Friday, April 29, 2011

The Outsider

He stood outside peering through the window. He saw himself amidst them. Throwing his head back he laughed out aloud, laughing alongside them, he raised his glass as they did theirs and he drank to their health. They spoke among themselves of this, that and sundry as he lingered like a ghost, haunting the borders of their friendship. The familiar stranger caught passing, fluttering laughter or glances by the wings and hid them like secrets in the dark cave of his cupped hand, their littlest gestures he treasured, yet they flowed out freely and fluidly like golden yellow grains of sand. They knew he lingered yet he was not their kind, his gestures were too scant or too many, theirs, always heavy with care. Yet he stood outside the ring alone waiting for a hand, an outsider forever he was and as an outside forever he must stand.

Everytime Calcutta has crushed my heart, tiny bits and crumbs of it has scattered here and there, in every silent by-lane of North Calcutta, in the clamorous gullys and amidst heaps of trumeric in Gariahat, in every adda, kaku or mashir round-the-corner cha-er dokan, every road dug up for pointless repair, in every traffic signal, I am leaving behind bits of my heart in every garland that adorns the picture of the dying hero in movie theatres, in Shiraz's biryani, in Puchkas, in the 'Chintu's Chiness Dragon fast food stalls', in Pestry shops and in the 'Ma Tara Medical Stores'...

That there can be found beauty in depredation, a certain meaning in chaos, coolness in unforgiving heat, friends, opinions and advice in the most unexpeced places, Calcutta teaches one like no other. Here, I have learnt to fall in love with women with beautiful eyes, with Tagore's songs in their breath and waft of jasmine and camphor in their hair, Mahalaya's sonorous incantations, of Dhaak and Kashor jubilating every heart and the slanting golden-orange sunrays of winter afternoons when pigeons sweeten the languorous hours with their subtle clamour.

This city has taught me, to find a corner for myself in the most alien of environs. So, even though I sometimes feel like an outsider, a probashi in my own city, in its sheer materialness, it is home. I live here.

Although in the forseeable future Pune is going to be my new home, well, new and old, it is in this dust ridden, sickeningly humid, bombed out looking, heap of a city where walls are adorned by Shiv, Durga and Kali, every verandah nurtures the prospect of a beautiful face and where every alleyway smells ofTelebhaja, where my heart will forever reside.