Saturday, September 1, 2012


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                               What makes you think that the story of your life (woefully unlived-in up to that time) deserves to be told? Or that people will want to read it?

-          Sasthibrata Chakravarti ( better known as Sasthi Brata)

I now realise hoping was always idealistic, like dark nimbus clouds on scorching summer noons, roaring and puffing but never melting down. I now realise that life was always a routine, like morning ragas at radio stations.

                                                 Invisible faces, unforeseen lives. Our sweat and silence bleeds history. Crying, pleading and hoping to break free from the eternal darkness. Like happy tunes vibrating inside a raped soul. Painting rainbows against the gloomy vastness of a sky. Light and rain. Hopes and pain. For I had hoped and remained alive – all these forty years of my life. With a bed-ridden mother, a disabled son in a pigeonhole called ‘home’ and a bunch of grave looking paperbacks to sell. You look at the vulgar cover, flip a few crusty yellowish pages inscribed with inexpensive ink, and I hear those silent words jingling in your heart ‘filthy and polluting’ .Voluptuous sirens pictured with tales of passionate love underneath. I can imagine how your faces scowl and I know how you call them - cheap erotica, Battala (under the Banyan tree) craps, porno, quick excitement (and fall) ...whatsoever. And then under the blatant sun, you timidly look sideways and silently slip a raunchy one at the darkest corner of your executive bag. Rich people, rich desires. Yes, I am one of those whom you watch every day selling those banned eroticas under the guise of daily newspapers. On honking mornings, scorching noons and crimson evenings. At busy railway stations, along the muddy roadways, near the buzzing bus-stands or under the sacred banyan trees. Pale imaginary (at times real) salacious tales with stirring covers hiddiciously waiting for the next customer. Full of sexual innuendos. Spicy dramas, incest stories, paedophile desires, adolescent crushes and much more. I am full of such desirous stories. Enjoying them in my idle times when dirt and filth dances on that everyday road. Poor people, poor desires. Weaving tales of sinister cravings against the grey backdrop of my brain. Whatever it might be, I can’t stop respecting it. You see, your cheap erotica has been the sole bread earner for my family.

                                                           So what is it all about? You might be thinking. An Autobiography? Not much, I guess. Autobiographies are for rich, as for poor it’s more aptly the saga of sting. Or punctuations of pain. Or better to say, confessions. Confessions of being alive. A necklace woven with beads of pain and perennial hopes crafted on it. Hopes that drive us to live one more day.

                             But it’s not all too dark, you see. At times, a million butterflies flutter their vibrant wings on my barren horizon. Like when watching Shiuli, my neighbour Mukul Dutta’s wife bathing at the municipal hand pump, her uncovered breast pressed against the gushing water, her deep brown nipples defiantly protuberant. I remember how sensitive they were, sending a message down there with a flick of a thumb and forefinger. Still now when the day turns dark and cloud claps and growls above, I remember the lost warmth of being inside her. Memories often are cradle of fantasies. Perhaps the human soul needs excursions, and must not be denied. But the point of excursion is that you come back home again. Or watching the buxom receptionist of Tara Enterprise & Sons walking down with creamy legs and the most clefted pair of buttocks I have ever seen. A tanpura tumbled, perhaps. Or watching my son Binu dragging his wasted pair of legs to the wrecked doorsill of our house. He sits there on rainy days floating paper boats on the choked drain running all along. Pure moment of bliss for me in rain soaked pain. Binu dreamt to be an elephant shaped autumn cloud watering the plants in the sky with his trunk. When I asked him of what he wanted to be in life. A sweet looking elephant shaped autumn cloud by profession. With the extremely important task of watering the sky plants .Glowing yellow flowers at heaven’s door watered by Binu shaped autumn cloud .You will probably be curious to know more about Shiuli and the receptionist .I am afraid, I cannot tell you right now. We shall rewind the tape and hear the story from the beginning. Then perhaps you will finally discover and feel. Discover your drama like when drawing curtains on a monsoon-tempered afternoon. Feel a million butterflies flapping in your mind. I might be letting you into my secrets. But with all the reality shows around, who cares? We are all post-modern now, are we not? We have all read Kama sutra, splashy magazines stating which actress sleeps with whom and the rest. Have we not?

                                 I know my saga isn’t that important. Surely it won’t bring a revolution. Million fragmented pieces like me are so deeply interwoven in the country’s fabric. But then, isn’t it tickling knowing the life of one such ‘cheap erotica’ seller. Whose cheap books, you have surely read behind closed doors or under the blanket at some stage of your life.
                                                Baba, will I ever go to school? – Those soft eyes of Binu questions me day and night .Radiant hopes in kerosene light flickers in his heart. Tormenting a father’s soul with nothing much to do. I watch him sleeping and know dreams of a neat school uniform, a decorated tiffin box, a Mickey mouse water bottle is beautifully shaping in his mind. Binu shaped autumn cloud going to heaven’s school. With Mickey mouse water bottle swaying down his neck. Silent crystals glow at the corner of my eyes as I mournfully watch his crippled legs. That teardrop I hold in the cup of my palm is a diamond of memories. Tired smiles of my once domestic bliss reflect on its borders. That sticky pillow with smells of hair oil and smeared vermillion of the morning, that bindi pasted on my opaque mirror, curry stained sari, the soft music from the colliding bangles and thousand shattered piece of memories. Painfully embedded in it. Poor people, rich memories. That hairpin lying on the bathroom floor, that unfinished economical soap soaked in her smell .Memories inside memories. It contains those unheard cries of Bakul, my wife as the bullet pierced her bosom. I was lucky not to be present when the police open fired on the protestors at Horigram. Her blood brought revolution at a cost of hundred rupees. And then the next monsoon washed it away bringing victory. Truckload of living ghost from our Bustee- slum was taken there. Hundred rupees, perhaps was pretty cheap for a life. And for a husband, who never saw his wife again. Not even her body for performing last rituals. At times I feel my city is full of vultures, they live on the corpses of other people’s emotions .That raindrop I hold in the cup of my palm is a diamond of memories. Aching cries of my mother fills the void of my walls. She had been praying long to her God to fulfil her soulful desire of death. And I, my mother’s son had been praying long to my God to eliminate a feeding mouth. Same God, different prayers. Different prayers, seeking same favour. The painful economics of staying alive had washed away debris of love and affection from my sinful soul.

                                           Outside, along the dirty lanes of my slum, I can still hear hand-made crackers bursting. Splinters of fire sucking hundreds of smiles and slowly fading into memory. Pounding mikes playing erotic filmy songs, taking a break from their usual political blabbers.

Nesha nesha legeche premer nesha, Tai Majnu debe Laila ke sasha
(Intoxication of love has intoxicated, so Majnu will give his cucumber to Laila)

 Surreal blinking lights temporarily washing away the persistent darkness. The heavy air carries smell of sweat and alcohol. The clogged municipal drain carries smell of human faeces and wasted blood. Spilled at party clashes. Sleepless eyes drenching their thirst with party-funded country liquor. Dancing away their undying pains for one glorious night. I knew this night quite closely. I had planned for this night, while silently watching moonlight in dewdrops. When Binu perhaps had forgot crying and slept with unquenched hunger. With dreams of Binu shaped autumn cloud watering the sky plants.When my mother had mumbled Hari’s name (Lord Krishna’s name) all throughout her insomniac night. I touched my face on the rusted irons of my curtain-less dilapidated window, feeling the cold on my cheeks and the night on my soul. Men, women and children- jumping, howling, cursing and dancing. Inexpensive t-shirts, saree drapes flying in the air .All hypnotised by tonight’s political freedom .For tonight, the new government of Bengal People’s Party (BPP) completes their one year in power. And I couldn’t find a better day for my confessions. While silently watching all my hopes to fade away in that darkness. Sublimating slowly like the amorphous camphor .For tonight, the freshly purchased rat-kill stands gloomily beside my unpublished erotic novel. Eagerly waiting to finish off another family of rats in the pigeonhole.     


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