The Butchers (An Excerpt)

By Nazib Wadood

The soft golden afternoon rays of the autumn sun were reflecting over her fresh whitish cheeks. She was looking so shining, nice and charming! As if, a hur had descended from the Heaven to the worldly compound. How could have such a beautiful girl taken birth in a poor family of such a marginal farmer like Harezuddin! thought Akber Mollah, the chief of the village. The bridegroom, a black, stout, healthy young chap of about lovely twenty years, had kept his shameless unblinking looks upon her, being unmindful even of the presence of so many people including the elders sitting around him.

Nobody could dislike the girl; it was certain, Mollah thought. And if the question of family was raised, undoubtedly it would be, then one should know the name and fame of the Gharamis had not been a matter of very distant past. Concern of the present was that the Gharamis had fallen on evil days. Harezuddin’s father, Shafiuddin Gharami, had developed a deadly disease and sold almost all his farmlands, mango gardens and ponds to get money for his treatment. After his death, he had left only one and a half acres of farmland for his son; and Harezuddin took lease another one acre of land as a sharecropper. He had a pair of bullocks and a plough for cultivation of his own lands; and used to plough other’s lands too, to earn extra money. Thus, Harezuddin Gharami was hardly managing his family.

Nosimon was sitting on an armless chair in their square courtyard fenced by jute-stalks on all three sides. She was positioned in front of their two-roomed thatched house to face to the west to let the golden sunshine of the dying afternoon kiss her cheeks and made the face more beautiful and charming. The bridegroom and his relatives, and the invited senior villagers were sitting in front of her in chairs and benches; some friends of her, along with an old grandmother-like woman, were crowding around her to maintain courage of their girl before such a gathering of unknown and honorable persons. Her face was glistening with reddish luster. Her body structure, unlike to the average Bengali girls, was some taller and slender, with long black hairs on the head spreading down to the waist. The Creator has created the fortunate girl with His own hand and poured inexhaustible beauty and youth on to her, thought the village chief, and admitted that despite his poverty, Harezuddin had nourished and brought up his daughter with much love and care.

Akber Mollah looked back over his shoulder to see the position of the sun. The mango tree spread its branches over the roof of the thatched house as if it had held it with its huge and innumerable hands. The sun was being seen through the gaps of the branches glittering with fading glow. It was yet to set, but was rushing to the horizon. Taking his eyes back to the courtyard, he examined the shadows on the ground to assess whether the time of the afternoon prayer was yet on. Then he said, `Time of asr prayer is going to be over; I have to go, brothers, if you permit, please.’

Everybody was moved at his assertion; all they had so far been unmindful of passage of time. Especially the bridegrooms party got very much ashamed understanding that they had really wasted much time. The village chief noticed it, and to let them get rid of it, he said, `If you have no more questions to ask, or nothing to see about, I think the girl should go.’

Questionnaire phase, the main part of the matrimonial interview, was finished earlier. So the head of the bridegrooms party, a bearded old man with a white tupi on his head, said, `Yes, brother, we have to go a long distance. We should be brief.’ He looked at the girl and asked her to show her palms open to them; and like an experienced palmist, he bent forward and attentively examined her palms and fingers for a while, and nodded his head positively. Then another middle-aged man requested the old grandmother-like woman to show them her hairs. The old woman did it merrily and confidently. Her hairs were abundant and long enough to touch her waist. The old man said, `You may go now, my sweet little mother. Now go walking…!’

`I came here walking, and will leave the place certainly by walking, as I have no wing to fly, then why comes the question of walking in such a demanding voice?’ Nosimon thought, but kept her lips tight enough not to speak anything or even utter a soft sound.

A girl poured some water on the courtyard, and Nosimon walked slowly on the wet ground in the little space in front of them. They examined her footprints and smiled with satisfaction as they found the feet well formed. They also expressed satisfaction over her good and humble gait.

`Well-done, my daughter, well-done. Now go, and take rest,’ said the village chief.

What a word of relief! What a terrible time of troublesome heartache it was! –Sitting before the crowd to be shown, to answer to their absurd, confusing, unnecessary and even harassing questions, and giving bodily examinations before them! It is shameful, Nosimon thought, and moved slowly to leave the place. The old woman whispered to her, and she then turned back and raising her slender right hand to about her forehead, greeted the crowd with salam. While doing it, she had a sudden and unexpected chance of casting a glance to the bridegroom, a black but healthy young lad, still looking at her with his spellbound eyes. Not bad! Especially for a poor girl like her! Nosimon said to her, and her whole body shuddered with a warm thrill; her mind suddenly became full of euphoria; and she could not keep her standing there. She almost ran to leave the place to hide her unusualness; while she was briskly walking, she could have not even imagined if she was stepping on the ground, or flying in the air.

Harezuddin had collected all necessary details of the bridegroom and his family earlier before. Parila was not a very distant village. He himself had gone there and secretly learnt everything. Roistullah had been a medium sized farmer; the villagers knew him as a rich man with his twelve acres of land. And Mohibullah, the eldest of his two sons and three daughters, was well-known for his modesty and endeavors, and religiosity. The boy passed class nine, and then devoted himself to farming in his father’s lands, not to waste time in study that would not perhaps confirm an employment for him. Harezuddin was very much pleased with all those, and was at the same time anxious with the question of the choice of the other side. The matchmaker had assured him that they had been seeking for a beautiful girl– only a fair-looking bride, and a good family, and nothing more. They would not demand dowry, the matchmaker had categorically said, as he was expecting more clear and specific information. He had full confidence in him that they could not have but chosen Nosimon, for her fair complexion, attractive body figure, lovely face, long hairs and big enchanting eyes. She could also read and write, though not much. His daughter was intelligent enough and very much social, and skill in cooking and sewing. But Roistullah was something miserly and greedy by nature, somebody told him. He might expect something from him that would at least be honorable for his social status, if he really would not openly demand dowry, Harezuddin had thought, and despite that, he had screwed up his mind in hope. He had earlier explained everything to the village chief and informed him of his heart’s wish. Now he whispered to him, and said, `Well, now, you, elder brother, please try to manage the marriage. Put a little pressure, if necessary.’

Instructor Response

Your sentences are fine. You have your style, and I’d advise you in general to stick with it. Your style lends itself to many words, which is okay as long as you’re not repeating ideas or images, and the words you use are accurate for your meaning and story context. Note too that every sentence has movement, or lack of movement. Wherever possible in your writing, rather than a preponderance of descriptive writing (He was tall with black hair and green eyes.) or rumination in narrative backstory (John had never really liked fried potatoes; in fact, he didn’t like most starches, except when his mother made them. His mother was his favorite cook.), keep sentences moving. To keep momentum, it helps also to avoid passive verb constructions, many of which I have highlighted.
Good work!
And thanks for submitting.
WHC

The Butchers (An Excerpt)
By Nazib Wadood

The soft golden afternoon rays of the autumn sun were reflecting over her fresh whitish cheeks. She was looking so shining, nice and charming! As if, a hur had descended from the Heaven to the worldly compound. How could have such a beautiful girl taken birth in a poor family of such a marginal farmer like Harezuddin! thought Akber Mollah, the chief of the village. The bridegroom, a black, stout, healthy young chap of about lovely [this word doesn’t seem to fit]  twenty years, had kept his shameless unblinking looks upon her, being unmindful even of the presence of so many people including the elders sitting around him.

Nobody could dislike the girl; it was certain, Mollah thought. And if the question of family was raised, undoubtedly it would be, then one should know the name and fame of the Gharamis had not been a matter of very distant past. Concern of the present was that the Gharamis had fallen on evil days. Harezuddin’s father, Shafiuddin Gharami, had developed a deadly disease and sold almost all his farmlands, mango gardens and ponds to get money for his treatment. After his death, he had left only one and a half acres of farmland for his son; and Harezuddin took lease another one acre of land as a sharecropper. He had a pair of bullocks and a plough for cultivation of his own lands; and used to plough other’s lands too, to earn extra money. Thus, Harezuddin Gharami was hardly managing his family. [This section needs to be condensed. It stops the flow of your very good beginning. Condense by rethinking how you deliver backstory. Can you learn to embed it in front story, dialogue, or in-scene narrative? Find the essential things you want the reader to know. The essence is Gharamis is poor and diseased, and the family was poorly managed. Can you use a lot fewer words to get this information across? Work to provide the information seamlessly, and as much in the front story as you can. It takes practice, but you have the ability.]

Nosimon was sitting [use “sat” rather then “was sitting.” In general, try to avoid passive constructions. They weaken the writing.] on an armless chair in their square courtyard fenced by jute-stalks on all three sides. She was positioned in front of their two-roomed thatched house to face to the west to let the golden sunshine of the dying afternoon kiss her cheeks and made the face more beautiful and charming. The bridegroom and his relatives, and the invited senior villagers were sitting in front of her in chairs and benches; some friends of her, along with an old grandmother-like woman, were crowding around her to maintain courage of their girl before such a gathering of unknown and honorable persons. Her face was glistening with reddish luster. Her body structure, unlike to the average Bengali girls, was some taller and slender, with long black hairs on the head spreading down to the waist. The Creator has created the fortunate girl with His own hand and poured inexhaustible beauty and youth on to her, thought the village chief, and admitted that despite his poverty, Harezuddin had nourished and brought up his daughter with much love and care.

Akber Mollah looked back over his shoulder to see the position of the sun. The mango tree spread its branches over the roof of the thatched house as if it had held it with its huge and innumerable hands. The sun was being seen through the gaps of the branches glittering with fading glow. It was yet to set, but was rushing to the horizon. Taking his eyes back to the courtyard, he examined the shadows on the ground to assess whether the time of the afternoon prayer was yet on. Then he said, `Time of asr prayer is going to be over; I have to go, brothers, if you permit, please.’

Everybody was moved at his assertion; all they had so far been unmindful of passage of time. Especially the bridegrooms party got very much ashamed understanding that they had really wasted much time. The village chief noticed it, and to let them get rid of it, he said, `If you have no more questions to ask, or nothing to see about, I think the girl should go.’

Questionnaire phase, the main part of the matrimonial interview, was finished earlier. So the head of the bridegrooms party, a bearded old man with a white tupi on his head, said, `Yes, brother, we have to go a long distance. We should be brief.’ He looked at the girl and asked her to show her palms open to them; and like an experienced palmist, he bent forward and attentively examined her palms and fingers for a while, and nodded his head positively. Then another middle-aged man requested the old grandmother-like woman to show them her hairs. The old woman did it merrily and confidently. Her hairs were abundant and long enough to touch her waist. The old man said, `You may go now, my sweet little mother. Now go walking…!’

`I came here walking, and will leave the place certainly by walking, as I have no wing to fly, then why comes the question of walking in such a demanding voice?’ Nosimon thought, but kept her lips tight enough not to speak anything or even utter a soft sound.

A girl poured some water on the courtyard, and Nosimon walked slowly on the wet ground in the little space in front of them. They examined her footprints and smiled with satisfaction as they found the feet well formed. They also expressed satisfaction over her good and humble gait.

`Well-done, my daughter, well-done. Now go, and take rest,’ said the village chief.

What a word of relief! What a terrible time of troublesome heartache it was! –Sitting before the crowd to be shown, to answer to their absurd, confusing, unnecessary and even harassing questions, and giving bodily examinations before them! It is shameful, Nosimon thought, and moved slowly to leave the place. [This idea is very good and meaningful. It might have even more impact if readers could discover it (or form their opinion) rather than Nosimon. But this is my judgment; if you think what you have is best, don’t change this. Just learn to seek alternatives and be able to create them effectively, then choose the best option for your purpose.] The old woman whispered to her, and she then turned back and raising her slender right hand to about her forehead, greeted the crowd with salam. While doing it, she had a sudden and unexpected chance of casting a glance to the bridegroom, a black but healthy young lad, still looking at her with his spellbound eyes. Not bad! Especially for a poor girl like her! Nosimon said to her, and her whole body shuddered with a warm thrill; her mind suddenly became full of euphoria; and she could not keep her standing there. She almost ran to leave the place to hide her unusualness; while she was briskly walking, she could have not even imagined if she was stepping on the ground, or flying in the air.

Harezuddin had collected all necessary details of the bridegroom and his family earlier before. Parila was not a very distant village. He himself had gone there and secretly learnt everything. Roistullah had been a medium sized farmer; the villagers knew him as a rich man with his twelve acres of land. And Mohibullah, the eldest of his two sons and three daughters, was well-known for his modesty and endeavors, and religiosity. The boy passed class nine, and then devoted himself to farming in his father’s lands, not to waste time in study that would not perhaps confirm an employment for him. Harezuddin was very much pleased with all those, and was at the same time anxious with the question of the choice of the other side. The matchmaker had assured him that they had been seeking for a beautiful girl– only a fair-looking bride, and a good family, and nothing more. They would not demand dowry, the matchmaker had categorically said, as he was expecting more clear and specific information. He had full confidence in him that they could not have but chosen Nosimon, for her fair complexion, attractive body figure, lovely face, long hairs and big enchanting eyes. [We know this. To repeat it feels redundant. Just mention her “beauty” maybe.] She could also read and write, though not much. His daughter was intelligent enough and very much social, and skill in cooking and sewing. But Roistullah was something miserly and greedy by nature, somebody told him. He might expect something from him that would at least be honorable for his social status, if he really would not openly demand dowry, Harezuddin had thought, and despite that, he had screwed [In this context, the word borders on slang and doesn’t work with the formality of the overall piece. And it has at least two contemporary meanings–messed up or tightened–which makes the sentence unclear.] up his mind in hope. He had earlier explained everything to the village chief and informed him of his heart’s wish. Now he whispered to him, and said, `Well, now, you, elder brother, please try to manage the marriage. Put a little pressure, if necessary.’

  1. Your advice taught me a lot. I shall rewrite and complete the story. Thank you, sir.

Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

© 2020 Literary Fiction Workshop