Work, passion, interests and life

As he looked

Sea of Humanity appeared

Out of Nowhere

They seemed headed in the opposite direction

He thought he was one of them

Deep inside he knew he wasn’t

Some idiot had said

Seeing is believeing

The teeming millions laugh

They believe in The Unseen

Their cockiness unbelievable

They can trade life and death for inherited belief

He was afraid

Meeting the fate of dinosaurs

Strangely he felt transported in a Jurassic Park

The approaching crowd seemed like marauding dinosaurs on the rampage

He began to search for an escape to save him

And wondered whether Humankind can ever escape from the scourge of irrationality

 

 

 

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I have been told that Baba consented to marry Ma without ever looking at her photo. Inconceivable for youth of today’s generation… But this was the early 1960s and couples entering a conjugal life being almost strangers were not totally unheard off.

Baba worked in an Insurance company. I am not sure of the number of lives of people he insured, but he did think of making a few, within his limited means, for his family. Often, on a Sunday morning, a few people laden with gifts would come to meet him. Much as I wanted to see what lay behind those wrappers, Baba used to disappoint me. He would return the gifts politely. A pre-teen lad was unable to comprehend the distinction between gifts, bribes and a principled view of leading an honest existence. On the other hand, on several occasions, I would see Baba return from office with packets of sweets. This was offered to him during office parties, and under pretext of having it later, he would bring them home for me.

Fond memories abound of childhood days. Studying in a missionary school in a hill station, I didn’t have a chance of picking up my mother tongue quickly.  Baba bridged this deficit and every night used to read out story books in Bengali to me. However rudimentary, this cemented a love for literature in one’s own language. When I see my son now grappling with foreign and other languages, I wish I could have replicated similar efforts to instill in him a love for his own culture. Increasingly, in modern society, the youths are becoming rootless …

Continuing with childhood recollections, I remember accompanying Baba on many an occasion to Burra Bazar, popular as Iewduh in the local language. We would wander the labyrintine lanes of Iewduh (Khasi for big market, or Burra Bazar) for our daily requirements. I remember the kindly Kong (Kong is a Khasi lady) selling fish rewarding me with 10-20 paisa regularly, a great incentive for me in those days to go with Baba whenever he went to Iewduh.

Baba led a disciplined life. He woke up early and made tea and bread for the family. I am yet to come across anyone on this planet who could match my baba’s skill at toasting bread over slow coal-based fire with such perfection. The crispness that came with it was simply unbeatable. Thereafter, he went to Polo Ground, a ground of four furlongs, for his morning walk. At 9:30 sharp, he would hit the road for his office.

Later in the evenings, when he returned from office, he would spend his time with the children of our joint family. He was always fond and affectionate towards the younger generation. His grand-son would vouch any day for his selfless love towards him, and keeps him on a much higher pedestal than his own parents. Baba was fond of singing, particularly Rabindrasangeet and songs by Hemant Kumar – his favourite singer. He used to sing Rabindrasangeet numbers in office functions, without Harmonium accompaniment which he couldn’t play unlike his brothers. He shared a commonality with Rabindranath Tagore – both shared the same date of birth and both died when they touched just eighty…

Exuding optimism was like second nature for Baba. On my wedding day, owing to the intense heat of Kolkata in the month of June, he fainted but he regained his composure and characteristic spirits after a score of minutes.

He was a foodie and never thought twice of buying groceries at a premiun for household consumption. On a rainy day, he would request his favourite ‘Kichuri’ (a dal and rice preparation) to be made in the house. In Shillong, the hill station where I lived, it rained throughout the year and Baba could sample his fave dish quite regularly. We always celebrated his birthday in a quiet way as he disliked ostentation – Ma made payesh (sweet preparation of Milk and Rice popular among Bengalis) and sweets were distributed among family members in the house.

“Who do you love the most in this world?” my wife had once asked. I replied – Baba. He taught me the basic lessons in life – to be honest, to live within one’s means, to not always covet things that others possess or be jealous about them.

Towards the end of his career, Baba started writing with left hand because his right hand had startedc shaking. He picked up left-handed writing ability with a resolute determination as he knew he had to provide for his family. During the last few years of his life in Faridabad when he was unable to walk properly he never gave up hope- when physiotherapist came to treat him for a month he was up to the strict regime of the instructor. Among his last wishes was a trip he wanted to make to go to his home in Shillong. Alas, that dream never got realised.

When Ma left for Kolkata for a few days for an important work during his eightieth birthday, Dad had asked her “So, you’re not going to be around for my birthday?” Ma tried to reason saying that it was necessary to go and that she would go to the Bipodtarini Mandir (a temple dedicated to a form of Goddess Kali for warding off evil) and would pray for him. I didn’t ask Ma what she had asked in her prayers on that day … Did Baba have a premonition that he was going to leave us. I can’t tell you assuredly, but the void lingers on four years after the exit from the mortal existence …

A moment, a minute, a breath can deform,

And the shape of the world assumes a new form.

   (Src:   Khushwant Singh’s DELHI A Novel, Pg 162)    

 

Ever since we have had a new Govt. at the Centre, one is witness to efforts being made to revive Sanskrit from its rarefied position to the mainstream. A recent heading in Times of India dated Nov 13, 2017 caught my eyes: “Raj may make Sanskrit compulsory in schools.” Here is a part of the report in verbatim: “Rajasthan education department may make Sanskrit a compulsory third language from Class IV to Class X in state board schools to ensure that students have access to ‘ancient wisdom regarding Bharat Varsha. Currently students have the option to choose their third language from Sanskrit, Punjabi, Gujrati, Urdu, Sindhi and Bengali.

Some questions naturally arise: Was a Committee of Experts formed that looked into the merits and demerits of all these six languages, and decided that the other five languages have outlived their importance, and that only Sanskrit need to be retained because it is the language of the future. The other pertinent question would be “Can we find so many good enough Sanskrit teachers all of a sudden?”

As a Hindu, whenever we recite our prayers during Pujas, the priest recite something profound in Sanskrit and without understanding a single word of what is being said, we repeat the uttering of the priest and complete our duty of paying obeisance to our Gods…a believer often doesn’t need to understand everything.  Likewise, not everyone in this World needs to be a linguist; not everyone needs to appreciate Classical music. Something that is profound can only be appreciated by the Classy and the learned.

Like Wordsworth, I believe that YARROW UNVISITED is better than YARROW VISITED.

What’s your take on this?  …

 

Art imitates life. Today I am reminded of the supporting character of the father of one of the lead pair viz., Anil Chaterji in Satyajit Ray’s MAHANAGAR (1964) – an aged retired teacher with traditional beliefs unable to comprehend changing times. When he tries to reach out to his past successful students during his hard times, their insensitivity towards him is a reflection of how we treat our teachers in modern society. In Mrinal Sen’s EK DIN ACHANAK an academically bent Professor leaves his family for an unknown destination when his family and society doesn’t accord him the respect he felt due to him….

Happy Teachers Day in advance to all Teachers….

 

 

image001 image003

Shower Thy Light

On my eyes

O Lord …

 

Of late my son has been taking a tuition on Mathematics from Jain Sir in our neighborhood. One fine day, my wife and I decided to meet the gentleman to inquire about our son’s progress …
Mr. Jain is wheel-chair bound. He is popular among the kids who take tuition from him. He loves kids immensely and advised us from rebuking and being too critical of our child. He recommended a monthly meeting with us for updates …
He has a doting wife who efficiently runs the household with a smile on her face. In his younger days, Mr. Jain grew up like a normal child doing all activities that a child is usually associated with without any difficulty. However, when he was in his twenties, doctor informed him about a rare medical condition that he was afflicted with and predicted that he would be wheel-chair bound in a couple of years. It happened exactly the way the physician had forecasted.
Since then more than two decades have elapsed. Mr. Jain didn’t let adversity pull him down. He started tutoring kids and have built a formidable reputation for himself. I didn’t detect any streak of negativity in him. Not once did he complain about how hard life must have been for him all these years. His close knit extended family of brothers and sisters visit him regularly.
I was reminded of the Tapan Sinha directed Bengali film WHEEL CHAIR based on a true story about a wheel chair bound doctor (played by veteran actor Soumitro Chattopadhyay) who fought relentlessly to bring joy in the lives of his poor patients and building and maintaining a nursing home for their recovery.
Kudos to such brave-hearts of setting inspiring examples of how to take life’s challenges unwaveringly …

 

 

 

 

 

Memories seem like mirage

The distance now infinite

Can illusion ever hold a candle to the real?

The absolute truth

Your absence

Punctuates every waking moment.

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  • Subhajit Ghosh: Your wish has been granted, and look how! Even NDA possibly didn't dream of this huge victory. Let's hope they deliver, and take the nation forward.
  • mystic wanderer: Third Front would be disaster, and UPA (again) would be a severe step backward. BJP/NDA led by Modi seems the only worthwhile choice.
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