Saturday, March 05, 2016

Madhusudhan Dada of the Forest

(This is a retelling of a Popular Bengali folk tale.  Submitted by Rudraditya as his class project on story writing)

 Once there was an small boy, named Jotil, who lived in a small village. The village was in the middle of a forest.  He lived with his father, mother and little sister.  His father was a farmer and mother a housewife.  The village had about 20 other huts and a small shop. The shop was run by the village headman and Jotil’s father helped out in the running the shop.

Jotil used to go to school to a nearby village for which he had to pass through a forest through a small path. In the morning his mother would take him to the school and in the evening his father would bring him back in his cycle. Those were happy times and he used to look forward to riding in the cycle with his father.

One year the rains were less and it was not possible to farm. Jotil’s father has to leave for a faraway town to earn money for the family.  Jotil, his mother and sister stayed back in the village.  Once Jotil’s father left his mother’s work also increased since she not only had to do everything at home, but also work in the village shop to make sure she earned some money.

Jotil was required to go to the school alone.  He was just about 8 years old then.

He was very afraid and on the first day he ran all the way to school and back, sobbing and shivering with fear. In the evening he set near his mother and narrated his trip to school, how scared he was and that unless his mother came with him, he wouldn’t go to the school any more.

His mother smiled gently at him and told, - “Silly boy, why are you scared. Your brother Madhusudhan Dada stays in the forest. If you are scared call him, he will accompany you.”

The next day, Jotil cautiously entered the forest and started running towards the school crying – Madhusudhan Dada, Madhusudhan Dada.  No one came and presently he reach school. In the evening the same thing happened. 

He came and told his mother about Madhusudhan Dada’s nonappearance and all she told was that you mustn’t have called hard enough.  Somehow Jotil didn’t believe her but thought he would try anyway.

Soon Jotil got quite used to crossing the forest and would make a call to Madhusudhan Dada before starting and then run all the way to the other side.

One day after the classes he got to playing with his friends and didn’t notice that the sun had almost gone down.  In panic he run into the forest to go to home. 

In the darkness he lost his way and realized he had no idea where he was, where he should go and what he should do. The dusk was fast becoming night and the forest creatures were waking up.  He could feel that he was being watched by numerous eyes of the forest creatures.  The big trees of the forests rose up like big and dark monsters whose arms swayed as the wind passed through. 

He stood crying for he didn’t know what to do.  He called out for his mother but he knew that she wasn’t there to hear him. He hoped his father would come and find him, but father was at a faraway town. 

He finally remember what his mother had told, that Madhusudhan Dada stayed in the forest and that he had not called him hard enough. 

So with all the might in his small body Jotil cried out – “Madhusudhan Dada, please show yourself. Please show yourself.  I have no one else to turn to.  Only you can help me."

“Mother has told me that if I need you, you will come. Why are you not coming?”

Every sound appeared to him the footstep of his Madhusudhan Dada and he fully expected him to appear before him.  He called out him nonstop and with his mind only on him.

Suddenly from distance he heard the soft music of someone playing flute.  At the melodious sound of the flute all his fear went away because he knew help was near.

Presently he saw another boy just a little bit older than Jotil himself come and stand in front of him. Jotil was so overcome with relief that he jumped up and hugged the boy, who hugged him back. 

“I know you are my Madhusudhan Dada”, Jotil said.

“Yes, I am, Jotil”, said Madhusudhan Dada.   He was slightly taller than Jotil, had a flute in his hand and a feather was stuck in his hair on one side.  Somehow even in the darkness he looked as if he was shining.

“Why did you not come before Dada?  I have been calling you for so many days.”  Jotil asked.

“I was always there, keeping an eye on you Jotil.  However I didn’t think you really needed me to be present with you.  Today you did and called out. Here I am. Simple.”  Madhusudhan Dada smiled.

Hand in hand they crossed the forest and reach Jotil’s village.  Jotil thanked his Dada and ran straight home to the arms of his waiting and worried mother.

From that day Jotil was never alone in the Forest, since he had learnt how to call out for his Madhusudhan Dada.