Monday, July 5, 2010

Shesher Kobita-Revisited with Oscar wilde


“Is hypocrisy such a terrible thing?
It’s merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities.”
-Oscar Wilde

Reading this he smiled, a personal smile, an ode to his memory and of course Oscar Wilde.
Scribbled in the last page of “The Importance of Being Earnest”.
She called him a hypocrite.
Priscilla had a beautiful full handwriting wide spaced unlike his, short and small.

7,761 miles, a mental calculation he always did.
This love is like, water kept in a kalsi (jug) and she was like a lake.
The water never to be taken home but into which mind can immerse itself.
He had written this in his diary somewhere.


A kiss may ruin a human life.
-Oscar Wilde

Bay state road,
in his apartment,
love making,
for the first time.

It was later that he told Priscilla that all the 120 seconds of it
He could only think about Kolkata and most of the places in India he had seen.
Once even the map of Asia.

She laughed, like one of those loony laughs she had.
In a later confession she had told him that, it was some kind of exotic experience
And that his lips almost tasted like those spices in the chicken curry he cooked.
And that she had faked it.

In retrospect now,
He thought, it was not making love
Merely some kind of white man’s (woman’s) burden, guilt that she had
And for him it was something like anti-imperialism, if there is any such word.

Two people holding each other and in an act cleansing there racial pasts and history.


I like men with a future and women with a past.”
-Oscar Wilde

Durjoy Banerjee was brought up like all Bengali “bhadra lok” are expected to.
In their pantheon of Gods they even had Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Tagore and Renaissance.
He always said, though metaphorically.

A middle class household
in American terms they were almost eligible for food stamps
But then in India you can do well with such family salary.

Riding on parents dreams
Raised to go to Presidency College
and then to Oxford
he went to the Yankees somehow.

He never knew Priscilla’s background much, apart from her arts major,
Divorced parents and a linage of boyfriends ranging from
Black jocks, Boston Brahmins and now a Bengali Brahmin.
And that she loved comics, you know like Phantom and all.


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever.”
- Oscar Wilde

Durjoy knew that this answer was almost impossible to find
'Is It Love?'

Though he had once heard her listening to
Rabindra Sangeet in her apartment
But he knocked and it stopped

And he, absurdly bathed thrice a day with three different soaps
Only to be fairer,
perhaps closer to Italian.

He had tried to read her Shesher Kobita (The Last Poem) by Tagore
She could just not fathom it though.

And once in a while even today in his home
he glances through Phantom.

About her he knew nothing much.


Shesher Kobita
“The tragedy is understood by the girl who releases him from his troth and disappears from his life.”
-Farewell My Friend

And he went home back from Boston to New York to Mumbai and to Kolkata
She came to the airport but unlike those air port love stories nothing happened.
She smiled and waved and promised to stay in touch
he just smiled.

All through the while he was thinking about Shesher Kobita to give him the power.
Even the plane was on time, unlike the sub-continental flights.
Half an hour before Mumbai and according to the old man reading Boston Globe next to him
Above Karachi he had thought of running back but momentarily.

Even now Durjoy baths thrice a day because of Kolkata’s humidity.
They call him Gora babu.
Perhaps daily chores of living together would’ve killed the love.
He smiled and again quoted the same novel of 1928,
Shesher Kobita
Slowly perhaps reassuringly.


KetakI and I - our love is like water in my kalsi (jug) ; I fill it each morning, and use it all day long. But Labannya's love is like a vast lake, not to be brought home, but into which my mind can immerse itself.


Priscilla lives 7,761 miles away from Kolkata in Boston
She is Dr. Pricilla Earhart now with a PHD in Tagore and his works.
And yeah
When Durjoy went she just wrote in her diary later,
Phantom runs faster than the eyes can see
And perhaps the heart can feel.

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