Saturday, November 24, 2012


-         Saptarshi Basu

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning

― Jean-Paul Sartre


The nature of mankind has a striking similarity in one respect – that we all love to destroy what we had once loved. Bitterly and madly. How could you better explain the hindu-muslim riot as fallout of the partition. Innocent people, irrespective of their religion had continued peacefully for thousands of years. How come the nature of relationship was painfully dissected on the table of Bengal’s soil on a single day?

My grandmother never had any answer to it. My grandfather whom I had never met was forced to leave everything and search for a new home. Home indeed is a peculiar word. The love, the patience, the effort and the time invested building it up might be all destroyed in a single second. And then, as Rudyard Kipling has famously said in his ‘IF’ poem –

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss

I wonder if my grandfather had the endeavor of risking anything. Or did have anything to risk at all. The complexities of Gandhian politics were quite tough for his docile mind, I believe. And so, when the great deluge began, though there was no Noah, only millions of hapless people wandering for a new home. Home indeed is a peculiar word.

It was that time that the wander-bug had bitten my ancestor. For I had heard scintillating stories from my Granma that my grandfather absconded for his family life quite often. After he had set up something called ‘home’ in west Bengal, preferably Kolkata.

Marcel Proust once said The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes’. Perhaps, the great deluge had offered him, I mean my grandfather a boundless ‘new eye’.

With the advent of my youth, which is a form of chemical madness as per F. Scott Fitzgerald I had been bitten by that same wander-bug. Somewhere, deep inside my hearts of heart I believe it was in my grandfather’s gene. The pangs of being a writer came much later accompanied by the usual remorse of nothingness and solitude. As Gogol once said in his Dead Souls –

and that a whole abyss separates it from the antics of the street-fair clown! This contemporary judgment does not recognize; and will turn it all into a reproach and abuse of the unrecognized writer; with no sharing, no response, no sympathy, like a familyless wayfarer, he will be left alone in the middle of the road. Grim is his path, and bitterly he will feel his solitude.

-          TO BE CONTINUED ( this is a copyrighted material)

About the Author:

Saptarshi Basu is the writer of AUTUMN IN MY HEART ( published last December by Times Group.