BoiTHEK – বইঠেক is a bookstore in Bangalore that caters exclusively to Bengali readers in the city. The place also transforms itself into a cultural café encouraging many forms of art like music, dance and theatre. When a friend approached Bookstalkist to conduct a Yard of the Bard event in BoiTHEK, the first thought that flashed across our minds was Tagore. I have three copies of Gitanjali with me. One of them, I bought for myself and the other two of were gifted by Bengali friends, indeed.Thanks to my interactions with friends from West Bengal, I did know how Tagore, Gitanjali, and Rabindra Sangeet were celebrated by the Bengali speaking lot. However, being someone who weeps over Tagore’s “The Cabuliwallah”, I had to discuss the other aspects of Tagore’s mastery as well. So, we decided to discuss Tagore beyond his much revered Gitanjali and ask all those questions that have been lingering in our heads for long.
Expressing regret is only the first step to an apology and not the end to it. An apology is complete only when you take responsibility for what happened and make amends.
I have never met Rajani S. Anand, but I am indebted to her. The year was 2004 and it was the second year of my college. I had spent the previous academic year waiting in the lobbies of various banks hoping to tear down the wall that was shielding from me the future I was hoping for myself and my family. From nationalized banks to private banks, from M.L.A’s office to college management, I had knocked almost on all the doors to secure an education loan to pursue my education. But for an entire year, I only heard the doors slammed hard on my face. After a couple of months, I was not allowed to attend my classes until I paid the course fee in full. I was sent to come home from college. I spent two weeks at home watching my dreams fade into the distance.
Memory is a weird thing. It seems to make you forget the most important things of life and ensure that you remember the least significant of things that happened around you. I either completely forget the birthdays of friends I have known for a long time or embarrass myself by wishing them a month in advance. The craziest part is I clearly remember the birthdays of some long-lost acquaintances whose faces I can barely recollect. My mother had the habit of keeping things safely, only she forgets where she had kept them. She usually brings the entire house down every time she starts looking for something that she had kept safely.Did I mention that memories are weird? Well, they always take you on a detour and you almost forget what you wanted to say in the first place. I wasn’t planning to talk about my mother. In fact, I wanted to talk about one of my English teachers from school.
I was skimming through my news feed and for no reason, I was reminded of Carl Sagan. I repeated his words in my head – “We will know which stars to visit. Our descendants will then skim the light years, the children of Thales and Aristarchus, Leonardo and Einstein”. I glanced again at the piece of news I was reading and I was overcome by a sickening pain. The news was all about the NEET fiasco.
I delighted myself with the joy of spending an entire day in front of the gates of the Central Jail in Bengaluru along with a friend. On retrospection, it sounds like a stupid idea to wait in front of the gates of a prison for whatever reason. However even the stupidest of ideas leave you with an experience worthy of writing. So here is my recollection of how the day unfolded.