Sunday, August 26, 2012

Calcutta cosmopolitan contradictions and other ailments-

Sometimes the vulnerability of Calcutta strikes me as curiously poetic. How it gives in to all our vices. How someplace like New York would make you a slave and bit by bit change you like a demanding lover and this sullen place of even sadder evenings besides the Ganga asks nothing.

It is perhaps one of the few cities that changes at your will sometimes with you, sometimes for you and sometimes after years later when you come back it still feels the same. Though you know that it is not, for her soul may be the same she has grown old, weathered and weary and as for Sayantan, Calcutta is where she was, Kolkata is just a cloned down older replacement that is trying so hard to please him. 

And even in xenophobia he feels acquainted as he can see her traces everywhere, in the evenings around Victoria, in faded denims and giggly girls in every passing resemblance of a soft triangular jaw, size XL eyes, and slightly large upper lips. So, this strange place Kolkata may well be known, after all.

Specifically, around College Street the city tries a tad too much to be Calcutta as if with those same overbearingly big eyes, tiny protruding well shaped though carved in a hurry nose and a wrung smile bejeweled in light red frame of some lip stick. 

Calcutta can still be felt all over with mogra and all her friends of the night, salt pepper lips and cheeks none too large so as to seem intruders but like well-loved neighbors, small eyes like poetry written with a bleeding soul and then, she inches closer, puffed eyes, over dressed, thirty trying to be nineteen.

As if the city wants me to be convinced of her promiscuity pointing at me to Hooghly – 
Am I her? Can I be?
I Sigh, and reflect “at times my dear, at-times”.

My stories like the reflected rays of car head-lights would always back track to this mess called Calcutta. Where else can I draw such an inspiration of life and death in a single moment? Which other city has such a fragile backdrop like my ego and is as lost as I am.

My limping weak heroes can only survive in a city as spineless as this and all those women who I would make love through my words would have to be as head-strong as the stoic city around the noisy diamond harbor. My story is much like me and this city, a contradiction called Calcutta.

My story begins much before the vanity of city lights and monolithic indecency of buildings had engulfed Garia. And I began to feel like a small hut of man walking through the godless foundations of a place. When there still were lanes marked not with the names of men who had never been here but by directions and distances from small ration stores or rational ponds.

When men were not fighting for cramped spaces with cattle and roads. When riding a taxi to park circus was an excursion and the small rickshaw pulled by men was still inhuman not just antique. 

When in October the sun would burn with the slow flame of incense sticks and moon played around dhunuchi. That was my first home it was an enclosed space of narrow alleyways and knee height rain waters outside of which the world was pretty much like it was inside, simple and clutterless and chaotic with its uniformity. Just like this nameless tale I write.

It begins around the calm class rooms of a vacant Presidency lost in time roaming through the Coffee houses and the Canteens. Where 'a just out of teen' Tanima is reading Somerset Maugham and listening to Sinatra and taking pride in herself overwhelming beauty, yet to meet Sayantan and then it ends right here at this place called Kolkata which I do not know or perhaps chose not to.

A place that has no heroes never did and unlike any writer of fiction I have not obliged myself with the responsibilities of my protagonists just like a certain God did with his personal Adam and Eve.

It is a story of evolution of a place and also the story of the men that inhabit it and the ideas that they put all their faith to. It is a story of love like all other stories with clich├ęs and literature having stale smells so much so that sometimes I feel I had no right to write it and yet I did. Through time the city grows not much in size as in the distances that people have between them.

My story is not just for Tanima or Sayantan or that unlucky European man called Adam but all of us for it is we who live it much more than them. It is we who while looking outside the windows admire the beauty of rains and written word while our coffees are warm and lukewarm and cold just like us. It deals with our wanderlusts and all those extra miles that drew us apart and yet in every inch long word, we gape. At every thought that was so far beyond our imagination. 

For, we all have been Tanima at some points chaining ourselves with love when in reality our soul just wants to run wild. So, do not ask me why Tanima and Sayantan do not meet. I have no reasons for that instead I may just stare blank at you and say, cherish their loneliness because in being lonely they are doing a great service to you for all the three hundred and ninety two pages that they live.

They share their plight being you, what more do you need from two hapless fictionaries. And Adam, have no sympathies for him he is your unbound desires and blindness and egos. He is your mirror. 

I do not care about them and neither do I care about you. It is a perpetual burden that I carry, a wait for it to end. My longing is different from yours because my mind endures the burden of my sentences that are statements like full moon nights over the Ganges and I have to stare and I have to stop. I am not courageous enough to amalgamate my life and the thoughts that wander about so I write.

This is my world now with their quirks and judgments and philosophies and I shall sit back and watch them letting them chart lives unmolested. While I let go of the idea of belonging and abandon myself, concluding at the beginning.

No comments: