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Written By: Shahjahan
15/02/2015 15:30
Arts and Literature



Professor Akter Chowdhury

Translated from the Bengali original by Mohammed Shahjahan


It was on a certain evening of 1986 that I was sitting in the office of the Weekly Swadeshbani beside the Taraboniarchara mosque in the town of Cox’sBazar.Uncle Sagar Belal entered the office with a bag hanging down his shoulder. He was in charge of the literary section of the weekly during those hard times. He used to pen amusing poems as well, though I failed to appreciate many of them. He always tried to give out a poetic impression by way of his manners and his Punjabi. He would also write reports. Besides, he acted proud as he was a relative to the editor. Anyway, we the uncle and the nephew would make a lot of fun together.


Uncle always used to bring out poems from his bag. I wondered why it looked like some prose that day. Being a little proactive, I managed to have a glimpse at the title of the write-up-‘The Cruel Alley’.


At that, I felt more curious. 

“Do you know, there is an alley named ‘Cruel Alley’ in the town of Cox’sBazar?” Uncle Belal asked me with a smile.


“No, Uncle.” I replied simply.

I had been living in the town of Cox’sBazar for long. I knew all the alleys of the town by name. Yet I didn’t know of such an alley. On top of that, what had the name of an alley to do with cruelty!

Absar Bhai, the then popular Paurashava chairman, started naming many alleys and sub-alleys. For instance, he named the road along the western bank of the Laldighi, a common resort for the political parties, “Bangabandhu Road”, the Circuit House Road “Shaheed Sarani”, the Sayman Road “Muktizoddha Sarani”, the road from Holiday Turning to Laboni Point “Bijoy Sarani”. But I didn’t know of anyone to have named any alley “The Alley of Cruelty”. I still bear the name “The Cruel Alley” deep in my heart. 

We were then a group of juniors all attending college. But we didn’t have much of the opportunity to hang around the alleys and sub-alleys styling ourselves as Romeos because we were literally cornered by the senior Romeos. There was the tendency to learn Kaung-Fu and Karate among the youth of the town then.The Romeos all over the town belonged to one or the other Karate groups. They also had designated areas to operate in. The Romeos from one area were prohibited from entering another area. Otherwise, the trespassers found themselves battered by the others. Of the Karate groups, mention may be made of the ones named “Monjur Group” led by late Advocate Abul Monjur, “Abu Group” led by Mr. Abu, presently an official of Cox’sBazar Paurashva and “Siraj Group” led by Mr. Siraj, presently a councilor of Cox’sBazar Paurashova.Apart from them, there were some other Karate groups who used to control all the nooks and corners of the town, but I can’t remember the names of many of them.


There was special alley with many of our contemporary senior college girls living with their families in the houses along it. They were beautiful and proud. They had a careless demeanor. The Romeos of our senior groups would wait on them as suitors in the alleys. At times, they would throw at the girls pieces of paper with the words “I Love You” inscribed thereon. Sometimes, they would just go on enjoying the fragrance of the red roses themselves. They were too nervous to offer the roses to the girls.The girls were hard nuts to crack as well. They even didn’t bother to pick up and read the pieces of papers thrown at them by their suitors.But on the other side of the picture, it was too much for the suitors. They felt insulted. They also became laughing stocks to their friends. Once being unable to tolerate the cruelty of the girls inhabiting the alley, all the Romeos got together, kidnapped a girl and one of the Romeos married her. They have now made a happy couple of themselves. Except this couple, none of the other girls got  married with anyone from Cox’sBazar.They all are now leading happy conjugal lives with their prosperous husbands scattered in different towns of the country. They might have, it seems, decided that they would in no way get wed-locked with the local pals. At long last, one of the Romeos, out of sheer frustration, ended up with wall writing, naming the alley “The Cruel Alley”.


While passing by the way, we would notice the wall writing. We would burst out into laughter. Taking special note of the cruelty of the girls living in that alley, we made up our minds to stay a hundred kilometers away from the girls.


At around the same time, another alley of the town of Cox’sBazar was named. That was a different story. A Romeo from the other alley loved a girl from that alley. Due to the intensity of their love, the ‘unexpected’ came to pass between them. But the Romeo concerned simply refused to marry the girl. Many arbitration meetings took place on the issue. But there was no solution to the problem. In the meantime, someone named the alley “The Alley of Scandal.” The news got around the town.All the families living in the alley felt embarassed.Anyway, the Romeo married his Juliet, by then the mother of the child born out of their love, later on. Thus he absolved the scandalous alley of the scandal.


I wonder if the Valentine’s Day as we celebrate today has got anything to do with the said “Cruel Alley” and “Alley of Scandal” or not. Love is eternal and ever-lasting. Love is not confined to any special day. In love, every single day is the 14th February- the Valentine’s Day.


Professor Akter Chowdhury: Editor,

Mohammed Shahjahan: A lawyer, columnist and translator.

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