Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BTW, who is Naipaul?

BTW, who is Naipaul?
-Saptarshi Basu

Year 2002. 2nd year into the dreaded chase called Engineering.
I was sitting in a smoky, ghostly room with fellow Mech-ies enjoying rather a strong brew. Tranced into the ocean of Bengali renaissance songs, we hovered in a make-believe happy little world. All sorts of topic, ranging from girls in the ladies hostel to the ever increasing price of liquors were being seriously discussed. I really don’t know how that name came to my mind. It just came .Perhaps I was a bit high. And I started.
‘It seems…’ there was a pause. All looked at me with utter disinterest. ‘The chaos in the world is perennial. And as per Naipaul… .’ I was unable to complete my sentence when one of my friends popped up.
‘Chandrapaul’s brother?’ he looked at me with hazy eyes. ‘Did he also play for West Indies?’ .I… somewhat felt being in midst of a curfew .No one was there except for the burning flames which was lapping me up internally. ‘Hmm…I know re’ said another intelligent fella. ‘He played for Trinidad and Tobacco’. Trinidad and Tobacco… Trinidad and Tobacco…it echoed quite some time inside my alcohol-ed head till I went up. I left the room. The brew tasted bitter by now.
                                                                           Many years later while reading Sashti brata’s my god died young (kind of his autobiography written at mere age of 28-29) I read of a similar situation.
S.B. (another S.B. mind it!) writes:
We were at dinner round the marble table, some dozen faces in all. In between all the inane chatter I managed to scatter my pearls. ‘We no longer live in Wasteland,’ I said. ‘The ground is rich once again and Eliot’s voice is weak with fatigue…..’
At this point I was rudely halted by my eldest brother.
‘Who is Eliot’ he queried.
I felt stung. My orations ceased. I looked blank and cold.

I felt nothing much has changed. In all these years. My god died young was first published in 1968. It was 2002 for me.                           
                                                         Life went on. Chandrapaul did hit a few centuries after that and Naipaul was hit by a few controversies. The world mostly remained the same. We completed our engineering with bruises and burns. Jobs were rarer than girls. Slowly Naipaul retired temporarily to the dug-out and Bill Gates appeared with his word (MS Word man!). I somehow crash-landed in one of the country’s most esteemed software dressing room, oops! I mean Software Company.
       There by heaven’s virtue and God’s grace I met an IT engineer cum Bengali Renaissance poet. I was extremely proud to share our rented apartment with him. Off course others were there, but he was the most intellectual artiste. Different he was in all ways. Our beloved cook who cooked snakes and ladders provided vital information about the great soul. In those troubled and poverty stricken times, the sole television set was the Kohinoor of our flat. It helped us blue-ing our weekends with cheap source of entertainment. I told you, troubled times it was! Now, this great soul and intellectual artiste never cultivated in blues .We acknowledged it also. With his renaissance motive on high, it might falter him in the path. Our respect increased manifold. Till it got punctured .Our snakes and ladder cook had watched our respected friend to carry our Kohinoor to his room and make the whole room blue. I felt it was his need of the hour and dismissed it as a minor pimple in the face of our moon-ish friend.
   Life went on. On one such boring night I asked him about his best English novel (The beeest Eenglish Novel, mind it!). I was waiting eagerly you know. It was like stealing some diamonds from his ocean of intellect. When he scratched his French-cut and said ‘Hmm…there’s plenty…But…recently I liked…’ . ‘Which one?’ I shouted in my excitement.
                         ‘There’s a book called I too had a lovely story…nice but one problem’. I felt stung. My orations ceased. I looked blank and cold. ‘What problem’ I meekly asked. ‘The name you know…It should have been… I too had a dog story…so much like our life…’. ‘True’ I said somewhat absent-minded.
From then I loved dogs. Still I love them. Whenever the bar-man ask me, I have one constant reply. ‘Black Dog, 8 years’. Not a very old dog you see, just 8 years. Couple of days back with my Dog on my table I was unhappily shouting a few lines (Metallica was on their full pitch) to one of my office colleague. ‘You know…Philip Roth is retiring…Sad...Isn’t it?’. He looked at me surprised. ‘What has happened to you, Basu???…why are you lamenting for an English cricketer…Is Philip in the recent India-England series?’
I felt stung. My orations ceased. I looked blank and cold. Life went on. Chandrapaul did hit a few more centuries after that and Naipaul… perhaps had retired in Trinidad and Tobacco.

- Saptarshi Basu 


Saptarshi Basu, a Gold Medallist in Mechanical Engineering, has been in the IT industry for the last 8 years and he has worked for the top 3 IT companies of India (INFOSYS,TCS & WIPRO). However, writing has always been his first love and passion. His debut novel Love {Logic} and the God's Algorithm is now a national best-seller in Infibeam, a premier online store. His second novelAutumn in My Heart, published by Vitasta Publishing with Times group launched in november'11, has already created a lot of stir due to its theme on homosexuality. Visit his website for more information