Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Evanescence.....

"His signature aroma languidly disappeared with his trails....as if in synchronization with his untimely evanescence...."

His bleak presence in our lives was momentous in many respects. He came in unnoticed, bridged the differences in his own signature fashion and then left the stage silently. He resembled the Pied Piper of Hamlin; his presence was never acclaimed, his efforts overlooked, till he took a long stride “back” and never returned….the foundation of integrity, concord and compassion had already been established.

The honk was enough. The ingrained aroma followed soon after. It was like a magnetic stimulus that drew us close…very close indeed. Our parents had almost locked us into the cellar, suspending our free-spirited junketing; courtesy the local communal unrest that raged across discrete zones of Kolkata in the early 90's. The exit route was almost "padlocked" under the impact of this precarious disturbance; the anarchy was deep and profound. But then we were in our salad days alright; the spirit of gluttony didn't make it's nest. Yet, those miseries followed...it was a deathly blow on the face of altruism.

“Who cares?” – Dad shouted at me…”They are merciless; you can’t go out.” Well, he did make sense.

But then, 
What about those vibrant thoughts?
What about those buoyant schemes?
What about the urge to explore?
What about the profound curiosity? 

The childish exuberance was sheathed under the stinking traces of “gunpowder”, “molotov” and ounces of diabolical hatred.....

The noxious emanation didn't present a glimmer of hope, but crushed our spirits deep within; the muddled whiff spread across the peaceful neighborhood like wild-fire…the spirit of harmony was literally lost.
It wasn't merely the “scent of animosity” but a monstrous silhouette had gripped us by the throat & ripped through our senses. All we needed was a “divine spray of freshness”; a touch of amity, the dissemination of reconciliation, and the sprinkle of euphoria…..the wait was painful as hell.

There were those occasionally short-lived moments that lifted our dripping spirits.…the “germinating” aroma of worship and “devotion”! The roots were deep & profound; yet the aroma of “Dhup-dhuno” that  restored faith and fidelity to some extent, the spiritual credence acted as the momentary pain-killer....but then, the disease had already annihilated us to the core. Sometimes, those "prayers" did  propagate momentary peace...the religious aroma of hope comforted us to some extent. We used to be a monstrous "Banyan Tree" adjacent to my study; it was considered to be sacred....! Every morning those Holy chants & the mesmerizing "agarbatti fragrance" used to drag me out of bed.....the riot-marred neighbour looked so pretty then....peaceful & seeped in tranquillity. The placidity was however, momentary.

I stood by the window, clasping onto those tiny fists, praying to the Almighty- “Dear God, please wipe off the obnoxious smell of carnage….please restore the odoriferous self of humanity."

The elders tried to keep us involved by enumerating those glorious escapades…Grandpa’s “cigar-smitten” ambrosial chronicles, though partly imaginary, did send across goose-bumps; the simplistic jubilance of life expressed themselves to the fullest. 

Those afternoons were esoteric; the deserted colony appeared to me as a kingdom of impenetrable mystery, the mystery that didn't leave behind any from of relic, any clue to hunt down it's origin. The trauma of being "restrained" had slowly perforated into my self-belief, the turmoil had started to trouble me big time. I couldn't go out and relish on the delightful natural aroma, to mingle with the dew-mosaic-ed grass; I couldn't touch the leaves...the foliage...the glorious creations of Nature...!!

I was suffocated to the core, those “enslaved” moments didn't amuse me at all...I felt like throwing off those freshly bought "Short Stories" collection; they didn't show me the path. Their "freshly unpacked scent" choked me, to say the least.

“Speak to me”- I screamed out aloud…
”I want to smell your rain-draped outfit…You get me?”….My voice resounded across the deserted territory, it traversed miles into the stretch "emptiness" and was reflected back from the rubble-marred junkyard. Appeal remained unanswered.

Even the delectable redolence emanating of the characteristic "gourmet centric" Bengali cook-house didn't seem to allure draw us close....the amrosial aroma generated by the freshly cooked "Padma'r Ilish" in mustard, didn't retain it's "grand appeal".....

Something miraculous had to happen; something phenomenal had to “turn the tide”….Glad it did. The epistle of change arrived unceremoniously, yet it brought in a bouquet of renascence, the bouquet of love & oneness.

“Ice-cream….Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate…I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M…..come and grab the little wonders”- Ramu-uncle sounded buoyant as he rode on his shabby cart, advocating his shabby in-house products across the shabbiest streets of Kolkata.

“Bachha party…kahan hooo….?” (Where are the kids?) – He announced vivaciously, his voice echoed through the forlorn "kingdom of death”,cutting through the silence, making a strong statement!…..

There was no response.

“Yaar, sab log mar gaye kya” (Is everybody dead?) – He seemed to be baffled at the cutting laconism; he kept waiting under the leafy shed, yet refused to take an about-turn. He wanted to decipher the discernment; he had his ideas.

“Okay, now! Come out of your den….I have something to show you”- His eyes were glowing radiantly as he opened the treasure-chest. The “cover was blown” and what unfurled was absolutely prodigious. The stacks of home-made luscious bars of ice-cream unveiled themselves in rollicking fashion, spreading across a gratifying aroma of sweetness,ardor and adulation. It was like a “hearth of grace” that established it’s extant influence around the dilapidated colony that had lost it’s reason to survive in the last couple of days. Ramu-uncle had allured us into the gripping trance…the trance that not only drove off the fear of an incoming catastrophe, but rubbed a cologne of hope and reverie to soothe our perched souls.

The guardians were however skeptical with his sudden advent; they were taken aback by his fortitude - the way he had ignored those warning signals and headed off to the “zone of disturbance”, there seemed to be an envelope of  conundrum. But then, there was no point holding back….Ramu-uncle had already transformed himself into the Holy Santa Claus.

He came along every afternoon, at the strike of 2; the savory waft he brought along charmed us to the core….it was as if we have been struck by the spirit of nascent magnetism who's center of attraction was concentrated in his “Cart of happiness”. A mere warble would be enough and the kids would eventually rush out in bewilderment, resembling the deleterious denting impact of those waves during the high tide. There was something extraordinary in the “aura”…something that was inimitable, something that was comforting. It was a healer to say the least….a balm that ameliorated the “social malady” and solved the delusion....!

The desolate arteries of Ward no 45 had eventually started to “look up” again; normalcy was restored! Those forbidden windows were re-opened, the locks pulverized…. “those intonations of harmony" sounded sweet alright. 

The crowd encircling Ramu-Uncle’s cart grew exponentially day by day, it was not because of his admirable competency in the genre of baking, but because of the manacle he had managed to stitch in. His signature vanilla-strawberry-chocolate blended emanation had very little to do with the “so called profitability”…it was a gift of benevolence…” a gift of the peacekeeper”!

And then the rains arrived, the freshly “baked” soil had plenty to express…it had plenty to “say”…had plenty to “reciprocate”

Ramu-Uncle was never absent; his ragged and rancid raincoat never promised refuge but then, he was a man on a mission. He braved the storm, ignored the thunder-sparks and battled through the rains to deliver merriment…he was more efficient than the present day “so-called-punctual” Dominos guy!

"But why? 
What made him do so? "
The question mark still remains....

Ramu is no more. He died of acute viral pneumonia; he looked sick the other night, but never agreed to take medicines. Sigh!

Buddy, you read it wrong! Ramu is still alive…his indomitable “spirit” still looms high in our memories…the characteristic fragrance lingering about his faded trails, the bridge of oneness that he intertwined, the flashy spray of lissomeness and his “utter-butterly-delicious-stained-smile” have etched a permanent spot in our hearts. Ramu is still very much with us....

The news of Ramu’s tragic death had arrived on the Dawn of Mahalaya….on the “advent” of ‘Devi-Pakshya’- the beginning of a month-long saga of “unscripted grace” – the aura of faith, pride, euphoria and prosperity reincarnated.

“Pujor gondho esheche” (The Festival-Aroma has arrived) – a young punk announced as he hurled down the narrow by-lane; his herd chased him down in boundless joy.....

The memories were completely stuffed under the blanket of a "dhunuchi nach" and draped with the holy "sindur khela" - The Bengali way of celebrating the season of boundless joy, the joy that knew no restraining force, the joy that marked the advent of a new saga of togetherness....and compassion. The saga that came in with the perennial smell reverence. The aftermath was assuaging.

Yes, the grief encircling Ramu’s death was short-lived; his "revitalizing vanilla essence" was soon sheathed under the mirthful cover of the newly “constructed” idol. A new era had begun, simpatico formed it’s backbone…..as if a new life had been infused through those scorched ashes….humanity was re-kindled.

Who was Ramu then? :)
What was his mission? :)

And, his aroma disappeared with his trails, as if in synchronization with his evanescence…….

* This post has been written as a part of the Indiblogger Smelly to Smiley contest sponsored by Ambipur, for more product related information and other relevant details, do visit their Facebook page.
* The images used in this write-up are illustrative. Most of them have been clicked through my lens with a few exceptions, thanks to 'Google baba' for the timely help :D !
* This post is a tribute to the spirit of Kokata & the Kolkatans, their indomitable zeal to wither the storm....My Kolkata... "Oh Kolkata!"...It encapsulates the Bengali essence of the spirit of "Smelly to Smiley" !! -The rich aroma of Bengal personifed.

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