I read a story when I was in class seven. It was written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhayay. Title of the story was Mahesh. As I was sitting under blistering sun last sunday, I saw stray cows roaming around under the blazing sun in search of shade, fodder and may be water, I thought of sharing the story of Mahesh. I do not have competence to either narrate or translate the story. I shall summarise it in my way. Interested people may access Sarat Chandra’s work in the-criterion.com.
Mahesh was a bull owned by Gafoor mia. Gaffer was a subsistence farmer in rural Bengal. He had a daughter Ameena. Mahesh was like a son to Gafoor. In one season, when crop was afflicted by drought, there was scarcity of water, Gafoor was informed that Mahesh has been taken away by landlords men. Mahesh had entered landlords garden and eaten green vegetable. Sick Gafoor, which most subsistence farmers were then and now, pleaded with Zamindar to have Mahesh released. When his entreaties fell in deaf ears, Gafoor paid the penalty by selling whatever little possession he had and got Mahesh released. After reaching his home, Gafoor asked his daughter for some rice extract. Many poor people in rural Bengal drink watery extract that comes out after boling rice, called “phan“. As Ameena was bringing “phan” for Gafoor, Mahesh pushed her and drank the “phan“. Angry, hungry and sick Gafoor, lost his patience and hit Mahesh hard with his axe. Week and emaciated Mahesh could not bear the blow. Mahesh passed away. Repentant Gafoor looked at Mahesh and then at the heaven and cried, “oh allah! never forgive those who did not leave a drop of water for my Mahesh”.
As I remembered the story of Mahesh, relation between Gafoor and Mahesh, Gafoor’s love and empathy for Mahesh, sitting outside on a summer afternoon in Delhi, my eyes went moist.