Alok and Anima pray to Bonbibi before they leave , Pampa their twenty year old widowed daughter in their small mud hut with thatched roof near Gosaba. Hunger pangs made their condition pathetic. It was just two months since their son _ in_ law Sanjib Haldar had been dragged deep inside the mangrove forest, when they had gone there to collect the “Padma Modhu”, of the rarest and best quality.
” Hai re , Dakkhin Ray , why couldn’t you show some mercy on my son_in_law. He will never return now. I could not do anything to save Sanjib, ” Anima still wakes up in the middle of the night and wails . ” What will happen to my Pampa? Why didn’t I have the basic ability and strength to save him from the clutches of Dakhhin Ray on that fateful day?” Neither she nor Alok can stop cursing themselves for whatever happened on that fateful day.
Their entire world had turned dark within a wink of their eyes. They had lost all the courage to venture once again into the deep mangrove forest to collect ” Padma Modhu”, the crabs and to fish sailing on their small ” dingy nouka” with oars. They struggled hard for their survival, then it became unbearable for them . They were finding it extremely difficult to survive without being able to continue with their daily job of fishing and collecting crabs.
On the fourth of April that year ,they both woke up and at five in the morning and they set their ‘dinghy nouka’. They had rowed till eight in the morning , set their fishing nets and caught some fishes. Alok however , wished to look for some mud crabs . He said “lets leave the boat and walk on the ‘khal’, where we can find some crabs and thus leaving the boat , he had just walked a few steps. Anima was just about to turn around and walk towards Alok’s direction when she suddenly heard his shriek and cry ” Ma go bachao , Bagh bagh!”.
Anima’s feet trembled and she turned blank for a few seconds, before she pounced on the ferrocious creature and began to pull it out by putting her fingers inside the beast’s ears. Dakkhin Ray had just bit Alok on his left lower jaw , when its teeth slipped and it spread on Alok’s left Shoulder and hand. It soon left Alok and vanished inside the mangrove forests.
Alok’s rendevous with death gave a new serendipitous beginning to Anima to fight back courageously and defeat the enemy. With this new found energy she dragged Alok into the boat , as he lay in a pool of blood . She reached the nearest village and with the help of others managed to send Alok to Kolkata for treatment. Alok was saved by Anima but he was paralyzed on the left side.
As Anima embraced her new found strength on that day, she decided to fight for her family’s survival forever.
Bonbibi _ The traditional goddess of Sunderban
Padma Modhu_ Honey obtained from lotus
Dakkhin Ray_ The Royal Bengal Tiger , of Sunderban
Dingy nouka_ A small boat
This story is based on a real incident where a woman named Jyotsna Sri was able to save her husband from the clutches of the royal Bengal Tiger ( a man eater) of Sunderbans.
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