There was an old woman in a tiny little hut in the northeast part of the village. Her age was unknown. But she was a creaky, ragged, and hunched old lady. She had no children or grandchildren. She lost her parents during the great blizzard of 1820. She was taken care of in her early childhood by a great-great-grandmother who also died in a blizzard in 1837. Everybody remembers the time of the blizzard and who dies and who survives. But no one remembers anything else. No birthdays, no festival days. It’s always winter in that village. Snow forms 10 feet above the ground on the hills. It was hard to see any huts on flat tops. It had to be a swollen part of the hills to live in. The snowfall was mostly dangerous at midnight. The old woman used to gather straws from a farm 8 miles to the south. She used to start travelling at midnight on Thursdays and come back on Saturdays. So that she can use the straws for the next 5 days. She used to make fire with the straws on Sundays. Sunday was a special day for her. Ever since she heard of an exotic flower that contains a juice very similar to blood, she started learning about them in order to search for and find them one day. It was a man with a thick blazer who one day told her about the exotic flower. That flower had 5,000 names. Nobody knew the real name. So, they called it by different names. The old woman didn’t have a name for the flower. She wants to find the flower first. She collected 73 half-destroyed books from the blizzard of 1850. A mysterious circus brought those books into their movable library before the blizzard struck. Every member of that circus died. They were new to the dangerous snowfall. The old woman was immune, just like her fellow villagers. They had characterised snots for sure, but that was bearable. The maniac of the village had dried patches of blood all over his face, forming at least 20 layers. But nobody had the pity to give him at least the sunflower oil. Because the sunflower oil was rare. And so everyone used to justify themselves by saying that sunflower oil was a privilege, even for them. The more the icy winds blew, the more patches formed on his face. He lost his smell and even his hearing and eyesight before his death, which no one noticed. When they found him under a rock while excavating for snow diamonds in the most dangerous part of the north side of the village, they noticed his icy lungs with snot, and they couldn’t bear the shock because it was dark like blood and yet white like ice at midnight. Everyone pitied the maniac after hearing about his death. Nobody pitied the excavation men. The old woman remembered him every Sunday. Because he was the one who told her about the possible findings about the exotic flower in those books. She even promised to go with him on the journey. But she was uptight. She was determined to go, even if alone. She used to painstakingly read the 73 books one after another to get any revelations about the exotic flower. Because the books were very delicate. She has to read them quickly without actually reading them at once, as they might fall off. She once lost her eyesight because of the extreme concentration required to read those unintelligible books. Even blood flowed from her dry eye sockets and fell into the pages. She couldn’t forgive herself as those drops blurred some of the words on the pages. She punished herself with no fire around and bathing three times with the icy water of the neighbouring fountain. This went on for so long. She gathered little knowledge about the exotic flower, which wasn’t enough at all. One day, she learned that those flowers had to be surrounded by dead grasshoppers for nourishment. She had never, in her life, seen a grasshopper. But she knew that the north side of the farthest country had fruit hoppers. She knew the differences, but she had to take the risk to go. She might die at any time without fulfilling her only goal. So with a pouch of sunflower oil that she stole from the villagers, a small bucket, and a thin shawl of straws, she embarked on her journey on a Sunday night at midnight. Nobody has heard from her ever since.
- সম্পাদকীয় – ডিসেম্বর ২০২৩
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