A cacophony named Calcutta
For those who do not know me, I was born and brought up in Calcutta and lived there for the first twenty two years of my life. Then I moved to Bangalore. Now a days I visit Calcutta twice a year, generally.
Last time when I visited Calcutta (in July, 2007), the eastern India was experiencing a devastating flood. Calcutta was suffering from water logging and frequent power cuts. One such evening, when my home and the surrounding area were struck by yet another "load-shedding", I couldn't take it any more and left for College street.
On my way, I could see that the entire area was submerged in pre-civilization darkness. The weather was hot and sultry, the roads were broken and on top of that, a political procession was diverting the traffic. I had to get down from the bus way before my destination. By that time, I was completely frustrated, infuriated and despondent about the state of the city. I was wondering how people could live in this hell and tolerate this utter nonsense day after day... I was wondering how I lived here once! The chaos, the crowd, the hue and the cry of the busy streets were adding to my dejection.Nevertheless, I walked on (as I had no other option). To avoid the congested main road, I took to a lane. There was a medicine shop at a corner of that lane, a old, dilapidated one that I never noticed before. In the dim light of the shop, I could see a wooden counter full of dust, half-broken racks full of medicine bottles which, probably, would never come out again and an old, weary man, dozing as he himself had no hope for any customer. As I looked at him, it suddenly occurred to me that this person, this place had a story to tell... may be of a prospering past, a declining present and a bleak future! The line-ridden face of the shopkeeper was telling me about a little tragedy that nobody wanted to hear. His face was not "attractive", but it was so different from the indifferent, professional looks of the workers of the Bangalore malls!
As I met the main road again, the ocean of humanity greeted me with its usual roar. I walked along the narrow footpaths with book shops on both sides of the pathway. As I waded through the human tide, I glanced on the faces around me... they looked strangely familiar! And all of them, with all their expressions, were narrating me their little stories. The cheerful faces of the kids were telling about a party called life, the spirited faces of the students were telling about a challenge called life, the battered faces of elderlies were telling about a battle called life! And they all seemed so familiar... I've seen them all in my family, among my friends, among my relatives... I am one of them! The bits and pieces of the conversations, of the shouts and the cries were weaving a magical mesh around me that engulfed and embraced me into a strange, warm sense of belonging. I know I cannot escape this entanglement in this life, or may be I do not want to...