the short story project


Manosh Chowdhury

Nirvana: A Moonstruck Night  

The man this tiny story speaks of, stands near the window perpetually. The birds outside, restless yet calm, scuffle their wings vividly and fly around. They sit on the branches of the sajne and the krishnachura tree to rest for a while, but the man keeps standing. When he wants to stop, he brings out the old and discolored tin trunk and opens it on the floor. It contains papers of various sizes, shapes and ages, pallid and thickly hand-written. He looks them over, reads them attentively and then mumbles to himself. He looks at the ceiling with keen interest, a bit of plaster came out from here and there, a lizard runs about. At times he lies on the floor mat with a scratched and worn out pillow beneath his chest. He writes and murmurs his words out to himself. After this, he stands by the window again. But he can not stop. The window leads to the floor, the floor to the trunk, the trunk to the paper, the paper to the ceiling, the ceiling to the window. His universe – a circular one.

Could anyone confirm that the man was seen in the bazaar or at a public place? No, as nobody ever saw him anywhere. The man himself can not visualize himself anywhere. Only the sajne tree often reminds him – ‘may be you are here and no where else, a stooped one but a shelter for the birds nonetheless!’

Thousands of days go by and then the night comes.

The window remains but the birds are not there. Moonbeam floods the horizon like liquid silver mixed with vermilion. The man is on the floor by a timid lantern. A knock on the door. Perhaps the very first ever. The man, however, does not appear surprised, his tired eyes hold an expression of excitement as he opens the door. One man on each side of the entrance, greet each other like the reflection on a mirror. They smile at each other as if smiling at a mirror – delightful and tranquil. Do they know each other? But the man is never seen outside! Both of them sit on the floor with their tin trunks opened in front of them, they both read from the papers and murmur, both stand by the window and as the night grows old they fall asleep.

Moonlight overflows at midnight. The man, not the stranger, the man who was here from before, takes out his tin trunk and tips it over. The papers scatter all over. He packs a single piece of cloth, white papers and a pen. He walks to the door in soft footsteps. Affectionately looks back at the stranger who is still asleep. Then he climbs down the stairs and disappears into the moonbeam.

The next day it is dawn again. The familiar window and the sajne tree, restless-calm birds and the face of the stranger. But he is not a stranger now. He knows this room for ages. When he wants to stop, he lies on the floor mat with the torn and weathered pillow beneath his chest, he reads the papers over, mumbles to himself and looks at the ceiling, a lizard runs about. He keeps looking for his pen to write something.

The birds fly and rest on the tree. The tree rests and flies with the wind.

He will have to write once more – the story of an imagined imminent moonstruck night. The man looks for a pen.


(This should be officially my first ‘fiction’, perhaps written in the late-90s, and in Bangla. But that time I used to orate this story to my ‘friends’. Then I wrote it in 2001, again in Bangla. By 2002, I started writing fiction, short stories precisely. I never was good in English, never was in a position to learn the language with nuances that are necessary for creative writing. Still I translated it in 2005. An email friend Luna Rushdi brushed my language then. And I forgot about this for many years. Only recently I found this again. The image is an artwork by Rafique Ahmed Feica 2011)