When I pushed the calling bell of my Fupi’s (father’s sister) flat, a bewitching beauty opened the door. She possessed love-at-first sight charms. Beauty-struck, I gawked at her.
“Who are you looking for?” She asked me with a sweet smile.
When she posed the question, I had a glimpse of her ivory teeth. Such a smile transforms girls into femme fatales. I know a singer by the name of Rania who had so far topped my personal list of most captivating smilers. Today she was ousted from the apex position by this girl.
I was still in a trance-like situation. Even in this semi-conscious condition, I didn’t lose my onomastic sense. I christened her “The Ivory-toothed.”
Trying to conceal my inner-turmoil, I asked, “Isn’t this Fupi’s flat?”
Amused, the Ivory-toothed said, “No, this is mami’s (maternal uncle’s wife) flat.”
I realized that it was a foolish question. But to be treated with this celestial smile I was ready to sound foolish even a thousand times!
I clicked my mental button for an array of potential absurd questions which might trigger her heart-conquering smile once again. Seeing the “not responding” warning, I directly asked her, “Isn’t it the house of Mr. Anis Chowdhury?”
“You are right. But I didn’t know that he could be a fupi to anybody” she replied with a naughty smile and added, “Gender-wise, isn’t it an implausible claim that a gentleman is your aunt?”
The heart-quaking spells of smiles of the Ivory-toothed made me miss some cardiac-beats. Had not Fupi appeared there, I am sure, they must have called an ambulance for this love-sick young man.
“Baba, come in. Rumki, please make a cup of tea.”
So, the name of The Ivory-toothed is Rumki! “Who’s she, Fupi?”
“She’s the niece of your fupa. Rumki has recently enrolled in a university. From now on she’ll stay with us as she’s from another city,” Fupi replied.
“Good. Now tell why you have summoned me.”
“You know I habitually call you when I am in danger.”
“What type of danger? Why didn’t you tell me about your problem over the phone? In that case, I could have worked out some solutions.”
“Certainly, I could have. But in that case, you could block my number.”
“Okay, okay. I won’t block you in future. Now open your Pandora’s box.”
“No need to open any box. Just go and have a look at your fupa in his room,” Fupi said.
I could easily understand that fupaji has created some new brand of problems. Entering his room, I discovered him engrossed in a newspaper within the mosquito curtain in this pre-dusk time. Seeing me fupaji cheerfully asked, “Hello young man, how are you?”
‘I am fine. Quite a safety measure, I see!’
His reply was smart:
“I am cocooned within the curtain to save myself from the dengue-injecting mosquitos. This is the only effective way to save oneself from dengue. All other techniques are spurious. I am going to spend the whole dengue season within this curtain. Won’t go out of this No Mosquito Fly-Zone even if requested by your fupi, even if commanded by the Field Marshall, Ayub Khan.”
“Really? How are you responding to the call of nature? Have you made any makeshift arrangement for the acts inside your mosquito curtain?”
“No, my dear,” said he. “Have a look at this.” He showed me a special burkah-like dress tailor-made to be worn while going to the toilet.
Fupaji continued, “You see, this is the only foolproof technique to save your dear skin from the bite of dengue mosquitos. I advised your fupi to follow my suit but she hasn’t complied. She’ll realize how practical I am once she’s infected. I think, you should also order a dress like this. You live in Adabor area – the mosquitos there are more dangerous than those of Niketan.”
I didn’t have any idea about the fact that the mosquitos of Adabor are more dangerous than their elite counterparts residing in the posh Gulshan area! Even mosquitos maintain class-distinction these days! Proletariat mosquitos! Bourgeois mosquitos!! Entomological followers of Karl Marx even at the lower rungs of the animal kingdom!!!
To bring fupaji out of the net, I took resort to myths and fatalistic philosophy, “Even the impenetrable iron chamber made by Chand Saodagar to protect his beloved son Lakshmindar from the lethal bite of Kalnagini sent by the goddess Manasa failed miserably. If Providence desires that you die of dengue, even a 24/7 net safety can’t guarantee you a slot on earth for a nano-second beyond the allotted time.”
This sort of philosophizing on my part infuriated fupa. “Your thought-pattern reveals that both you and your fupi share the same DNA. Is it wise to cross your fingers thinking that diseases are unavoidable? Shouldn’t you be careful?”
Uttering “Sure, sure,” I came out of fupaji’s den.
Fupi saw me outside and asked, “Have you found any solution?”
“Solution to what?”
“Any solution to end your fupa’s self-imposed confinement?”
“Not yet. But don’t worry, he will voluntarily come out of it within the next two or three days.”
“Okay. But please don’t block me. Receive my calls, baba. You are my only source of hope in times of distress.”
The first thing I did after coming out of fupi’s flat was to block her number for some time.
After three days, I received a call from an unknown number.
“Hello, who’s this?”
“This is Rumki.”
“Hello, Ivory-toothed! How are you?”
“I am okay. Why have you blocked your fupi?”
I revealed the truth, “I have blocked her so that she asks you to call me from your number. You see, that technique has yielded concrete results for me.”
I couldn’t guess whether she was angry with me. “Mami wants you to come to the United Hospital right now. Is it possible?”
“Of course. God! She’s got dengue! Fupa has proved to be prophetic.”
The Ivory-toothed beauty flew into a rage. Scolding me, Rumki disclosed, “Your fupi is alright. It’s your fupaji, the man within the net who’s inflicted with dengue. Please, come fast and don’t forget to arrange B+ blood.”
With the spontaneity of reflex action, I pronounced, “Aha, Lakshmindar!”
[Written in the light of a Facebook status in Bangla posted on Ex-Cadet Forum by Anonymous.]
Sarwar Morshed is an Associate Professor at the Department of English, University of Chittagong. His works have appeared, among others, in The Bosphorus Review of Books, The Bombay Literary Magazine, City: Journal of South Asian Literature, Contemporary Indian Literary Review and the Ashvamegh.