I am a small scale seller. My name is Budhu and I belong to a small village in Nadia district of West Bengal called Rokomari.For generations my family are in the profession of making small hand fans which we call Hatpakha in Bengali.My father used to tell that the Nawab of Bengal was an admirer of the beautiful hatpakha that we used to make.Usually it used to take 20-21 days to make one and the finished product used to look extremely beautiful.We used to employ master craftsmen and each pakha used to depict the image of a noted god or goddess or scenic beauty or even small birds and animals.We were paid handsomely by the nawab in swarnamudra or kind.
However the times have changed.The recent political unrest made us leave the village and my father had died.Either the master craftsmen have died or their descendants show no interest to take this great tradition forward.In Kolkata people lead luxurious life.They have ceiling fans or A.C in their homes.They they show no affinity towards this art that used to be so much a part of their lives in the past.The art exhibition happens once in a year in Chowrongee and somehow I manage to sell some then.I have my wife and two children to take care of and with this meager earnings it is difficult to make two ends meet.
Some day I wish I could return to my ancestral house in Rokomari. I remember Jogen Kaka used to take me in his shoulders and dance during the Durga Puja.Durga Puja is the greatest festival of Bengal and during those times my Hatpakha used to be in great demand.The little boys and girls sporting beautiful attire used to carry one of the Hathpakha and it used to fill my heart with joy and fulfillment.But one day we were labeled as belonging to one political party and were forced to leave the village.
One summer day when sun was overhead in the afternoon and I was unsuccessful to sell even one Hathpakha for the day and worrying how could I return back home without money I passed by the great Maidan.A little girl was sitting in one of the benches.I was wondering what she was doing there at this time of the day.But still I approached her:
“Will you buy one Hathpakha from me?”,I said
Yes but I was waiting for you.
What do you mean?
Remember the small boys who bought your Hatpaka long time back had sent me a message through the paper boat which took sail in the small stream beside the temple in the granary.The paper boat had reached me well in time and I have come to rescue you.
Saying this she handed me a small pouch containing 21 roupomudras.
“Who are you?”,I asked
I am the deity of that old temple and saying this she pointed towards the sky.
I saw that my small hatpakha had covered the sky.
The splendor lasted for few seconds but when I regained my senses the little girl had disappeared.
And this was a message to me that I should return to Rokomari,my ancestral village and continue my trade.