was crying but not a single teardrop fell from her big eyes.

Holding Rupu’s hand she went back to their small and beautiful resort. There she had her lunch and then slept for a while after listening to a story from Rosa aunty.

In the evening, she again went to the beach along with Rosa aunty. But this time only to search that thrown away fishbone…with which she has fallen in deep love in the first sight itself. She went to the same point where it had hit her leg. But where to find it? She glanced a li’l here and li’l there with hopelessly hopeful eyes. Suddenly a flying eagle dropped something few yards away from that point. She went near to that dropped object taking small but curious steps. To her utmost surprise she found that same fishbone was lying there. Yes! The same fishbone! …fragile… bluish-white in color…with two broken bones on the left side and one dark red spot on the tail bone. For a moment she found a long lost happiness at least for a while. As she did not want to take any chance for the second time, she quickly kept it inside the big-fluffy red colored pocket of her white and pink flower printed knee-length-sleeveless frock.

On that night Rosa aunty told her a story on ‘faith’. How faith is more powerful than belief. Words of Rosa aunty rang in her ears again and again--- “beliefs can be broken but faith cant” and “faith can work wonders.”

At last when the darkness enveloped the earth and everybody fell asleep, Angana brought the fishbone out of her big…fluffy…red colored pocket. The fish bone was glowing in the dark. But she was not at all surprised to see the divine glow. The red spot on the tail was looking so mesmerizing, so beautiful on the glowing fish bone. But the glow in Angana’s eyes was a breath-taking beauty. Suddenly Angana closed her big-black eyes and made a wish (no one knows what) holding the fishbone close to her heart. Atlast sleep came to her and took her to a world of dreams holding her li’l hands.

As the vacations were almost over, they packed their bags and left for home the very next morning. The fish bone was still inside her pocket. After reaching home the first thing Angana did was to keep her treasure inside an old pencil box.

In the afternoon she sat to do painting which she loved to do a lot. With her li’l hands she made many untaught childlike strokes. That day she painted ants, crabs, fish, eagle. She painted a pair of yellow kangans. She painted a picture of the rain falling on the marigold flower pot kept on the small aangan. But she did not paint that fishbone and she never did that in her life. (May be because she was bit too possessive about that or may be one knows why...? Throughout her life she safeguarded the fishbone with an eagle eye…with utmost love and care)

It was the dinner time. After giving a kiss dipped in love and innocence to the fishbone, Angana went straight to the dinning room. She was really very hungry and wanted something to eat immediately. Suddenly the door ball rang and father came inside surprising everybody in the house. After washing hands and feet, the father came straight away to the dinning room where Angana was waiting for her dinner. Every body was surprised but nobody said a word… after all no body had the courage to do so and moreover why should they..???

Father adjusted himself on the dinning chair and asked Angana to come and sit on his lap. Angana’s eyes were the mirror to her heart. It reflected the thoughts that were going inside her heart. Her feelings mingled with fear, happiness, shyness, astonishment were getting reflected in her big-black eyes.

Very slowly filled with mixed feelings, she went and sat on her father’s lap. And that night and from then every night her father made his daughter eat from his own hand.

On that night and from then every night Angana slept by keeping her head on her dad’s lap.

She never heard stories from Rosa aunty anymore but from her dad. (although sometimes she goes to Rosa aunty for her stories.)

From then onwards every morning she used to get up early in the morning just to give her dad a good-morning kiss.

On that night and from then onwards every day and night Angana’s face never reflected the face of her dead mother anymore. The dead face was now replaced by a forever smiling happy face of her mother. The big-black eyes of Angana- the only child of her dad now immortalized her mother forever for her dad.

On that night…perhaps that was the only night when tears rolled down from Angana’s big-black eyes and her father caught them in his palm. That night her dad cried too. Nobody stopped each other from crying…because there was so much of solace in crying that night. That night they loved to cry together but that was the only night when they ever cried.

But the faith in Angana’s eyes kept on glowing forever in the same way the fish bone kept glowing forever inside the old pencil box. And the four words of Rosa aunty also always kept on ringing with soothing effect in Angana’s heart…mind…soul… forever and ever:


copyright © 2007 preetilatasarkar

***Dear friends... "The Fishbone" is my first short story that I wrote on 20 Jul’07 at 11:53 pm .. yes I know it's quite a long time. It's my first small step towards the beautiful world of fictions and short stories and i am loving each and every moment of it.

Hope you will like it too.