The name of the village is Chandipur. The river is one of the small rivers in Bengal. The river, like the household girl who does not venture far from home, did not extend far.

The narrow river, flowing within the limits of its shores, carried on with its work relentlessly. It shared some relationship with every villager on either side of its banks. On both sides of the high banks were hamlets with good tree covers; down below, the benevolent river flowed swiftly and merrily, cruising along on its selfless welfare journey.

Banikantha's house was situated very close to the river. The bamboo-fenced house with a two-tiered roof, the barn, the haystack, the thresher, and the tamarind, mango, jackfruit, and banana trees attracted the attention of every boatman who passed by. But I cannot say whether any of them ever noticed the mute girl in the midst of all this domestic happiness.

Subha went and sat by the riverside whenever she found time from her work. Here, it seemed as if Nature made up for Subha's lack of speech and spoke on her behalf. The gentle babble of the river, the voice of the people, the boatman's song, the chirping of the birds, and the murmur of the trees mingled and rushed upon her from all the sides like waves of the ocean and crashed against the shore of the child's heart. This varied sound of Nature is but the language of the mute — it is an extension of the language spoken by Subha's large eyes with long lashes. Any language — whether chirping of crickets in the grasslands or the silence of the constellations — is but a mix of signs, gestures, music, weeping, and sighing.

At noon, the boatmen and anglers went for meals, villagers slept, birds stopped chirping, and ferries and boats stood still. The whole world came to a grinding halt and appeared lifeless. Then, under the immense sky, a mute Nature and a mute girl sat in silence facing each other — one in the vast sunshine and the other in the small shade of a tree.

It is not that Subha did not have a few close friends. There were two cows in the cowshed whose names were Sorboshi and Panguli. The cows had never heard Subha calling them by their names, but they recognized the sound of her footsteps. There was a sad melody even in her silence; the cows understood it better than any language. Unlike people, these cows knew at once when Subha was affectionate, when she was annoyed, and when she was pleading with them.

Subha would go to the cowshed, put her arms around Sorboshi's neck, and rub her cheeks against the cow's ears. Panguli would stand watching Subha lovingly and lick her. The child visited the cowshed three times every day and sometimes more often. She made the extra visits whenever she was spoken harshly at home. Her mute friends, by the strength of some invisible force, understood the child's heartache from her mournful demeanour. They would come and press their bodies against hers and rub their horns gently against her arms and try to comfort her, expressing their wordless concern.


Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu