Monday, June 15, 2009


‘Babu bhalo achen?’
I am sitting along with a friend in a roadside stall on Outram Ghat. Afternoon slowly slipped away and changed colour to evening and now after sunset the sky reflecting vibrant colours of wonder. In front of us is the Ganges river, the orange sky with its purple shades reflecting in the moving waves of the water and presenting before us almost a naturalism masterpiece of Abanindranath Tagore. And at that time, the question came.
‘Babu Bhalo achen?’( How are you Babu?’)
Again the question and now I turned and saw that a boy is standing wearing a button less shirt and half pant standing before us.
His face holding a smile, his face appearing dark as he is standing back to light.
I nodded.
‘Babu, nouka chorben?’ (Will you like a boat ride?’)
‘No’, I said. At this moment I am busy talking with my long-lost friend Abhi and no mood in disturbing our trip down memory lane.
‘Babu, aj saradin kno rojgar hyni, babu..’
(He again asked me for the ride and said that today he hardly earned anything as there are no customers.)
Now Abhi speak out.
‘Ai bollo to lagbe na, bhag..’! ( Abhi, almost scolded and asked the boy to go!’)
The boy again looked at me, and then with a more dark face went away.
We chatted for almost an hour and then Abhi got up, he had an appointment.
I looked at the watch.
Twenty past six.
I thought for a walk along the Ganges.
I started walking.
Walking alongside a river is always a pleasure. I remember that in childhood, my father used to bring me often here..the scent of the river..the trees..the gentle drop of a scattered leaf from the trees..the flying birds..their clattering for homes around evening..the different types of people who gather around..the jump of some naked children in the water..the anchored boats rocking gently over the waves..the sounds of a Steamer bisecting the air..
Again a sound from a moving Steamer or locally called ‘Launch’ surprised me and make me back to reality.
And I noticed that in these twenty years many things changed, but the atmosphere around the Ganges still remained more or less same.
Far across I can see the light of the ice cream parlour ‘Scoop’ shinning bright.
I walked on.
As I came towards the Ferighat where the boats are anchored I noticed the boy.
Over an anchored boat that boy is sitting and dipping his feet inside the water.
I walked towards him.
And as I approached him, I found that at the side of the boat written with an unprofessional artist and bold letters ‘Harankheya’.
The name itself again made me nostalgic and at once I recognized that boat belong to Majhi named Haran, and not only that from childhood, I knew that person..
I went back twenty years and saw that a boy holding his father’s hand came in one early morning..the day was Mahalaya( An auspicious day marking the arrival of Devi Durga on the earth) father came to take a dip in the holy Ganges and utter sacred hymns in memory of our ancestors, a custom locally called ‘Tarpan’..father went to the Ganges and I unable to see the incident among the crowd and jumped over the deck of a small I stood there I suddenly found that the boat is sailing away..I turned back and saw that the boat was moving and a person wearing loincloth holding the baitha in hand sailing the boat smiling and saying, ‘Chalo Khokababu tomay aktu ghuriye ani..’and he really took me for a tour around the Ganges for ten minutes and when we are back my father smiling offered him money but that boatman with dark brown body and hands as if made of steel said, ‘Na Babu, amni Khokababuke ghuriye anlam!’(No need for money Babu, I just took your son for a fun tour!)..before we leave we came to know that his name is Haranmajhi..from then on each month my father brought me here twice a month..not only because my father himself liked him but also because I now come to know that he wanted to sow in his son..fragrance of some other world..where real teachings of life begins..I can remember those days clearly..sun setting around the Ganges, far across the tower of the Fort William can be seen as then there was no Vidyasagar Setu..Haranmajhi went on speaking on his own..about his ancestral land in Barisal..his land..Padma they were thrown out of their own land after independence..his fight with a crocodile once near the Sundarban delta..once how he almost got caught in the hand of the much he love to spend nights in open river..sometimes he of his common Bhatiali song was..
‘O Paran amr kon kul theke kon kule niye jas re more..’
sometimes while sailing how he mixes Khaini in his two hands and place it delicately within his Biri rotten lips..often he use to say me, ‘Khokababu jabe amar sange..anek dure tomay niye jabo..jabe..chalo beriye pori..;no doubt I was absolutely ready to move but as usual it is an invitation to a new world and it never occurred really..then I grew busy in study and I still can remember about dreams where I saw Haranmajhi saying..’Khokababu..jabe amar sange?’ Then days passed..time passed..Haranmajhi gradually got lost within my daily busy schedule..
Haranmajhi to me is not only a boatman or ‘Majhi’ but he was once my childhood hero..who sailed away miles after miles in new new places..meeting different interesting people of whom one can dream of..Haranmajhi may be was a very simple man and maybe he have never sailed away anywhere else except the limited corners of the Ganges around the Outram Ghat..but he was according to me..just like some Voyager like Vasco Da Gama or Columbus..
Haranmajhi was my childhood.
And I never wanted to lose it.
As the evening sky slowly gathered all colours of heaven I started walking.
My Childhood is not lost.
Only it is now within covers.
As I am carrying my childhood within me ..similarly my dreams of Haranmajhi would also go on sailing..sailing far..far..

into a land of eternal Romance!..

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Touch

Today is a day of luxury for Satya.
And thus landing in Dhakuria more he hold a wide smile in his lips.
For some days a break from all the worries.
A bit of relief.
A bit of signining in to life again.
And thus he brought a brand new packet of Gold Flake from the shop and then started walking.
Satya passed the Djhakuria Durgabari and took the station road.
It would take ten minutes to reach his home. Home is a wrong word, actually it is a mess. He originally comes from a remote village of Murshidabad..a mapless place. Though he did his schooling from a village school, his higher secondary done from Burdwan College butwhen it came the turn to do graduation Satya opt for every village boy he love to be in Kolkata and remove his tag of a ‘village boy’ and be a 21st C citizen.
Satya stopped. Had he really able to become that?
He don’t know. But still he smiled. The only thing he knew today that he is holding in his hand his first salary of Rs 3000, of a small job of DTP Operator.
It means a lot to him.
No more buying things in more half more changing doors in running bus, tram for skipping more hearing slangs from people who will get money from him.
Satya lighted a brand new cigarettes. Money gives happiness. Thus Gold Flake never tasted so good earlier.
Satya thought how to spend the salary..he has to give 500 to the Mess owner..he has 1000Rs in due..then he have to give another 500 to Kanaida..the road-side hotel where he is having lunch each day each night..then for his convenience cost may be Rs 600.. he have to send 500 to home..and then..but Satya stopped..because as he is calculating the amount of money is gradually becoming less and less. There is a lot of time to think about the money he he would only relish that he has now Three Thousand rupees in his hand. He took out a fifty rupee note from his shirt pocket and smelt it.
What a beautiful smell of earning his own money!
Satya has reached the level-crossing.
His mess can be reached if he goes straight.
But he always took the short-cut.
And that road went parallel to the rail lines.
He started walking through the muddy road beside the tracks.

Evening is slowly gripping in..sun has set..only in the west a splash of purple is still visible..pieces of clouds floating..birds clattering as they fly their way back to their nests..within the slums smoke is rising..the numerous nucleated families are ready to prepare their cooking..naked childrens running in playing recklessly over the tracks..slangs which locally known as ‘Khisti’s is coming to Satya’s ears at regular intervals..women wearing torn clothes spreading their wet underwears over a string hanging from a tree..a dark girl wearing red lipstick and cheap but glossy sarree went out from a slum and went towards the loafer kind of boy shouted.. ‘ Ore Kelo..dak sala maltake..’..two cycles went clinging..Satya knew them..they are fish-hawkers going to market with a fish bucket..the cheap stalls are opening up gradually all bearing all the necessary goods..the soil beneath the feet of Satya trembled..train is coming..far away he saw the yellow light of the signal turned green..the clicking sound of the level-crossing gates shutting down..noises of rickshaw,cars,buses sounding in full volume..scenes of a busy evening of Dhakuria..
A gentle wind blows.
Satya closed his eyes.
Something has fallen in his eyes.
Again the wind blowed.
With a maddening sweep.
The signal of the train sounded.
Evening has lost its natural colour.
The light of the local train bisecting the dark evening.
The Evening is broken now in shades of of light and behind that everything in dark.
The train has left the station.
It can be seen now.
There it is.
Satya stopped to pass the train otherwise he would be adored more in dust.
And as soon he turned front a cold thunder went through his veins.
An old woman looks like a beggar is standing on the rail tracks, the same track in which the train is coming.
And the train is in quite a proximity now.
Satya closed his eyes for a moment.
But he opened it soon in screams coming from all around..the slums..the level crossing..the rickshaw walas..the drivers all sides..
But all in vain.
As the old woman on the track hardly moved but pecuiliarly forwarded her hands as if to hold any support.
In this twilight also the thing became clear to Satya.
The old woman is blind.
She can’t see.
What would Satya do now?
An answer would take a minute.
He don’t have that.

Satya start running among all the screams panics and within a second reached the tracks caught hold of the old woman and pushed him aside and himself jumped also and the train whitewashed them with that light.
Satya’s pulse is running fast in excitement.
The old woman has fallen on the pebbles beside the tracks.
She was still searching for a hand and shouting ‘Ke re? Ke?’
Satya after a while caught her hand and took her at the corner of the road.
Now the old woman touched her face and said ‘ Ke re? Runu naki?’
Satya kept silent.
Again the woman asked , searching all over his face ‘ Tui Runu naki? Ki re?’
Before Satya could say anything a crowd crossed the tracks and came to them, and two boys came and hug Satya, ‘Dada, apni satyi darun kaj korechen?’(You have a done a bravo work!)
One of them said to the blind woman, ‘Masi, katodin bolechi sandhaybela bhikhe koro na..’(I asked you not to beg in the evening!)
Many people are coming towards Satya..Satya is a very introvert person..thus he quietly slipped away saying he is in hurry..
When he reached near the mess, Satya found that he is hungry and today he felt like having a Roll.
He went to the stall and ordered one, and then put his hand in his pocket for bringing out his money bag.
Satya got stranded.
There is no money bag!
His pocket is empty.
Satya strated running.
It surely had fallen on the tracks.
Within two minutes Satya is on the spot, he managed a torch from the road-side stall and searched throughout the rail tracks but there was no money bag there.
One boy came and said, ‘Are dada , Apnii sei Hero na!’(Hey, you are the Hero!)
Satya nodded and tried to smile.
‘Ki hoyeche dada?’
Satya told him about the moneybag.
The boy searched and said that it has gone definitely and there is hardly any hope of founding it.
Satya himself is also realizing the truth.
‘Dada, apni ato baro akta kaj korlen ar dekun janya sala ajkal ar bhalo lok janmay na!(It is a pity that such a thinh happened to you!)
Satya helplessly left the spot and started walking home.
His hunger has increased double but he knew no more roll.
The world has broken into pieces before him.
He has only a fifty rupee note in his pocket and that he has all for this month.
Again a burden of loans.
Again lending money from colleagues.
Satya’s world has not changed at all.
He came back to mess, for rest but can’t.
He came out and went for the dinner at Kanaida’s Hotel.
Kanaida saw hm and said, ‘Ki aj taka debe to?’
Satya said ‘Aj noy akno maine paini..’
‘Maser das tarikheo maine paoni..ami ki a janme takata pabo?’(Will I ever get my money back?)
Satya said quietly, ‘Paben’.
‘Tahle ar ki jao boso..oi Kanchan 2no tabile akta machbhat de..’(He ordered for a meal.)

Satya feeling empty took the food without a word.
Then came out.

Night has fallen on the streets of Dhakuria.
Satya went walking.
He doesn’t feel like to return to mess so early.
He went on roaming.
Droplets of rain is slowly falling..almost a drizzle..wind blowing with a maddening hush..roads wet..trains passing..the light of the signal changing colours now and then.
Satya can’t understand himself.
He is feeling down but not dejected.
There is something which is making him happy.
Is it the heroic work? Is it the hopes of spending 20 days more for the next salary? Is it the rain? Is it the wind which has a solitary tune in it?
What can be the reason?
Satya went on roaming.
For the answer.

And while roaming through this night Satya once again felt that he is very alone, very lonely.
He is still a boy of village trying to create his own identity in this metropolis.

Satya thus always roam holidays in Babughat..where he gossips with the Majhi..sitting on the shore of the Hooghly river..often traveling in local train and dropping in unknown villages..watching farmers sowing and reaping crops..
Sinking himself in the rain..buying cheap books from the footpath of College Street..watching movies sometimes..reading poems..writing diaries when he feels..
Satya is alone..really alone..

Satya came at a spot and stopped.
It is just behind the station.
On the Verandah of a broken thatched roof house that old woman is sleeping.
She is trembling sometimes as the winds touched her.
Satya sat below her feet.
And slowly he realized that why he is still happy.
Satya smiled.
Winds came and swept him.
Crushed him.
Grains of rain making him wet.

Satya stood up.
Saw once again the face of the woman.
And then started walking.

Among the ripening night, dark streets of Dhakuria Station, a bit alone, a bit lonely Satya within this vast city has found a motherly touch in the hands of an old woman
…. who is nothing but a beggar.