Friday, January 30, 2015

…And She Stands with Her “AND”

Hers was not a familiar face in the neighbourhood when she arrived with her one-year-old boy. On her first look she resembled a face from a Shakespearean tragedy; frail, docile and naïve.

At a tender age she saw too much—husband’s corpse, in-law’s refusal , parents’ denial, society’s negligence and well wishers’ sympathy; while all that she needed was only a few opportunities and someone to trust her abilities.

Life is not about the opportunities one is blessed with but the choices one makes in the gravest adversities. A widow and a mother she was when came now turned into someone to write about.

She spent years in earning her “AND”—an epitome of a transformation that breaks all shackles of social prejudices in a gender biased society like ours.

She knew how difficult the journey would be, yet she continued with her modesty and audacity. Alone she stood defying all sacrosanct codes of conduct that had relegated women since the moment first rule was written ignoring our Vedic social structure where women shared the same kiosk with their male counterparts.

Over the years she became a vital health supplement to a healing society that had been suffering from the pestilence of dominating its women.

She never compromised neither did she complain; all that she did was to prepare her solemnly for better days. Each day she lived seeing how close she would be tomorrow to her dreams.

By sacrificing desires and limiting demands she denounced all that could distract her from her determination. Working in a super market as a cashier she managed a child and her dream to be a state civil servant officer.

Last time I went home after ten years and saw her; draped in a purple saree she was going to office. A car with a red light on its hood was waiting outside. Before she got inside she looked at me and smiled. It took me some time to react.

It was not because I could not recognise her but I was not prepared to see her that way. And instantly I new she earned it—her dream, her pride and most importantly her dignity. Things have changed and people have transformed but her modesty still reflects in her smile.

Later I heard that her son is now working in a bank and looking for a suitable match.

Years ago I looked at her with pity and now with pride.

My writing career brought me near many women of great virtues and every time I mingled with them each one asked me how different they are and if anytime I would write about them to which I replied, “It’s not about how different you are but what difference you made in your life.”

But now when I am writing I am doing so for the one who never even knows that I write and would never ask me this.

Yet I do not know her name. She is only an “AND”—yes that’s what she is!

This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus“.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“AND” Thy Name is Women

She is what makes her what she is—a poet’s imagination, someone’s inspiration, a man’s obsession AND God’s most beautiful creation.

She is enigmatic, energetic, efficient AND sometimes she is even elusive. She is a reason of someone’s smile, somebody’s ecstasy AND everyone’s fantasy.

Sacrifice is in her genes, sharing is what she is known for, forgiveness she learns while in the womb, AND yet quiet when underneath the tomb.

She knows to cry without tearing, she knows to bleed inside without letting blood come out; it is she who whispers the love spell in your ears, she is the one to hold your hand when rest of the world turns away its face.

She is more than a life—she is a concept we all are affiliated to.

A father’s bundle of joy, a mother’s pride, a brother’s first company, a sister’s friend, a husband’s trust AND a child’s most dependable shepherd.

She is wise but not without her wits, a leader but no tyrant, wild but not without her senses—she is an “AND”.

An “AND” to take a stand, to make us all understand.

She is a woodcutter’s force, an artist’s canvass, a beggar’s assurance, a child’s trust AND a man’s strength—without her every man turns half a man.

Intelligent AND desperate, curious AND caring, rational AND romantic, sensuous AND sensational; she stopped long ago to exist without an identity; now that she is an “AND”, she is more beautiful AND powerful, more carefree AND careful, more subtle yet undeniable.

She is progressive, pragmatic, prolific AND yet she is a woman out of all prejudices; now she dwells in our hearts, rules our thoughts AND guides our actions.

Sometimes she is a Virgin Merry AND a Mother Teresa, somewhere a Margaret Thatcher AND a Malala, sometimes my wife Manali AND sometimes she is Maleka—our house maid.

It can’t but be Godliness when I see how a mother of two manages her office after managing a husband so demanding still finds time to take her son to the football club after work with a smile. 

AND I bow before thee—Manali.

Every morning Maleka walks in with an air of submission to her fate; you won’t be more wrong if you take her for so.
I see my maid how she greets everyday challenges in each household; every one of these households is a different story she has to deal with every morning.

AND yet she remarkably strikes a chord of harmony in her work. AND without reflecting the slightest of trace of any detestation in her face, she leaves for her home not earlier than five in the evening and reaches home at nine. Feeding a family of six with her meagre income she does not forget to smile—a smile that hides her pathos and reflects her potential, self-respect, AND her resolution to excel in life.

“I too dream,” says Maleka to my wife.

AND she dreams to merry her daughter to a rich boy. Every month she saves half of her salary which my wife deposits in Maleka’s bank account.

She believes life is made up of such little happiness; every Raksha Bandhan she ties a knot around my wrist and denies a little money I offer. I don’t force, perhaps it would offend the “AND” within her; perhaps she is better off this way—happy, less demanding from life AND more committed.

These two women are from different strata of society yet they are so alike in being “AND”s—dedicated, loving, caring, dutiful, sincere AND in short women. Whenever I look into the eyes of these women around me I can only think about

Two almond shaped eyes flickered
with the radiance of courage and brevity,
sometimes blink for a moment.
Moistened with the perplexity of her past, her tears
bless an invigorating spirit and she lives at last.
I’ve seen those eyes and its dreams
all through my life. The glittering pearls
hidden in the deepest of her heart,
Tells me a tale creeping in her mind;
A deserted heart with a dejected soul
With no hope and no fear, struggles
every moment with despair and yet
defying defeat against destiny, she decides
to reflect an image so strong and vibrant
to live a life full of commitment.

“This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus“.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rising with the Razor 

When the first man on this earth walked on, no one knew if he was clean shaven; nor did anybody could tell for sure if Eve fell only for his stubble. Neither did anyone know if Newton discovered gravity with a squeaky clean looks, when Einstein proposed the theory of relativity no one bothered about his looks either and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon ignoring the status of his beard.

This may be an intelligent way to win through an evening discussion over a glass of Scotch about one’s appearance but surely not the desired way to make an impression especially when it comes to represent one’s personality. Creative people, especially writers, may save their creative juices for some other time but when it comes to looks it is important to understand the impact of a professional appearance.

Imagine you are appearing in an interview with best of the degrees and required experiences but with a two-day-old stubble, what happens? Even the dumbest person knows the answer, doesn’t he? Now imagine in the same interview there is one more person with similar degrees and experiences but with a professional looks. Well, you are making the interviewer’s job easier just by your appearance. You may hear him making a promise to get back to you later while the other candidate may walk away with the offer letter in hand.

Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. And nothing more is as true as this; for once in my life I too resented the very idea of appearing with a Mr perfect-look. However, this cost me my career, a good friend and much more.

That was the time when I used to rub the sole of my shoes in search of a decent job. It was right after my graduation and I was looking desperately for a job to support my family that was dependent solely on my retired father. It was during the sub prime crisis and getting a job in the market was as good as finding God.

In those cataclysmic times, one day while returning from attending another unsuccessful interview, I met Urvashi—my college friend. She was a very close friend of mine and a perfect partner to share dreams and aspirations that filled a youthful mind.

Besides being beautiful she had one more quality. She was the sole heir to her multi-millionaire father. Naturally, the entire college was after her. Even a few young lecturers were in the queue. This had a benefit. She never had to attend any practical classes but used to score as good as any one of us for whom attendance was compulsory.

Standing in front of her, past memories came rushing like a flash flood. It took a while for her to recollect a face so familiar once. It was by no means her fault; for I was looking too weary and shabby. Just like a real friend she did not ask me about anything; for my appearance was bearing the testimony of my hardships.

She simply asked me to get into the car which I obeyed and off she drove it to a familiar place we used to come quite often during our college days.

Next one hour went explaining to her the need for my immediate employment. Sitting there she seemed to drift into a deep introspection and to be frank I was not in a position to recapitulate any sweet memories of my bygone days and was getting annoyed. The constant rejection of my candidature made me what I was and am not; an impatient man.

Nevertheless, she finally spoke and asked me to show her my resume. It took me a while to understand what she was up to but ever since I had known her I knew that asking her anything would yield nothing and I submitted to her demand.

While driving me home she was not talking much and I knew something was bothering her. I chose not to speak either. She dropped me home and drove off rapidly.

Early next morning I woke up by the ring of my mobile and heard Urvashi’s voice. She asked me to get ready quickly and meet her at a spot not so far from my place within an hour.

I was still not sure what she was cooking up in her mind but knowing her for so many years I was certain that whatever it was in her mind she would not disappointment me.

Seeing me coming she welcomed me with a big grin and asked me to sit beside her and ordered two cuppachinos.

While the coffee was brewing inside she told me that she had already spoken to her father regarding my need for a decent job and her father wanted to see me the next morning sharp at 11. The position was for a floor manager in one of her father’s manufacturing units.

I was nonplussed to hear this out and almost hugged her with delight. But she reminded me to treat her once I got the offer letter. She also asked me to get a quick make over for the interview and asked me to appear before her father wearing a suit.

This, however, doused my spirit as at that moment I did not have any and could not afford to buy one either. I told her frankly.

She thought it for a moment and got up from there and walked straight up to her car holding my hand. We stopped near a shopping mall and she asked me to get off. I understood what she was planning to do and knowing that stopping her now would be impossible I followed her. I thought of returning that favour some other way once I got the job.

She bought a suit and a Gillette Mach 3 for me and she dropped me home. Wishing me good luck she quickly drove off.

The next morning started with an unexpected shock. I was about to get ready for my interview when I heard the loud shrill of my sister. There was no one at home except me and my sister at that moment. Parents were out on a morning walk. I ran into the kitchen immediately and saw the entire floor was marked with blood that oozed out of her hand. Seeing so much of blood I was scared and she stood there holding her finger at one corner.

The cut was too deep and it was impossible to stop the blood. I immediately rushed her to a clinic. But clinics were not opened so early. I had to take her to the civil hospital for first-aid. The wound had to be stitched and when we came back home there was hardly any time left for the interview.

Still I dressed up and went out without having a shave as there was no time for the same. I, somehow, managed a bike from my neighbour and reached the venue on time.

I was waiting for my call and finally I was asked to enter the MD’s cabin. The meeting lasted only for ten minutes and I was sent home with an assurance to be informed about the selection later.

Disgruntled and frustrated I was lying on my bed when suddenly the phone rang. It was Urvashi. She asked me about the interview and learnt about its outcome she was confused too. She promised to call me later and disconnected the call.

After an hour she asked me to see her at the same spot we met yesterday. I said yes even without any desire to see her now and went out.

Looking at me she was furious and expressed her concern about my unshaven beard. I was trying to explain it to her the reason behind but she was not ready to listen. Finally, I too lost my temper and told her to stop blaming without knowing the reason.

Seeing me reacting like this she cooled down a bit and told me if being a friend she was not ready to listen to my reason then how come an interviewer would be ready to consider my excuse for appearing in a shabby manner.

Finally, she revealed that this was what exactly her father told her to advise me.

I did not get the job but instead got an important message that day. Your appearance will not assure a job but qualifications and experience alone can’t guarantee a job either. The perfect match would be an experienced and well qualified person with a proper groomed up appearance.

It’s been years since I have been working in an MNC bank and now every morning I rise and shine I see my own reflection in a manner to make a difference in my life.

Every time I use my Gillette Mach 3 I feel my confidence inspires me to accept the challenges life throws each time. And I always find myself ready for those challenges.

‘This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette”

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sunil Gangopadhyay—The Modern Mascot

Perhaps it’s not a death, it’s merely a date. The date that will remind us that poet-novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay is not among us anymore. After influencing and threatening the traditional Bengali mindset for over five decades with his radical literary thoughts and creative galore, Sunil’s words are now set free into the heart of a society that needs a moral crusade over conventional prejudice.

Born in Madaripur, Amgaon village on a rainy day in Faridpur district (now Bangladesh), Sunil skillfully embroidered the sentimental attachments of two nations (Bengal and Bangladesh) and its common men through his extraordinary literary excellence. His literary appeal was universal—above all political jingoism and diplomatic hegemony.

The name Sunil Gangopadhyay appeared when Bengali literature was floating aimlessly in the vacuum that was created after the demise of Rabindranath and was in dire need of a clairvoyant who could fill the gap and spearhead the wagon, beating existing experimental deadlocks in the contemporary Bengali literature. Finally the pathfinder Sunil Gangopadhyay emerged and the rest as they say is history.

From the very beginning, he made it explicitly clear that he was going to be unruly in his style of writing. That was the period when Bengali minds could not withstand variations which is not branched out of Rabindranath’s immortal works. Sunil, in a way, cut that thread and offered a new-age literary style which was more pragmatic in its approach and simpler in its ornamentations. His characters and protagonists were crafted scrupulously in a frame of practical legitimacy that made many of his readers twitched their eyebrows and caused restless discord within his peers and among other critics.

Being the mascot of modern-Bengali-literary-Renaissance, his works were painted with variegated shades of emotional moods with the manifestation of human inner most desires. His was the first voice who advocated the idea that literature can be practised beyond the boundaries created by Rabindranath.

Like every Bengali intelligentsia, he too had an inclination towards leftist wing which could be understood from some of his works (with reference to the film Protidwandi wherein the protagonist Dhritiman was seen saying that the greatest achievement of this century is the winning of Vietnam-war over the colonial imperialist).

According to Sunil, to be a writer you need to be an avid reader first. “You need to allow your thoughts grow and those need to be written in your own way. You can’t be under the influence of your favourite writer.” concluded the poet-novelist in an interview. Being a proponent of Bengali literature he used to rub shoulders with some of the stalwarts of contemporary foreign poets like Allen Ginsberg. He was the first Bengali writer selected for International writing programme organised by Paul Engle of Iowa University. He had a great acquaintance with Marguerite—a French lady who equally shared the same enthusiasm for poetry and Sunil mentioned her name in one of his interviews and acknowledged that because of her he came to know many things about French literature.

Till his last moment Sunil Gangopadhyay lived a life that was vivid and echoed with his poetic rhymes. The soul of his writing is simplicity that deals with real life flesh and blood that captivated his readers for decades. With his mortal body turned into ashes with the rising fumes, Sunil Gangopadhyay and his works will still remain with us for centuries reminding us his relentless spirit.
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Dappled in purple shade of her gown
She walks down the little town
Gracefully yet with admiration;
Flowers in the garden and
Blades of grass in the field dance to her steps,
Waving in the zephyr that blows
The locks of her hair;
Juvenile blood rushes in veins
Stares at her arched waist going deep down
Hiding all its treasures,
Promises a man all its pleasures in proximity
That remains a curiosity;
For a moment she stops—
Standing there she looks at someone
Must be the blessed one
A smile flashes with no reason
Greets life in all its seasons
Flames of passion bubbling in the hearts
Interrupts time to pass
A smile that she flaunts
Makes the barbet in the branch to taunt
She looks above the tree
Sees the bird to flee

And walks down slowly.
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Moments I Lost My Youth

A moment came and stole my youth
The time when fantasy fabricated
Life with colours so fascinating;
A life was lived with little rationale
And I pledged my spirit risking everything;
When fear had no name and
Flowers need no reason to blossom within,

In my youth
Once I saw a flower dancing in the desert
I touched its petals knowing it’s not a mirage
And heard it saying—
I lived long waiting for you to arrive and
Could offer only my fragrance I preserved
The petals fell off and lay near its root on the desert.
And in a moment I lost my youth.

We walked along across the river
Holding each other nearer,
Swans swam in its water and she sobbed
For the last time we met;
Tears sparkled in my eyes too and her face
Became blurred and another memory was born
And within a moment I lost my youth.

We raised a glass or two in the tavern
With roasted beans spilled all over,
And hovering thoughts of future
Came rushing there— the busy years set in
I and my mate never met after,
Now we both live but not for each other;
The glass once raised is now broken
And the seat in that tavern is now taken
By a new story brewing henceforth

And in a moment I lost my youth.
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Road to Relationship

The seed of relationship was sown even before the first forbidden fruit was plucked from the knowledge tree. The necessity of companionship was realised when the first man was seen walking in the garden of paradise in a melancholy frame of mind. Then the world saw its first relation blooming in the Garden of Eden when Eve stood beside her male companion—Adam. And then as they say the rest is history.
In the history of human civilization we have witnessed many adrenaline driven events sparked due to the cause of relationship; either in the form of betrayal or sacrificing the ultimate treasure of life. Be it the destruction of the Roman empire due to infidelity of Helen or dying of Jude for his love in Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure” or immortalising the love of an emperor for his beloved queen in the form of constructing an architectural wonder as a leitmotif of love “The Taj Mahal”—we find many such examples where human relation has influenced the course of history and mainstream life. Umpteen numbers of dramatists, playwrights, novelists captured the essence of relationships in their respective protagonists and represented in variegated colours of human emotions.
Nevertheless, modern-day-corporate executives and money minded intellectual hypocrites are still baffled how it is plausible for someone to die for his/her companion just for the sake of emotional bonding. Well the answer is not so simple. Human emotion is a complex chemistry to comprehend. To know the answer, first we need to understand the importance of being in relationship and more importantly how to remain in that relation for rest of our life. Every single relation that we practice in our neo-civilised society is hanging by a single delicate thread—trust. And this trust is derived form the fact how much we are committed to a particular relationship. It is practised over a period of time. You can not announce that you trust your partner in a dozens of dates or mutual togetherness. Like I said it has to be practised. It has to be proved. But the best part is that if you are sincere about your relationship you don’t have to run an extra mile. Trust will follow you and kiss your relation.
Another important factor in any relationship is mutual understanding. It is an independent but the most important factor for smooth sailing of your relation. Unfortunately unlike trust it can not be practised. You either have it or absolutely not. There are couples who understand each other from day zero and also I have experienced people who, even after spending years together do not understand what their companion needs. There can not be any grey region in it. A relation without understanding is like the Church without “The Bible”. So make sure your relation does not suffer from the lack of understanding. The greatest plight is that misunderstanding will slowly debilitate your trust that you practised so hard to build over a period of time and ultimately shatter your relation and ruin your life. Don’t let an independent factor to destroy the warmth you have for your companion deep inside your heart.
Relationship, a sentimental attachment blended with emotional bonding, is a divine gift designed only for human beings. We are not like other animals who meet only during seasonal mating. Ours is more complex in nature as human emotion is involved in it. In case your relation is strained for some reason and you as an independent and self-sufficient individual decided to walk out of that—think again. Think with your brain and listen to your heart. May be the moments of togetherness still reverberates there. Try to listen to that.
There are other aspects of relationship which is beyond the scope of discussion in this article. However, the same will be discussed in the successive publication. Till then keep on loving and keep smiling.

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