A short story by Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay translated from Bengali
There is nothing more irritating in the world than to make an obstinate person amenable to reason. If this stubborn character is an adult and not a child, it becomes all the more calamitous. If the child asks for the moon and you give it candy in place of the moon, the child is consoled. If it is not calm yet and you rebuke, the child begins to cry and then sleeps peacefully. But an obstinate adult just won’t see reason, and like the proverbial pertinacious man, will not give up his stand.
Jashodanandan couldn’t make his father see reason however much he tried with many arguments and logic. At last he became badgered and said, “Then do whatever you have decided. Buy and bring two elephants.”
Perhaps the imaginary elephants shook their trunks and sprinkled water on Ranglal who became livid with a rage. He kept looking at his son’s face, and then suddenly thrashed the hookah on the ground, broke it and said, “Take this!”
Jashoda stared at his father’s face in disbelief.
Ranglal said, “Elephant! Elephant! You scoundrel, when did I say that I would buy an elephant?”
Jashoda didn’t reply, even he was in a rage — he sat motionless.
Perhaps Ranglal did find a reply to that ‘elephant-buying’ episode at last. He said again with a hint of ridicule in his voice, “Why an elephant? Rather buy two goats, we will cultivate all the land. Bunches of rice plants would resemble clumps of bamboo, the ear of the corn would be three hands long. When a farmer’s son gets education, he becomes such a fool! Now you scoundrel, can you till the land without a good cow? The plough will penetrate into the soil an arm’s length, you’ll get a bucketful of soil as soft as smooth flour — only then will you get rice, only then the land will give you harvest.”
Ranglal had decided that this time he would buy a cow. Since the father and the son had difference of opinion regarding this purchase, they were having arguments for the last few days. Ranglal was quite a big farmer, he owned quite a bit of land — and the lands were all first class. He took great care of the cultivation. He was endowed with such a strong and large physique, and he laboured as hard as a monster to plough the land — like a miser, he never left even a drop of strength with him. Perhaps for this reason he had a fancy for a good cow. He needed a perfect cow. If it was not young with a glamorous skin, well-formed horns, a tail like a snake and if it didn’t possess many other qualities, it wouldn’t be to his liking. One more thing — no one in the district should possess a cow like his. He hung a garland on the cow’s neck with a string of bells, he rubbed all over its body twice a day with torn jute clothes, he massaged the horns with oil; at times he even took care of its legs. If someday they worked too hard, Ranglal would say, “Ah, that’s the animal that belonged to Lord Krishna!”
Since the crops failed for the last few years and he had to bear the expenses of sending his son Jashoda to school, Ranglal became ill-off a little. But Jashoda had passed the Matriculation that year and the rice crop the year before was not too bad. Hence Ranglal had vowed that this time he must have a good cow. Only last year he bought a pair of cows but Ranglal had no compassion for them. The cows weren’t small, neither could you call them of low breed. But many in this region had better cows than those.
Jashoda said, “Let’s use these for this year. Let me do a job and if we have a good rice crop this year too, you can buy a cow next year. You can’t get a good cow for less than two hundred rupees — where will you get so much money now?”
Ranglal didn’t know from where the money would come but he must have a cow.
In the end Ranglal’s doggedness won. Jashoda didn’t protest any longer because he was annoyed. Somehow the money was procured. He sold the pair of cows he had and got a hundred rupees, Jashoda’s mother provided the rest. She told Ranglal in secret, “What do you gain quarreling with him? Go and buy a cow. If you bring it home, he won’t have anything to say.”
Ranglal was pleased. He said, “You have said it fine. Let me do this. Then let him bang his head somewhere to express his grief.”
Jashoda’s mother said, “Sell these two cows and take these. Pawn these items and buy a cow. How does the cowshed look without a good cow?”
She handed over her few ornaments to Ranglal. Ranglal was exuberant in his joy and the way he adored his wife then would not be considered decent at all at their age. He gave Jashoda’s mother a few kisses on her lips and forehead. Strange was it because Jashoda’s mother didn’t appear to be very shy; rather it seemed that she was delighted.
So, Ranglal collected the money and he took a vow to go to the weekly market at Panchundi village where cattle were sold. He will choose two cows to his liking. They would be either as white as milk or there would be two dark cows with white mouths.
Just when he was about to enter Panchundi market, Ranglal stood in amazement. Oh, oh! This is….! Oh my, there are thousands and thousands here.
If it was not really thousands, people brought about a thousand cows and buffaloes at Panchundi market. Men gathered in similar numbers. The lowing of the cattle, the confused tumult of the multitude — what a strange cacophony reverberated. The sun above was in the mid-sky. Where the cattle were being bought and sold there was not a shade anywhere, but no one seemed to care. Men roamed tirelessly. Ranglal merged into that crowd.
The cows were all together jostling at one place, a frightened look in their eyes. The wholesalers were shouting like the peddlers — “There goes! Oh gone! This is a tiger cub! An Arabian horse!”
Ranglal looked everywhere with a keen eye for what he wanted.
Over there such a hullabaloo rose that it became difficult to hear. It seemed as if there was a riot. Ranglal went towards that side. Over there it was the market of buffaloes. The dark-skinned ferocious-looking animals were made to run all around without any respite. The whole-sellers were shouting continuously and hitting the animals with big bamboo poles and the beasts were running madly. Some of the buffaloes were resting in a pond. From the smallest calf to the old buffalo, every beast was for sale. Some had lost their skin and you could see slimy red ulcers on them. A little way ahead by the side of the pond with mango trees all around, there was again a crowd. Ranglal marched ahead to see what was there. A whole-seller was making his buffalo run and all on a sudden the exuberant pole fell from his hand and flew to somewhere near Ranglal. Ranglal felt a bit annoyed, he took the pole in hand.
The whole-seller had no respite — he expressed how busy he was and said, “Give me, hey, give the pole back to me!”
“Had it hit me…”
“Well, it could have hit you, perhaps you would have bled a little, what else would have happened?”
Ranglal was dumbfounded…what else would have happened?
“Give me brother, give it to me. It slipped out of my hand, please give it back.”
The whole-seller finally expressed humility on looking at Ranglal with attention.
When Ranglal was about to hand over the pole, he felt a shiver within him. At the end of the pole he could see that the tip of a needle protruded.
The whole-seller smiled and said, “That’s nothing to you. Please give it to me.”
Ranglal looked at the pole well — indeed it was the tip of a needle. Not a single needle but more than a couple. Suddenly he remembered something he had heard — the whole-sellers have needles on the tip of their poles and when they hit the buffaloes with those poles, they ran for their life. Oh!
He let go a deep breath, the whole-seller said “Hey, will you buy? If you are planning to buy a buffalo, come — I’ll give you a good buffalo, I’ll sell at a cheap rate — hey…hey!”
Saying this he made his buffaloes run again as if to show Ranglal.
“Oh dear, oh dear….bravo, my dear!”
Sometimes he even caressed the beasts.
Ranglal surged ahead onto the garden.
All around he could see a throng of buffaloes. These were quite burly and they were not running around for nothing for there was no one to make them run. Some of them were sitting and others were standing with their eyes closed chewing the cud and lost in their rumination.
There were no cows in this garden. Ranglal returned, came to the farthest end of the garden and then stopped. Is this a buffalo or an elephant? Ranglal had never seen such a mammoth animal. A few men were standing there too. One of them said, “Who will take this buffalo, my dear?”
The whole-seller said, “It will be taken either by a king or a landlord or it will be taken by a pauper who doesn’t have anything in his house. I have roamed and seen quite a few markets. Let me see, I’ll go somewhere again with it.”
Someone else said, “What would a householder do with it? Who will hold the plough when it will run? Try to find someone who can manage it.”
The whole-seller said, “Brother, man has tamed the tiger with his intelligence, and this is only a buffalo. If the plough is big this beast will keep quiet. It will plunge the plough one and a half arm’s length under the soil.
Ranglal was looking at those pair of buffaloes with his sharp eyes glowing in praise. Goodness, goodness! The legs were shorter compared to the body, it could lift a weight of twenty maunds from chest-deep mud with a pole attached to those legs. What a polished and dark skin! As dark as the touchstone. The look of the horns was the most magnificent and the two were made in the same mould — as if they were twins?
But would he be able to pay their price? Okay, Let’s see. Let the market close and the last man depart. Then we would see. Didn’t the whole-seller say that he roamed quite a few markets and didn’t get a buyer? But money was not the only concern, the greatest worry was the large stomach of those beasts.
Ranglal finally bought those two buffaloes, he couldn’t restrain himself. He got them for the money he had; the whole-seller too got irritated when he had to roam the markets — a lot of his money was staked on those animals. When he found that Ranglal had no more with him, he agreed to give the two animals to Ranglal for one hundred and ninety-eight rupees. Ranglal’s face brightened. In his imagination he could see the wide and praising eyes of his neighbours in the village. But the more he approached his home, his enthusiasm waned and fatigue took over him. He feared his educated son. Ranglal couldn’t breathe freely while answering his questions. Moreover, it would not be easy to fill the stomach of these large animals. Each of them would devour a large amount of straw as if they were snuff.
His wife — Jashoda’s mother — what would she say? She became livid when she would hear of buffaloes. Ranglal began to think and ultimately got tired and his mind sometimes rebelled. Why, what was his fear — whom would he fear? Whose home was this? Who was the owner of the property? Whom would he have to listen to? Did anyone know how the cultivation would be done? It seemed to Ranglal as if the sleeping goddess Laxmi rose from out of the earth’s bosom — if he could break the solid cover of the soil with the pull of his plough, the mother of wealth would take her wicker-basket on her shoulders and would sit on her throne to illumine the world. Knee-deep thick mud would smell of the wet earth. The young rice plants would thrive and grow big in three days.
But even this feeling would not stay with him and he would again become timid thinking of the face of his son and his wife. In his mind he began to compose words of flattery to please them.
As soon as he reached home he had a big smile and told Jashoda, ” I have really bought a pair of elephants, what you said came true.”
Jashoda thought perhaps his father had bought a pair of large and tall bullocks. She said, “Such large cows are not good. The strong ones with knotty knuckles, those who are not too high — they are good.”
A smile spread over Ranglal’s face and he said, “I haven’t bought cows, I have bought buffaloes.”
“Buffaloes?” Jashoda was surprised.
Even Jashoda’s mother remarked, “Did you buy buffaloes?”
“Don’t smile like that please, my skin is burning, ” Jashoda’s mother brawled.
“Oh, oh, please see them once with your own eyes, then tell me what you have to say. Bring the pitcher of water, bring turmeric, bring oil and vermillion and in the name of the goddess Durga take these to your home.”
Seeing everything Jashoda pulled a long face. He said, “Take them and now you may have to pull the few bunches of rice straw covering the roof. Those are not ordinary stomachs. Each is like a Kumbhakarna . They need food. Supply them food, but from where?”
Jashoda’s mother was looking at those buffaloes. They might be awesome — but even then they had a beauty — something that made men look at them. The buffaloes kept their faces down but watched them with an oblique glance — below their dark pupils the slightly reddish whiteness had been exposed a little. The look seemed ferocious.
Ranglal said, “Clean their legs with water.”
“Oh dear! I can’t go near them.”
“No, no, no! Please come near. You don’t have anything to fear. Come here. They are so quiet.
Jashoda’s mother went forward nervously. The buffaloes let go a long breath and perhaps wanted to say something. Ranglal said, “Hey, beware! She is your mother. She will give you the water from the boiled rice, the rice itself, she will give rice bran. She is the mistress of the house, get to know her.”
Even then Jashoda’s mother retraced a few steps and said, “No dear, put these oil and vermillion and turmeric on them. I can’t do it. The beasts look like dark hills.”
Ranglal said, “You have said it well. Let us call one of these Kalapahar (dark hill). This, this one is heavier — this is Kalapahar. And what shall we call the other one?”
He thought for a while and said, “And we will call this one Kumbhakarna. Jashoda has said and rightly so.
Jashoda’s mother was happy too. But Jashoda wasn’t.
Ranglal was irritated. ” I can’t stomach a sullen face. Even it be my guru’s or the Lord’s.”
Just at dawn Ranglal would ride on Kalapahar’s back and he would chase Kumbhakarna to the bank of the river to graze. They used to return at three o’clock. He didn’t do it only to save straw. For him it became an addiction. Everyone at home was annoyed with him for this — even Jashoda’s mother was disgusted.
Ranglal smiled and said, “See how much worth of straw do I sell this year. I’ll buy you an ornament simply by selling the straw.”
Jashoda’s mother said, “You think I don’t sleep worrying over my ornaments. Do I singe you with fire everyday, tell me?”
Jashoda said, “Either the snake or the tiger will eat him some day.”
It was true. Snakes thrived near the river and sometimes even tigers lost their way and reached the riverside. But none of these made Ranglal worried. When he reached the river banks he would spread his towel under a tree and lie down — the pair of buffaloes grazed. When they went a bit too far, he would make a strange sound — Aan—Aan! That seemed exactly like a buffaloe’s low. When Kalapahar and Kumbhakarna listened to that call from afar, they would stop grazing, would raise their heads and listen and then they would respond calling –Aan—Aan — and would come back near him quickly swinging sideways. Sometimes they would run. Coming near Ranglal they would raise their faces as if to ask — why do you call us?
Ranglal would slap both on their cheeks and would say, “Let me light a fire inside your stomachs. Will you reach a foreign land while grazing? Stay near.”
The buffaloes wouldn’t venture again. There they would lie down, close their eyes and chew the cud. At other times they would stand with their body submerged under water up to the neck — again when Ranglal would call them, they would come up all wet.
When he ploughed the field, Kalapahar and Ranglal would press the plough with all their might to the bosom of the soil and would pull it without effort — that would make the big and the heavy chunks of soil scatter on all sides of the plough. This action would open a deep hole on the earth more than an arm’s length, they would fill his large cart with rice crops more than a storey high — people looked in wonder. Ranglal smiled.
Sometimes Kalapahar and Kumbhakarna would create such a trouble. On some days who knew what discord happened between them, they would stand face to face like two warring monsters inflated with anger. They would bend down their heads, raise their horns and would begin to hit their front paws on the ground, and then the battle would begin. No one would have the courage to go near them then except Ranglal. He would take an enormous bamboo pole in hand, and would start beating the two fearlessly. The pair would then stand apart for fear of being beaten. Ranglal would take them to task that day, he would keep them locked in separate cowsheds and would make them starve. Then he would bathe them separately, give them food that would fill their stomach and then he would allow the two to meet again. Along with this he would give his buffaloes a plethora of advices — Fie! Why should you quarrel! You must live together peacefully.
Then after about three years all on a sudden there was an accident one day. It was summer and Ranglal was absorbed in deep sleep on the bank of the river in a bower covered by a bush. Kalapahar and Kumbhakarna were grazing a little away from him. Suddenly Ranglal, on hearing the strange sound of an angry growl, opened his eyes, and his blood froze. Near the entrance of the deep shrub a cheetah stared at him with a ferocious look. Its teeth came out in its greedy ferocity — and Ranglal thought that perhaps the cheetah was announcing his attack with that growl. Ranglal wasn’t a coward — before this he was assigned responsible roles in the hunts for the cheetah a few times. Ranglal could feel it very well that due to the narrowness of the entrance to that bush the cheetah was hesitating in entering it. Or it would have attacked him while he was asleep. He quickly moved back towards the other side on all fours and somewhere about the middle of that bush he hid himself behind a large tree and started calling — Aan, aan, aan! Instantly came the reply, Aan, aan, aan!
The cheetah got startled and it retraced from the entrance of the bower and when it looked on all sides with quick glances, it found Kalapahar and Kumbhakarna approaching. The cheetah spread its teeth and began to howl. Ranglal was watching the strange look of Kalapahar and Kumbhakarna. He had never seen such a terrible image of them. They were gradually moving away from one another. Within a few moments the cheetah was impatiently moving with Kalpahar and Kumbhakarna on either side of him. It could feel danger. It was small — yet it was a cheetah. Perhaps because of its impatience it suddenly jumped and landed on Kumbhakarna and immediately Kalapahar attacked it with its raised horns. With one great blow of Kalapahar’s horns the cheetah flew off from the back of Kumbhakarna to a distance. The injured Kumbhakarna kept its head bent and jumped on the cheetah with its raised horns like an insane. The horns of Kumbhakarna were very sharp and relatively straight — one of those horns entered the cheetah’s belly and it appeared as if the cheetah got fixed in it. The cheetah in deadly pain bit the buffalo’s neck with all its might. Kalapahar came from the other side and thrust its horns on the cheetah. Even Ranglal came out then and in tremendous excitement he began to bit the cheetah with his bamboo pole as if he had lost his senses. In a while the two warring beasts fell and rolled on the ground. Although the cheetah still had some signs of life in it, it was rather feeble — only a few very feeble convulsions were felt in its body. Kumbhakarna was lying and panting on the ground — its gaze fixed on Ranglal’s face. Tears were flowing rapidly from its eyes.
Ranglal began to cry like a child.
Kalapahar started creating problems. He would make sounds continuously with his Aan..Aan… he would low loudly and cry.
Ranglal said, “It can’t live without a partner. I’ll have to buy another buffalo on the next market day.”
On the next market day he took pains and spent a long time in carefully selecting a partner for his buffalo and bought it for a premium. He had to spend a lot of money. One buffalo cost him a hundred and fifty rupees. But it never became a true companion of Kalapahar. But this buffalo was still younger, it would still grow. It appeared in the next few years it would be equally strong. It only had four teeth and the rest were still to grow.
Kalapahar became angry as soon as it saw the new companion. He showed his horns and began to hit the ground with his hoofs. Ranglal immediately chained Kalpahar and took it to a distance and remarked, “Don’t you like it? No, that won’t be allowed. If you beat it, I’ll break your bones.”
He also chained the new buffalo, came inside the house and said to his wife, “Kalpahar got annoyed to see the new one. It is so angry.”
Jashoda’s mother said, “Poor dear, perhaps it couldn’t forget Kumbhakarna. They loved each other for a long time.” Saying this she looked at her husband and caught her breath with a sudden smile. Ranglal smiled in return. He looked around and whispered,” As it is there between you and me.”
“Shame on you, how do you talk! They are friends.”
“That’s true.” Ranglal admitted defeat but he couldn’t help feeling delighted. Then he said, “Please get up. Come with me. Bring water and oil and vermillion and turmeric.
Right then the cowherd came and said, “Sir, please come immediately. Kalapahar is about to kill the new buffalo.”
“What do you say? I have just put it under chains.”
Ranglal rushed out. The cowherd followed him and said, “Master, it has uprooted the peg. How does it groan! Perhaps it has killed the new one by now.”
When Ranglal reached the spot, he found that the cowherd hadn’t exaggerated even a little. Kalpahar had uprooted the peg along with the chain and it attacked the new buffalo still in chains with extreme rage. The new one was weaker than Kalapahar, it was yet to attain adulthood. Moreover, being in chains, it could only wail in pain helplessly. Ranglal began to use his bamboo pole but even then Kalapahar was undaunted. It was hitting the newcomer mercilessly. After much trouble when Kalapahar was brought under control, the new buffalo was almost finished. Ranglal sat down helplessly with his hand in his head.
Jashoda said, “We won’t keep it in the house any more. Sell it. If you bring another partner, it will fight again. This buffalo is in heat.”
Ranglal couldn’t reply. He was thinking in silence that he had no answer to what Jashoda had said. He had spoken the truth, Kalapahar had lost its composure. If a buffalo would lose its composure once, it wouldn’t be quiet ever again. Instead, it would gradually become more restless. But even then tears would fill his eyes. A few days later the cowherd came and told him “Sir, I won’t work any more. The way Kalapahar is raging, who knows, someday it can even kill me.”
Ranglal said, “No, no, that is how buffaloes behave. Come with me, let me see.”
Ranglal came and stood near Kalapahar. The beast looked at Kalapahar with red and swollen eyes and then put its face on to his lap. Ranglal began to rub its head with tender affection.
But Ranglal couldn’t stay near Kalapahar forever and keep it quiet. If anyone else reached near, the buffalo would show its wild nature. Sometimes it would raise its head and say…Aan…Aan….Aan…
It lifted its head upwards and would look for Kumbhakarna. It would snap the rope and would approach the river lowing. If anyone other than Ranglal attempted to bring it back, it would be aggressive.
The other day it killed a calf. This calf had a sweet relationship with both Kalapahar and Kumbhakarna. When they used to chew their cud with filled stomach, this calf would come near them and would eat fodder from their manger. At a tender age it would look for mother’s milk under their stomach. But that day Kalpahar wasn’t in a good mood and when the calf extended its mouth in front of him to the manger, Kalapahar shoved it with a violent thrust of its horns.
Jashoda didn’t wait for Ranglal. He called a whole-seller and sold Kalapahar. The buffalo was handed over for a very small price.
The whole-seller said, “Perhaps I am wasting these sixty rupees. Who will take a buffalo in heat?”
Jashoda bargained a lot and could only hike the price of the buffalo by five rupees. The whole-seller took Kalapahar away. Ranglal looked down and sat in silence.
Aan…Aan….Aan….Ranglal was still sitting silently. Hearing that sound he was startled. Really it was Kalapahar. It had come back. Ranglal rushed to the beast. Kalapahar put its head onto the lap of its master.
The whole-seller returned and said, “Sir, please give my money back. I won’t take this buffalo. Oh dear, dear, it would have killed me.”
It was known that Kalapahar did go with him some distance. Then it stood in such a posture, that it was impossible for anyone to make it move even a little.
The whole-seller said, “Sir, if I would raise my pole — dear me, what a glance! Then it rushed in and chased me. I had to run for a mile to save my life. Then it moved back and reached you panting for breath. Sir, please return my money.”
The whole-seller went away when he got his money back. Jashoda said, “You do one thing. Please take it to the market.”
Ranglal said, “I can’t do it.”
“Who will take it if you can’t?”
Having no other alternative, Ranglal went at last. On the way he cried a lot. He bought Kalapahar from this market.
But he returned with a smile on his face. No one agreed to buy his buffalo. That whole-seller spread such a bad reputation about his buffalo, that no one would even come near it.
Jashoda said, “Then you should go to the market in the town. Whole-sellers from these areas usually don’t go to those markets.”
Ranglal had to go. Jashoda was an educated young man who earned; he had matured, Ranglal couldn’t ignore his words. Moreover he couldn’t tell them with conviction to let Kalapahar stay. It had caused such losses already. The buffalo cost him one hundred and fifty rupees, then he had to pay the additional cost of seven or eight rupees for atoning the killing of a cow. The land could not be ploughed for this last month — that loss was beyond all calculations. In the market of the town someone expressed eagerness and bought the buffalo, a big landlord had ordered such a buffalo. He paid a good price — one hundred and five rupees.
Ranglal said, “See brother, this buffalo was very much attached to me. Let it remain as it is chained here. When I would go away, you can take it away then. Otherwise it would call, perhaps it would create nuisance.”
Tears were rolling from his eyes. The whole-seller smiled and said, “That’s good! Let it stay here. You can go.”
Ranglal walked with quick steps, reached the station in the town and boarded the train. He didn’t have the strength to return on foot.
A little later the whole-seller pulled the rope that chained Kalapahar. Kalpahar was startled to see him pulling and he looked everywhere and called…Aan…Aan…Aan…
He was looking for Ranglal. But where — where was he? The whole-seller hit it gently with his pole and said, “Come, come.”
Kalapahar again called, “Aan…Aan…Aan”. It stood its ground. It wouldn’t move.
The whole-seller again hit the beast. Kalapahar was madly looking for Ranglal everywhere.
Where, where was he? He was not there, not there.
Kalapahar gave a violent pull and the rope flew from the whole-seller’s hand, The buffalo ran.
This is the way. This is the way they came. It was running with its face upwards and calling with all its might — Aan…Aan…Aan!
The whole-seller tried to gather a few men and stop it on the road but the buffalo, hard to tame, ignored all the poles that were hitting its back, lifted the man in front of it off the ground with a thrust of its horns, cleared its way and ran off like one insane.
But what was it seeing? Those roads were completely unknown to it.
On the road in that town there were shops on both sides of the road and crowds everywhere. What was it? A horse-carriage was coming.
In fear Kalapahar took a side lane.
The crowd raised an alarm. Whose buffalo is it? Whose? Oh dear….such a queer shape….a strange low …
A motor car was coming. Kalapahar lost its senses. In its mind’s eye it could see its home and was calling Ranglal as loudly as it could. It destroyed a paan-shop on one side of the road and went at the direction of the other.
The people on the road were running for life. Kalapahar too was running for life. Within moments he injured two passers-by. Kalapahar was running and calling Ranglal — Aan…Aan…Aan…But where did the buffalo find it then? Where was it going? How far was its home?
Again that monstrous noise. That unknown beast. Now the buffalo stood its ground to face its opponent.
The motor car came in search of the buffalo. It was the car of the police officer. The news of a mad buffalo had already reached the police station.
The car halted. Kalapahar moved forward with tremendous might. But before it could reach near, a terribly loud sound reverberated. Kalapahar didn’t understand anything except an extreme pain for a moment — then the buffalo staggered and fell to the ground.
The officer put his revolver back to his holster, asked the constable to get down and call the scavengers.
1. Kumbhakarna is the monstrous second brother of Ravana as described in the Ramayana. He used to keep awake only for a day after sleeping for six months at a stretch. Hence, figuratively, someone who sleeps much.
[The original Bengali story was first published in the Bengali literary magazine Desh, Year 5, Number 1, 20 November, 1937]