Yours, denial

Chingreemachyoyo
The waves carressed my leftover
footprints on the shore, erasing every little sign I had dared to leave for you. The night caved in around me. Moonlight dripped on a silvery sea. My trembling feet walked unsteadily. I smiled to myself. I cried to myself. You, you were the sea to me. Touching me in places where you did not think anyone can be touched, whispering soft lullabies to calm a racing heart and a turmoil of emotion raging, raging there inside. Your turmoil calmed my turmoil. Your misery soothed mine.
  In half felt sentences and long craved commas and brutal full stops you came to me. In spurts, in gushes, in the lingering of the tide and the betrayal of the ebb.
 The mica glistened on the sandy shore as I strolled with the night holding on to me. My icy cold fingers balled up in a fist, I ran up a hand over my other arm, I…I miss your touch. I try to put that thought out but like glowing ember that doesn’t shy and fights to stay alive, it protests and I am reeled…no, hauled back.  In fetters clawed with rust, I am bound again.
 An impatient breath warms my neck. In stifled cries I feel denial taking my fingers. Pushing every finger from my balled up fist which wants to hold on to you. Hold you like you are sand that will not slip from the spaces between my fingers, spaces that were once complete and now void, hold you like water that never stagnates. Denial pushes them open, denial tells me you will take up the space again. Denial tells me I need not have trembling feet. Denial bleeds with me, denial cries with me, denial holds me together. Denial tells me to swim when the boat capsizes, it teaches me do so. Denial begs me to believe. I laugh and take refuge in it’s cajoling arms. They feel like you. They…they smell like you, warm, familiar, very own?
 Hope lights up the rest of my way, hope tells me I can survive, hope gives me illusions I know only too well. Hope wants you near, dangerously near- to douse the loneliness, to realise the love, to soften the blues from a dying night. Hope breaks me then, sooner than soon. The waves panic, they rush quickly to my feet. They come fast…faster…faster. My breath becomes heavy, I break slowly, ever so slowly. The moonlight drips slowly too, drop after drop glazing my love for you or what I believe love is. Strangely, I find myself standing still, I do not…fall. That is the thing about hope, it breaks you but doesn’t break you enough.
 The buoyant beacon of love sinks afar, I watch it go down. I still stand. Denial wraps it’s arms coyly around my waist then as with dried eyes I watch it die, as carefully nurtured bonds are cleaved in the blue of the night as moonlight weeps for me. For us, maybe?
 The waves inch away from me, they do not long to reach out to me anymore. Denial tells me to wait for the untimely tide as the distance wedges in like a sharp knife between two lost souls fighting for tranquility. Each having different meanings for the same. Denial tells me I will survive although. Denial breathes on my neck, denial wraps me close, glues my broken self, patches old wounds, plasters a smile on my face and pulls me close. Like I want to hold you, now. The night closes in on me then as a feeble substitute.
 Denial feverishly sings to me. That old lullaby which you would hum. Denial scares my demons away, denial soothes my turmoil, denial brushes away my fervent fears and carresses my forehead with hands that promised the illusion of a forever, denial claims it is no one else but you, come again.
Artwork Courtesy: Rishav Saha
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Book Launch of 17 year old Samragngi Roy

They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.” —Carl W. Buehner

 

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Avik Chanda, Iftekhar Ahsan, Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Shuktara Lal, Samragngi Roy, Esha Chatterjee and Ruchira Das. ( seated left to right)



It’s not every evening that the hallowed Oxford Bookstore decks up to launch a book written by an inspiring 17 year old girl- but 27th July, 2016 turned out to be the special day for young Samragngi Roy. A student of St. Joseph’s Chandernagore, this young person took a step ahead towards realising her dreams of pursuing writing and being a celebrated author someday, by publishing her debut novel called, ‘I’m Yours…Forever’.

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Samragngi Roy with Arjyak Bhattacharya of Kolkata Bloggers.

 

 

 


The book launch was graced by the presence of many stalwarts from the field of literature and the arts. A distinguished panel comprising of some of the talented men and women of this city’s intelligentsia-today, was set up. The panel members were author Avik Chanda, Esha Chatterjee, the CEO of Bee Books, the celebrated journalist Nivedita Bhattacharjee who is also a domineering name in the theatre circuit. The panel also had the gracious presence of the founder of Calcutta Walks, Iftekhar Ahsan and the Founder-Director of ThinkArts, Ruchira Das. The book launch and the panel discussion was expertly moderated by  Shuktara Lal, a teacher and drama therapist.The Guest Of Honour for the evening was model-actress Ushoshi Sengupta.
The book launch ceremony was initiated by Mona Sen Gupta of Ahava Communications which was preceded by few words of encouragement to the young author by Mrs Maina Bhagat.

 

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Iftekhar Ahsan at the event.



After the book was launched by the panellists and the Guest Of Honour, Lal started the discussion with the panellists on how each of them found the book and what they felt about publications from such young novelists. It’s a rare sight to find a school-going 17 year old taking out the time to write an entire novel within just 7 months. Chanda was impressed by the poetic language she has employed in her writing and Nivedita Bhattacharjee was all praise for the dramatic elements she has so brilliantly executed in her romantic thriller of a novel. Ruchira Das and Esha Chatterjee too were bowled over by such young talent and along with Chanda and Bhattacharjee requested more teenagers to wield the pen for creative purposes and take to writing more. Ahsan talked about Calcutta Walks and how certain stories are told to make people feel better, for people, like he quoted Buehner, remember that most-how they were made to feel more than anything else.

 

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Ushoshi Sengupta being felicitated. 

 


Samragngi read out certain portions from her book which impressed the audience and inspired many. The young author says that her muses were Nature and Music which powered her on to write her first book- a tale revolving around Rose Hayden, who she says is like her “ alter-ego” and Robert Williams- who is like the “person she had always imagined to be a part of her life”.

The event drew to a close with the earnest request from the panellists to encourage more people to take to writing and the first way to begin and promote that as Chanda pointed out was to, “Read and buy more books. That’s the way to start.” With young talents like Samragngi Roy, we indeed feel inspired to write more and take a step forward to realising our dreams, penning down our emotions and in a way, stirring up and changing this fast-paced world.

You can find the book on Flipkart here.

‘Tech’ing To The Web

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” -Kofi Annan

In a world teeming with people, a majority of who have adapted themselves so comfortably around the World Wide Web, that imagining a life without it is equivalent to making do without your arm or your leg. Holding on to strong fingers of Technology, Man is progressing at a rate never seen before, let alone, thought of. So, in such times where the brilliancy of the Web has illumined millions of lives, changed them in innumerable ways, brought them their deserved respect and recognition, connected people, forged ties-we still find that a large number of the Youth Population, in this country, ignorant to this virtual side of the world.

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The eager students of the Morning Session being taught about Web Literacy

Mozilla Clubs, therefore has taken the initiative of starting a campaign called #HelloWeb, to familiarise the youth of today with the varied advantages of the Internet. Starting from 17th June, 2016 to 30th June, 2016-the members of Mozilla Clubs along with volunteers from Kolkata Bloggers will be going around the city and visiting several orphanages, in association with the  Hope Foundation.

On the 20th of June, several volunteers from both Mozilla and Kolkata Bloggers visited Hope Cafe, off Panditiya Road, to spread the word of Web Literacy. A group of enthusiastic young-adults greeted us, with eager eyes. In the following one and a half hour, the students of the Morning Batch, were taught the uses of Google, beyond just its search option. They learned about Cloud Computing and the basics of Hyper Text Markup Language ( html ). They learned how to manage Google Drive and create Google Docs. Most were already familiar with various social media like Google Plus and Facebook and surprised us by their knowledge of it. Still others, were interested in the venue of blogging and the highly inquisitive ones threw in questions every now and then.
The Afternoon Batch also received us with the same kind of aplomb. They were fascinated by Google Drive and its many options of storage. Two or three of them had even managed to create a blog of their own together. Their interest to learn new things piqued by the minute and their questions surprised us too.

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Arkodyuti Saha( of Mozilla Clubs) and Anirban Saha ( of Kolkata Bloggers) mentoring the second session.

Arkodyuti Saha, campaign coordinator for Mozilla Clubs, has also decided to do something on a long-term basis for these students and other such youths who do not have the privilege of proper Web Education. This campaign has started out small, but in the coming days, it has the power to grow-touch many more of such lives, illumine them and sow the seeds of Web Literacy, in each soul and help them reach greater heights in life, helping them ‘Tech’ to the Web.

You Do Not Want Me

I watched with pale eyes as the dreams got charred, one by one. A flicker of regret was burned away, a stack of memories fighting against untimely, inglorious cremation, blue nights which refused to burn any more and a scalded soul which had slowly lost its voice, begged to breathe.

Flinching is not in my habit and I take pride in that. Yet I do, today.
Once again.
I see another hapless soul running towards me. Running like crazy- I reek of regret and I drown myself in self-hatred. You see, I am not wanted. You don’t want me, as much as you may have cribbed about embracing me. You don’t want to entwine your warm fingers in my shivering cold ones. You don’t want to share my cape of sorrow and tragedy. You are afraid of my shadow even.

Yet I see you hurtling towards me, begging to spill into my indifferent reality. You are running, faster than you are meant to, faster than you should.  I can smell you before you even start running. It slices through the air, makes it bitter, a rapid pungency spreads through almost immediately. I used to cough a little at first. A cough of buried regret.  A cough of suppressed anger. And sometimes, just sometimes, it was a cough of sorrow. A cough to remind me that I will have to be the bad guy, again. Pull another soul away, legate another bond; overlook the tears that will follow, struggle to shun my ears from gnawing cries which disturbed on sleepless nights.

I may not be human, but can I not complain? Can I not cry to you?
Can I not feel the pangs of suffocation? Do I not need to breathe?
Can I not fight for my justice?
Of course I cannot.
They won’t blame you. Not for long. The world loves you too dearly, I am afraid. Blaming it on something that is under their control but something they are in complete denial of is not what they are seeking to do away with. Instead they choose to pin every insult, every folly to the Inevitable-to Me.
You know how it is, it’s like the old lover whose clutches you refuse to let go of. You know you can do without her, you know you will survive but you do not want to, do you? It’s like some secret way to keep her burning and alive, as you stamp away one cigarette butt after the other, charring yourself a little more, all the while hurrying towards me.

But all I can see from my pale eyes is how the smoke curls up behind us as we leave. The stench is now familiar. The musty, trampled sorrow kind.
I gasp helplessly, as I watch the smoke waltz up, occupying all that’s left of the unused spaces of celestial skies.

I turn away, but I smell another soul running towards me.
Only this time, it’s me who wants to run-away, far away.

 

 


This blogpost is an entry to the World No Tobacco Day blogging contest organized by MANT. 

A Room To Dance Again

“There are songs that come free from the blue-eyed grass, from the dust of a thousand country roads. This is one of them. ”

 

 

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Somewhere 8 kilometres away from this place, Darjeeling unravels before you.

It isn’t really restricted to folklore but some places do possess the unique power of healing you. These places bewitch you, with its beauty, lures you into a Neverland, slowly entwining, softly entrapping you, pulling you back into the coy holds of nostalgia.

Maybe that is the reason the Britishers did not waste time in deciding upon Darjeeling as the Summer Capital of the country. Try as much as you may but Darjeeling will always have a lasting impression on you. It will creep into your soul, urge and make space in your heart, it will find a way to accommodate itself in you, touch you in ways you haven’t been touched before. That is the magic about my Darjeeling.

 

Being a Bengali, I was religiously hauled to  Di-Pu-Da. ( Well, affectionately Digha, Puri, Darjeeling.) I won’t be lying if I say that it is in each of these three places, you will have had your taste of your many firsts. To the first nervous dip in the Digha sea, to the first camel ride on the Puri beach and somewhere, sometime, a long 12 years ago, my first red wine and steamed momos and obviously, my very first hills. There will inevitably be a gleam in a Bengali’s eye at the mention of these three places, a sudden escalation in the pitch, a faraway look, still more sudden rush of nostalgia.

But growing up-and after 12 years, visiting Darjeeling meant something else to me. Our desires change, our pleasures evolve, our dreams transform, we are rampantly chased by old demons and still more demanding wants that begs to be your need. Amidst all this, you are stranded. You are desperate, in need of a vent. In the futile search for one. A place to run freely, a place where you can let the wind carry your song, let it drift in foreign homes, a place where the escapist soul restarts dreaming of new beginnings, places which rekindle your old, dead muses, they whisper about love and loss, they haunt you with the promises of longing and belonging. You want to coalesce with the void, away from your old demons. You begin to crave for the impossible, some kind of peace, which won’t destroy you ,eventually.

 

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The tea garden taunts that bridled either side of the serpentine mountain roads.

 

A three hour-long car ride from New Jalpaiguri, taunted by tea gardens and rivers which ran dry in early summer and the quick descend of fog as you slowly ascend the slopes, wind through avenues which promises to unwind into better tomorrows. Hidden hamlets emerge into view, the sudden cool air catches you off your guard. The clouds float inside your car, rushing in from everywhere. You find yourself humming a song,

“Megh Peon’er bag er bhetor mon kharap’er distaa, Mon kharap holey, kuyaasha hoye byaakul holey Teesta.”

 

 

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The fog rushes in from about anywhere and everywhere.

You will find yourself rolling down your car windows then, in the most involuntary of voluntary actions, you will put your face out, close your eyes and let the winds stir the chaos inside you, ruffle it all a bit more. And sometime then, you will let out a sigh.

 

Darjeeling unfolded in a beautiful way, in the mellow criss-cross of sunlight and shadows from the pines,poplars and birches, of the afternoon sun, when I arrived. The chill was barely mistakable in the air. Something moved in my heart, in that small moment-which we live for.

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Dali Monastery, nestled in the lush green hills.

 

You bet the 12 years had got to me, words from a certain Feluda thriller came back to me, as I sat there on the Keventer’s rooftop and sipped on Hot Chocolate and decided to have the Frankfurters and Scrambled Eggs, with the sun slowly dipping behind the hills, inviting the darkness. I relaxed back in the chair and let it all absorb in. There was something captivating in the air. It made you want to run after your old dreams, it urged you listen to your heart, it begged you to let go of the your doubts. It trifled with you. It was intoxicating, heart-warming and somehow edging you on to roads you were scared to travel before, urging you to take risks, live life. Learn to love it a little more.
When dawn broke out the next day and the flat-nosed, crinkly-eyed locals told me that Kanchenjunga was still engulfed in mist, I didn’t let my heart break. It was only Day 2 after all. Growing up has taught me to have faith in the most faithless of situations. So, I saved some of it for the time being.

 

 

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The Buddhist prayer flags skirting the monastery boundaries, waved wildly in the winds.

But you cannot be sad in Darjeeling for too long, what with the serpentine roads, the bustling Mall Road, the charming monasteries with waving Buddhist  flags, to the scrounging alleys, the cheerful people, the steamed momos and the wonderful ‘thupka’s and the nonchalant pace of the toy-trains paving their way in and out of lonely streets, through quaint landscapes, sprawling tea plantations and what not. For your hawk’s eye-view, you can glide along the Rangeet Valley Ropeway, stare at all the green below you. Gasp in wonder.

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Glide over sprawling tea gardens by the Rangeet Valley Ropeway.

 

And once when you are exhausted with all that, let the mountain air whisper stories to you, let it blow you away, as you stand there, clutching onto a nearby boulder, letting the winds unsettle you, somewhere in the middle of the breathtaking Orange Valley Tea Estate.

Anjan Dutt sings in your ears softly about his first cigarette, standing on the edge of the cliffs guarded by railings, many a muse comes to you then. Sitting on a bench beside Oakden, you feel the fatigue climbing onto you, somehow you wish the wind will blow it all away. Far, far away.

The evening stroll helps and you send up a  little prayer, you wish fervently for the mist to clear, the haze to fade, the confusion to shy away. You find yourself longing for it, desperately.

 

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Glenary’s, with its Flurys like charm will win you over. 

Glenary’s and Kunga will take your breath away. The first, with its Flurys like charm and the second, for it’s amazing local spread. Darjeeling surprises you at every nook and cranny, at every bend you take. You will find ever-smiling Nepali people who are only too ready to launch into a tale of the charming hills. A secret envy is born in your heart, you feel like running away into the laps of the mountain, baring your soul to it. Forget people, even, walls have ears, you cannot trust them. But, the hills, the open air, they beckon you, they help you to let go-to stop hanging midway. They teach you how you must, must crave for conclusions.

 

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Trust the Chicken Cheese Momo’s from Kunga to make you drool.

 

When the final day came and the mist still hadn’t cleared, I was beginning to feel the first aches of a heartbreak. The crashing of a million hopes like a house of cards, tumbling in the wind. It was around 5 in the morning, I was alone then, camera in my hand, hoping against hope, wishing for the impossible. The benches of Oakden looked inviting. I took my seat there. There were four or five people armed with cameras loitering around, all saying the same prayer.

And there, in the middle of Darjeeling, on a hill-side bench amidst the unfurling of a heavenly dawn, I bowed down my head. Held it in my hands and did the only too predictable- I cried. The sudden loneliness lashed out at me, I cried a little more. What is it about letting go that we can never completely detach ourselves from? What is that hope which rises from the carcass of bitter sweet memories?

 

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The blue mist hung curtains over the snow-capped peaks and just sometimes, it peeked out.

 

The first ray of the Sun lit up the sky. I looked up with glistening eyes. The fog had cleared. The sky was in awful mess, a jamboree of colors, a whole riot of them. Another hill song floated into my mind as I dared to dream again, as Kanchenjunga played hide and seek with the mist. The prayers had been answered. Sometime in the middle of the ecstasy, an indescribable joy took grasp of me as I realized deep somewhere, amidst the slow-healing scars and scalding burns, of the heart, it had made itself some room to dance again.  Once more, yet again.

 

The House That Built Me

 

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Photograph: Saheli Basak

 “You leave home, you move on, you do the best you can,
                        I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am.”

“Here, girls, your photograph will come in the magazine next year, work properly now.”, Ma’am Alexander’s voice resounded as we immediately started rushing around the lab trying to act VERY busy and look useful, you know. Grab a few test tubes and anything colourful off the rack and we started posing efficiently for the lenses. I swear we never looked more of a scientist before that. Little did I realize, in that childish rush of excitement, a sudden choking thought which surfaced minutes later. We will never be getting this magazine we are so ardently posing for. The irony was heart-wrenching.

What happens in your last year of school is that you are serenaded by so many last this and that’s- that it starts to lose meaning gradually. Yet that vague sense of grief is there. More than grief, should I say loss? A loss so unfathomable that I struggle to gauge it. Loss-of nurtured bonds, of promised promises, of unscripted memories, of so many things that built me. Over the past fourteen years.
The thing is, I am not ready. I don’t think I ever will be. How can anyone be ever ready to leave a safe zone? But, reality is an evil. A necessary one. Like inevitable interjections, it butts in, only when you start growing comfortable around it. It tells you, softly in your ear, it keeps nagging, at the back of your mind, through pensive mornings and mellow afternoons, “Your time is over here. Move on.”

So what if we are not ready?
So what if we want to retrace our steps, trail back down memory lane. So what if we want to think back on the first time we forged a friend, stretched out tiny thumbs and said “Bhaab?” or in a bitter squat over who-broke-my-pencil, with sullen eyes swore never to talk to the alledged ( yes, might be the best friend, too.) Or those times when we would passionately row nothingness while singing aloud, “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream! “, tune be forsaken then. To those silent competitions which were omnipresent in every heart as to who got the most friendship bands.

So what if I want to look at the scars my school life gave me, in giving me a taste of my many firsts. I watched how the definition of love evolve over these years and how the degree changed-from selfless to selfish. To that first time I picked up hurt at school, to those walls which saw me crying and comforted me when I didn’t get a seat beside my almost best-friend and thought about how I have absolutely no one for me ( yes, I have a thing for over thinking). I watched people drift away, I watched friends being reduced to strangers. I want to caress those old wounds, stare at the scars they left. The wounds so deep that the naked eye fails to see them. Yet they have gifted me a completeness I cannot complain of. I learnt to measure friendship not by the number of friendship bands I still keep in a box but by the number of times someone reached out and held my hand. Or listened and understood the grief in my sorrow and the mirth in my happiness, maybe. Those sun-kissed corridors guarded my secrets, guarded my memories. The bitter and the sweet.

You see, none of this is easy. A part of me hasn’t realized that we have reached the conclusion. It’s a forced one, like the ones you are made to arrive at when a story runs too long and you are helpless, trying to end it. School has been everything to me. From complaining proudly, “Ma’am, she is cheating!” to years when none of us could think about writing an exam without indulging in that very activity. To team-work assingments and last minute project submissions, to falling asleep in almost every class in plus two, to playing nonsensical games of Truth or Dare or taking time out to discuss life, for starters and then the conversation would trudge the path to childhood heartbreaks and the many crushes we had and the present apathy and solitude, slow-building in our hearts.
I learned to be wise, I learnt to grow up. I learnt to trust, I learnt to believe. Over the years, I transformed. Well, mentally at least. ( That’s just speaking for myself)
I don’t know how much I am going to miss. I don’t know how much of a void this loss will create. But I do feel complete. For having known this place, for being gifted so many memories. To those times when a teacher inspired me beyond everything, or when she casually told me, “Whatever you do, never stop writing.”, or when I won my first inter-school event and in no time, rushed to win my last. It wasn’t even as long a blink of an eye. I will miss everything. To long walks heading to Nowhere after-school, to those many memories lying unknown in rusty lanes of old Kolkata. To deciding on the most ridiculous plans and think about executing it, to spending all six hours within the walls, hating it sorely and being glad about leaving it one day.But, as I sit to w

rite this. I don’t find the gladness, none of it, that I hoped would overwhelm me. I don’t know why I had dry eyes and a wailing heart as I hugged another classmate, as the last bell tolled. She was crying. Afraid to let go. I am afraid too. I struggle to find the romance in life after this. The uncertainty doesn’t excite me. I am not one for the changes, I like to hold on to things. Obstinately. People, friendships, trust, love and everything about 118,Princep Street.
I have made myself too comfortable in this picture. In maroon and white. I don’t know where I’ll make a place for myself in the next. I am so afraid. What if I am not ready to let go. What if the nostalgia slowly strangulates me as I try to crawl out of it? It unwinds me, all of these.

So. In a time, when my feet are trapped in memories, turbulently wrapped in them-when the remembered will be forgotten and the forgotten remembered, I want to promise. I want to promise that I’ll never outgrow you or feel the need to move on. I want to remember all of it, every moment spent in this place. Cling onto them like they are dear life itself. I would want to retrace the steps, rediscover times we snuck out our tiffin at the ring of the first bell, played busy and bunked a class or two everyday,
sang wildly, gossiped and had the most disturbing and shameful conversations, I want to remember everything.
So. In a few more months from now, the alarm clock won’t wake me up at 6 in the morning, I won’t groggily walk around the house, I won’t hurriedly dress up and wait for my pool car to take me to school anymore. I won’t have to bite off my nails in a hurry, rub chalk on the edges of the sports shoes, curse myself for having mistakenly carried my phone to school one fine Doomsday (oh, well), or worry about being scolded severely by a teacher. In a few months, those roads, little by lanes-will forget my name, I won’t remember theirs. My footsteps won’t tread those gravel anymore, in seasons of change as old hands will slip out and new ones will take your grasp.

Will they call out for me? Those four walls of the school, the tiled floors where we cross-legged sat and carried on with our addas? Will those familiar faces fade to unfamiliarity one day? Will they not ache for me? Will those morning chapel hours be incomplete without us? Will void be encircling my School, when I leave? Will she even notice my absence, my pent-up grief?

School. Help me remember who I am. Don’t make me lose myself. Ever.
I’ll make sure you never fade into Oblivion. They’ll remember you, as long I am there. This, I promise.
School. You’ll always be the house that built me.
From nothing to everything.
I cannot repay this debt. You have gifted me way too many things. Things I don’t deserve.
Things which whispers in my subconscious, tell me, that I belong here, in maroon and white, at 118, Princep Street. And nowhere else.
This is a dedication.
To everyone who made my life, these fourteen years, so memorable.
To people whose names I dare not take, for they stir old emotions.
To people who watched me grow up, helped me cross roads, pass a Maths test or the other,
To juniors who loved me for absolutely no reason, to seniors who inspired me.
To Calcutta Girls’ High School, who made me who I am.

 

 

Kaleidoscope Eyes

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Citylights sprawling,

The starlight screams,

I rushed through bedlam

Amiss a few heartbeats- I roved, staggered, floundered

Pregnant, with flailing hopes and lost,

Fleeing from their kaleidoscope eyes.

Plastic faces, throbbing dreams

They look at me and pierce

Sharp, with kaleidoscope eyes

I find myself-muddy mind, heavy heart

Fidgeting with life,

Roving, searching, lunging, moving

Away from them and towards you.

I keep chasing pavements

I shy under that facade

Don’t want them to know,

Like a lost star, spiralling

 In a whirlwind of desert hope

I find you-suddenly.

Your fingers interlacing mine,

Filling up the void, healing the wounds

As I keep running,

From kaleidoscope eyes.

The veil lifts,stripped bare

Shadow bursts, a blue spat sky

I see her, naked, in the mellow light

I reach out for her, yet

Something still stops me, from within.

We still keep fleeing

We still keep shying, and

Like two lovers in a heavenly reckoning

We run into each other,again

The roads of escape run into another dead end

As the circle coalesces,

The truth stammers,

And the lie detonates my mind.

        Thank You    Arghyadeep Roy. 🙂

Calcutta Calling

The traffic signalled red as my big paunched Bengali driver let out an expletive, pressing down hard on the brakes. I leaned forward involuntarily, as a bronze painted Netaji, on horseback, rose into view. I looked out of my rolled up taxi window, the rain pelting down fast against it, gash-marking them.

“Shyambazar”, I sighed with a relief, the watery smile filling up my pale face, illuminating disillusioned eyes.

The ten am traffic was a big bother on my way back from the airport. A crater-filled Jessore road, men under black umbrellas, to others with steaming cups of tea in earthen cups, sprawling lazily with newspapers in their hands, under the cover of age-old tea shops. My Calcutta hadn’t changed one bit in the seven years it had lived without me, try as they may rename it, stash blue-white paint on it, have itself thrown in political uprisings and entangling itself it the worst of situations and conflicts.

Photograph: Ritam Paul Chowdhury

The horns parped away and frequent vernacular expletives were hurled around as North Calcutta began its day. I brushed past the iconic Golbari and drove straight before asking my taxi-driver to take the second right turn. Waterlogged lanes waded into view as people in those blue lungis or an ill-worn dhuti, a casually draped saree, or shorts and pants stood still as my 
yellow Austin Ambassador wove its way through the narrow alley. Seven years and still the waterlogging problem persists, as somewhere down the road two children sailed paper boats in the logged water. Squeals of delight escaped from them, as they splashed around in the greyish brown muddy water.

Photograph: Swarnava Ghosh

The rain had stopped, momentarily. My taxi exited the alley and joined the road into which it expanded. The Ahiritola street was deserted of people,like always. I looked to my right and saw the Ganges flowing by-still dirty, still beautiful, still cajoling my five senses and bewitching me. All at once.

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Photograph: Anirban Saha

I could feel a funny tingle in my eyes as I watched my childhood sweep by, the ghat steps on which my later teens were spent, the narrow nameless alleys in which love and passion ran for cover,where many a story lay shrouded in broken-bricked houses and blind lanes. The ramshackles of naked pandals adorned the streets. Calcutta had survived yet another Pujo, as carelessly kept idols lined the ghat shore.

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Photograph: Saheli Basak

The strains of a Kishore Kumar song blared from the tea stall speakers,
“Hoyto amake karur mone nei, [Maybe no one remembers me,]
Ami je chhilam ei graam e tei. [at once I used to live in this village.]
Ei mati tey jonmo amar, [On this soil I was born,]
Taai toh phirey elam abar… [that’s why I came back once more.]”,
as I directed my taxi into a final left that leads to my lane. My house stood there, in dire need of another coating of the blue paint, like always. It looked inviting from a distance, with it’s tainted glass British windows. I got off from the taxi, pulled out the two large American Tourister’s from the back and felt that odd pleasure in leafing through Indian currency after having handled dollars all this seven years, as I paid the fare.

I dragged the two suitcases behind me as a tiny knot started forming in my throat. It was a lot like someone had shoved a burning camphor into my throat, shoved it forcefully. They didn’t know that I would be coming. I never let them know that I would be returning, a week early. I never told them I was lying about being home much later. I rang the calling
 bell on the top right corner on the wall of my house, after a moment of hesitation. My heart must have skipped a beat or two, when someone shouted from the other side of the wall, ” Ke? Ashchi!” [“Who’s it? I am coming!”] The clang of bangles as someone with a familiar voice unfastened the bolt and opened the creaky wooden door to my darling of a house. It was my mother. Grey-streaks of hair in place, a faded saree draped on her and a smile on her face that I had yearned to see on every pensive night spent sleepless in New York City.

She was struggling to find her voice, I couldn’t find mine, in that obscure moment, as she tried hard…and amidst tears, slipped that old and embarassing nickname from her mouth, ” Buri!” and reached out for me. I moved forward, faster than fast, as I held on to her for dear life, I kissed her cheeks, salty with the tears as a long held tear slipped from my eyes. I held her close and said, ” Maa. I am home again. ”

Cover photograph: Ritam Paul Chowdhury

[This is an entry to the blogging contest in The Calcutta Boys’ School‘s fest, Concord 2015, presented by The Times of India and in association with Kolkata Bloggers. ]

You Should Have Known

I could see that you were lost, fidgeting with yourself, tangled in your own wants and needs. I could see you trying to breathe, trying to exist, forgetting to live.
I could see the tears behind your smile, the pain in the rehearsed mirth…I could see through your lies, every time you told me with a broken smile on your face that he hadn’t hurt you and that bruise mark, fast fading into the blue-black hue was actually nothing-just a consequence of your outright silliness. “Oh, I tripped and fell on the road the other day, you know!” you said and gave a nervous laugh. I laughed with you too. Gave you a casual pat on the shoulder and hoped it was as simple as you make it seem. I could never tell you that I can see through all this, see through your facade, look beyond the deep dash of rouge and the bold line of kohl outlining your eyes which in spite of all the misery it shrouds still bewitches me. Years after…
I look away. I try not to look any further than you want me to see. I try..

We never discussed reality, did we?

We built our dreams in the void.

We never knew they would be so similar to each others and they won’t work out.

We never thought we would never have each other. For each other.

We never thought we had to say goodbye.

But, you do understand,  right?

Why I cannot be with you?

Why I cannot go back to you?

Even when I see you writhing in pain threatening to expose itself with another smile you put on…I cannot go back. I don’t know..no, I know..I know you don’t love me anymore. I have given you reasons to hate me. I made them up. I devised them with the utmost difficulty…because I had to. I wanted it to make it easier for you…easier to choose. Not give you any options but leave you with one choice, so it is easier for you. So it doesn’t unsettle you.
I had do. Move away.
Someone has to-give up, lose.Someone has to stop tugging at the rope,let go. Someone has to.

I had watched you fall in love with him, I had heard all about it. I was happy for you. Because you were happy. But I knew somewhere, that day, sometime in cold December,  when you finally fell for him, like they say, head over heels in love..well, when you did that and you told me rapturously about it, I knew it was the end of us…and the beginning of another- Us, again. But not quite the same.

Could you read my mind that day? Did you sense the mist in my eyes? Or notice the struggle I had in speaking?  Did it occur to you that day? I hope it didn’t.

I have always loved you. Its not typical, this love which I have for you. I don’t know how to name it. I don’t know what would ever be able to perfectly explain it..words, too fail. I grasp, I claw, I lunge out..at the silence..I cling to the void..even that has become a part, slowly expanding, seeping into the little that is Ieft of “Us”.

You see, all this. Is not quite love. Its much more. But, damn. I don’t know. I always knew that you are mine, I had always assusmed. Maybe that’s why. Maybe that’s why-it tore me, it made me bleed when I had to give you up. In the most involuntary of voluntary actions-I gave  you up.

Darling, I never knew it would come down to this.

Believe me, I never expected this. I am sure you hadn’t too. I can see the hell you are living in  amidst the heaven you paint it to. I can see it all.

Can you please remember to not trust so easily?  I don’t want to see you like this .

I want to run to you. Take you away with me. Recreate the us. I have such treacherous wishes all the time. I love you. There is no question about that.

You have gifted me completeness along with some void, when you left. When I made you leave.

It numbed me, that pain…but the needful needs to be done.

I gifted you a dream, a wish you hadn’t really wished for, but I always knew, I gave you a reality with him.I want to help you, now. Tell you I am sorry. Tell you that I love you. Over and over again. But, will you let me? Won’t it mess it up all further?  I fear..I fear that I will lose you forever. Completely this time. The little that I have of you right now isn’t much..I don’t want to lose it.

You had asked for the rainbow. I had happily given it to you.

You should have known it comes with the rain and the clouds of gloom. You should have known, all those years back, when I had said, fervently, without a thought that I don’t love you..that I would be the one holding the umbrella for you.

Through the thunder and the rain..

Through the thick and thin.

You should have known, darling.

You should have known.

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