I don’t know what root of hemlock convinced me to take up the tedious expedition of accompanying my family to an evening at the local...
I don’t know what root of hemlock convinced me to take up the tedious expedition of accompanying my family to an evening at the local fairground. Clearly a psychological outcast, my mood for the evening sharply contrasted with that of my party, who personified cheery enthusiasm. The Sun was busy gearing up for its advent in the West, bidding my horizon an unceremonious farewell. The monsoon seemed to have forgotten how to let go of the restraints and was letting out a disappointed sigh, breathing in the atmosphere and exhaling a mist of sultry humidity that made your skin tearful. Or so thought my contemplative mind.
I walk down. The liquor store seemed to be exceptionally busy. People. Disillusioned people. Those who wished to drown their exasperation in a draught of liquid intoxication. I walk down the road which bears a freedom fighter’s name glued to it, and yet takes pride in being referred to as a janitor’s delight. Or may be a platoon of janitors.
I walk down. The aroma of pre-Durga Puja frenzy fills up my emaciated lungs. With bamboo skeletons of pandals littering about the topographical sheet of my town; you couldn’t help but revel in the fact that the patron family of Bengal would soon be at your doorstep. It is a feeling I need not harp on. The lyre is heard in all our hearts. Fanatics and atheists alike.
I walk down. A snob with his nose in the air. My ears are greeted with the insane beating of rustic percussion instruments; cacophony that blared into your ears the spirit of festivity. Strangely enough, Tapan’s dhak did not POUND my in eardrum. Bablu’s ‘kurkure’ seemed low on its raucousness. I smiled to myself. Or rather, my heart smiled to me.
I walk down. I reach a bottleneck. One made even narrower with the sedimentation of make-shift vendor establishments around the bends. You could see a miniature world orbiting around each of them. You could see Dr.Mondal in his dynamic medical-practitioner-regalia weighing his wife’s reactions on whether or not he should spend a bit of cash on getting a cheap doll for his newborn. You will also find Montu, the urchin-next-door, who carries a tattered kite saddled on his shoulders, as if it were some armour of honour. He too is weighing his options. Whether to be on his doubles or to camouflage himself in the colourful multitudes after he makes his ‘grand theft’ from the ‘dokandar’ Dactarbabu is standing next to. I smile to myself. Or rather, satire smiles at me.
I walk down. I get a very faintly familiar and dreaded feeling of drowning as I find myself enveloped by a claustrophobic surge of puja-shoppers all around me. But their infectious excitement breathes life into my lungs and I feel like a scuba diver looking for memoirs in the depths of a human wave. A wild, almost savage rickshaw breezes past me, murderously close. I scorn out of disgust and hatred towards the uncouth rickshaw puller who seriously needed zoo keeping. He stops near a balloon-seller, draws out a shilling from the labyrinthine folds of his lungi and ties one of the cheaper looking balloons to his rickshaw-handlebar. Must be for his son, I think. Or grandson; you never know how well they mask their age. Drops of sympathy tend to betray the self-imposed drought of my eyes. I manage to smile. Or rather, smile manages teach me to not to cry.
I walk down. I see a dwarfish man madly riding a ratty pink girly bicycle down the road, at a furious pace. The mean-machine is tinseled like a Christmas Tree, certainly the remnants of a certain Vishwakarma Puja. I smirk at his incredulousness. The world smirks with me. Little do we look into the eyes of a girl who has given away her only bicycle to her dad, so that the bankrupt man could get a recycled paper notebook for her. I smile to myself. But somehow, mirth plays truant with me.
I walk down, not realising how far behind I have fallen behind my family who seemed to have engineered horse genes into their legs. Not realising how far I have left my family behind in the arena of skepticism. My earphones inject into my eardrum the strains of my favourite: quintessential rock. My musical reverie is interrupted by the clamorous booming of a megaphone, one which resembles a clown’s hat and sounds worse than one singing. A popular Kumar Sanu Bollywood hit reverberates. It initiates an allergic reaction in my body, distilling the slang constituents of adrenaline into my bloodstream. Fight and Fight. I roll my eyes, pout and try to put up a what-in-the-frigging-hell expression on my face. I amplify my earphones to a supersonic level, putting my eardrums through unnecessary peril. Just then I see a typical middle class man walking down the same broken by-lane, holding his child’s hand, who is as tall as his mental faculties could be. On keenly observing, I note a rhythmic groove that is jiving up his body. And then, I see a smile on his face. One which does not spur the poet in me or make me compare it to some stupid moonlight on a serene night. One that is simple, but somehow makes me smile too. I realise that this how emotions must sound like. I smile, pull out the earphones, bid Led Zeppelin a temporary goodbye and let the liquid emotion flow through my ears. Kumar Sanu becomes irrelevant and all I hear is the reason behind the child’s smile.
I return from the fair much like I used to when I was a toddler. With tidbits dangling from my hands. Just that the definitions seemed to have changed. I return today with a satchel full of memories, a backpack full of colour. And a rainbow peeping somewhere behind that smile.