Md. Maksudul Huq
The village Sonapura is invariably a common village like other villages in Bangladesh. But Sonapura is different to some extent since it did not allow Pak army to enter there at the time of liberation war. The villagers were very vigilant and surrounded the village in groups with local weapons round the clock. No particular villager is identified as freedom fighter here. Again all the villagers can be said to be freedom fighters since they unitedly saved their village with patriotic zeal at that time. Thus Sonapura got a special recognition in the history of Bangladesh.
Belaet Ahmed is a poor farmer of this village. He has a small thatched house of his own near the river and a piece of land to cultivate. Unlike other farmers, he has no high ambition and is satisfied with what he has. He has a gigantic figure and a great heart. He is very industrious and an out - spoken person, a free- will agent and maintains a good relation with all the villagers. It is true that some people do not like him for his straight forward attitude but most of the villagers love him for his generosity and fearless moral character. The villagers cannot forget that dreadful night when a terrible storm massacred the whole village leaving thousands of people dead and demolishing many houses and crops. The number of casualties could have been much higher that time if Belayet had not carried the elderly men and women on his shoulder to the cyclone centre half a mile away from the village alone.
A few days ago the local chairman's son teased a school- going girl and he protested it. Even he gave the boy a real beating. Some villagers cautioned him saying, "Belayet! What have you done? Chairman is a powerful man, you know. He won't take the matter easy." Belayet replied with confidence "I did nothing wrong and chairman is our own people. He won't definitely allow to do anything immoral." Even the chairman's musclemen threatened him on the next day for this and Belayet directly challenged them. Belayet's wife Ayesha is really worried about her husband's such activities and tries to convince him, "Hey! You know discretion is the better part of valour. You shouldn't pick up a quarrel with them. These people are very cruel. I'm afraid of them."
Belayet pacifies his wife and promises her not to do anything like this afterwards. Belayet cannot keep his words and gets involved in another crisis. When everybody is fast asleep at night, Belayet hugs his wife and says, "Ayesha! I don't fear anybody except Allah on earth and I don't think at all about how I'll manage a square meal for you all. My only concern is about my children. I want to make them properly educated." Combing the hair of her husband with her own fingers, Ayesha says "I believe our children will glorify our face someday and these days of hardship will no longer exist that day." Their eyes glitter for those happy days ahead. Thus Belayet is passing his days through thick and thin.
Belayet's eldest son, Rubel is 19. He has also two daughters as well-Nupur & Kajal. After passing the SSC examination, Rubel becomes reluctant to his study. Sometimes Belayet advises him and sometimes he takes him to task. Rubel always bows down his head and get insulted passionlessly. One day while Rubel's mother is cooking, Rubel tells her, "Ma! Give me 5 lac taka. I shall go abroad. I don't want to live as a poverty stricken man all through my life." Ayesha begum is thunder-struck. It is a bolt from the blue for her. She says with an air of anger, "Come on, my boy! Don't make castle in the air. You better think of being involved in your study, ok?" In the evening when Belaet comes back home and knows everything, he gets furious. He calls Rubel and asks, "Then you want to go abroad, don't you? Well, I'm showing you the way." Saying this, he beats the boy black and blue. Surprisingly not a single drop of tear comes out from Rubel's eyes. On the contrary, Belayet enters home and sheds tears secretly for the rootless beating.
After that event everything seems to be alright. Rubel becomes as usual. One day he calls her sisters and says, "Dear sisters! Do you want to wear gorgeous dresses as the chairman's daughters do? I'm your elder brother and I shall give you all what father can't. By the way, keep this lottery ticket. I'll take it later." The youngest sister glimpses at the ticket and remarks, "Have you got the Aladdin's magic lamp or gone mad?" They burst out laughing.
A few days later when Belayet happens to attend the natural call at dead of night, he finds the front door open. He thinks Rubel might go out .So he waits for a while for his return. But Rubel does not come. His heart trembles. He calls Rubel in a low voice first and then loudly and then more loudly. But nobody responds to his call. In the mean time everybody wakes up from sleep and starts looking for him. But all their efforts go in vain. They search for him here and there, every nook and comer around his homestead. But Rubel is found nowhere.
The sun peeps in the horizon announcing a new day. All the neighbours come to his house. Belayet asks them, "What has happened to my son? Where has he gone? Has he said anything to anyone of you?" The villagers became spell-bound. They feel pity for him but say nothing. They try to console him but Belayet goes on lamenting, "If I were a rich man, I wouldn't lose my child." "Be patient, Belayet. Call the Almighty and we all know Rubel must come back," Suruj Ali, the next door neighbour, tries to pacify Belayet. Belayet gives up eating, drinking even attending the daily work. He keeps looking at the path of the village in the hope of his son's return.
Many days pass by. Rubel is still missing. The family is yet to overcome the shock. Now fate follows Belayet with some rewardings.
One day Belayet's youngest daughter Kajal with a newspaper comes home gasping. "What happens to you, Kajal? Anything wrong?" Nupur feels a little apprehension. "No, no. I'm ok. We've won a lottery of tk 20 lacs," Kajal whispers. "Which lottery? Where have you got it?" Nupur asks. "0 dear! Come on. You've forgotten about the lottery ticket our brother once gave us. I've almost got the number by heart and I'm sure the number is the same as the paper writes," Kajal clears. Nayan is even conscious. She says, "Well, let's match the number. Get the lottery ticket at once." Kajal rushes to her bed room and Nupur follows her. She tumbles down on the bed and turns over one comer of it. She finds the ticket .She is so excited that she does not notice her sister's presence behind her even. She was about to run but collides with her sister. Kajal says, "Look, here it is ! You pronounce the digits of the number from the newspaper and I match it." They find both the numbers the same. They hug each other and jump. Meanwhile their parents return home. Both the sisters tell the matter simultaneously. Belayet understands nothing and so he rebuffs, "stop! Tell me clearly what happens." Then Nupur tells her father everything at large. Even she discloses what Rubel said at the time of giving the lottery to them. Hearing all these, Belayet sits on the floor abr