May 7, 2016

A letter, of sorts... - Nabojyoti Sarkar

Dear Sir,

Actually I had thought a LOT before deciding on that salutation, but finalized on this one. I know that you denounced Knighthood conferred on you by the then overlords as a mark of protest to the brutal Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and thereby I am assuming you despise the thought of being called ‘Sir’. But times have changed; now ‘Sir’ symbolizes empathy, respect and all that (I mean that’s what is taught in all those call-centres). So let’s do away with your Victorian ideology and embrace modern gestures. Also, I didn’t have many alternatives; I could have used the very familiar ‘Gurudev’, but then with the current generation of Asaram-RamRahim-Ramdev’s, that seemed worse and unpardonable. 

Anyways, let’s come back to the purpose of this letter. This is not the usual ‘thanks – you are great - you influenced my life so much’ letter which you would receive during this time of the year. On the other hand, this is just the opposite. I hated you as a child. Yes, you read that right, I did. Do you even know how difficult it is to “learn by heart” all those lengthy poems you wrote? Every day students like me would be shit scared at the thought of the teacher asking us to recite them in front of everyone in the class which includes our adolescent crushes as well, only to be embarrassed and dishonored as we would inevitably falter at the sixth/seventh line and make ourselves look like a joke. Why couldn’t you write small and easy to remember things? Didi, also writes poetries, they are so easy to remember. And, those prose pieces, oh-my-god!! I had to memorize the answers to all the questions in “Madhyamik Test Paper” (that’s the board exam question bank, in case you didn’t know) and even then also would manage abysmal marks. I was so irritated with this that I distinctly remember promising myself that I would never touch any of your work after the exams are over, well to be fair to you, I did all that after gulping down the first beer of my life. Now, you can always argue that the intention of your creation was not to harass generation-after-generation of students, but to reach out to people and tell tales of love-longing-anguish-despair and all those emotions in between. But, your work was way ahead of your time; some are way ahead of even our times as well, so you should have known whom you are passing your treasures to. We can’t even punish a rapist in our country and you expected us to do justice with your work. 

Life moved on. I reached puberty and tasted liberty. Amazing things like porn, Pamela Anderson, Bengali band, cigarette, first love and first heart-break happened to me. These are plenty for a teenager to digest, and as you know teenage love drives you crazy. Those desires, those strange ‘butterflies-in-your-stomach’ kind of emotions, which you feel for the first time are so very difficult to express, to talk about and finally to make peace with. Well, that was one time you somewhat helped me. Quoting your lines in love-letters or humming your songs on those dates always earned me extra brownie points with those Bengali lasses. You were a great weapon to woo sapiosexual bong women. And then, there was breakup. Oh, it hurts, it hurts so badly. Very strangely, your verses helped me during that phase as well. Who would have thought I could connect so deeply with someone whom I severely hated once. You know something; such was the hatred for you that we judged you like crazy. All those stories of your ‘illicit’ affairs with your sister-in-law and all, made a great topic for discussion as we smoked up (you know what). We kept drawing imaginary morality lines and went on and on about how character-less you were. We were unabashed as we went on discussing about the muses of your life, and even if there weren’t many we conveniently made up stories. After I grew older and life taught me about the various shades of relationships, I felt a little embarrassed for all those sessions. I could finally comprehend what you intended to write. It’s not a good feeling, to be proven wrong time and time again and I kept on hating you. 

The only thing I liked though was your birthday celebration. Every year my school used to organize this huge event, where we all would participate in some form of other. I could never participate in those cultural events but manning the gate and exchanging glances with pretty girls, all decked up in yellow-marigold saree, is something I considered my dream job for a very long time. With songs like “mayabono biharini horini” being played in the background let’s just say that there were quite a few ‘magic moments’. But as I aged (not so beautifully, I must admit) all that was left were those sweet memories. Now your birthday also has become painful. All these local clubs will play some deranged version of your songs and organize some ‘function’ where the only thing reasonable is the ticket price and those irritatingly loud speakers are not even the worst thing. 

Now that I have spoken enough of the reasons, let me conclude this by elucidating what we have done to you in return. Karma, you know!!! Even with someone like you who wrote so copiously about social issues, we subjected you to class politics. You have been portrayed and depicted as someone who could be enjoyed only by the so called ‘antels’/intellectuals, as if the lesser mortals have no right to your creation. You have been earmarked for a particular section of the society and not for mass appreciation. And then we have played your song when people are stuck in traffic. Seriously, that’s what we did. Tell me this, who enjoys songs played in a meek and almost dysfunctional public address system when you are sweating profusely and waiting to reach home to watch Arnab Goswami cornering politicians or Kapil Sharma cracking sexist jokes? No one!  Also what do think about your Nobel Prize being lost? Ha ha ha, we stole it; we bloody stole it for making some quick money. You are nothing but a way of making money by using what you wrote and what you achieved. Well that’s our way of taking revenge. It is and always has been a dish best served cold. We will have fun and celebrate your 155th birthday with scotch, well-cooked mutton and probably will watch a ‘short film’ on some of your stories on some random Bengali channel with intermittent advertisements of undergarments, deodorants and mango drinks in between. We have successfully commercialized you, turned you into a money churning endeavor, and by telling you all this, I actually kind of feel good.

A Bengali.

P.S I just woke up with heavy head and hangover of cheap rum. I guess last night I had a little too much. But to write a hate letter to the country’s best poet-storyteller-song composer-lyricist requires some courage. Actually, you just made one mistake by taking birth in a country full of jerks and douche-bags. We don’t deserve you, we never did. Take care.

About the Author:

Nabajyoti Sarkar is a true blue bengali who loves to 'eat'  tea and lyadh. Banker by week and Blogger by weekend, his interests are travel, cooking and jogging, well the last one was a joke. His vision is a perfect 6/6 and he swears by the alur torkari which comes with Moghlai Parota!!!


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