Sunday, 27 December 2009

Once upon a time in a city...

An Asomiya story by Mousumi Kandali in translation

Once in the middle/heart of a city, in a small room of a multi-storeyed housing complex, there was an old man. Alone and retired. One day, the old man who had been waiting with great hope that something would happen some day to his monotonous and single-tuned existence, invented a game to give some motion to his stagnant life. The game of replacing names of things with other words. Like to call the table a tree, the bed a picture, the chair a watch. In other words, when in the morning the old man gets up from his bed, looks at his face in the mirror and goes out for a walk then in the old man’s new language the sentence goes like this: in the morning, the leg got up from the picture and sat on the watch and after looking at his face on the wall flew out through the window. Slowly it was not only the pronouns but also the verbs, adjectives and prepositions that began to get changed. After having invented this novel game the old man felt very happy. And in his gleeful joy he got immersed in that game night and day, so immersed that at some point he forgot the actual names of the things. He became unable to talk to people and when people heard his absurd nonsensical talk and ridiculed him as a madcap, the old man went quiet for all time. Again, it was if in the lonely balcony of his monotonous single-tuned existence, the old man sat gloomily lying in wait for death. And all around him an icy cold stillness enveloped the old man.

As the cricket ball struck the glass window pane with a sharp thud, the pane crumbled with a loud crash. And with the sound of the broken glass, his eyes opened. With his drowsy-hazy eyes, he saw that the light filtering into the floor of the room through the transparent bits of the window was creating some long straight lines. As if they were streams of atoms made up of glimmering dust particles. Whenever he saw such rays of light he was reminded of a prism. A transparent glass prism, through which whenever a ray of light penetrates, a colourful and unique/rare spectrum dazzles to life.

Even the darkest recessses of the mind has some light. And when the light of perception penetrates the prism of consciousness, experiences also come to life like a spectrum. It is as if the perceptions that keep hitting against our consciousness remain awake even while we sleep. In his sleep he had seen the hero of the story by Peter Bichsel, that lonely old man. As if that blue, pale face sitting gloomily on the front balcony had looked towards him like a fish trapped in the sand his mouth quivering, wanting to tell him something – just then the sound of the shattering window pane broke his dream.

The cricket ball fell and the glass pane broke. The glass pane broke and shattered his dream. What will break now with the sound of the broken dream? Wondering what could break at the sound of a broken dream he yawned, stretched out and jumped out of bed.

In a city, in a small alley, in a small room, framed against a small window, floated up the hazy face of Chakrapani Dutta. The glowing end of the Charminar cigarette in the lips of Chakrapani Dutta, a sales representative of a soap company called ”Luit Soap Manufacturing Company”, was letting off curled rings of smoke.

The tall houses washed by the dull evening light had taken on the colour of dry wheat. The crows sitting on the antennae on the roofs were motionless like a still picture. A goods train moving at a sluggish pace with a chugging sound. A washerman was boiling dirty clothes in soda water in a huge iron girdle. The boiling water was bubbling over. Harsh commotion, a picture of a city enveloped in smoke, dust and stench. Perpetually exhausted and lifeless. Only the red sky, like a ripe water melon, bright and full-blooded. A few kites in the sky. Moving about listlessly in a crooked, random trajectory. Even a slight deviation could mean a collision resulting in one kite ‘cutting’ another, just like people living in a realtionship?. Resting on the favourable wind, curling themselves up at the end of a little thread and spiralling upwards. Danger, whenever they cross a specified speed. The thread snaps and it falls to the ground.

Like a kite he roams about in empty space. Light and supple, with a weightless soul, he floats around in a smooth, balanced, unhurried pace. Chakrapani, a man who had sprouted wings, flies away quickly to a turn in his memories. From the roof of a small hut surrounded by the green of the teak? and ejar trees he whistles out – Sarama, Sarama! The raw leaves of the bel plant at the gate shiver. Under that bel tree a clay-girl holds up over her head a lamp, a lamp with seven flickering wicks, the flames now alive now dead. The door of the hut flies open. And a woman, throbbing with life, stands at the doorstep, the fiery fire of her body burns his body, his heart, his wings char, he falls down from the house top, slips down, like the flickering flames on the lamp, Chakrapani is also now alive, now dead…

On the evening of the amabasya new-moon night of Mahalaya, Sanatan had taken him to the foot of the little hill by the railway track. A little distant from the city. These were illegal settlements on the hills, where there were no street lighting, no pukka ?roads. Walking along they reached a small dainty house. A house surrounded with trees of various kinds, like in an ashram. Under the bel tree on the main road, a few lamps were feebly flickering. In the breeze the lamps were sometimes brighter, sometimes blown out…A terracota Hatima-idol made by a Hira potter, was holding up a lamp with both hands. In that densely dark moonless night, seeing the glowing fiery form of the clay-woman in the light of the seven wicks on the lamp, he was startled by a sense of primitiveness, of a long time ago. He was even more startled on seeing Sarama’s face that day. He had met her for the first time that day. Sanatan’s widowed elder sister Sarama. He had met Sanatan one day when he gone to play carrom in the club of the “Nabarun Social and Cultural Sports Association”. Sanatan who was studying art at the Art College in Bashishta. Sanatan had told him that one day his sister Sarama had left the village and gone away with a Bengali boy named Krishnendu. Just a few days after their marriage, Krishnendu died in a scooter accident. Sarama inherited this house which Krishnendu had built at the bottom of the hill on encroached land. And along with the house all the trees surrounding it -- ?,? and ? He had got many saplings from his friend Jaydev who was a bearer in the Government Forest School and planted them in his little compound. It was as if Krishnendu was that quintessential Bengali romantic character, who would recite Jibanananda’s “For thousands of years…” while strolling through his garden on a moonlit night. The lush and rapidly growing trees had brought in a kind of dense forest-like seclusion to the entire surroundings. Full of magic and mystery.

“Earlier Ma used to always light a lamp under the bel tree on the night of Mahalaya. Krishnendu was very happy when he saw a lamp burning under the bel tree. After all, the chap was Bengali. At dawn on the day Mahalaya, he would play the Mahalaya Strotra “Ja devi Sarbabhutesu” on the radio, also the one sung in Bengali “And in this way the Devi Maa was incarnated…” listen to all that and get completely nostalgic. Last year I could not light the lamps – this year I have started to do it again, it is so dark here, I don’t like it,” Sarama said while offering him a cup of tea. While returning alone that evening he saw some quivering lights dancing in the Durgasarovar lake, which was filled to the brim with water?. One day, in the dim moonlight he was astonished to see the mysterious and ethereal form of the liquid transparence of the Durgasarovar. That night, he and Kanu were returning after watching the last show at Maligaon’s Prag movie theatre. The trees on the banks of Durgasarovar were reflected in strange forms. When he saw that sight, glimmering through the powdery snow-like white veil of mist, he felt that sometimes, quite unexpectedly, some moments come to life. Those moments, alive with a different appeal, are perhaps the magnetic fields in life. But there was another magnet that was pulling him back repeatedly that day. The name of that magnetic field which was pulling him back strongly was Sarama.

The boys who were playing cricket in the nearby field suddenly began to scream. Everywhere around was noise, laughter and chatter. The gang of boys are slowly beginning to drift homewards. In the shadowy dull evening light, their forms were getting smaller and smaller. In the same way his hopes, wishes and desires were also beginning to get smaller and smaller. He has no capacity left anymore to cherish big dreams and desires. Everyone begins life in the shadow of some big dreams and hopes. Like the image of a ‘close-shot’ of a train chugging closer, the innumerable bogeys of dreams keep coming under the spotlight in turn. But it is hard to discern when like a ‘long-shot’ of a train that is going away, the dreams get smaller and smaller and then merge with the emptiness in the distance. Just as it is hard to know when the fruit in ? tree in the backyard had become too hard and ripe to eat, when the knots on the bamboo pillars of the house have got loose and slack, how and when nursery rhymes have given way to the ‘photosynthesis algorithm’. Ceaselessly, continuously, it was as if this chain of action and reaction chased him forwards. Application-treasury-challan -- long queues – office-interview – city-bus-truck-rikshaw – ugly government buildings – post office – tuition-- three month maternity leave – proof-reading – book shop -- Luit Soap Manufacturing Company – tea – samosas – sanyasibaba – the amulet hanging from the neck – a charm – defect of the stars – the amabasya according to the astrological charts – the 11th day – a chugging train – the unrelenting continuous chiming of time – sweat, bitterness and the sun-burnt dryness – rough – hard – the rat-race amongst such harsh difficult material life-events... How much longer will he have to bash his head in search of water to quench his thirst against the false ponds created by the mirages caused by the overpowering dazzle of the dry sand in the sun – like the Bedouins. Like a cow tethered to a post with two yards of rope, how much longer will one have to circumbulate around life’s worldly post in a circle, ceaselessly? The beast of burden of responsibility and the foul abuse of unproductive anger was his father Padmapani. His father who kept on going screeching like an old bicycle. The eagerness to fulfil her role as a dutiful wife and letting loose her heavy sighs into the air was his mother. And with the limits of some wishes and desires that one could not touch with one’s hands and the angry intolerance of the despair of broken dreams were he and his brother Bhaikon.? And his friends running breathlessly about in order to fulfil their own demands of the moment. Oof! Like a kite whose string has been cut, how much lower will they fall, keep falling? Where should he go, to whom should he go for release from this chaotic centripetal restlessness. It is getting unbearable. Lighting another cigarette he began to think – today he will come to a decision. Nothing special in his decision, nor will it be something that no one else had done before, but still he would do it. He has taken a long time already – after having gone so far he cannot return. Since he has already found a clean water source which can quench his thirst -- today he will do it. Finally. Yes, he will propose to Sarama today. Is he not going forward again to be pounded in the grinding mill of life? But he is getting crushed in that grinding mill in any case… He needs a base now to be able to bear the unbearable weight of existence. He has in the meanwhile measured the length, breadth and extent of his own capabilities.

After having measured the actual length, breadth and extent of one’s capabilities, the realisation of one’s limits is perhaps the greatest tragedy in one’s life. As if even after having seen a hundred shimmering lights, the unbearable misery of having to remain still. Like termites which keep nibbling into one’s insides, all the time, hollow. He was reminded of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. That rare moment when Siddhartha attained enlightenment. At which moment Siddhartha discovered the desire of never having to hide Siddhartha from Siddhartha. There it was written – we will remain well-wishers till the moment we remain intimate with words. Let alone despising others, if one learns to despise oneself then many assumptions come to light. Man should learn the procedure to be able to introspect with a detached and clear sight. At least to die in peace.

One evening, after returning home from work, he lay in bed and thought – “let me be dead”. Just as one throws a piece of paper out of the window, if he throws his body also into that empty space, then there will be no loss to anybody. Yes, it is enough, he cannot bear it any more. For a whole month now he has not been able to get a single order. His boss had already warned him, if he carries on like this then there will be a cut in his commission. His mind has shrunk with remorse and sorrow. Lying on his bed he began to think of the various methods and procedures of committing suicide. Once somewhere he had read a few lines by Dorothy Parker about suicide:
Razors pain you, rivers are damp;
Acids stain you and drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren’t lawful, nooses give;
Gas smell awful, you might as well live.
Ha! After thinking about it for a long time he came to the conclusion that the best and most beautiful time to commit suicide is in the evening at ten thirty. Just when the two song programmes “Gunjan” and “Chayageet” would be playing on the “Vividh Bharati” centre of All India Radio. And after that, leaping out of bed, after pulling his diary from his table, he started writing a note to Dorothy Parker, very intently. “An aesthetic method to commit suicide” “The best style to commit suicide” – dedicated to Dorothy Parker. First close the door and bolt it. Just when it is about 5 minutes to 10:30 p.m. But don’t close the window. So that a little bit of the night sky and the wind can come in. Then turn your radio on to the Vividh Bharati centre. Old Hindi songs or ghazals will begin to float in the room. If you are lucky, you might even get to hear the beautiful notes of the guitar of Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt, before you die, which will then become your death tune and lead you to hell. (What will you do by going to heaven, you will meet all your best friends in hell). Now take a glass of water and swallow 3-4 sleeping tablets (don’t take more than that because then you will not have that pleasurable experience of death). Just when sleep or intoxication begins to grip you, cut the nerve on your wrist quickly with a sharp blade. And then lower your limp body on the bed. Slowly your two eyes will get closed. And with each drop of blood, slowly, with one step after the other, death will come closer to you through the severed vein of your wrist. And, with calm serenity you will be able to enact your death the next morning when the early morning music begins to play over the radio. Just as he was deliberating about this procedure to kill oneself, there was a slight knock at the door. That day Sanatan had come to take him to Sarama’s house. That was the amabasya day of mahalaya. That day he saw Sarama for the first time. That day, in an astonishing manner, the only romantic incident in his life had happened. And on that dense amabasya day, in a very unexpected manner, his life had filled and spilled over with the most lively, bright and soft bits of moonlight. After that day he has not thought even once about death.

There is not need for description of the phase after that unique poetic event in the life of sales representative of the Luit Soap Manufacturing Company, Chakrapani Dutta. Because there is nothing novel in that. Just as those romantics couples who say with a naughty smile “You know, with my man, he is so...“ “things between us are a bit different” that is all just make-believe. Or putting on airs to give the impression of leading an artistic and fulfilling life. Actually, it is only the starting point of any relationship that is unique. In the period that follows, everything from state-nature-condition, hopes and demands, anger-quarrels-compromise, emotion-feeling of oneness and possessiveness, sorrow and languishing in sorrow are the same for everyone. There is nothing that one can call new –only the manner of expression and language-use, could be minimally different. Chakrapani-Sarama also went forward a long way, a long way along that same path. In mind... also in body. A few days after having met, their bodies had given up all restraint. Yes, there are the same quiverings also for the body, the same electric sparks, post-coital sweet-nothings, the same Akhenaton-Nefertiti, Sudrak-Basantasena, Dhanabar-Ratani… Worldly flesh and blood, hunger and thirst and seldome, a few rare moments of the so-called heavenly metaphysical experience! Else addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – worldly calculations.

“Bravo, brother, well done, what a fine calculation, you have trapped a really big fish in your net, you rascal. Nobody knows when the Luit company will flow away along with the Luit, so he has found an excellent way out. A permanent post in the LIC, easily available loans from the LIC, and moreover the land and property of the dead husband. The brother has gone to Kolkata, to become an artist – he will probably never return. Experienced woman, knows all the tricks, not like those raw young females that she will keep fussing and complaining for nothing. Really, you are damn lucky, brother…,” Kanu said, rubbing his stomach. That day they had all had a lot of fun together. All of them had raised their alcohol-filled-glasses and applauded “Cheers to Chakra”. No, he was not angry to hear their words, on the contrary he was happy. His mind had been completely excited at the possibility that besides filling up the empty spaces in each other lives, she would be able to fill up many other empty spaces in his own life. Actually, after that first phase of moony-romantic love has given way, the consuming desires of greed and lust, lying in wait in the subconscious, push back those intoxicated emotions and come forward to the top. Of course he did not wish to dissect this feeling called love. He is scared. Is what he feels for Sarama only a sympathetic attraction or just a mutual attempt from both to fill up the empty spaces in their lives? Or is it a desire of his idealistic mind, which had once cried out “We shall have to do something for the good of society someday”, to see himself as a bigger higher being, to go against the tide hoping to get the admiration of others, or, was it simply the natural result of two adults’ growing intimacy. He cannot say for certain. He has not thought about these things so deeply. There was also no need to think. What is the need to clinically dissect and analyse a simple and trusting relationship. No matter what else, he cannot imagine a life without her. He had already got into the comfortable habit of taking each step with her, together. After gulping down the last drops from his glass, his two drunken eyes closed that night dreaming of a happy and prosperous home.

The evening of light and shadow finally lapsed into darkness. He moved away from the window. He wants to have a cup of tea but there is no sugar-tea-leaves, even wicks in the stove, he has none of these. He will have to have his tea at Sarama’s. If possible, also the evening meal. Taking a long drag at his cigarette he put on the black T-shirt that was hanging on the clothes-line in the room. The shirt was dirty. The combined smell of cigarette-sweat and Old Spice was giving of a strange rancid odour. Putting the Harrison lock on the door he went out into the street.

Some fireflies were dancing around the electric tube on the street. In the sky a few timid stars. A bat was hanging onto an electric wire. Maybe the whole matter has now become like the inverted vision of the inverted bat. In that twisted world, the difficult become easy, the hard become as easy and immediate as plucking blades of grass, Love, death, sex – everything. From a little shop near the railway track he bought two cheap Bengali porno books. If he could he should have bought an English magazine, but he did not have so much money. Suddenly he felt rather bad. If only his mother had seen him in this state – that simple woman would have swooned worrying about his state of sin. When he was young his mother had shown him the illustrations of hell painted on the walls of the Kirtanghar. That one in which in a huge cauldron filled with boiling oil, the sinners by being boiled by the Yama’s assistants. Below the fiery blazing fire of hell. Actually, they are now slowly beginning not to feel the physical excitement of the first few times. Even skilled fore-play did not excite them so much any longer. Easy availability had made everything dull and lacklustre. It was as if the rare excitement of resolving, one after the other, the many veils of mystery, were being soaked up by the easy?, lifeless experiences like a piece of giant blotting paper.

Sarama was a very complex woman. Sometimes a little wild, sometimes extremely indifferent. And also a sort of hangover of being traditional. She never allows him to come into her bed room. That room was witness to her conjugal life with Krishnendu. That is why… Sarama’s kitchen was not directly attached to her main house. Rather, an L-shaped mud-floored verandah joined the kitchen to the bed room. If one goes in through the kitchen, there is a little store-room. A camp bed, one broken table and a wooden chair, a broken stool, and a tin box lay there. One day Sarama opened up the camp bed. It was quite stable and also quite wide. After that she pushed the broken chair, stool and other inessentials under the bed. After removing the cobwebs and the dust, and putting a cane mat over the bed and a clean tablecloth over the table, the room came to life. And one day Sarama took him to that room. No, no, take off your shoes, you are not allowed to come into the kitchen with shoes from outside. “Oh nice, what a nice arrangement.” When one switches off all the lights, the house, which was right next to the hill and surrounded by so many trees, becomes enveloped in darkness. Even if they shut the door, they keep the window open. Wind that rolls down the hills then flows into the room. It is very nice new moon nights. Because on starlit nights for some strange reason, Sarama does not allow the window to be opened completely. But a new moon night! A few fireflies roam about in the dense forest-like desolation. And in the light of the stars they both get engrossed in that primeval activity. The frogs croak. Really, did that Chakrapani, who had lived in a little room in a little dirty alley, ever imagine that he would one day be brought away from that dry, harsh, rough environment and be given so much breeze, so much light, so much stillness, all so generously sprinkled on him. With what tenderness Sarama had begun to pour lubricant oil on the rough and hardened nuts and bolts of his life. And the wheel of his life has become smooth, friction-less,…

Sarama’s house is only a little distance away. He is getting excited after a long time today. ... The winged Chakrapani lands on the rooftop of Sarama’s house and cries out Sarama, Sarama! Stopping awhile at her gate, he felt his excitement roll down his body. He likes his excitement. This is a sign of his being alive, awake and still loyal. And today he will give Sarama two ‘surprises’ – first, propose to her and second, of having returned from his trip two days in advance. Two days ago his boss had sent him for about a week to a moffusil town on some company work. Since some organisation announced a bandh, he hurriedly finished all his work and returned early this morning. He had not seen her for just two days, but it felt like a long time. A two day gap had made his mind and body impatient. And today is again a new moon night. Through the trepidations of his desire, hope and passion, he felt a hardening wake up within him. Like a man on wings, Chakrapani kept going at a fleeting speed.

The house was immersed in darkness. What happened, is Sarama not there? But where is she gone? Where could she go? She has no one. Knocking at the door he called out, Sarama, Sarama… one, twice, many times. Slowly he began to bang on the door. But not a sound – everything dead, still. Not knowing what to do he stood a little while on the verandah. He could hear dogs barks’ floating in from the distance. After waiting like an inanimate object for a while on the verandah, suddenly, thinking of something, he jumped over the bamboo fence near the house. The back of the house was also still, silent. Dragging himself along the wall of the kitchen, he came near the store-room. And in the hazy light he saw that the window was open! He froze in fear. His heart-beats began to hammer into his ears. He went forward slowly – and after waiting for a while, slowly thrust his face in through the window. It was dark inside – one could not make out anything, something made some noise inside but then again like a graveyard the unmoving, unliving darkness became stiff and static. He felt drained, something heavy let itself drop its full weight on his head. Like a druken man he started to take some unsteady steps backwards.

Just while he was about to climb over the bamboo fence again, thinking of goodness knows what, he went back again. Feeling his way around, he made a full round of the kitchen and then came to stand near the adjacent mud floor. Took out his matches from his pocket. At the corner of the mud-fllor, near the door of the kitchen, two broken low stools were lying there, joined. The phosphorus of the match stick gave a last big glow – in that fleeting light he saw that on top of the stools – (which was a sandal stand created by Sarama’s neat hands) there were a pair of hawai chappals, and a pair of black ladies high heeled shoes. And, and, a pair of large brown shabby Woodland shoes – lying crookedly like the English letter L on the ground. As he tried to open the gate with trembling hands he saw something near the bel tree – he could see the thing only because his eyes had got used to the darkness by then. He did not see it while coming in. Again with a flash, another matchstick came to life. And he saw, a black coloured Yamaha was parked under the bel tree. In the fog, the seats of the Yamaha had become a little damp.

After roaming about like a madman for a long while when he finally arrived at the railway line near Durgasarovar, it was very late in the night. With a burning cigarette on his lips he had been thinking about a relationship. Which was like a cigarette – in his pocket, within reach of his outstretched hands. But which, like the released cigarette fumes have now merged into nothingness. Oof! In the end, he had also become Peter Bichsel’s old man. The game that the old man had invented to remove his loneliness, that game had transformed him into the world’s loneliest man. The game with which Chakrapani had hoped to circumvent his harsh environment and purposeless existence, that game had pushed him into the well-like deep depths of darkness and emptiness. What will happen to him now? He was scared to think about this, terribly scared. He stared into the darkness, without blinking. Suddenly piercing the darkness, a passenger train chugged by. Rows of bright squares carried along the yellow light. Fantastic! As if it was Kandinsky’s vibrant yellow “Autumn”. When he was happy his father used to shout out in a strange way – Mabhoi, Mabhoi! Sitting in the courtyard his father had often sung folk songs, mystic tunes, in his grave bass voice “Some day the bricks of the big mansion will come loose....” His fear deepened with the notes of the song. As if something was gripping his lower stomach. Once when he was young, looking at a raging will-o’-the-wisp, he had been unable to control himself and had pissed in fright. It was as if that old intense fear was beginning to encircle him again. What will happen to him? Sarama is no longer by his side – what will happen to his life now?

What will happen? You will die? The world will turn upside down? If Sarama was by your side would peace and plenty overflow in your hands? Did Sarama have a Guarantee Card? What will happen, not happen, what you will get or not get, all the deliberations of these cruel moments, will they remain the same after one day, two days, many days, many years? In the vast scheme of this universe what will be the role and meaning of this present happiness and sorrow?

Krishnendu died in a scooter accident. Nikhilesh who worked in the same press with Krishnendu wrote an obituary for him in The Assam Tribune: “He was a dedicated worker – never compromised with his integrity.” Could the hardship and the humiliation that Krishnendu experienced day after day while trying to do his duty be expressed in just a couple of words like “dedicated” and “uncompromising”? That was it, end of story. Everything at an end. Could anybody, even Sarama, experience the real truth of those words in Krishnendu’s life? Why, she had not been able to bolt her door for all time to come. Was it even possible to bolt the door?

Very genuine, and natural are these pains and suffering and dashed hopes. But on top of all of that is something else – tall, deep, vast, no less genuine. This canvas – with the swarming of thousands, like innumerable little insects, erupting in a vast anarchy. Against this back drop, these intersecting and contradictory innumerable snapshots... salvation and food-clothing- shelter, art and culture and cola-condom liberalisation. In the middle of this perpetual bombardment, will you be able to survive with your emotional hangover? Idiot! Ten others will suffer and be deprived and you will escape, what is so special about you that you will be an exception? After the first intoxication of love had worn out, you had also started to do your calculations, of what you will get or won’t get, of the passionless emptiness, and such things. Then how did you expect that Sarama will not also calculate? To be able to not calculate is a great thing, but how many are so great? Of course everybody locks it up from public view -- calculations continue to go on in the dark recesses of the subconscious, if you only know to empty it and look, you will see it. Oof! how everything is gradually becoming impure and polluted. – the wind and the rain, the mind, relationships... even baby food. In the middle of all that will you find something pure and unpolluted just by looking for it? Is there something called love in this world? There is no love, there are only myths of love, there is no god, only a concept of God. Actually you are suffering from that malaise called delusions of grandeur. Of course everyone suffers from this disease, silently. Sitting in the dark auditorium, everyone creates for himself a larger than life image of himself. And sitting in the gallery of the stadium they scream and shout “You should have hit the ball like this,” “You should have thrown like that,” but how many of those who shout have ever touched a ball?

No one can do anything against the natural inclination of one’s mind or the limitations of one’s position. At most one can try to grow within one’s demarcated area, like a tree growing vertically, When one is in an area outside one’s control, one always has to play a pre-assigned role. As if an unconscious patient suddenly wakes up and finds himself inside the operation theatre. Without any prior knowledge. A table is always a table. Like Peter Bichsel’s old man, just calling a table a tree will not make it a tree. It cannot become a tree. It has to remain in its predestined form of a table.

In this way, juxtaposed to Chakrapani’s intense fear, a voice of reason also began to play inside him. And like the stories of Sanatan, Bhaikon, the Peter Bichsel old man, Sarama, Chakrapani’s transient, distressing story also kept getting typed in the type writer of the unseen, khat, khat, khat... in an unending, ceaseless, pace, “ Once upon a time in a city …”
(Gariyosi, July 1997)

(Translated from the Assamese original “Asomoyot akhon Mahanagarot” by Meenaxi Barkotoki on 22.07.09)

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