Hero and Heroine
Translated from the Bengali by Palash Baran Pal
Pipi had not been seen for a few days. She could not even be
contacted over the phone. What happened to Pipi? Kitu decided
to go to Pipi's house. But before he could do that, someone
delivered a letter to him. This was what was written in that
My father has kept me grounded in my room. He is not allowing me to
go out. I haven't seen you for a long time. My bed is drenched with
my tears. If I remain like this for some more time, I will surely
die. Rescue me from here in whatever way you can. So long.
Kitu's blood began to boil after reading the letter. He must
rescue Pipi in some way or other. He was not very afraid of
Pipi's father. But Pipi's elder brother was someone he was
afraid of. This brother was tall and well-built. He was really
strong. So far, Kitu had not had to put his own strength to
test. Now the time had come.
Kitu quickly opened the drawer of the table. He pulled out his
revolver. He put it in his hip pocket.
Kitu's father asked him, ``Where are you going?''
Kitu replied in a serious tone, ``I'll be back soon.''
Then he descended the stairs swiftly. His moped was standing outside.
He jumped on the moped and started it. The moped started running.
After a while, the moped stopped in front of Pipi's house. Kitu got
down from his moped and rang the doorbell. He touched his hip
pocket with his hand. No, the revolver was not quite needed yet. If
negotiations work, that would be the best. If not, that would be the
time for the revolver.
The domestic servant opened the door.
Kitu asked, ``Is your master home?"
``Yes, he is.''
Kitu smartly stepped in and went upstairs. Pipi's father was sitting
alone in the balcony. He had a newspaper in his hand. He looked up
when he heard someone's footsteps. Seeing Kitu, he folded his
newspaper and put it aside. He asked, ``You? What's the matter?''
Kitu did not waste any time. He said,
``Where is Pipi?''
``I want to see her.''
``I want to take her with me.''
``I will marry her.''
``Why is that impossible?''
``I want Pipi to be married to a Cabinet Member's son, or to
a doctor, or an engineer, or at least to a government
officer. I won't let Pipi marry an ordinary boy like you.''
``Is it for this reason that you have kept Pipi grounded in a room?''
``Yes. I don't want that Pipi goes out and meets you.''
``This is torture.''
``This is not torture. This is a father's duty for his daughter.''
Kitu assumed a dramatic pose and said in a deep voice, ``I think you
are forgetting something.''
Pipi's father inquired in an unperturbed tone, ``What is that?''
``That I am the hero of this story. You cannot possibly win over me.
I will win.''
Pipi's father smiled and said, ``I am quite familiar with the heroes
of modern stories. They are weak, pitiable, spineless, helpless and
ponderous. In short, they are worthless. Of course, there were great
heroes in the classical age. They are admirable. Now is the age of
Kitu protested, ``I am not an anti-hero. I am the real stuff.''
Kitu pulled out his revolver from his hip pocket and pointed it at
Pipi's father. In a stern voice, he demanded, ``Where is Pipi?''
``In that room.''
Kitu looked at the room, and found that it was locked.
``You have put her in that room and locked it?''
``Unlock the room.''
Pipi's father rose up from the chair. The key to that lock was lying
around. He unlocked the door. But he did not step inside.
Kitu stepped in. He found Pipi lying on the bed, with her eyes
Kitu called her by her name.
Pipi opened her eyes. When she saw Kitu, she sat up on her bed and
exclaimed, ``It's you!''
``Yes, it's me. I rushed here as soon as I got your letter.''
``But what is that in your hand? A revolver?''
Pipi started crying. She said, ``I am scared.''
Kitu inquired, ``Why?''
``You might lose if there is a fight. Do you think you will be able
to tackle my brother?''
``Of course I will be.''
``I am not sure. My brother will kill you.
Leave as soon as you can.''
``I will leave, but taking you with me.''
Just at this time, Pipi's brother entered the room and said, ``That's
impossible. You are day-dreaming.''
Kitu pointed his revolver at Pipi's brother
and said, ``Get out of my way.''
Pipi's brother said, ``Why should I? I will
kill you. You have the audacity to...''
Kitu said, ``I am telling you again, get out of my way. I have a
revolver in my hand.''
``I am the hero of this story.''
``It means that I cannot die.''
``You will die, in this story.''
Kitu pulled the trigger. Pipi's brother swerved swiftly to a
side. But no bullet came out of the revolver. Kitu pulled the
trigger again. Pipi's brother once again swiftly swerved to a
side. But this time also no bullet came out of the revolver.
What happened? Kitu had no idea. He started pulling the trigger
in a frenzy, again and again. No bullets whatsoever. Then he
suddenly realized that before leaving home, he had forgotten to
load the revolver in a hurry. Disappointed, he started cursing
the author of the story in his mind. If he had known it would go
like this, he would never have become the hero of this story.
But nothing could be done now. He stashed the revolver in his
hip pocket and stood there.
Pipi asked, ``What happened?''
Kitu said, ``The author of the story has betrayed me. I
forgot to load the revolver before coming here.''
Kitu remained silent.
Pipi's brother now started advancing towards Kitu slowly. Kitu,
afraid, started stepping backwards, towards the wall. Pipi cheered
him, ``Back steps won't do. Go ahead and fight.''
Kitu said, ``But how?''
Pipi said, ``Why, fight the way Dharmendra
fights, Amitabh Bachchan fights, Mithun
Suddenly, something happened to Kitu. He felt like he was
possessed by some gigantic power. He pounced on Pipi's brother
with all his might. In a few seconds, he pinned him to the
ground and stood there with his right foot on his chest. Pipi's
brother was trounced. He could not even get up.
At that time, Pipi's father entered the room and said, ``Let him go.
I beg you.''
Kitu took his foot down from Pipi's brother's chest and said, ``I'm
letting him go only because of your request. Otherwise...''
Kitu did not finish the sentence. He asked Pipi, ``Let's go. We can
now leave without fear.''
So Pipi left her home with Kitu. No one dared to stop them.
The moped was parked outside. Kitu first sat on the moped. Pipi sat
at the back. The moped started running. Pipi asked, ``Where should
we go now?''
``To my home.''
In about ten minutes, Kitu reached home with Pipi. He got down from
the moped and said, ``Come on Pipi.''
Kitu entered his house. Pipi did the same.
Kitu's father, just like Pipi's father, was reading the newspaper at
that time. But he was not sitting in the balcony. Rather, he was
sitting in a room.
Kitu entered the room with Pipi. At the sound of their footsteps,
Kitu's father looked up. He put the newspaper down and asked Kitu,
``What's the matter? Where did you go?''
Kitu said in reply, ``You know Pipi, right?''
``Yes I do. But what about her?''
``Pipi's father kept her grounded in a room.''
``So that Pipi could not see me.''
``And, what did you do?''
``I rescued Pipi.''
``I love Pipi. I want to marry her. Pipi will stay here from now.''
Kitu's father burst into rage. He said, ``Impossible.''
Kitu kept his cool as much as possible and demanded, ``Why is that
``I want someone who can do household chores.''
``What do you mean?''
Kitu's father did not reply directly. Instead, he looked at Pipi and
asked, ``Can you sweep the floor?''
Pipi said somewhat angrily, ``No.''
``Can you wash clothes?''
``Can you cook?''
``Then what can you do?''
``I don't have to know these things.''
``I am the heroine of this story.''
``Don't heroines have to know these things?''
``No, not at all. Does Hema Malini know? Does Rekha know? Does
Kitu's father gnashed his teeth and said, ``I don't want a heroine in
Pipi said, ``Your wishes are irrelevant.''
``Then whose wishes are relevant?''
``Who is the hero?''
Kitu's father was surprised: ``Kitu, a hero? Does he have any of the
qualities of being a hero? He is a good-for-nothing.''
Pipi protested, ``Wrong. He has rescued me after considerable
Kitu's father smiled and said, ``The fight is not over yet.''
Pipi almost burst into tears, ``Still more fight is needed?''
Kitu's father said, ``Certainly.''
``Against whom this time?''
``This time, against the police. If Kitu wins, I will accept him as a
hero. Then I won't have any qualms about allowing you into my house as
Kitu had not said a word in a while. He had been listening quietly.
Now he said, ``So you won't accept Pipi as my wife?''
``Are you driving Pipi away?''
``Not only Pipi. You as well.''
Kitu heaved a sigh and said, ``I realize that this is the script of a
two and a half hour movie. The fight will not end easily. Anyway, we
will see.'' He then turned to Pipi and said, ``Let's go Pipi.
There's no point standing here.''
Pipi said, ``Let's go.''
The two came back on the street. They rode the moped.
Pipi said, ``Did you load your revolver?''
Kitu said, ``I don't need bullets.''
Pipi said, ``But why? Suppose you have to fight against the police?''
Kitu smiled and said, ``I will fight with bare hands.''
Pipi was surprised, ``Would that be enough?''
Kitu said, ``Sure. I am the hero.''
Pipi did not ask anything further. Kitu started the moped. The moped
Pipi asked, ``Which way are we heading now?''
Kitu said, ``I don't know.''
``So we are heading for the land of the unknown?''
Since her childhood, Pipi had heard of the land of the unknown in many
poems, songs, stories and movies. Heroes and heroines always want to
venture out for the unknown world. But no one knew how that world
was. The answer was not given clearly anywhere. Only that phrase
existed. So Pipi could not have traveled to that place even though
she wanted to. And today, she was heading towards that unknown world.
She was thrilled. But she could not stay immersed in the thought of
this unknown world for a long time. She came back to the real world
in a little while.
The moped kept running. Gradually, its speed increased. Pipi asked
Kitu, ``How many kilometers does your moped run in an hour?''
Kitu replied, ``Sixty.''
``Does it shake too much?''
``Can I place a piece of paper on your back and write a letter?''
``Just as we see in the advertisements?''
``Just like them, yes.''
``Can your moped climb hills?''
``Can it cross rivers?''
``Can it glide through air?''
``That's very interesting.''
``That's right, very interesting.''
At this time, Kitu spotted a police jeep through the rear-view
mirror. He said, ``The police is following us. There's a police jeep
Pipi asked, ``How did the police come to know about us?''
``Your father and brother did not leave us alone. They have reported
against us at the police station.''
``So now we will have to fight against the police. Your father had
predicted it right.''
``That's how it seems.''
``What shall we do now? I am scared.''
``Nothing to be scared about. The police would not win.'' He
increased the speed of the moped. The moped started running at
lightning speed. The police jeep followed it. As the moped
increased its speed, the jeep also increased its speed. There
were times when the police jeep almost got hold of the moped.
But in the next moment, the moped increased its speed further and
created a huge gap between the jeep and itself. The driver of
the jeep started sweating. The police officer was exasperated.
He asked the driver, ``Which make is this moped?''
The driver said, ``It's new in the market.''
``Amazing. I'll have to buy one of these.''
Another person said, ``So will I. It competes with a jeep!
That's not a joke.''
Another person said, ``Sir, order firing.''
The police officer said, ``It's not the time yet.''
Then he paused a little, and told the driver, ``Increase the speed
The driver increased the speed. Kitu increased his speed as well.
But at one stage, he could not continue any further. He found that
his moped was only about a handshaking distance ahead of the jeep.
Immediately he pressed a button. The moped left the ground and
started rising up in the air.
Pipi said, ``That's fun! We are flying in the sky.''
Kitu said, ``Don't talk now.''
The driver of the jeep, seeing the upward motion of the moped, asked
the police officer, ``What should we do now?''
The police officer said, ``Stop the jeep.''
The jeep stopped running. The officer stepped on the ground.
Following him, four constables also came out of the jeep. They all
gaped at the sky.
The police officer ordered, ``Fire!''
The four constables took aim at the moped and started shooting bang
Kitu said, ``They are shooting at us.''
Pipi almost burst into tears, ``What should we do now?''
Kitu consoled her, ``We are the hero and the heroine of this
story. None of the bullets will hit either of us. They will
fly past us.''
And that was what really happened. The police constables fired
quite a few rounds. No bullet touched Kitu or Pipi.
In a while, Kitu reached some place far away from the range of
the rifles. On their way, they saw many towns, crossed many
rivers, many farms and fields. Presently, they reached a forest.
Pipi said, ``The forest is very beautiful.''
Kitu asked, ``Do you want to get down here?''
``Let's get down.''
Kitu then landed, with Pipi behind.
Pipi said, ``I have never set foot in a forest before.''
Kitu said, ``Neither have I. Should we?''
``Yes we should.''
The two then entered the forest. The moped was left outside the
The forest was not dense. There were large trees all around.
Flowers were in bloom on the trees. Birds were chirping. Deer were
grazing about. Peacocks were dancing, exhibiting their plumage.
Pipi was beside herself at the sight of a deer. She said,
``Look, there's a deer.''
Kitu was beside himself at the sight of one peacock. He said,
``Look, there's a peacock.''
Pipi said, ``Beautiful.''
Kitu said, ``Very pleasing.''
Pipi said, ``I have seen such forests in many movies.''
Kitu said, ``So have I.''
Pipi said, ``There's always a big lake in such forests.''
Kitu said, ``I am sure there will be one in here.''
Pipi said, ``There will be lotuses in the lake. And ducks
swimming in the water.''
Kitu said, ``I am sure there will be those things here.''
They started walking and saw many more deer, peacocks, many kinds
of flowers on the trees. They heard the buzzing of the bees.
They heard the chirping of the birds. They stopped at one place.
Then started walking again.
In the course of their walk they found a lake indeed. They saw
lotuses in full-bloom in the lake. Ducks were swimming in the
Pipi looked at everything and said, ``Wonderful. Everything
agreed with my expectations. I thought about a lake. I got it.
I thought about lotuses, about ducks. See, there are the
lotuses, and there are the ducks swimming. Strange, isn't it?''
``Yes, very strange.''
Pipi said, ``I will not go anywhere from here.''
Kitu said, ``You don't have to.''
Pipi said, ``We will build ourselves a hut here. We will have
cows as pets, deer as pets, peacocks as pets. We will plant
flower plants around our hut. And fruit trees as well. We will
take good care of them.''
``I will go out of the house with a bow and arrows, hunt deer, hunt
``In the evening, the moon and the stars will shine in the sky. We
will sit by the lake.''
``I will relate the adventures of my hunting to you. You will
sit there and listen to me.''
``I will give you briefings about household things. You will sit
there and listen to me.''
``The evening will give way to night at some point. We will feel
``We will fall asleep here.''
Kitu paused a little and said, ``There are advantages of living
here, but there are disadvantages as well.''
Pipi's legs were hurting. She sat down there and said, ``What kind of
Kitu did not keep standing either. He sat down by Pipi's side. And
then he said, ``You like watching movies. You won't find any movies
``You like eating chili-chicken. You won't find that here.''
``You like to ride on the underground trains. You won't find
underground trains here.''
``You like fashionable clothes. You like cosmetics. You won't find
any of those things here.''
Pipi had tears in her eyes. She said, ``What should we do then? I
won't be able to survive without those things.''
Kitu said angrily, ``You wanted to head for the land of the unknown,
``Yes I did. But at that time, I did not know that if I go to
the land of the unknown, I won't be able to watch movies or eat
chili-chicken or ride underground trains or wear fashionable
clothes or use cosmetics.''
``You should have known.''
``I don't know whether I should have. I will not stay here.''
``You will go back to your father and your brother?''
``That's what I will have to do if you are a good-for-nothing.''
Kitu fumed at these words, ``Did you just say that I am a
``If you aren't, why did you bring me to this forest?''
``Bah! You asked me to land the moped here. I landed. You
wanted to enter the forest. We entered. You had so many good
things to say about the forest for a while. And now you find the
forest disagreeable! And I can't believe that you are blaming me for this!''
``I don't want to argue with you. Take me back to my home.''
Just at this time, the sound of a helicopter was heard. Kitu and Pipi
both looked up in the sky. They saw a helicopter hovering in the sky.
Then it started descending and vanished behind the forest.
Pipi was surprised, ``What's the matter? Why a helicopter?''
Kitu said somberly, ``They have come to catch us.''
``Who are they?''
``Police once again. Will there be a fight?''
Pipi clapped in delight, ``That'll be fun!''
Kitu said, ``There's no fun in it. You hide yourself somewhere.
Otherwise you will get killed. For me, it is the last fight. I will
win or die.''
Pipi said, ``We are the hero and the heroine of this story. We cannot
Kitu said, ``I don't trust the author any more. I am not sure how
this story ends.''
Pipi inquired, ``Why don't you have confidence on the author?''
Kitu said, ``Just a little while ago you called me a good-for-nothing,
and then you wanted to go back home. How can I trust the author after
this? The hero is now biting the dust.''
Pipi consoled Kitu, ``I will never say such things again. Forgive
me please. I will now watch you fight. You will let me, won't you?''
Before Kitu could reply, he saw Pipi's brother walking along the
forest path with a garland in his hand. His father and Kitu's father
were following him. Kitu stood up on seeing them. So did Pipi.
Kitu said, ``I don't think there will be a fight.''
Pipi asked, ``Why?''
``Can't you see, they are carrying a garland.''
``That's disappointing. Where are the police?''
Pipi's brother slowly advanced and stood face to face with Kitu. Then
he put the garland around Kitu's neck, shook Kitu's hand and said,
``Bravo! Keep it up.''
Pipi's father hugged Kitu and said, ``You are not a Cabinet Member's
son, or a doctor, or an engineer, or an officer. You are much above
all of them. You are a real hero. Not an anti-hero. I have no
hesitation in offering my daughter's hand to you.''
Kitu's father gave his blessings to Pipi and said, ``I have no
hesitation in accepting such a heroine as my daughter-in-law. I
don't care whether you know household work.''
Kitu touched his father's feet. Then he touched the feet of Pipi's
father and elder brother. Pipi did the same.
Pipi's brother said, ``Let's go. The helicopter is waiting for you.''
Pipi asked her brother in surprise, ``Where did you get the helicopter
Pipi's brother growled, ``Now don't act stupid. Where do
they get the helicopters from in movies?''
Pipi understood. She did not ask any more question.
She walked, keeping pace with Kitu. Kitu was wearing the
garland on his shoulder, and a big smile on his face.
Kitu softly touched Pipi's hand and said, ``See, we won in the end.''
Pipi smiled and said, ``But you had lost faith on the author twice.''
``I am sure the author will forgive me for that.''
``That's up to the author.''
Published in Parabaas, June, 2011.
The original, titled
Hero-Heroine (হিরো-হিরোইন) by Ramanath Ray
is included in his "Collected Stories (Vol.1)" (গল্প-সমগ্র, প্রথম খণ্ড), published by Banishilpo, Kolkata, 2000.
Palash Baran Pal [পলাশ বরণ পাল
(b. 1955) is a physicist by profession. He mainly writes
research articles in his field of research, but ...
Illustrated by Ananya Das. Author of several books and an illustrator, Ananya Das is based in Pennsylvania.