For most of us, days go by in a steady rhythm, taking pre-planned paths, arriving nowhere, breeding quiet discontent. Often they drag along reluctantly, wishing to be left alone, grappling with themselves in the quagmire of business (much as old Watanabe, from Kurosawa’s Ikiru, did). Some are however redeemed – once in a lucky while - from such doomed ordinariness by imperceptible intrusions of fate. And so it was on a Sunday. Here goes two mails that speak for the occasion.
Just to share a few thoughts, LS ! As our car was wending its way back, cruising past Panagarh, I felt a sudden surge to meet Sudipto, who was just 15 kms down the fork: however, as like most of the ideas, popping up and dying away, I kept the idea to myself and promised that, must be, it has to be next time!
Along the Durgapur highway, bathed in the auburn rays of the sun, which isolatedly pierced through the ‘tangled skein’ of the cloud cover, in patches of fluffy white and dusky grey, making frantic efforts to conceal the nude blueness of the sky above, I was caught in a quiet reflective mood! My mind slouched back in a nostalgic reverie, a quaint déjà vu of sorts, as I tried to make merry with these fleeting flakes, coming from no-where, making curious shapes and patterns, in a slow-moving kaleidoscope!
I could figure out the mane of the lion there, slowly giving way to a hare, with its distinct well-protruded longish ears, guising in no time, in a super-slow motion , to the flung tail of a horse, may be, and that too vanishing under the garb of a huge proboscis of the defaced-demon and then, lo and behold! As if, prompted by a rumbling call from an inscrutable corner of a stage set afar, everything suddenly fell into place; the graphical outlines coalesced into a thick, black, swirl of an unmistakable cloud mass, invading the entire turf, with an unfailing vengeance! The various shades of grey, from the innocuous white to the jet black, overlapped seamlessly on the overarching canopy, pencil-marked in reckless doodles, as if nature, after a long wait, has managed to snatch it, from one of its unknown contenders, as its most cherished canvas and was desperate not to part with it!
And then followed the trickling droplets, the steady drips giving way to a gurgle, and soon, with the coyness of the initial overtures effectively mastered, there were the torrents lashing on the windscreen with the fury of a ravaging charioteer! My mind flew on the wings of time to a similar experience I had with my father, more than three decades back, stuck no-where in the midfields! The wipers, on the windscreen and down under, on the mindscreen, were working overtime to keep the vapours in check, knowing fully well that they were already fighting a lost battle! A blinding shroud encapsulated the horizon and the car revved and ranted and settled quietly! The greens, yellows, blues and greys, the nature’s polychromes are now a smudged white, awash in abandon with a child’s free-play brush!
And as if, suddenly realising that they were making just a few cameo appearances at this stage-show and had, somewhat overzealously, strayed beyond their allotted timescales and that they had to honour other pre-fixed assignments elsewhere, the players tried to beat a hasty retreat, leaving the atrium once again for the maverick clouds, the sun, by now getting a shade exhausted and reclining under a purplish haze, setting the stage afire, to complete their finishing chores for the day!
And someone hummed the tunes softly into my ears!
“Megher bag-er bhetor map royechhe kon sudurer pari,
pakdondi poth beye tar bagan ghera bari,
bagan sheshe shodor duwar,
barandate aram chair,
galche pata bichhanate chhotto roder phali,
sethaye eshe megh piyoner somosto bag khali”
Your LS here also had a little experience of her own while her K-da was musing on the greys, the whites, the blues; making a hearty conversation with the lion, the hare, the horse; tapping his fingers lightly on the steering wheel in rhythm with the pit-patter of the rains. Yes, it could be "haare rere rere aamay chhere dere dere" or "aaji jhoro jhoro mukhoro baadorodine, jaani ne, jaani ne, kichhute keno je mon laage naa" or even the non-borsha "kothao aamar haariye jaaowar nei mana" playing in the background as K-da's Santro (it's a Santro, isn't it?) whooshed past the greens and the laal-maati landscapes of Bolpur...
Well, here, your LS was making her way to her Sunday 11:15 class at Dakshinee along the footpaths of Deshopriyo Park. The bright blue sky, the sunny sun, along with the humidity in the air made it far from anything that you experienced on your way to Shantiniketan on the very same day. On other days, the same footpaths are inhabited by beggars of varied needs, losses, ages and colours. But, on this particular morning, there was only one (not sure, whether there was only one, or if I forgot to notice the others): a small boy of about four to five years old and his baby sister. The boy was sitting on the brick pavement holding a small tin can and the baby slept on a rag on the ground. There was something about them - perhaps the unbearable heat of the day, perhaps the indifference of the other passersby, perhaps the way the baby slept without stirring, as if a dead sleep, perhaps the way the boy looked so helpless - that made me stop and give a lozenge and a rupee to the boy.
I had my class and was heading back to the bus-stop, when I met them again. This time the boy, with the baby girl (now awake) clinging to his waist, was walking around, tugging at the sleeves of the men's shirts and the free ends of the women's sarees, asking for some money/food. When he reached me, he asked for the same. But, perhaps, I'm finally becoming an-adult-like adult, so much so that I said, "Ki re? Toke ektu aagei dilaam na?" ("Didn't I give you a rupee just a while ago?"). He smiled at me and with that, a mischievous look crossed his eyes. I had gone a little way, when I sighed to myself, "Uff, the heat!!". And, then, something happened that made me stop and look back. I turned and went up to the little boy. "Aaye, aamar shonge aaye." ("Come with me.") He once again flashed that mischievous smile and started walking with me. "Khabi kichhu?" ("Want to eat something?") I asked. He nodded his head, still smiling. "Mishti khabi?" ("Sweetmeats?") and again he nodded his head, this time more eagerly. I went up to the sweet shop on the bend of the street where Dakshinee stands and asked for four pieces of a certain kind of rasha-kadam. It cost twelve rupees. But, I had only one ten rupees note that I had saved for the bus-fare back home. So, I gave the vendor a hundred rupees note. But, he said he didn't have a change. I insisted that I wouldn't be able to take the sweets if he didn't have a change. He shrugged and said, "Do as you wish! I can't help, madame." He wouldn't make one sweet less, nor would he give a discount. I turned back and saw the boy waiting for me outside. I frantically rummaged through the pockets of my bag and finally found a five rupees coin and two one rupee coins. I was glad: the bus-fare cost only four rupees. I paid and bought the packet of sweets. I handed it over to the boy and felt a little unsure (quite unnecessarily) if he would be able to feed himself and his sister. "Bon ke khaowate paarbi?" ("Can you feed your sister?") I asked. He nodded and smiled his sweet mischievous smile. He walked a few paces with me and then quietly retreated somewhere I know not, for when I turned back, I couldn't spot him anymore. I lost him in the crowd, in the water-vapours of the day....