Sunday, 29 March 2015

Abani Dhar's story ONE BREAD ONE SHOT ( Translation of One Bread One Shot )

From London to Hamburg port. Only a few days sailing. Here there is no semblance of a jetty. Only one jetty fallen apart. Our ship was anchored there. Around the port warehouses and homes destroyed. Broken crane around, mountain heaps of cars and iron scraps. Busy sounds of ferrying trucks. Stub faced airplanes overhead flying with throttled voice. It is very cold here. Snow flakes are falling. Urine instantly turns into ice.

With the dock whistle several workers climbed up the ship. As if they are wooden dolls---does not move this way or that way. Behind them sounds of pairs of boots. No one wishes Good Morning to each other. 

Breakfast time. We are having bread and tea from the store. Saw, bread arriving in sacks and tea in drums. Helmet head uniformed persons with rifles on their shoulder started throwing pieces of bread. The labourers are snatching them and eating with tea. An old labourer approaches them and beats his belly with hands. Probably wants another piece of bread. They wave there hands and say No No. Old man does not move. Seeing him still standing there a soldier goes to him and kicks him with his boots. His piece of bread is thrown off from his hand. The old man falls with his arse up. Other labourers immediately fell on the bread piece. As if children were running to take hold of a kite, then they started fighting with each other. I could not make out who got the bread piece. I saw, few of them bleeding from nose and lips. From among the labourers someone whistled...suiii...suiii...

The labourers secretly visit our cabins. They exchange mouth organs, safety razors for bread and sugar from shipmates. I also exchanged a bread for a mouth organ. Thought of getting a few more. I'll gift them to my maternal cousins. Shipmates advised me, 'save the breads, take us to the shore.' One shipmate showed his breast and said, 'there would be lots of girls on the shore you know--- one bread one shot. The words made me jump. I could not believe it. Though I am novice. These uncles have grey beards. I saved my bread without eating it. 

Got a letter from mother. I wrote to mother---' I have come to Germany from London. I talk to the foreigners in English. What a luck, I am able to visit so many countries. These are because of your blessings...'

Advance money was not doled out to any shipmate from the ship. I thought, what is the use ? Like in London I kept in my pocket two tins of cigarettes and bread and followed a group of shipmates to the shore. I shoved a packet of cigarettes to the police at the gate so that we were not searched ( you are not permitted to carry cigarettes without unsealing the tin or the packet ).

Hands and legs are freezing in biting cold. You can't make out whether it is day or night now. Hands in pocket I walk hump back. A few horse cart or cars are moving on the road, but no person is seen on the road. Rotten cotton, bloodstained bandage, cap, vials and bottles...littered on road. Not a single house is intact in view. Everything is broken tattered burned battered...A truck while passing by us applied brakes and suddenly stopped. We stood still. No, nothing to be scared of. We are shipmates who have come from London. From the truck they dumped a few white ladies on the street. Looking at the white ladies I took out my bread from pocket and kept ready in hand. It appeared that none of the white ladies are able to stand properly. They ladies crossed the road somehow as if in slumber. Thereafter I could not see them. The truck made a bhraaaar sound and disappeared blowing smoke--- while dropping empty liquor bottles. I felt sad. Thought why would the white ladies eat ship's bread ? They must have eaten good food in the company of white men. 

We entered a lift and crossed the river through a tunnel. Thereafter, we entered a lane after treading a little. Destroyed highrise houses on both sides. Found a shop beneath a two storied building. Upper floor was hanging. Lower floor bricks have come out of plaster. Burn marks on walls. Windows and doors are covered in tarpaulin -- there are no door planks. The shopowner smiled and stood up with the help of crutches after seeing us. He does not have a leg. After entering the shop with shipmates a white lady came out from inside the house. She is one eyed. Burn marks on face. A younger white lady beside her is chewing dry bread. She does not have marks on her face. I also sold two tins of cigarette to the shop keeper. The shop keeper looked happy with the deal. Thanked us repeatedly. I looked at his daughter. A shipmate said in low voice--'when I came last time, I had told the one eyed tart I want that young girl. The tart did not agree. Wants more payment.' The girl went inside with the tins. The lady wished 'Good Bye' when we left the shop.

The main road after further walking. White men white women, cars horsecarts, shops kiosks, houses juggling for space here. Everybody can talk in English. It is four in afternoon. Shipmates were talking among themselves that there is no use going to that side before evening. 'What should we do now ?' Far away were posters of naked white ladies, I asked, 'is a film being shown there ?' The uncles laughed and said, 'do you want to watch dances of naked ladies ?' I waved my head ans said, 'no uncle'. He said, come we shall show you dance of naked white ladies.

My ticket was purchased by the uncles. The show has started much earlier. Somewhat faint light. One white lady is dancing with music, heaving her bum and waist. Completely naked. A flower in her hand. While dancing the white lady covers her back or front and does not allow to see the real thing. A little later a white man danced whirling on stage. Thereafter holds the white lady in embrace. The man is also naked. Both of them pressed each other's breast belly and stood still with lips on lips. Audience started clapping.

We get out and drink beer at a bar while standing and walked back to the other side. Torn pant stitched coat, torn cap, torn shoes an old white beard man looked at us with open mouth. He waved his hand to call us and we neared him. A big broken building. The old man looked at us and had a deep sigh. Touched his palm on his forehead  and said--'all kaput'. The old man knew that we are Indians and do not understand his language. When the old man looked at the sky and made ang ang ang ang sound. Pointed to the broken house and said-- "boom boom.' Pointing at the holes on the wall he said, kaput kaput, and started crying. He goes away in drunken stupor. I stare at the old man with controlled expression. I was feeling a little warm. Cold might have receded. I did not notice that shipmates have left me alone and gone away. 'You son of bitch, shout makes me look at them, and found shipmates have gone far away. 'Uncles uncles' I shouted back and ran towards them. They appear to be angry with ma. They abuse me by saying,...'what the hell you were searching there ?' Showed me his trouser and said, 'now here my penis has started wetting, shall I put them in your back ?' I start laughing like a fool to reduce the anger of uncles.

A few white ladies were standing at the entrance of a lane. They invite us waving their hands--'Hello Johnny, come come.' There is no light in the lane. One may see things faintly. Following shipmates I also stare at the white ladies closely. They start pulling us by our hands, and say
--you good
--me bread, you fuckie...
--come come
Following the white ladies in the lane they suddenly ran away. Sounds of boots on ground. Police is coming. We enter another lane by the side. Total darkness. I started feeling scared. Does anybody stay here ! Uncles are walking quite freely. Calls made by white ladies made the uncles stop. We entered the dilapidated house in front of us. There is a hall inside. It does not have roof over it. Pillars are half broken, iron rods are protruding. Half burnt chairs tables benches strewn all around. Nothing is clearly visible. When gradually my sight adjusts to darkness, the ladies are seen jostling at far away corner. None of their faces is clearly visible. After getting closer to them an uncle lights a matchstick but it is put off with breath. Probably, fearful of police. My own fear has disappeared by then.

Shipmates picked up one for each and pushed on to the wall. I also picked one up and pressed her on to the wall. A broken cross was hanging near the wall. The moment I gave a bread to her from my pocket the white lady started kissing on my cheeks. She lifted the skirt with one hand and ate the bread with other. I was on the verge of ejaculating. Saw the white lady saved a portion of bread inside her blouse breast. I stand erect and press her teats with two hands. She tries to avoid the centre of her breast so that the bread does not fall off.

( Year 1951. I had gone to Germany in Class McLillan's ship. I was third mate at that time. Age 15-16. Our ship had anchored at Hamburg port just for a day. At that time I had also got down with other shipmates. Whatever I experienced at that time is recorded here. It is a true story.  I wrote the story  after joining the Hungryalist movement ).


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