Udayan Ghosh Choudhury
baba had said:
however tall you grow, let your feet be grounded
i am standing with my two legs on the ground
ma, tell me
how do i now wear my pants?
in case the son does not earn enough, the father looks for a dark girl
and then, tries to explain to others
why we call her ‘krishnakoli’
after a certain age
when ma still keeps saying “travel safe,”
it feels like a pleasant announcement at the railway station
“may you have a safe journey”
such mechanical and disciplined
telling and hearing
is our destiny
Once humans know, they don’t speak the truth. For instance, at last year’s party in our housing complex, the most sensuous woman’s two-and-a-half-year-old kid announced pop that her mother’s breasts are actually broken, that she is a broken woman. The woman managed with some rolling laughter and we carried on looking for the sherbet-kiosk.
Unless one is disgusted, humans don’t ever speak the truth. For instance, in the biology lab, the girl, roll number 11, once told me: “Even dog’s piss is more precious than your trousers.” At that time, I used to have only one pair of trousers; used to wear it six days a week.
Humans never deal in truth unless shielded behind glass. As we tried to free Baba’s body from the morgue, Chintu suddenly came up with this: “Poetry and all that jazz is bullshit! The real succour for man comes with Cerelac and saline.” Before flying to Canada, Kobita invited him to the terrace only to slap him hard.
Come, let me tell you something about Snakes
We do not trust snakes even when they are teetering on the edge oftheir own death. We never think that just like the wing-torn butterfly, the snake too has a sweet heart, which is wailing, holding the last straw so that it can live a few more heartbeats.
Rather, we feel joyously relieved that there will be none anymore to run after our sense of sinning—papabodha. No one will inject venom into our conscience. As we put the remnants of the snake’s body into the crepitating fire, we bluster: “You know, it is me who killed this one…”
It’s our smiling face and the style of turning our heads that distinguishes each one of us from the other. Or else, come to think of it, blood-bones-flesh and procreation—whatever is a bird is also a snake.
After trees die, no bird comes to it, no traveller. Only an emaciated snake sometimes comes enquiring after its well being.
Have you heard of a sickly snake ever? Have you read? Nope. Nowhere sir! Because snakes live a very happy and contented life. There is no chapter on violence in the psychology of snakes.
On Saturdays, just short of noon, a three-wheeled tin cart would arrive at the school playing-ground. My caricatures and cartoons on the cover of ‘Kisholoy’ would all go haywire. Commotion, leaps, and our rushing, forming a cordon around gari-kaku. Nonchalant, raising the corner of his lungi, he would wipe sweat from his face and Kalipada-syar would not hit us with his talpata-fan; he would just scare us with it.
We would stand at a safe distance and with eyes like the reporter’s camera, would catch a glimpse of that magical tin cart opening up its belly and breads, one after another, falling from it. Just like heroines at award functions—thrilling, attractive, proud. Kalipada-syar used to be fond of me and I used to love slightly burnt reddish brown breads. When syar would hand me one, on a thriving day, I would feel that I was holding a bonus, a gift of a dream.
One day Kalipada-syar took me to a distance and with a face like a criminal, whispered: “See, you all are now in Class IV. Big boys! You understand things, isn’t it? Today, there is a shortage of breads. So, let us first divide that among the kids. And if there are still some left, you all will get.”
We did not get. That day, while returning home, I was fuming at the road, at Kalipada-syar, at gari-kaku too. I could not understand how we had become big boys so soon!
Actually syar, these days I comprehend a bit of that. To turn big means to turn yourself a little small every passing day, bit by bit…