Trans: Mahesh Paudyal ‘Prarambha’
It is Saturday. Since quite early in the morning, I have been feeling that I have forgotten something important. But I can never remember. I am, however quite sure: I have forgotten something for the day. Do I have to go anywhere? Do I have something to tell someone? Is it that I have some give-and-take with someone? No. As on other holidays, do I have to wash and bath? No, I don’t have that too, for today. I have neither this, nor that. What then do I have, after all? However hard I try to remember, I end up helpless. I am however sure: I have forgotten something, and it is quite an essential thing.
I stand for long, trying to recollect if I have to accomplish a task indoor. No, nothing of this sort is pending. I rummage things, changing their positions from here to there, tying to see if there is something I have lost, and need to find. No, there is nothing I have lost; nor is there anything that has been misplaced. About clothes, I have missed none, because as I do on other holidays, I have the same yellow pullover, and the same kotraiz pants on. The vest within, and the underwear are intact too. These are smalls things we remember when we wear the clothes without.
Inside the room, I neither put my shoes on, nor the cap on the head. They are not needed. I have worn everything that I need to. What remains then? I cannot remember having forgotten anything special. Getting up early in the morning, I have had the tea my mother brewed on the hearth striking splinters together, and burning her hands. Though cigars go along outdoor, I have admonished my nephews to prepared the snuff at home, and have taken. Following it, I have accomplished everything: toiletries, ablution and eating. After meal, the same nephews, or brothers readies the snuff, and brought the hookah-chilim* to me. I have good memory of all these things. What remains now is the snack, and it is not taken twice or thrice a day. It’s not yet snack-time. Even if it is, and if no one reminds, my mother surely will, for she loves me very much, and I can never doubt that. Or, if that doesn’t happen, I can instantly remember it when I see other members in the family, eating. The hunger inside the belly too will automatically remind, when the right time comes.
O God! How can I remember what I have forgotten? I call mother and ask, “Mom, do you remember what I have forgotten today?”
“See what he talks! What a man is this? How can I tell what works you had, and what you forgot? Or, you must have told me yesterday to remind you of such and such thing today. How can I, otherwise, tell what you have forgotten?”
“It’s okay; leave it then,” I tell to avert her habit of beating about the bush for a trivial thing. I call my sister then. Next, I call my brother, and the nephews and nieces – turn by turn, into the room and make them sit. They are all taken aback, and keep looking on my face with some fear. I am rather infuriated by then.
“Come on; tell me what I have forgotten today,” I say, charging upon them with ferocity. No one can speak a word. When my brother, unlike others, pulls his eyelashes upward, and looks at me in a frightening way, I tell him, “Why do you look at me that way, as though you want to eat me up? Aren’t you ashamed that you cannot even tell such a minor thing? Is this what your education taught you?”
“How could we know what you forgot?” he answers back.
“O, how you answer back – You idiot! Stupid! Who else will know the affairs of this home, if not you? Will that black dog know?”
At the last of my words, he commands all others to stand up, and says, “Come, let’s go out. Saandai is out of his mind today.” With hands on the agitated head, I experience a sort of vertigo, and mumble, “It’s these rascals that have maddened me. Else, why would I get insane in vain?”
I remember that the thing I have forgotten is something quite essential for the day – that must happen, or must be done, or must be attended or something like that. Somewhere deep in the heart, the flashes of its memory come. But, no; the essential thing has not been remembered till now. The mind has somehow turned empty and hollow. And heart? Like an empty leather pouch! I don’t reckon anything more than that. What if I feel more! Nothing can fill it.
Time passes. I don’t know what time it is. My sister brings me a plate of the daytime snaks. Carelessly, I throw it up, go to the windowside and stand stunned. As soon as sister leaves, brother walks in, and trumpets, “Someone has come to meet me downstairs.” I hear him clearly only on the third repetition. When I am so much occupied with myself, I faintly remember having told him, “Who’s that? Send upstairs.” I cannot however ascertain what I actually said.
Brother leaves. Immediately a man walks in, and says, “What’s that you have been doing?”
“Nothing!” I answer, asking him to sit. Throwing myself on a seat too, I say, “I have badly forgotten something important today.”
“What’s it?” he asks.
“If only I could remember. If I could, why would I tell you I have forgotten? What a man you are!” I say and laugh out. He also laughs as his own foolish query.
We then start talking – about family business, about jobs, about schools and colleges, and about the days gone by. But I cannot relieve myself from the torture of forgetting. Though I am engrossed in talks with him, my mind bears the hangover, trying hard to remember the forgotten thing.
I remember the entire world; however the thing sought would not come to my memory at any cost.
I call sister again, and ask her to offer my friend some snack. Sister too is no less a wit. She cashes the chance and charges, “Weren’t you irking everyone a while ago?” I signal her to be silent, lest my friend should get the secret.
The day withers into evening. Trying to stand up, my friend says, “Come, let’s be quick. We are getting late.”
“Where are we late to?” I answer him in surprise.
“Where else? Didn’t we decide that we would go to that place, and I would come at yours to take you along? Did you forget having said you would be waiting for me?”
Yes, that’s it! I recall the dream, forgotten for three generations! It is this very thing, for which I embroiled the whole family since morning. Yes, it is about waiting for my friend, who would come to take me!
Oops what a slip! Forgetting must have a limit too!
Hookah-chilim: pipe with hashish snuff
Saandai: a relational word, used to address an elder brother, who is the younger one among other elder brothers
(Source : English Samakalinsahitya)