Halum Jhulum dui bhai (Halum and Jhulum are two brothers)
Rastay pailo mora gai ( They found a dead cow on the road)
Halum bole loiya jai (Halum says ‘let’s take it home’)
Jhulum bole khaiya loi (Jhulum Says ‘let’s eat it’)
This small rhyme is part of family legend. I never met either Halum or Jhulum, however, I grew up listening to their stories. Halum and Jhulum were my paternal grandmother’s cousins. They lived in erstwhile East Pakistan. These two brothers were stinking rich but misers. The folklores revolved around their miserly nature.
One day they came to meet my grandma in a hand-pulled rickshaw. Halum paid the fare but the poor rickshaw puller did not have the change to return. In those days, the change was only of 1 paisa. The rickshaw-puller apologetically said that he didn’t have the requisite change. But Halum and Jhulum were not ready to let him go away with their 1 paisa. So they asked the poor man what else he had that could compensate for the 1 paisa. The man said he had nothing else. Halum then started searching the poor man’s pocket and found few bidis (indigenous cigarettes). He took it from the man and said we are keeping these bidis in exchange for 1 paisa. The bidi would have cost around 1 paisa or so. Even though both Halum and Jhulum were non-smokers yet they took those bidis from the man. The poor man kept staring helplessly at the two stinky rich men who had loads of money yet couldn’t let go off mere 1paisa.
When war broke out in East Pakistan, everyone asked Halum and Jhulum to shift to Kolkata where the rest of the extended family had already shifted. However, they were willing to die but not part with their properties. Halum was unmarried and Julum was a widower who had a married daughter living in Kolkata. Jhulum’s daughter Manju Pishi sent numerous letters to her father begging him to shift to Kolkata but he was adamant.
Somewhere around 1971, their palatial house was burgled by the miscreants. Jhulum was severely injured in that attack. The hooligans took away their cash and jewelry. Halum couldn’t accept the loss of wealth and his brother’s injury. He died of heart attack within a week of that attack. Jhulum died within few months due to his head injury and trauma.
By the time Jhulum died there was not a single Hindu family left in the neighbourhood. All had shifted to India or elsewhere. There was not a single soul in the village to cremate him following Hindu rituals. His neighbours buried him following Islamic rituals.
In 1972, my father was posted in the Indian Embassy in Dhaka. Before my Dad left for Dhaka, Jhulum’s daughter Manju Pishi came to meet him. She requested that on his visit he should visit the grave of Jhulum Dadu.
On one weekend, my dad went to the village where Jhulum was buried. In Dhaka my dad had met a Hindu Brahmin Gentleman who he had befriended. My dad took him along. The village was my dad’s ancestral village also, even though he had never visited before but had heard lots of stories from his parents and extended family. When he reached the village he introduced himself and thankfully people recognized his family. They took him to Jhulum’s grave. But my dad’s friend couldn’t conduct any Hindu ritual there, as East Pakistan was in an extremely tensed situation then with Pakistani Khan Sena’s not sparing even Bengali Muslims. Secretly the Brhamin gentleman chanted verses from the Gita. My dad picked up soil from his grave. When he came back to Kolkata he gave Manju Pishi that soil. She, later on, performed Shraddha (Hindu memorial mass) ceremony keeping that soil on the altar.