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Kusum Bora
Date of Publish: 2017-08-05

The Perfect Bride

The girls who exhibit themselves as serious outside actually have shallow and flighty minds. The girls with dimples on their cheeks when they laugh are naughty. I don’t know what kind of virtues the long haired girls and those with fine, long eyebrows possess. For Nobou and Bhanti those are girls who are like Goddess Laksmi. I have an awful reputation as I have a habit of criticizing girls. My Bhanti is of the opinion that for this very reason, no girl would come to her life as her dear sister-in-law. According to her, I have to live my life looking at the pictures of girls on calendars, printed by bidi companies, hanging by my bed side.

It is easy to get married. But to get the girl of your choice is difficult to find. As my parents are no longer alive, the responsibility of getting me settled lies on the shoulders of my Kakaideu and nobou. If not, folks around would unnecessarily carp about it. Therefore the logical solution is that I must focus myself on getting married. These are the words that my Kokaideu has been talking about in his conversation with his circle of friends.

“This cannot continue anymore, find a girl or tell us if there is someone, we’ll arrange the marriage” – these are the Nobou’s commandments.

This is precisely what my problem is. I have come across many a girl on buses and trains, schools and colleges. I had also found quite a number of girls. However the quandary is that I have to marry only one. To select one among these hundreds of girls is such a herculean task, such a poignant task, how can I make Nobou understand that! I am of such an age, when one finds every girl good looking and beautiful. It is now that I think I should have rather fallen in love. Golap, Kuxo and Haren had done just the right thing. In any case they did not have to lose their hair in turmoil like me while getting married.

“My lad, is there any dearth of girls in this country? There are so many girls that they are going to be ignored even by the ducks. Just give your consent; there would be hundreds of them rushing in hanging by your ears and head.” There are my Pehi’s words of love- “You are anyway going to get married; so you better do it fast, let me enjoy the feast before dying.” Absolute logic. Humans are mortal. Everyone will die someday. So it does not make any difference whether you die now or later. Such inverse logic invariably has a single consequence-Pehi’s hand would leave the Khundona and shoot towards my ears. I am totally flooded by her affection. I feel like saying, in a world divested by artificial, adulterated and uncaring people, something akin pure love still exists. People have not yet lost their souls. They are right, I also desire affection.

I too yearn for an affectionate heart. My widowed Pehi had taken off her Thuria earrings to donate them during the time of Chinese Aggression. Some human minds have retained their purity even while surrounded everywhere by the fake and adulterated.

I had shown a couple of girls to Nobou. She did not find them worthy though. She immediately started finding faults just as a teacher does with her students. The eyes aren’t black enough, hair is not long enough, or the nose isn’t sharp enough etc. The fact of the matter remains that I couldn’t find the girl of my choice. I surrendered like a soldier taken prisoner in a war. I let my Nobou know “Even if you are to get a Dhekithora for a girl, I won’t have any complains.” Nobou let out a victorious smile hearing my words. I also smiled, politely. The truth is that even if I were to bring this year’s winner of the Miss World pageant, Nobou or my Bhanti would have definitely found some flaws in her.

One day Nobou suddenly discovered Anupama at a wedding reception. Nobou and Kakaideu along with Bhanti had gone to the wedding reception of Nobou’s uncle in Tezpur. Anupama was glittering like gold amidst a group of girls who were sauntering around in the wedding hall. Nobou, Kakaideu and Bhanti had formed a three-membered commission and scrutinized her from all points possible on the day of Joorun and on the day of marriage. The three-member committee passed her giving her hundred percent marks. What was even more appealing than her raw turmeric like complexion was her hair – as dark as the moonless night. Nabou admits that she has not seen such dark, long and silky hair in her life. Nabou said that she was jealous of her after seeing the auburn tresses. Anupama’s long, dark hair reminded Bhanti of beautiful ‘Banalata’ of Jibanananda Das many a times. They are saying that Kakaideu has spent a complete day and night’s time lying back on his tummy in the bed to jot down a poem in praise of the beauty of Anupama’s hair and that he had sent that to one of the magazines.

I must say Nobou and these people of mine have brought down the wax of my ears by talking about Anupama. Nabou said, “We have already talked to her parents and have prepared everything. If you don’t get married now, you would better offer a palmful of water for a wedding sometime ahead”. Bhanti added that if I ever happen to lose a girl like Anupama somehow, that would be like hanging a Godrej lock in the path of good fortune in my life.

Yeah, they say that a woman’s beauty lies in her hair. If ever some battle or skirmish has taken place because of some cascade of hair could be a research topic for a student of History. There are fairy tales, however. When I happen to be in Shillong, my friend Jadab often says “Look at the faces of country girls, but look at the heads and the blood-red toes of the girls of Shillong.” The ones in the Assamese messes of Shillong has granted him the title “Raxaraj” or the “King of Comedy.”

Once, there was scarcity of fish in Shillong and Jadab comes out with this joke: the middle-class people of Shillong don’t eat fish. They try not to forget the shape of a fish by watching now and then the fishes being raised by the Government. He says many more things like that.

At last I give my consent to Nobou’s proposal. Though they asked me repeatedly to go once and meet Anupama in person, I didn’t. But there are definitely no doubts that Anupama is a beautiful girl. My friend Mukul informed me in a letter, “Anupama is reputed in Darrang College as a girl of beauty. She sings well too. I will be happy to see both of you together.” My wedding happened, at last. The bride is Anupama.

I could not restrain my greed to steal a look her hair - bun while sitting beside the holy fire. I did not get a chance to see her pretty face hanging like a ripe mango under the veil of the Sador. That I would see in the future. There won’t be any dearth of time.

After the nuptials, the house turned upside down with visitors coming to get a glimpse of the new bride. Everyone was unanimous in her opinion – she is a beautiful girl. The pair compliments each other. My Pehi came and blessed Anupama by kissing loudly and profusely on her cheeks and face. While leaving, she whispered in my ears, “My lad! You have picked up an absolute piece of raw gold. The mane of hair has the touch of Laksmi all over it. Yes, I can indeed die peacefully now.”

The day of our wedding night. Two young souls together. An intense night - a moonlit night filled with a thousand imaginations, a thousand dreams. My affection grew towards Anupama, who was sitting all huddled up, transmitting the aroma of a just married bride. Stroking my fingers through that rare, endangered mane of hair, I said, “You know Anupama, it was all because of your gorgeous tresses that you are now so close to me.”

Hiding her face in my bosom, Anupama smiled with a blush and uttered a few words, words that left me totally confounded. The faces of Nobou, Kakaideu, Bhanti and Pehi started whirling around me in a flicker of my eyes. Anupama spoke again, in a very soft tone, “They were far prettier four years ago, when my dada had bought them from Calcutta.” With a strange feeling of wonder I was looking at the long lock of hair that the smiling Anupama had undone from her head, and at the same time, I was also looking at the Anupama who had come closer my bosom in search of assurance. Who is actually dearer to me, the mane of hair or Anupama?

Kusum Bora

Translation from Assamese into English by Mukuta Bora.

 

About the author

Storyteller Kusum Bora was born in Hatbor, Kaliabor, in 1938. He graduated from Nagaon college. He started writing from 1959 and has seven short story anthologies to his credit. His collected short stories was also published in 2015. His stories are satirical commentaries on the state of the society and are well known for satirically vivisecting the political and social conundrum that often keep on floating up in the news. His use of language is also much praised, especially his use of many rare words that are found in the Assamese language. Humour is his forte and the Assamese village life his setting. Besides being a short story writer, he is also a prolific playwright and poet, and is also known for his song writing and singing abilities. This octogenarian writer is the younger brother of famous Assamese writer late Mahim Bora.

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