PAGLA DASHU (Crazy Dashu) — II, By Sukumar Ray

Missed Part I? Read it here.

The Deeds of Dashu (continued)

On one occasion, just after the vacations, Dashu came to the school with an intriguing box. Master Mashai asked him, “What’s in that box, Dashu?” He replied, “My things, sir.” A little debate ensued among us regarding the nature of his “things.” We noticed Dashu had all the essential school items with him–books, notebooks, pencil, blade. Then what “things” was he talking about? When we asked him, he didn’t give a direct reply. Instead, he clutched the box to his chest and said, “I am warning you all. Don’t ever mess with my box.” Then, he opened the lid slightly with a key and peeked inside while mumbling some calculations. The moment I tried to lean over to catch a glimpse, Dashu locked it up.

Soon, this became a hot topic of discussion for the rest of us. Someone said, “It’s his lunch box. He must be hiding food inside it.” But I never saw him opening the box during lunch time to eat anything. Some suggested, “It could be his money bag. It must contain a lot of cash. That is why he never parts with it.” To this, another boy said, “Why such a big box to keep money? Is he planning to open a money-lending business in the school?”

During lunch one day, Dashu hastily gave me the key to the box and said, “Keep this with yourself, make sure you don’t lose it. If I get a little late in returning, please hand over the key to the watchman before you all go to the classroom.” With that he went away, leaving the box with the watchman.

We were thrilled! After so long, we had an opportunity; now only the watchman needed to move away for a while. Shortly, the watchman lit his stove to make rotis* and went to the water tap with a few utensils. This was just the moment we were waiting for. Five-seven of us boys bent over the box. I opened it and saw a fat bundle of papers rolled tightly with tattered cloth strings. Quickly opening the knot, we found another paper box inside, which in turn carried yet another small paper bundle. On opening that, a card popped out. One side of the card said, “Eat a green banana,”^ while the other side had the words “Excessive curiosity is not good.” We started exchanging stupefied glances with each other. At last someone said, “The lad sure took us for a ride.” Another boy said, “Let’s tie it up exactly the way it was, so he doesn’t have any inkling that we’d opened it. That would teach him a lesson, all right.” I said, “Fine. When he returns, you all politely request him to open the box and show what it contains.” We quickly wrapped up all the papers with strings and dropped the bundle inside the box.

I was just about to lock the box when we heard a thunderous guffaw. That’s when we saw Dashu, seated atop the boundary wall, laughing insanely. The buffoon was actually watching the whole show from a vantage point. We realised the entire chain of events–giving me the key, keeping the box with the watchman, making an excuse of going out at lunch–all these were part of Dashu’s prank scheme. He had been carrying that box for all these days just to make us appear like idiots.

Is it without any reason that we call him Crazy Dashu?

* Roti = Indian flat bread
^ Eat a green banana = In Bengal, this phrase is used to mildly snide effect, after fooling someone or to indiacate that a person’s wish isn’t going to be granted.

[The End]

Translated by: Bhaswati Ghosh

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14 thoughts on “PAGLA DASHU (Crazy Dashu) — II, By Sukumar Ray

  1. This is really funny! And the funniest part of all is that they got themselves into trouble; Dashu didn’t force them to do anything, or even talk them into it. In fact, he did the opposite, but they didn’t listen. Priceless!

  2. Cesar, so glad you enjoyed it!Bernita, Dashu is a lovable character. For all his quirks and innovative pranks, he never fails to amuse and entertain. Simran, glad you liked it. :)BK, Dashu’s acts are truly a delight for the reader. Yes, there are some more Dashu tales. Watch this space; I shall be sharing more soon.WA, we have to give credit to Dashu for his ingenuity. Like BK said, his patience and planning to come up with something so clever are signs of great intelligence, if nothing else. I am glad I could share this nugget of Bengali humour with you all.

  3. I have really enjoyed these two installments of Pagla Dashu. Even though he was just a kid Dashu knew and understood so much about human nature.Thanks again, Bhaswati and I so look forward to more stories from Bengali literature.

  4. These two stories of Dashu are so filled with childlike innocence. They were fun to read! Thanks for linking to my blog, Bhaswati. I have also linked to yours. Looking forward to more!

  5. Lotus, thanks for reading both the parts. I am so glad you enjoyed them. Will share more from time to time. :)Shadowrite, glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks for the link. I will be visiting you often. 🙂

  6. Bhaswati, that was a lovely story. I especially like ‘eat a green banana’. I shall use that in my daily speech to people here in the UK who will have no idea what I mean! And yet, how expressive that phrase is, even when translated.The story makes me want to go out and pull off a prank of my own. I just have to find a group of people to do it to now.

  7. Thanks a million for translating this story. I really wish that more Bengali writers come forward and translate the stories from Bengali literature. After all, we have one of the best literatures in the world but hardly anyone outside of Bangladesh and India know about it.

  8. Amin, I can’t tell you how delighted I am to see that you got the import of eating a green banana. LOL. Please feel free use it on suitable victims. Oh, and the prank idea doesn’t sound too bad either. ;)Razib, these stories made up such happy parts of my childhood that I am only too glad to share them on my blog. Thanks for the kind words.

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