Wednesday, October 19, 2005

This blog is dedicated to this pic (a popular wallpaper). And also to the new technique by which one can directly post pictures from one's computer to his/her blog using Picasa.

Also relevant is the fact that right now, Kolkata is totally washed out. Our area is totally waterlogged. For two consecutive days, I left for office wearing Bermudas and Hawaii Chappals so that I could wade through the waters. Of course I changed into trousers and shoes on reaching office. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Holding Hands (The Last Day in Kgp - Part 2)

Read Part 1

That was to be my last day in Kgp. That was so because from the next day onwards, my beloved room would no longer be mine. It was to be handed over to the 'respectable' Warden of Patel Hall for use by future generations.

I had come to Kgp on a short trip of 2-3 days. There was still some work left regarding my research-paper writing! I had not expected much to come out of these 2-3 days in terms of positive results. At the end of the third day, when the results were what one would call 'mixed', I was not at all sad. In fact I was quite elated that I had tried till the last moment.

I had one more evening at Kgp. I had secured an invitation at a Professor's place that evening. Early next morning I would be leaving for Kolkata. Two days after that, I would be starting my job - a new chapter of my life. Today was the last day in the chapter of The Village (Kgp).

As I cycled towards my hall, I remembered that it was a long time since I had visited Jnan Ghosh Stadium for my jogging rounds. Usually, I would have gone to my hall to put on shorts and running shoes. But today, time was at a premium. I went into the stadium directly, in the same attire that I had since morning - shirt, jeans and floaters (typical Kgp ishtyle).

As I entered that green paradise, I wondered how much I'd miss it once I was in Kolkata. The stadium was quite empty today - quite natural since the holidays were going on in full swing. There was a small congregation of Mess Workers gathered on the steps. Their number and vocal presence grew considerably later on; but they were mostly busy with their own affairs. There was a young lad, wearing a vest and shorts, which revealed his good physique while he exercised. I took off my floaters and started walking on the tracks barefoot. Another old man came in for his evening walk.

As I said before, I was already in a very elated mood. Wonderful memories about the four years that had passed in Kgp came into my mind. Add to that, the sight of the lovely curtain of trees surrounding Jnan Ghosh. The wind blowing into you as you walked along - Oh! I was on a high. I felt like a bird. I took off my shirt and started jogging my last jog in this wonderful place.

I was about to complete my first round when the above-mentioned old man stopped me in my tracks. He asked me, "Young man, why are you running so much." I wanted to reply, "Because I want to stay fit. Because I want to have muscles like that other fellow. And anyway, who gave you the right to ask me such questions. Do I know you?" But as is usually the case, I meekly smiled and answered, "Emni"(Just like that).

The old man was not satisfied by bringing about a premature end to my last ever jog in Kgp. He had other questions he wanted to ask me. He got me to walk along with him. After a while, he put his arm around my shoulder. I was taken aback - was this old man a pervert! But I persisted with him, wanting to be sure before reaching such conclusions.

Now one side of Jnan Ghosh was so overgrown with grass that it was impossible to walk over there. Thus joggers and walkers and 'joggers-turned-walkers' (like me) had to forego the usual roundabout circuit and be content with walking the usable part of the tracks in a to-and-fro motion. Now this to-and-fro motion influenced my present situation considerably. Let me explain a bit here.

Every time my newly made 'old' acquaintance and I neared the end of the usable track, we had to turn around. As you will appreciate, it is quite difficult to do the same with one person's arm on the other's shoulder. So the old man would let go off my shoulder at the bend. But after walking for a while he would put his arm over my shoulder again. Quite peculiar - the habits of some people!

The funny part was that, as we walked along, I began to like the person. He asked me a lot of questions about myself. But he did them with such innocence that I could not but answer him. At one point, when he went to the point of discussing the size of my flat in Kolkata, the number of bathrooms it had, I decided that I had had enough. It was my turn now. I would do the questioning from now on.

He told me about his schooling and education, his career, how he had liked Kgp and settled down here for the rest of his life, his daily schedule that included a morning session of Yoga at Jnan Ghosh, his children and family. One reply still resounds in my ears till today. He was talking about his two sons. They were studying in colleges in Kharagpur. I remarked that this meant they would surely be moving out soon in search of greener pastures. At this, his reply was, "Ki jaani, ora ki korbe. Ora to khub bhalo chatro noy. (I wonder what they will do next. They are not very good students after all)" The words sound like those of a lamenting father, but his expression showed that he was totally at peace with himself. Probably he had a deep belief in the divine forces, which gave him such strength of mind.

Another thing occurred as we walked along. By now we were speaking like the best of friends. Only age separated us - I would be starting my career in two days time. And my new 'old' friend was at the fag end of his career, past 60, but still continuing by dint of a false date on his birth-certificate (giving a false date on the birth-certificate was like a norm in those days) and by "the grace of God". Anyway what happened was that as we walked along, he started holding my hand. Again I felt a bit awkward initially. As we turned around, he let go off my hand only to hold it back again. After a few more rounds of "let-go and hold-again" he held my hand for good. From now on, as we turned the corner, he would turn while holding my hand. And I would turn in a bigger circle so that I could get to the correct side of him.

It would seem quite awkward to be holding hands with a 60-year old man in a park. We usually do not even do such public displays of emotion with our fathers or grandfathers. Ours is such a preened-up world. But believe me do, I felt so good while holding hands and talking with the man. A connection was made that day which I will remember for long.

I promised him I would try to visit his house one day. Having left Kgp, I have not been able to fulfill that promise yet. But I would request one of you who is over there right now to go and visit this gem of a person. I'll give his name and address here...

Mr D. K. Das
(O) Materials Science Centre
Ph: 1650
(R) Prembazar, near CPM Party Office
(you can ask about his residence there)