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    মলয় রায়চৌধুরী
    সিনেমা | ০৭ এপ্রিল ২০২০ | ৬৮৬৯৬ বার পঠিত
  • গোদার-এর মাওবাদী পর্ব : একটি সমালোচনা
    [ মাওইস্ট ইনটারন্যাশানালিস্ট মুভমেন্ট পত্রিকার ২৬ জানুয়ারি ২০০৪ সংখ্যায় প্রকাশিত ]

    ‘চীনা, বা বরং, চীনা পদ্ধতিতে: ফিল্ম নির্মাণ’, সাধারণত ‘ল্যা চিনোয়া’ নামে পরিচিত, যা ১৯৬৭ সালের ফরাসি রাজনৈতিক চলচ্চিত্র হিসেবে জাঁ-লুক গোদার পরিচালনা করেছিলেন।
    ১. লা চিনোয়া [ চীনা], পরিচালক জাঁ-লুক গোদার, ১৯৬৭
    ২. লে ভনদে [ পুর্ব দিকের বাতাস ], পরিচালক জাঁ-লুক গোদার, ১৯৬৯
    ৩. তু ভা বিয়ঁ [ সব ঠিক আছে ], পরিচালক জাঁ-লুক গোদার, ১৯৭২

    ২০০৪ সালে এই ফিল্মগুলো দেখে আমরা একটি প্রশ্নের উত্তর দিতে চাই এবং তা হল গোদার সিরিয়াস ছিলেন কি না । আজ আমরা যখন দেখি পশ্চিমে মাওয়ের ইমেজ অভিনব বিজ্ঞাপনের সাথে মিশে গেছে, তা আসলে মাওকে বিদ্রূপ করার কৌশল এবং তার মাধ্যমে সংস্কৃতিগুলোতে ভোক্তা আবেশের শক্তি প্রদর্শন করা হয়, এমনকি চীন থেকে দূরে থাকলেও। সর্বোপরি, আজ মাওয়ের ইমেজ মূল স্রোতোধারায় ব্যবহারটি বিপরীতমুখী, কারণ এটি চীনে দুর্দান্ত বিজ্ঞাপন প্রচারের গুরুত্ব পায় আর সবাই জানেন যে মাও একজন কমিউনিস্ট ছিলেন। বিপরীতে, সংস্কৃতি বিপ্লবের (১৯৭৬ সালে) সময় গোদার একজন উন্নত চলচ্চিত্র নির্মাতা হিসাবে মাওয়ের ইমেজগুলো পুরোপুরি গুরুত্ব সহকারে ব্যবহার করেছিলেন -- এবং এমনকি মাওয়ের জন্য একটা জিংগল তৈরি করেছিলেন। আমরা বলতে পারি যে এই ফিল্মগুলোতে যাথার্থ্য আছে, মাওবাদী রাজনীতি, তত্ত্ব এবং পদ্ধতির বোঝাপড়া আছে।

    ১৯৬৭ সালে "লা চিনোয়া" মুক্তি পেয়েছিল দেখে অবাক হতে হয় । গোদার যে কেবল মাও আর সোভিয়েত সংশোধনবাদী নেতাদের মাঝে ভাঙনকে ধরতে পেরেছেন তা-ই নয়, গোদার সেই ভাঙনকে স্পষ্টভাবে তুলে ধরেছেন।তিনি ছিলেন সময়োচিত । "লা চিনোয়া" এবং "উইন্ড ফ্রম দ্য ইস্ট" -এ গোদার সোভিয়েত সংশোধনবাদ, ফরাসী "কমিউনিস্ট পার্টি", সামাজিক-গণতন্ত্র এবং শ্রমিক আমলাতন্ত্রের নিন্দা করেছেন।

    "পূর্ব দিকের বাতাস" ফিল্মে প্রচুর আকর্ষণীয় বিষয় রয়েছে তবে ফিল্মের সবচেয়ে বড়ো অবদান এবং তর্কসাপেক্ষভাবে গোদারের সামগ্রিক অবদানগুলি চলচ্চিত্র নির্মাণ-তত্ত্বের অন্তর্গত কারণ "পূর্ব দিকের বাতাস" এবং "লা চিনোয়া" ফিল্মগুলো সম্পর্কে গোদার জানান যে তিনি ঠিক কোন কারণে মাওবাদীদের বিশ্বাস করেন এবং কেমন করে ফিল্ম তৈরি করা উচিত । গোদার সবচেয়ে গুরুত্বপূর্ণ যে প্রশ্ন উত্থাপন করেছেন তা হল প্রলেতারিয়েত কীভাবে সংগ্রাম করবে এবং ফিল্মের দ্বারা কীভাবে সর্বহারা শ্রেণীর পক্ষে উপকার পাওয়া যায়, যদিও বর্তমানে আমরা যে সমস্ত ফিল্ম দেখি তাতে বেশিরভাগ উপস্থাপনা এবং পদ্ধতিগুলি শাসকদের উপকার করে।

    মাও-যুগের গোদার বলেছিলেন যে, সর্বহারা শ্রেণীর অবস্হা নিয়ে সমাজতাত্ত্বিক চলচ্চিত্রগুলো যদি সংঘর্ষের চিত্রণ বাদ দেয় তবে তারা কার্যকর হয় না।শ্রমিকদের ভয়াবহ অবস্থা প্রকাশের ফলে হতাশা ঘটবে কিন্ত পাশাপাশি কর্মকাণ্ডও ঘটতে পারে, সুতরাং কীভাবে বিদ্রোহ করা যায় তা ফিল্মে দেখানো গুরুত্বপূর্ণ বিষয়।

    রাজনৈতিকভাবে এই ফিল্মগুলোতে এমন কিছু ব্যাপার আছে যা আমাদের পছন্দ নয়, বিশেষত "তু ভাঁ বিয়ঁ"[ সব ঠিক আছে] ফিল্মটি, যা মূলত একটি খাদ্য প্রক্রিয়াকরণ কেন্দ্রকে ফরাসী কর্মীদল কর্তৃক অধিগ্রহণ সম্পর্কে । ফ্রান্সে গোদারের সময়ের ঘটনাগুলো আজকের দিনে যেমন, তার তুলনায় সেই সময়ের সাম্রাজ্যবাদী দেশের শ্রমিকদের অবস্হা আরও ঘোলাটে ছিল ।
    দ্বিতীয় বিশ্বযুদ্ধের পরে, ফরাসিদের তাদের অর্থনীতৈক অবস্হা পুনর্গঠন করতে হয়েছিল এবং এমনকি বুদ্ধিজীবীরাও ভেবেছিলেন যে সাম্রাজ্যবাদী ঝোল টানা ভালো, কেননা তাহলে মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের কাছাকাছি পৌঁছানোর পক্ষে সহায়ক হওয়া যাবে আর মার্কিন জীবনের মানদণ্ডে পৌঁছোনো যাবে।

    গোদার তাঁর সময়ের অন্যান্য অনেকের মতো ভেবেছিলেন যে তিনি সম্ভবত এমন এক সময়ের মধ্য দিয়ে জীবনযাপন করছেন যেখানে সাম্রাজ্যবাদী দেশগুলিতে ফরাসিদের দেখাদেখি সংখ্যাগরিষ্ঠ সমর্থিত সমাজতান্ত্রিক বিপ্লব আসবে। যদি এটা সত্য হতো যে ফরাসি শ্রমিকরা শোষিত হচ্ছিল, তবে তাদের সম্পর্কে গোদারের দৃষ্টিভঙ্গি মাওবাদী মানদণ্ড দ্বারা বেশিরভাগ ক্ষেত্রেই সঠিক হতো। অন্যান্য বেশিরভাগ ব্যাপারে গোদার সঠিক হলেও এই একটি ব্যাপারে তিনি ভুল ।

    ২০০৪ সালের সুবিধাজনক অবস্হান থেকে আমরা দেখতে পাচ্ছি যে ১৯৬৮ সালের মে মাসে সংঘর্ষময় ধর্মঘটে বিজয়ের দরুন বেতন অনেক বেড়ে গিয়েছিল এবং মজুরি বৃদ্ধি পেয়েছিল যা কিনা ফ্রান্সে সাম্রাজ্যবাদী পরজীবিতার হাতকে শক্তিশালী করে তুলেছিল। "তু ভাঁ বিয়ঁ"[ সব ঠিক আছে]-এর মাংস-প্রক্রিয়াকরণ কারখানার মহিলা শ্রমিকের চরিত্র যা বলে তার চেয়ে বেশি কিছু প্রমাণ করার দরকার হয়নি, যে কিনা অলঙ্কৃত উক্তিতে জানায় যে, বস যদি এক ডলার দেয় তবে শ্রমিকরা প্রত্যেকে এক হাজার ডলার চায় -- যেন সেই পারিমাপের মান কোথাও থেকে উড়ে আসে। ফিল্মের শেষে একদল তরুণ একটি সুপার-মার্কেটে "ভাঙচুর" ধরণের গোলমালের আয়োজন করে যেখানে লোকেরা টাকাকড়ি না দিয়ে ঠেলা ভরে-ভরে জিনিসপত্র নিয়ে পালায়।

    অবশ্যই এটি একটি ভাল প্রসঙ্গ যে কেনই বা লোকেরা সুপার মার্কেটের দোকানগুলোকে টাকা দেবে, যখন সমাজ অর্থ যোগাতে পারে না, কিন্তু ফিল্মটির পুরো সুরটি সাম্রাজ্যবাদী দেশের শ্রমিকদের অর্থনৈতিক দাবির দিকে খুব বেশি ঝুঁকে ছিল - সাম্রাজ্যবাদীরা কীভাবে নিজের এবং তাদের দালালদের সুবিধার জন্য তৃতীয় বিশ্বকে শোষণ করে তা দেখানোর পরও গোদার সামাজিক-গণতন্ত্র এবং সংশোধনবাদ থেকে নিজেকে পৃথক রাখতে পেরেছিলেন ।

    ফরাসী শ্রমিকদের প্রতি গোদারের বিশ্বাসকে বাদ দিয়েও, যাদের শোষণ করা হচ্ছে এবং তাদের সমর্থন করার উপযুক্ত কারণ আছে, এই চলচ্চিত্রগুলোর সাথে আমাদের খুব কমই দ্বিমত রয়েছে। একথা বলা একটা কঠিন শর্তের মতো মনে হতে পারে, তবে বাস্তবে, গোদার তাঁর চলচ্চিত্রগুলোয় চিন্তা করার পদ্ধতিগুলো শেখান। "লা চিনোয়া" দর্শকদের বোঝাবার চেষ্টা করে যে তাঁর সময়ে মার্কসবাদ-লেনিনবাদ কীভাবে বিজ্ঞান ছিল। অতএব অর্থনৈতিক জীবনের তথ্যগুলি পরিবর্তিত হতে পারে, কিন্তু সত্যে পৌঁছানোর কয়েকটি প্রাথমিক পদ্ধতি বদলায় না । এই কারণেই আমরা এখনও গোদারের মাওবাদী পর্বকে, ফরাসি শ্রমিকদের প্রকৃতির সাথে তাঁর সঙ্গে আমাদের মতবিরোধ সত্ত্বেও তরতাজা হিসেবে দেখি । ফ্রান্স সম্পূর্ণরূপে একটি পরজীবী জাতিতে পরিণত হয়েছিল, তবে গোদার এই ফিল্মগুলোতে যা বলেছিলেন তার বেশিরভাগ আজও বর্তমান।

    “পূর্ব দিকের বাতাস” ফিল্মে যখন গোদার তত্বনির্মাণকে ফিল্ম প্রোডাকশনের মূল কাজ হিসেবে অভিহিত করেছিলেন, তখন তাঁর সময়ে ফরাসি কর্মীদের প্রতি তাঁর দৃষ্টিভঙ্গি কী তার গুরুত্ব ছিল না। চলচ্চিত্রের প্রধান দায়িত্বের প্রশ্নটি এখনও অবধি অনুত্তরিত রয়ে গেছে। আরও বিশ্লেষণ করলে দেখা যায় যে ফরাসি কর্মীদের সম্পর্কে তাঁর ধারণা ভুল ছিল, তবে মূল কাজটি নিয়ে প্রশ্ন এখনও থেকে গেছে।

    প্রধান দায়িত্বের বিষয়ে গোদারের সঙ্গে আমরা একমত নই, কারণ আমরা একে বলি, "জনগণের মতামত সৃষ্টি এবং ক্ষমতা দখলের জন্য নিপীড়িতদের স্বতন্ত্র প্রতিষ্ঠান নির্মাণ"। আমাদের দৃষ্টিকোণ থেকে, "লা চিনোয়া"-র চেয়ে "ম্যাট্রিক্স" এর অবদান বেশি । তবে, আমরা যদি গোদারের মাপকাঠিকে গ্রহণ করি তবে বলতে পারি যে "লা চিনোয়া" ফিল্মটা "ম্যাট্রিক্স" এর চেয়ে বড় অবদান রেখেছে, কারণ "লা চিনোয়া" সাংস্কৃতিক বিপ্লবে উৎপন্ন মাওবাদী পদ্ধতি এবং নির্দিষ্ট তত্ত্বগুলিকে সরাসরি সামলায়। বিপরীতে, "ম্যাট্রিক্স" সম্ভবত বাইরের ভারী হস্তক্ষেপ ছাড়া মাওবাদের গুরুত্বর বিবেচনা করতে পারে না। এর মধ্য দিয়ে আমাদের এই প্রশ্নটি উত্থাপনের অর্থ হল যে, এই মুহূর্তে আন্তর্জাতিক সর্বহারা শ্রেণি এবং এর সাম্রাজ্যবাদী দেশ বিশেষত মিত্রদের, আসলে কী প্রয়োজন। তত্ব নির্মাণ বা আরও দ্রুত এবং বিস্তৃত আবেদন সহ এমন কোনও কিছুর মধ্যে আমাদের বেছে নিতে হবে। এটিও একটি বৈজ্ঞানিক প্রশ্ন - মূল কাজটি সম্পর্কে আমরা অথবা গোদার সঠিক কিনা। হয় এক বা অন্য দৃষ্টিভঙ্গি বিপ্লবকে ত্বরান্বিত করবে।

    কেউ কেউ বলতে পারেন যে এই ফিল্মগুলো উপদেশ দেবার মতো "ডাইডাকটিক", তবে বাস্তবে গোদার দর্শকদের বিভিন্ন শিবিরের পার্থক্য করার চেষ্টা করেছেন: ১) পাশ্চাত্য সাম্রাজ্যবাদী শিবির ; ২) ব্রেজনেভের সোভিয়েত সহ সামাজিক-গণতান্ত্রিক / সংশোধনবাদী ও শ্রম আমলা শিবির ইউনিয়ন ; ৩) সর্বহারা শিবির। প্রতিটি শিবির এই সিনেমাগুলিতে তার বক্তব্য রাখে এবং গোদার দেখান যে প্রথম দুটি একটি আরেকটির সঙ্গে যুক্ত । মানুষ এই সংঘর্ষগুলোর দিকগুলো আলাদা করতে পারার সময়, গোদার সম্ভবত "ডাইডাকটিক" চলচ্চিত্রটিকে বুর্জোয়া চলচ্চিত্র হিসাবে বিবেচনা করেছিলেন, সংঘর্ষ ছাড়াই উপস্থাপনা করেছিলেন।

    গোদারের তত্ত্ব নির্মাণের প্রধান কাজটা, দর্শকদের আর অর্থ-বিনিয়োগকারীদের এড়াবার খাতিরে চলচ্চিত্র পরিচালকদের উপর একটি ভারী বোঝা চাপিয়ে দেয়। সম্ভবত তাঁর কাজের অনুরণনটির বেশিরভাগ অংশই "শৈল্পিক বিশ্বস্ততা"র প্রশ্নে মাথা গলানো থেকে উদ্ভূত, এটা এমন একটা প্রশ্ন যা যে-কোনও শৈল্পিক পাতি-বুর্জোয়াকে ক্ষুব্ধ করে । তত্ব নির্মাণের দায়টা গোদারের জনপ্রিয় "আর্টসি" বা "হাই ব্রাউ" ভাবমূর্তির সঙ্গে খাপ খায়।

    ওনার এই ফিল্মগুলোর সাথে আমাদের উপরোক্ত কয়েকটি মতবিরোধ সত্ত্বেও, আমাদের এও বিশ্লেষণ করা উচিত যে গোদারের মাওবাদী পর্বটি সঠিক ছিল কিনা। সোভিয়েত সংশোধনবাদকে বারবার মারাত্মকভাবে আক্রমণ করাটা সোভিয়েত ইউনিয়ন আর ফরাসি কমিউনিস্ট পার্টির মতন উপগ্রহ দলগুলোর দেউলিয়াপনা প্রমাণ করেছে । কেবলমাত্র সবচেয়ে বিভ্রান্ত রুশপ্রেমীগুলোই বিশ্বাস করত যে খ্রুশ্চেভ / ব্রেজনেভ যুগটি ছিল "সমাজতন্ত্র"।

    "পূর্ব দিকের বাতাস"-এ দেখা যায় ফিল্মটি স্ট্যালিনকে নিয়ে তর্ক-বিতর্ক করছে। তখনকার দিনে এবং আজকালও একটা জনপ্রিয় চর্চা হল - স্টালিনের কেন্দ্রীভূত অর্থনৈতিক পদ্ধতির বিপরীতে "স্বায়ত্তশাসন"। গোদার "স্বায়ত্তশাসন" আন্দোলনের ইতিহাসে আলোকপাত করে দেখিয়েছেন, কীভাবে তা সর্বহারা শ্রেণিকে অবহেলা করে পাশ কাটিয়েছে।গোদার স্টালিনের সময়কার শিল্পকে দোষারোপ করার সময় স্ট্যালিনের অধীনে সমস্ত শিল্পীদের তার জন্য দায়ি করেছিলেন -- এমনকি তখন থেকে ট্রটস্কির অত্যধিক শৈল্পিক প্রভাব লক্ষ করে ব্রেস্ট-লিটোভস্কের সন্ধি হওয়ার পরেও লেনিনকে খোঁচা দিয়েছেন - “স্বায়ত্বশাসনের” প্রশ্নে গোদার পুরোপুরি স্ট্যালিনের পক্ষ নিয়েছেন এবং টিটোর যুগোস্লাভিয়ায় "স্বায়ত্তশাসন" এর আদর্শগত অভিব্যক্তি প্রদর্শন করেছেন। মাও ১৯৬৩ সালে তাঁর প্রবন্ধে শ্রমিক আভিজাত্য, শ্রমিক আমলাতন্ত্র এবং সংশোধনবাদের বিরুদ্ধে লড়াইয়ের প্রশ্নগুলিকে একসাথে যুক্ত বলে প্রতিপাদন করে কড়া জবাব দিয়েছিলেন । গোদার সম্ভবত " যুগোস্লাভিয়া কি সমাজতান্ত্রিক দেশ? " প্রবন্ধটা পড়েছিলেন।

    ১৯৬০ এর দশক থেকে ১৯৮০-এর দশক পর্যন্ত প্রতিবিপ্লবীরা মার্কস ও লেনিনের অনুগামীদের মতামতকে সরিয়ে যুগোস্লাভিয়াকে উদাহরণ হিসেবে তুলে ধরেছিলেন যাতে মার্কসবাদ-লেনিনবাদ-মাওবাদ থেকে পুঁজিবাদে ঝাঁপিয়ে পড়তে পারে এমন লোকদের মাঝ-পথের ঘর হিসাবে কাজে লাগাতে চেয়েছিলেন । যুগোস্লাভিয়া ছিল “স্বায়ত্বশাসিত উদ্যোগের” সঙ্গে "বাজার সমাজতন্ত্র "। লক্ষণীয়ভাবে অনুপস্থিত ছিল মাও বা স্ট্যালিন ধাঁচের কেন্দ্রীয় অর্থনৈতিক শক্তি।তবু যখন সোভিয়েত ইউনিয়নে স্ট্যালিনের প্রভাব শেষ হয়ে গিয়েছিল আর গর্বাচভ/ইয়েল্তসিন বুর্জোয়াজি খোলাখুলি আবির্ভুত হল, তখন সবচেয়ে হিংস্রভাবে যুগোস্লাভিয়া ভেঙে টুকরো-টুকরো হয়ে গেল । সেই গণহত্যার সন্ত্রাস আমাদের মতন মার্কস, এঙ্গেলস, লেনিন, স্টালিন এবং মাওয়ের অনুসারীদের অবাক করেনি, কারণ যুগোস্লাভিয়ার জনগণের বৈষয়িক ভিত্তি এবং পথনির্দেশক ছিল স্হানীয় স্তরে। "বিশ্বব্যাপী চিন্তাভাবনা করুন, স্থানীয়ভাবে কাজ করুন" স্লোগানের এটা একটা গভীর ভুলের উদাহরণ হতে পারে । অর্থনৈতিক "স্বায়ত্তশাসন" যা করেছিল তা হ'ল প্রদেশগুলোকে একে অপরের ঘাড়ে চাপতে উৎসাহিত করেছিল। সেটাই সংকীর্ণ প্রাদেশিক যুদ্ধের বৈষয়িক ভিত্তি তৈরি করেছিল।

    "স্বায়ত্তশাসন" প্রিয় যুগোস্লাভিয়ার ভয়ংকর পতন প্রমাণ করে যে পুঁজিবাদের পর তাৎক্ষণিকভাবে জরুরি হল কেন্দ্রিয় সমাজতন্ত্র এবং তা সম্পর্কে মার্কস এবং এঙ্গেলসের তত্ত্বগুলি একেবারে সঠিক। সর্বহারা শ্রেণীর সংহতি ভঙ্গ করার জন্য "স্বায়ত্তশাসন" আরেকটি শব্দ। "স্বায়ত্তশাসন" আসলে সর্বহারা ও পুঁজিবাদী শ্রেণীর উভয়ের ওপরে লাঠি ঘোরাতে চাইছে এমন পাতি-বুর্জোয়া শ্রেণীর শব্দ। নারীদের প্রশ্নের ক্ষেত্রেও একই কথা। অবশ্য, জেনডার ব্যাপারটা শ্রেণীর প্রশ্ন থেকে তুলনামূলকভাবে স্বায়ত্তশাসিত, কারণ সমস্ত নারীই শ্রমিক নন, তবে একথা সত্য যে স্বায়ত্তশাসন এবং জেন্ডার প্রশ্নে ব্যক্তিবাদ নিপীড়িত ও শোষিতদের একতা ভঙ্গ করে। নারীর এগিয়ে যাওয়ার প্রশ্নে বৈজ্ঞানিকভাবে সঠিক গোষ্ঠী-স্তরের উত্তর খুঁজে বের করার বিকল্প নেই। এটা ব্যক্তির স্বতন্ত্র অনুভূতি, বা স্বতন্ত্র ক্ষমতা বা এমনকি বিকেন্দ্রীকরণের প্রশ্ন নয় ।

    মার্কসের মূল্যের শ্রম তত্ত্ব জোর দিয়েছিল যে শ্রমিকরা কীভাবে একটি নিরপেক্ষ প্রশ্নে ঐক্যবদ্ধ হতে পারে - অর্থাৎ যা তাদের নিজস্ব শ্রম। কারা শোষিত এবং কারা নয় সে সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়ার উপায় না থাকলে সর্বহারা ঐক্যের ক্ষতি হবে। শোষণ এবং ক্ষতিপূরণের প্রশ্নগুলিকে খুব গুরুত্ব সহকারে নিতে হবে তা না হলে এর পরিণতি হবে গণহত্যার যুদ্ধ যেমন যুগোস্লাভিয়ায় দেখা গিয়েছিল। কেবলমাত্র তাদের কারখানা বা প্রদেশে নয় পুরো দেশ এবং পুরো পৃথিবীর অন্যান্য শ্রমিকদের সাথে কীভাবে চলতে হবে তা শেখা শ্রমিকদের একটি মূল কাজ। "স্বায়ত্তশাসনের পরিবর্তে" শোষিতদের "মূল্যমানের শ্রম তত্ত্ব" প্রয়োজন। কেন্দ্রীয় কর্তৃপক্ষকে অবশ্যই একে অপরের পরিস্থিতি দৃঢ়ভাবে জানতে সহায়তা করতে সফল হতে হবে। শ্রমিকরা যদি একে অপরের বস্তুগত অবস্থা দৃঢ়ভাবে অনুভব করতে অক্ষম হয়, তবে তারা পুরোপুরি ঐক্যবদ্ধ হতে সর্বোচ্চ সম্ভাব্য স্তরে ব্যর্থ হবে। একটি কেন্দ্রিয় অর্থনৈতিক শক্তির মাধ্যমে শ্রমিকরা একে অপরের মধ্যে তাদের সম্পর্কগুলোর সামঞ্জস্য করতে পারে। সেই ক্ষমতা না থাকলে যুগোস্লাভিয়া-ধরণের পরিস্থিতি তৈরি হতে বাধ্য।

    এই ফিল্মগুলোর সংলাপসমূহের শব্দাবলী মাও-যুগের গোদারের চলচ্চিত্রগুলিতে অগ্রগতির প্রধান বোঝা বহন করে। দ্বিতীয়ত, গোদার সীমাবদ্ধ ক্রিয়া ব্যবহার করেন, রক্ত-লাল রঙ নিক্ষেপ করে এবং চরিত্রগুলোকে রক্তাক্ত করে তুলে ফিল্মে তুলে ধরা তাঁর পরিচিত ক্রিয়া। তৃতীয়ত, গোদার এছাড়াও দর্শকদের বোঝাবার জন্য ব্যবহার করেছেন এবং দেখিয়েছেন ফটোগ্রাফি বা ফিল্মের ছবিগুলো কীভাবে বুর্জোয়া শ্রেণির পক্ষে সহজেই কাজে লাগানো যেতে পারে ।”তু ভাঁ বিয়ঁ" ফিল্মের শেষে, গোদার ফ্রান্সের এমন ফুটেজ দেখিয়েছেন যার পটভূমিতে নির্বোধ ট্যুরিজম বা ফরাসী জাতীয়তাবাদী জিংগলগুলো বাজিয়ে শুনিয়েছেন । "পূর্ব দিকের বাতাস" ফিল্মে গোদার সাধারণ ফুটেজ ব্যবহার করে বুর্জোয়া চলচ্চিত্র নির্মাণকারী দুটি চরিত্রের অভিনয় উপস্হাপন করেছেন। আমরা দুর্দান্ত মেক-আপ, প্রপস এবং ম্লান আলো দিয়ে একটি কংকুইস্তাদর ফিল্মের ভাবনা কল্পনা করে নিই, তবে গোদার আমাদের দেখিয়েছেন একজন লোক একজন বন্দীকে, প্রকাশ্য দিনের আলোয়, বিশেষ ব্যাকগ্রাউন্ড ছাড়াই টেনে নিয়ে চলেছে --যা প্রকৃত অভিনেতারা দেখতে পায় কোনোরকম প্রপস ছাড়াই --- যা বেশ সাদামাটা। বুর্জোয়ারা যখন কিনা দর্শকদের দুর্দান্ত পটভূমির সৌন্দর্য দেখায়, তাঁর মাওবাদী পর্বে গোদার আমাদের দেখান যে সৌন্দর্য আসলে থাকে সংগ্রামে ।
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  • Malay Roychoudhury | ১২ অক্টোবর ২০২২ ১৮:০৪738596
  • Malay Roychoudhury, The Cultural Outsider
    One
    I was probably born in 1939 and lived my first fourteen years in Imlitala slum with thatched mud houses in narrow lanes without electricity and piped drinking water in any of them,  of Patna town of Bihar state in India, with an extended family of twenty members whom my father had to take care of after my grandfather’s death. I have used the word ‘probably’ because Ma did not ever go to school and Dad learned his alphabet late. Other six brothers of Dad and their wives  did not go to school either. The first member in our dynasty to go to high  school was my elder brother Samir. 
    The year I was born, in 1939, a month before the birth of World War II, the world was tense, the night was dark. Everyone in the house blamed my birth, the second war and the fear of bombs and the lack of relatives, relatives from Calcutta also came to our house. From then on, uncle Promod used to tie a knot on the four legs of his lungi to serve as a big bag and start buying very cheap vegetables from Musallahpur Hat, hanging them on the handlebars of his bicycle. 
    Imli means tamarind  and ‘tala’ means beneath the tree. No one in the locality knew where and when there had been a tamarind tree – may be during During the reign of Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, when it was one of the world's largest cities, with a population of about 150,000–400,000 or maybe when Megasthenes was a Greek ambassador of Seleucus I Nicator in the court of Chandragupta Maurya or may be it is just a figment of someone's imagination. However, when I visited the locality after forty years, it had completely changed, the inhabitants were upper caste people living in brick houses, not in thatched huts. Drains had been covered, electricity and drinking water had entered lanes and bylanes as well as houses. 
    My childhood was spent with the impoverished lower caste Hindus, then called Antyaj, and the poor Shia Muslim inhabited neighborhood of Imlitala in Patna, whose inhabitants lived in the experience of surrealism, improbability, cultural assumptions, myths, social legends. In their morality, the place of binary opposites  was not in their equation. They did not think that anyone could be very bad or very good. There was no idea of ​​being fallen. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew that a person named Bakaria Pande used to copulate with his own goats but the people of the neighbourhood did not mind. It seemed ridiculous to think that life could one day be better.  Holi was played in the neighbourhood for two days, toddy and rice liquor were gulped without limit in which everyone participated, drums and flute were played and obscene songs were sung, the women of the neighbourhood used to do whatever they wanted, which is why elder brothers and I were not allowed to go out. Even so, we would go out wearing torn pants. The body and the senses used to be the source of the festival, the two days of breaking the secrets of the people with the people. Holi was  played with sewage water, mud, dung etc. It can be said that even though the feeling of shame disappeared, nobody felt humiliated. We urchins could enter any house in the neighbourhood while playing, no one would stop us, even in the mosque of the neighbourhood we could hide behind the mat. Elder brothers and I and our family were never considered outsiders in Imlitala.
    The Kushwaha caste people  of Imlitala believed that they were descendants of Emperor Ashoka, although they used to go out at night to steal and did not usually bathe. Dusadhs believed that they were descendants of Dushasan and were employed in the company of Company Bahadur or Lord Clive, although they also went out to steal at night. . The Kurmis believed that they were born from a tortoise, an incarnation of god Vishnu, although they would go out during the day to  blackmail movie tickets. Some believed that they were the descendants of Jarasandha, although they carried out robberies and pickpockets. The Pasis or toddy tappers believed that they were descendants of Bhrigu Muni, although their job was to fetch juice and toddy from the palm and date forests of Rajendranagar and sell them in the neighbourhood. The blacksmiths, who called themselves Bishwakarma, believed that Parvati gave birth to them from dust so that they could make weapons for Shiva to kill two monsters, even though they had hoppers in their huts, Making chapatis from deya and putting pin on our tops for us for free, etc. Nai or the barber caste believed that Shiva created them from his own navel, to cut Parvati's nails, although they carried a box full of combs, scissors, soap, nail-cutter etc to cut  hair, shave armpits, trim beard and nails. We all believed them.
    Kulsum Apa’s family believed that they were descendants of Wazed Ali Shah, although everyone in the house made bidis in a dark room and sold pet ducks and hen eggs. . They believed in three kinds of angels made of light, angels of rain and food, angels of doomsday and angels of death. Even a smirk could not be smiled in front of anyone to show disbelief. None of them thought  time to be linear  and the history of the dynasty was not supernaturally bizarre. Those who thought of themselves as Emperor Ashoka, Prince Dushasana, Vishnu, Bhrigumuni, descendants of Shiva, were carrying the blood of Emperor, Prince, Goddess, God, down to the very bottom of the society and stealing, robbery, snatching became the way for them to take revenge against that society. Pickpocketing etc. Even when science and rationalism did not enter Europe, there was no Mandal Commission. What they believed was beyond doubt, unquestionable. In realistic or mundane environments, they thought it was normal to have unreal or magical elements. We believed them all.
    I didn't think their work was something wrong or illegitimate in my childhood, I thought that just like everyone earns money, they also did it in their own way. When a red-turbaned police team came looking for someone in the neighbourhood on charges of theft or robbery, someone would run from the street corner and report the news, and the men would get on top of their tiled hut and run to the back mango orchard on the roundabout for fear of being caught. When their  dogs saw the police, they would bark in a special wayl and warn them. The police were a symbol of the tyrannical, ruthless, brutal power, so the relatives would be overjoyed to be able to deceive them. There was a Hulas Chacha or Hulas uncle in the neighbourhood, an old Kayasth person, who  on the basis of Ramcharitamanas written by  Tulsidasa would predict the future of a person of the neighbourhood who thought he was in danger. He  would go to him for help. Hulas uncle  had a ramshalaka or iron stick,  with which the concerned person with closed eyes  marked a stanza. By reading out the stanza, Hulas uncle would predict the person’s fate.. Everyone believed in him. Everybody in the neighbourhood had a black horse's hooves stamped on the front door of the house, so that evil spirits could not enter their house, so that no one could do 'black magic', family members lived happily in peace, even in our house  there was a horseshoe nailed on the door frame. The elders of the house believed in its power. A list was pasted on the kitchen door of Imlitla's house, which indicated which vegetable and fruit should be eaten on a particular day of the week, although the list was not used by Ma after shifting to Dariapur. Everyone in the house believed in the omen as to what could happen if the lizard fell on the body or on the side of a person, as indicated in the annual Hindu almanack.

    Eyes closed, holding a tiny steel chisel between forefinger and thumb for cutting my nails, Ma would reminisce of a devastating earthquake in Bihar when she lost the family’s blackbuck and couple of swans, yes swans she insisted, not ducks that you find at Imlitala searching for food in the open dirty stinking drains in which the slum children shitted in early morning. That mudhut was in the Bajaja area, another slum, which crumbled in a few seconds and everybody had to flee for life. 
    The family pooled their resources and purchased the thatched Imlitala residence which had to be reconstructed to suit the requirements of a big family like ours. There was a water well within the house which had to be closed by filling with debris as local women had been using it for their marriage rituals during which they sang songs considered obscene by the male elders of the family. However, a sign of a circle remained on the floor which was not considered auspicious by Granny. 
    Compared to other areas in Patna the Imlitala abode was cheaper not only because it was in a slum also because the inhabitants were, almost all, members of untouchable castes who were forced to work for or in the  underworld, eaking out their living by resorting to banditry, hooching, bootlegging, dacoity, thievery, pickpocketing, mugging, counterfeiting cheap items, looting, illegally tapping toddy etc. Most of them came from villages where they were ostracised for some reason and did not dare to go back. They were not organised criminals but got together when needed, the reason being, though all belonged to the lowest of castes among Hindus, at that time labelled as ‘untouchables’  there were various types of castes, some of whom felt they were of higher order. Some of them fled from their villages because a certain upper caste landlord wanted the favour of his wife for a few nights. From the complexion of the skin it was easy to make out that his mother was sexually exploited by a fair skinned landlord. Some fled their village to avoid slave labour.
    People living outside this locality considered the inhabitants to be untouchables. The Vedic texts neither mention the concept of untouchable people nor any practice of untouchability. The rituals in the Vedas ask the noble or king to eat with the commoner from the same vessel. Later Vedic texts ridicule some professions, but the concept of untouchability is not found in them. Our family, having uprooted from Bengali society, was accustomed to live among people who were considered untouchables or mleccha or nimnobarna. Bengalis of Patna never ventured to enter Imlitala. We were outsiders to Bengali culture, impure, half-literates and we generally avoided telling other Bengalis that we were descendants of Lakshmikanto, the warrior minister of Maharaja Pratapaditya or our ancestors sold rent rights of Kolkata to the British.
    The slum had a Muslim part as well and they were all Shia Muslims who were members of harems of various landlords and Nawabs of Lucknow who fled the town when the East India Company dethroned Wazed Ali Shah.Asaf-ud-Dowlah, the fourth Shia Nawab of Awadh,  had shifted his capital from Faizabad to Lucknow. They were soon joined by Muslim families, mostly Shias, who also hailed from Kashmir, and were directly or indirectly connected to the royal family and its court or served the Awadh state as high-ranking officials. Then came the British, cutting the mutinous Shia down to size after 1857. Imlitala Muslims were those driven out from Lucknow by the British. The Muslim area was much more poorer as they did not resort to crime but lived on earnings from selling duck and hen eggs, chickens, goats and preparing Biri, an Indian home made cigarette. My initiation to literature, specially poetry, developed because of a Muslim family whose members still held their Lucknow fascination for urdu poetry and strangely, now forbidden, songs. At that time I did not know there were various divisions among Muslims. The Muslims of Imlitala used to beat one's own self with ropes or chains and bled intentionally during muharram . Such behaviour was not seen among the Muslims of Dariapur, the area where Dad shifted later. Once I thought of entering the mosque at Dariapur and was stunned when the cleric said, “looks like you have come to steal shoes.” In the frontside room of Kulsum Apa’s family Biri used to be prepared with tobacco in leaves tied with a string then placed on a net kept over an oven. I also participated in their Biri preparation though I had to wash my hand at the roadside tap so that Ma did not know about it. In that room they had a replica of a flying horse made of tin and a framed photo of Karbala which they revered.
    The Muslim family did not have much knowledge of the Moghal kings who ruled India for more than two hundred years. But they eulogised Nader Shah who had sacked Delhi and killed thousands of citizens. They were proud of Wajid Ali Shah and Tipu Sultan. . Once Wajid Ali Shah had been a wealthier monarch and was deported to Kolkata after his deposition by the East India Company. In Kolkata he reigned over only an estate. The sheer number of followers cramped into his premises, however, gave some impression of pomp—the grounds hosted over 7,000 people, including prostitutes, household guards, and dozens of disgruntled begums, not to speak of a menagerie of monkeys, bears, and 18,000 pigeons. Kulsum Apa’s family was probably from one of the rich members of Wajid Ali Shah’s court. I did not have much knowledge of Nader Shah and Tipu Sultan at that time. Today that area of Kolkata has become dingy, Congested and dirty, the descendants of Wajid Ali Shah’s harem have mostly become members of the darkside of Khidirpur port. 
    In Bengali upper caste families of other areas if you touched a Muslim you have had to either take bath or elder sprinkled Ganges water on you to remove your impurity. This was not applicable to our family members as grandpa and granny had lived in Peshawar and Lahore for a longtime with their children. Moreover Imlitala was a lower caste locality. But there was a strange rule in our Imlitala house which was discontinued after we shifted to Dariapur. At Imlitala, every male member had to go to the latrine wearing just an Indian towel even in winter. If a male member entered the latrine wearing his daily clothes he was required to wash them and wear fresh clothes. Female members invariably went with their clothes on and took baths and changed to fresh clothes. With the latrine clothes on the person was not allowed to touch any other family member. In case he or she touched someone accidentally, Ganges water was sprinkled on the person who was touched. For going to the latrine there was a bell metal ewer for the entire family which was one day sold off by Arun. Thereafter we used tin-cans in which chemicals came to Dad’s shop.
    Aunt Nandarani, being from a priest's family, followed the Hindu almanack which directed as to which fruit or vegetable should not be eaten on a particular day. Such items were listed on a piece of paper and pasted on the wall of the kitchen. This rule was also discontinued when we shifted to Dariapur house. Nandarani used to hum songs of Lalon Sai about whom I came to know much later. Nandarani knew the songs but did not know who Lalon sai  was a prominent Bengali philosopher, author, Baul saint, mystic, songwriter, social reformer and thinker in British India.Regarded as an icon of Bengali culture, he inspired and influenced many poets, social and religious thinkers including Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, and Allen Ginsberg although he  rejected all distinctions of caste and creed. He resorted to the human body to discern the genesis and root of the creative principle. In his universal practice and at the root of the meaning behind his songs, the human body and respect for human birth are given the foremost acknowledgment. In this he transcended the doctrines of all religions. Samir came to know first about Lalon and said he was a baul. Bauls constitute both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition. Bauls are a very heterogeneous group, with many sects, but their membership mainly consists of Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims. They can often be identified by their distinctive clothes and musical instruments. Lalon Shah is regarded as the most celebrated Baul saint in history. Nandarani might have picked up the songs from the bauls and fakirs visiting her priest father and brother as her paternal house had a big temple compound which served as night shelter for visiting religious men and women.

    The Imlitala public tap was just in front of the small square of our house. When ladies came to fetch water in buckets or wash their clothes, they used to keep their children with my friend Kapil’s grandfather. The old man used to teach obscene abuses to the children who did not know the meaning of the words. Sometimes a kid used to ask the old man whether he should abuse the lady or the man at the tap. Nobody seemed to bother being abused by kids and laughed away. In our house, however, we were forbidden to sit near the window and listen to those obscene abuses, though I learned all the abuses from the old man’s school. The Imlitala of my childhood was frozen in time and I loved it.
    There were no restrictions for us children of the area to enter any house during playing hide and seek or any other game. A boy could even hide below a cot on which someone was having an evening nap. We could enter the house of the Muslim families and the adjacent mosque. We could hide behind prayer mats kept inside the mosque – this is unthinkable these days. I visited a particular Muslim family to purchase duck eggs as our family was prohibited from eating chicken eggs. There were no restrictions either from our family elders. Ladies of those families came to our house to gossip with Ma and aunts. Their language was rustic and only when we grew up we came to know that several expressions that Ma and aunts picked up from them were considered obscene by the educated and cultured wing of the society, both Hindi speaking and Bengali.
    During such visits a Muslim teenage girl took fascination in me and I had my first exciting experience of my skin touching female skin. This was happening even though India had been partitioned in 1947 and relations between Hindus and Muslims had turned sour. Strangely, Ilmitala slum was not affected. Her name was Kulsum and I called her Kulsum Apa as she was four years older than me. She had big black eyes and eyelashes looked so artificial that just a stare at them created hallucination. Her skin was glazing black reminding that she was carrying the history of an African slave girl sold to a king by Portugese slave merchants. She had dimpled cheeks. She took me to a dark dingy damp room full of hens, ducks, goats and sheeps, told me to close my eyes, and started reciting a poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, while her lips travelled all over me. She took my right hand and I wondered if the female organ was so soft and grew fine hairs like mine. Another day, when a nanny goat was giving birth to kid goats, she told me that human babies are born in the same way and showed me a hairy vagina again.
     I could not check my strong urge to put my lips on it. I had to reduce my frequency of visits as one of the cousin sisters, Dolly, uncle Sushil’s daughter, asked me why Kulsum was in search of me. Arun seemed to be aware and advised me not to get into any trap. Arun used to be annoyed with Kulsum Apa’s younger brother Nazim. Once Arun secretly lifted the ewer of Imam of the mosque and kept it in Kulsum Apa’s house for which Nazim was beaten up by his father. The ewer was used by Muslim men for washing their penis after urination. The practice has probably been discontinued because of fast city life. But in Ram Mohan Roy Seminary I had observed Muslim class mates carrying a piece of blotting paper during urination. Same I had found when I joined a job in Reserve Bank of India where Muslim workers used to carry either blotting paper or a piece of absorbable stone to the toilet. Some used to keep their own piece of stone in a corner of the toilet. A Senior colleague Abdul Quyauum told me that The Islamic faith has specific rules regarding urination. One of these rules is called Istinjaa` which means washing the private parts after urinating. It’s an obligatory practice of purification mentioned in the Quran, and its procedures vary for people with a vulva and people with a penis. According to the rule, cleaning can be done with toilet paper, stone, or water. If you have a penis, you’re to wash from back to the front. But if you have a vulva, you’re to wash from front to back. This is so that the genitals aren’t in contact with the bacteria from the anus. In addition, the rule states that if you have a penis, you’re not allowed to clean yourself with your right hand. The preferred practice for both genitals is to clean the area with toilet paper and then wash with water. You can use soap to clean the area if you’d like, but it’s not a requirement. After following Istinjaa`, you’re to cover yourself immediately.
     
    The lane on the left side of our house was a blind one at the end of which there was a semicircle compound in the middle of which there was a five feet deep ditch surrounded by huts and cannabis shrubs which grew all through the year. The ditch was used for slaughtering pigs for celebrating a successful banditry by the residents. Whenever I saw that a pig was being brought, legs tied to a bamboo pole, carried on the shoulders of two men, I could make out that they had a good booty some days back. In the evening when we used to study in kerosine lantern light, we used to hear the frightening shriek of the pig put in the pit and being killed by hot iron rods pierced in its body. Nevertheless, the next day Samir, Arun and myself would visit them for our share of cooked pig meat to be taken with palm-toddy or rice liquor. A couple of inhabitants in that compound also ate roasted greater bandicoot rats and we three brothers tasted the flesh which did not seem different in taste from other flesh except for the smell. My initiation to toddy, country liquor, cannabis, pig and rat meat was through these men who loved us all three brothers, though they had a special bonding with Arun. 
    There were two dogs in that lane which were considered Hindu dogs. Similarly there were two dogs near Kulsum Apa’s house which were considered Muslim dogs. Dogs of one side did not venture into that of the other. When a pig was killed and cooked the dogs knew they are going to have their share. The dogs also knew how to bark when a police party arrived in search of suspected criminals. Such barks were an indication to the criminals who would get upon the roof of thatched huts and walk over them in light foot and disappear into the mango orchard behind the blind lane. We went to our terrace to watch their creepy disappearance. Having seen white pigs in the adjacent ground of catholic school I told these men about such animals which they did not believe and thought I was making a fool of them.
    Urchins of the area would annoy the muslim area dogs by singing the slogan, ‘Puri kachauri tel mein, Jinnah beta jail mein’. Similarly muslim urchins would raise the same slogan in Gandhi’s name when they saw the dogs of the Hindu area. But there was never any fight between the communities. When I visited Imlitala after several decades, all the four dogs had died and their progeny could not recognise me. The mosque was well painted with green oil colour and two high minar had been raised atop which loudspeakers were tied for calling the faithful, During my childhood a fakir would roam through the lanes and recite something in arabic to call the faithfull ; he had a strange stick and smoke burning out of his dry pumpkin shell censer. Though there was a Shia mosque, Imlitala did not have a Hindu temple and none of the residents bothered about it.

    In that lane there was a milkman family with a few cows and goats who sold milk and cow dung for living. The family had a male member who was considered mad and was kept chained where the goats and cows were tethered. He used to drink milk directly from udders with his mouth and copulated with the animals. Members of his family knew about his activities but did not bother as they felt his mind and body was satisfied and that is what they wanted. All the residents of Imlitala knew about it and felt nothing wrong with it, though the children called him ‘Bakaria goala’.
    There was also in that lane an widow nicknamed Billi because of her eyes who had two male goats, that is bucks or billies, one white with long neck and another black and sturdy. Both of them were always in a fighting mood with each other for which the lady chained them separately, one inside her hut and another outside tethered in metal chains. People who wanted to get their nannies or doe mated knew of their goats' estrous cycle,the beginning of one estrus (heat) to the beginning of the next estrus . To bring the female goat to heat, the lady would rub a cloth on one of the bucks and let the nanny goat smell it. She charged double for the white one and argued that when one searches for a fair complexioned groom he pays more dowries than a dark skin groom. Moreover, the breed of the white one was more in demand during Muslim festival of Bakrid for their better quality of meat. During Bakrid we used to get a front leg of the slaughtered goat from Kulsum Apa’s house. Uncle Promod would invariably check the hoof to be sure that it was that of a goat.
    On one night Arun unchained both of the billies quite silently and allowed them to fight each other. The sound was such that several people got up with a kerosene lamp in their hands to find out as to what was happening. Arun had come back and peeped through the window to enjoy the ruckus. He whispered to us and all brothers and sisters gathered in the room without light to peep through. The widow came out hearing the sound of billies fighting each other during the night. Along with her came out a fair complexioned person, the widow’s paramour, whom we recognized as the sweetmeat seller on the main road. Arun, who did not sleep during the night , had known about their love affair. The fellow had to marry the widow. We joined in the marriage for goat meat, sweets and toddy.
    An old lady in that lane used to fry chickpeas on hot sands and grinded them in her grindstone for sale to rickshaw pullers and labourers who mixed it with water and green chillies cut in pieces and made small balls to gulp them with water. Some of them drank it like sharbat after adding a few drops of lemon in it. When she did not have saved money she would tell me to provide her with wood from the packing boxes in which Dad received items from her shop. I would take two big planks of wood everyday and tie them like a cross just as I had seen at the Catholic school and carry it on my shoulder and move around Imlitala lanes for some time ending my journey at the old lady’s home to hand over the cross to her. All the urchins of the locality would follow me and shout Hip Hip Hurray, in the same fashion the football team of the locality shouted when they won against a team of another locality. For children of the locality once in a while she prepared a Bihari food item called ‘Litti’. It is a dough ball made up of whole wheat flour and stuffed with gram flour, pulses and mixed with herbs and spices and then roasted over coal or wood then it is tossed with much ghee. It may be eaten with yoghurt, baingan chokha, aloo chokha, and papad.] The litti are traditionally baked over wood fire. Herbs and spices used to flavour the litti include onion, garlic, ginger, coriander leaves, lime juice, carom seeds, nigella seeds and salt. Tasty pickles can also be used to add spice flavour.
    She used grindstones for making the powder. We three brothers gave her a helping hand in grinding as we were conversant with it, our wheat flour was made by grinding wheat on grindstones. Until then the machines had not arrived. Might have arrived in other areas with electricity. There was no cold storage facility and we purchased potatoes of which the rotten portion had been cut and removed. Cauliflower was dried during winter so that it may be cooked in summer.

    On the right side lane there was an old man named Hulas Babu,who was considered to be a soothsayer, expert in Tusidasa’s Ramcharitmanas. He had a pen made of lead. Whenever someone had a problem he or she would visit him. The person was advised to close his eyes, open a page of Ramcharitmanas and point the lead pen to any stanza on the page. Hulasbabu would explain the meaning of the stanza and forecast what is going to happen to the person, good or bad. Hulasbabu did not talk of remedies to get out of the problem. 
    Two festivals, one by Hindus and another by Muslims were observed in which we did not participate but we got eatables from those festivals. Hindu families observed the ‘Chhath’ festival. Prayers during Chhath puja are dedicated to the solar deity, Surya, to show gratitude and thankfulness for bestowing the bounties of life on earth and to request the granting of certain wishes.Chhathi Maiya, the mother goddess and Sun's sister, is worshipped as the Goddess of the festival. It is celebrated six days after Diwali, on the sixth day of the lunar month of Karthika (October–November) in the Hindu calendar Vikram Samvat. The rituals are observed over four days.They include holy bathing, fasting and abstaining from drinking water (vrata), standing in water, and offering prasad (prayer offerings) and arghya to the setting and rising sun.  Some devotees also perform a prostration march as they head for the Ganges river. For the people from Bihar and other nearby areas, Chhath Puja is considered as Mahaparva. On the third day of Chhath puja, an arghya is offered to the Sun God during the Kartik Shukla Shashthi. In the evening, a bamboo basket is decorated with fruits, thekua and rice laddus. We got various types of thekua and laddus from almost all families.
    Muslim families observed Bakrid or Eid al-Adha or 'Feast of the Sacrifice.  It honours the willingness of Ibrahim or Abraham  to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of obedience to God's command. Before Ibrahim would sacrifice his son, however, God provided him with a lamb which he was supposed to sacrifice in his son's place. In commemoration of this intervention, animals are ritually sacrificed. One third of their meat is consumed by the family which offers the sacrifice, while the rest of the meat is distributed to the poor and the needy. Sweets and gifts are also distributed. Our family got a goat’s leg from Kulsum Apa’s family ; none of the families slaughtered lamb or sheep because they were costly. All members of the families wore new dresses and boys and gents wore caps and gathered for Namaz. Children of the area got Eidy or a piece of copper coin from Kulsum Apa’s father. When I was in Lucknow, descendants of a Nawab family used to invite us to their community lunch ; on a huge silver plate Biriani used to be spread and one could take as many morsels from it. On that day men embraced each other just like we Bengalis did at the end of Durga Puja.

    I was born during a lagoon coloured autumn at Patna in the Prince of Wales Hospital, now called Patna Medical College and Hospital, five or maybe five and half years after the earthquake that demolished the hutment Dad with five brothers and a sister lived in. I was called Fauna at home though formally named Malay because the Hindu Zodiac indicated the letter ‘M’ on the day of my first rice ritual. The ward in which I was born has been demolished and the hospital has been renamed after India’s independence, giving me no chance to check the exact date on which I was born from the records of the Hospital.
    Dad consulted the Hindu almanack, deciding on an auspicious date at the time of my admission to junior kindergarten at Saint Joseph's convent, in order to convince the Irish doe-eyed nun of the fact of my birth on October 29, 1939. We were a very poor family to afford payment of fees for studying at a convent school. It was just by chance that I was playing at my father’s photo shop at the age of three when Father Hillman, a German priest and an ameteur photographer, had come to the shop and wondered why I had not been admitted to a good school. When Dad spoke of his financial condition, Father Hillman arranged for my admission and allowed remission of fees. Ma contested this birthdate till she died of an enlarged heart in 1982, as she thought I was born on a Friday on the eleventh day of the month of Kartika with metal forceps nurses used to pull me out of her body, for my legs had come out first. Elder brother Samir studied at a vernacular school and was packed off to our maternal uncles’ house for studying at City College, Kolkata. Dad feared that Samir may be spoiled for his association with the teenagers of Imlitala.
    A devout Brahmin, revelling in his puritanic logic, Dad insisted, A Hindu Aryan was born of his sacred thread ceremony and that we were descendants of Bidyadhar Roychoudhury, the great zemindar who was forced by the Mughal king’s agent in Bengal to hand over the villages Kolikata,  Gobindapur and Sutanuti to Job Charnok of East India Company for a meagre sum, which became joie de vivre called Calcutta, now Kolkata. Bidyadhar  was great grandchild of Lakshmikanto, who was awarded the Roychoudhury title and the villages along Sundarbans by Mughal emperor Jehangir. 
    Lakshmikanto,  was originally from Jessore, now in Bangladesh, as a minister of King Pratapaditya. Pratapaditya was a Mughal vassal of Jessore and one of the most powerful zamindars of lower Bengal, before being crushed by the Mughal Empire. He was eulogised, in an ahistorical manner, by 20th century Bengali nationalists as a Hindu liberator from foreign (Islamic) rule. Tradition asserts that Pratapaditya had his uncle Basanta Ray murdered around 1598 - 1600, with support from the Portuguese, and declared his independence. In return, he  allowed the Christian Missionaries to settle in his territories — the first Church in Bengal would be opened at Chandecan in about 1600.  Lakshmikanto had left king Pratapaditya when the king conspired and killed his own uncle Basanta Ray. The Mughals came into conflict with Pratapaditya for various reasons and the king of Jessore was defeated, chained and died while being taken to Delhi. Lakshmikanto had settled at Barisha-Behala at the end of the then Calcutta. As his family became quite big with brothers and their children, one of the descendants, Ratneshwar, shifted to western side of Hooghly river in 1709 and established a new town named Uttarpara.  The house on Choudhury Para Street was built by Ratneshwar  based on Turkish architectural design and called ‘Sabarna Villa’. The villa was dismantled in 1990 and housing colonies constructed in its place.
     My grandmother, Apurbamoyee, who died at the age of ninety four at Savarna Villa, used to say that we became poor because the Roychoudhurys mated with several wives and bred like pigeons. 
     Laksminarayan, youngest of three children of Jadunath, was the first professional Indian photographer-painter born in 1866. Lakshminarayan had two elder brothers, Harinarayan and Baikunthanath.  The descendants of Ranteshwar Roychoudhury had crossed hundreds through his three wives and wives of his sons by the 1800s which forced members to branch out and seek their own livelihood. The main source of income of Sabarna Choudhury zamindars had been revenue from vast tract of land and gold corpus given to them by Emperors Akbar and Jahangir.The Roychoudhury title was bestowed on the family by Mughal Emperors. The family’s surname was, in fact, Gangopadhyay or Ganguly till the doyen of the clan Lakshmikanta Gangopadhyay ( 1570-1649) received the title. They were Brahmins.
    Consequent on acquisition of Calcutta and villages around it by the East India Company in 1698, the clan had started disintegrating. They had also sided with Nabob Sirajuddaula during the battle of Plassey resulting in disfavour from the British when they became rulers. Lakshminarayan had the knack of drawing sketches from childhood. After his marriage to thirteen year old Apurvamoyee Mukherjee of Central Calcutta, when he was in search of a source of income other than doles from his father, he came across 19th Century gentries known to his father in law, and was thus introduced to the evolving culture of writing and painting of his time. He learned the rudiments of formal drawing from the circle of intellectuals of the Brahmo Samaj ; however, his conservative Hindu father Jadunath and mother Matangini were against his friendship with the members of the Brahmo Samaj. During this period of indecision he could impress a representative of the Emir of Bahawalpur with his art who invited him to paint portraits of members of the Emir’s family. The representative had gone to Calcutta in connection with some business. Being a member of the Sabarna Choudhury clan, Lakshminarayan knew pre-British state language Persian as well as Arabic which proved helpful for him in getting his first job.
    Bahawalpur was far away from Calcutta. Lakshminarayan preferred to get out of the family restrictions imposed by his father, and reached Bahawalpur with his wife after about six months. The Emir was quite impressed with his art work and assigned paintings of his family members to young Lakshminarayan. It is said that a few of the drawings made by Lakshminarayan later found their way to the postage stamps of the state. His popularity in Bahawalpur got him invitations from Chitral, Hunja, Fulra and Makran kingdoms — places now in Pakistan. He also visited Kabul on receipt of invitation from the members of the King’s court. Having saved sufficient money he moved to Lahore to settle at the place as his wife was pregnant with their first child.
    In Lahore Lakshminarayan met John Lockwood Kipling, father of famous colonial writer Rudyard Kipling, in search of a job so that he may have a fixed source of income and at the same time improve his skill. In 1875 John Lockwood Kipling was appointed Principal of Mayo College of Arts, Lahore ( present day National College of Arts, Pakistan ). John Lockwood Kipling also became curator of Lahore Museum. Lakshminarayan came to know about photography from Kipling. By this time photography had progressed in Europe and Daguerreotype cameras had been replaced by bellow-lens cameras ; the processing of photographs had undergone revolutionary changes. In Daguerreotype photography, invented in 1830, an image could be made only once by immersing it in salt water. In 1841 Fox Talbot had invented the Calotype process ; in it a negative was made from which unlimited copies could be made. However, these were on paper.
    In 1848 Frederic Scott Archer had invented the wet Collodion process image. This process produced a negative image on a transparent photographic medium ; the photographer could make multiple prints from just one negative. This process required a darkroom for processing. Lakshminarayan got the opportunity to learn photography from John Lockwood Kipling and purchased a bellow-lens camera. In 1880 he  established a photographic company styled as Roychowdry & Co with a darkroom at his residence. The Collodion process had been replaced by gelatin dry plates — glass plates with a photographic emulsion of silver halides suspended in gelatin.
    With the new invention, painting portraits of regal women became easier for Lakshminarayan. Earlier it was quite difficult for him to convince conservative  family heads of Maharaja, Raja, Raje, Deshmukh, Nabob, Baig, Khan, Mirza or Emirs to allow their female members to be seated for quite sometime in front of him in order to draw their sketches to be converted into paintings. Now he could just take a photograph and draw a painting based thereon. The feudal kings were also fascinated with photographs.
    Lakshminarayan started receiving offers from other Indian kingdoms. Thus his journey as a mobile photography company began. He had three sons by now. Pramod, Sushil and Ranjit. It is said that my grandmother was so fascinated with stories about Maharaja Ranjit Singh that she named their third son Ranjit. Whenever Lakshminarayan received calls from faraway Kings or Emirs he took his entire family along with him. As a result the children could not have regular education and had to be taught by a teacher of the court deputed by the Kings or Emirs. They, nevertheless, learned the skills of the trade from their father which became quite helpful for them later in life.
    Promod had grown up and helped his father  in carrying the bellow-lens camera in a wooden box whenever Lakshminarayan was invited for family photographs of clients. Sushil carried the camera tripod on which the field camera used to be placed and Ranjit carried the black hood which was required at the time of focusing the lens before a photo was shot. If there was lack of sufficient light all the three boys held burning magnesium wires during the photo shoot.
    Grandfather had three more sons, Anil, Sunil and Bishwanath. He decided to station his family at Uttarpara when he received a call from his father Jadunath who wanted to divide his property among his three sons. Apurvamayee was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter who was named Kamala. The three younger sons and the daughter remained at Uttarpara with Apurvamayee whereas Lakshminarayan moved from one feudal kingdom to another with Pramod, Sushil and Ranjit. Among his sons he loved Ranjit the most as Ranjit perfected not only photo shooting but also in darkroom work and making collodion emulsion for photo processing. The emulsion was a mixture of silver bromide, pyrogallic acid, potassium bromide and ammonium carbonate in prescribed proportions.
    Lakshminarayan got his two sons Pramod and Sushil married during this time to Nanadarani and Karuna. Since Apurvamayee stayed at Uttarpara, ladies were required for kitchen etc work when Lakshminarayan and the three sons moved from place to place. Later, when Kishorimohan Bandyopadhyay approached him for preparing slides for magic lantern to be used for Bandyopadhyay’s anti-malaria campaigns in Bengal villages, Lakshminarayan got his son Ranjit married to Kishorimohan Bandyopadhyay’s daughter Amita. Kishorimohan Bandyopadhyay was research assistant of Ronald Ross. Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize while Kishorimohan Bandyopadhyay was awarded with a gold medal by King Edward VII.
    On an invitation from the Maharaja of Darbhanga to the Maharaja’s Patna palace ( now a Patna University Building ) Lakshminarayan went to Patna and called Apurvamayee along with the other children since Patna was quite close to Uttarpara. Unfortunately Lakshminarayan had a heart attack and died at Patna in 1933.
    Death of Lakshminarayan created a great financial burden on his children as they were not personally known to their father’s feudal clients. Lakshminarayan handled this aspect himself. Apurvamayee pursued with his cousin brother Troilokyanath Mukhopadhyay, who was a reputed author as well as Assistant Curator of Calcutta Museum. On Troilokyanath’s recommendation Pramod got the job of ‘Keeper of Paintings and Sculpture’ at the Patna Museum. However, his salary was not sufficient for the family. The brothers decided to open a photographic shop at Patna and Chhapra in Bihar and one at Uttarpara itself. Sushil was sent to Chhapra, Anil to Uttarpara and Ranjit took the responsibility to run the main shop at Patna. Anil was married to Amiya of Calcutta so that he may take interest in the business and run the shop and earn profit.
    Both Sushil and Anil failed in their ventures,  and went back to Patna with their family. Apurvamayee decided to stay alone at the Sabarna Villa which had started crumbling due to neglect. The business venture henceforth remained centred at Patna with a photographic shop in front of the Bihar National College on Ashok Rajpath, which later shifted to Dariapur in front of Patna Collegiate school on Bari Road. Since there was no competition and Roychowdry & Co held agencies of photographic material and equipment companies it became famous in a very short time. It also became popular among the young freedom fighters of the Indian National Congress. Sushil and Anil were given the work of converting photos into paintings.
    The company shifted to Dariapur in 1954. It started receiving even 50 year old photographs from various clients to be retouched and remade. In many cases such old photographs had only the face intact ; either Nandarani, who was plump, or Amita, who was thin, posed as models so that the face of the lady was placed on their torso. Sushil and Anil were experts in reconstructing such photographs. At that time there were neither mobile phones, computers or photoshopping techniques. Dad wished to stay at Uttarpara when young but lived instead 550 kilometres away at Patna, the seat of the Buddhist Emperor Ashoka during 264-223 B.C.E.
    After the death of Ranjit in 1991 the business venture has undergone sea change in view of digitization of photography. It is now run by Ranjit’s grandson Hridayesh, elder son of Samir, who has received special training in digital photography. He has widened the scope of the business venture to suit the fast paced world of modern-day photography.
    Two
    Despite Grandpa’s adventurous life, Dad cocooned in an orthodox seed : a vegetarian, devoted to a 333 million pantheon, fasting on the eleventh day of lunar fortnight, mantras at lunch and dinner, a change of sacred thread once a month, no eating cereals cooked by untouchable castes, a daily mustard-oil bath in cold water. 
    Both Dad and Ma were not interested in going to the temple for worship or pilgrimage; I think Dad freed himself for the pressure of work. After elder brother Samir evicted Dad from the shop to install his elder son, Dad took refuge in Hinduism and the gods and goddesses. I have never seen my parents go on pilgrimage. Neither the elder cousins ​​nor the uncles were interested; If they wanted to go out of Patna, they would go only to the country house, i.e. Uttarpara. However, Dad used to change his sacred thread regularly and eat fried pancakes on the eleventh day of the moon. Kali of Kalighat being our family deity, she was installed by one of our ancestors, so there was no need to take care of another family deity at home like other conservative families. Uncle Pramod and younger uncle Biswanath used to wear sacred thread hanging around their necks like a garland, although they did not obey any prohibition of eating, uncle Sushil sometimes wore the thread and sometimes kept it in the niche of his room. My elder brother and I had our thread  when we were young, but we came on our own before the end of the year. Dad never seemed to have been offended by our lack of interest in family customs or rituals; He never ever spoke in this regard.
    Grandma lived alone in Uttarpara, a auburn twenty kilometres away from Kolkata, across the Hooghly river, in the ancestral edifice, in ruins inhabited by hundreds of wild pigeons and bats, with incorrigibles weeds shooting out of a miasma of tentacles from the salty wind-eroded, moss eaten greenish clay bricks. Here she roamed with a torn napkin around her skinny waist, dried teats dangling on her topless bust. Her companions were single-room tenants using the same dingy dark toilet built probably hundred years earlier, and a couple of black cows she milked with her own hands for a living till her death at ninety four years of age. There were guava and strapple trees within the compound and near the gate, creeper reaching roof directed with the help of ropes unable to bear gourds-- ash gourds, bottle gourds -- festooned precariously overhead. In the courtyard, there was a remnant of a wood-stalk for slaughtering goats and buffaloes : The age-old tradition was  prevalent during Ratneshwar’s time,  to please Goddess Kali. Kali Puja took place during Diwali, which is celebrated every year on Amavasya night in the months of October or November.
    In the unused upper floor rooms there were very old swords, spears and other such items which were used by bodyguards of Ratneshwar, as well as various Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit books, which unfortunately, we did not take interest at that time and were disposed of by Biswanath. Biswanath also disposed of palm-leaf Bengali and Sanskrit manuscripts, Mughal coins and huge brass utensils of Ratneshwar when he moved childless to Uttarpara from Patna. He also persuaded Grandma to legally hand him over the lands owned by the family in Uttarpara and around. On one of the lands he built a brick house in which he constructed small staircases in one of the rooms to reach a tiny sculpture of goddess Kali made of stone. He issued leaflets about the appearance of goddess Kali in his land while building the house in order to collect money for running his daily expenses, which was not much as he was childless. He collected vegetables and cereals from the market in the name of goddess Kali. As the couple grew older they adopted the daughter of his elder brother in law and got her married so that a young man is available at hand to help them. On the advice of Biswanath’s adopted daughter, he got an apartment building constructed on the land, selling off a few flats and shops on ground floor, consigning goddess Kali in Ganges river and installing idols of Radha-Krishna made of silver in one of the rooms. When climbing became difficult for them they sold off their flat and shifted to a ground floor flat at Uttarpara, where uncle Biswanath and aunt Kuchi died. 
    Aunt Kuchi’s family was tenants at Uttarpara house, Her and Biswanath’s affair was teenage love but Granny was not in favour of their marriage because the district and village of Bengal to which they belonged were not known to Granny. Kuchi’s father Foni Ganguly was a famous actor in a mobile theatre company which visited various places for performances. Foni Ganguly’s wife as well as Granny thought that the company had female actors with whom he might be in relationship as he was good looking and had a bass voice. They also belonged to the same gotra as ours and marriages were considered taboo. In Hindu culture, the term gotra is considered to be equivalent to lineage. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline. Generally the gotra forms an exogamous unit, with the marriage within the same gotra being prohibited by custom, being regarded as incest. Uncle Biswanath was adamant and told Granny that if she disagreed then he would elope with her. Granny had to give in. But after their marriage Granny gave the family one day’s notice to vacate her premises. Kuchi-Khemi's mother's name was Bibasna, which meant a lady without clothes. I do not know how her parents gave her such a  sophisticated name, of a woman who  has no clothes on her body? I do not know if Bibasana was a Hindu goddess of any myth.
    Aunt Kuchi had a sister named Khemi who visited Imlitala during her summer holidays. In summer we used to sleep on the open roof beneath the stars with a bedsheet for cover for several of us. One day Khemi and I found each other side by side and started silently kissing. The two of us got hot, the sum of that heat was three times more than the heat of both our bodies. The stars  dazzling in the sky watched our fleshy games, the zodiac watched us, the moon watched us. After leaving Imlitala, such a clear sky was nowhere to be found; Khemi took that sky with her and passed through the smoky diesel factory chimney breathing sky. Whispering, Khemi means Mili: Do you understand that? It's raining, it's raining, it's raining, it's raining, it's raining; Nothing happening to you? You mean, like, saltines and their ilk, eh? Anything in mind? Or chest? I tied the rag to keep my hand moving. In excitement I said, oh, you have tied yours. Why don't you give me that hand?  She allowed my hand to travel on her breasts which were developing as buttons. She caught my dick and I ejaculated. She seemed to know what was going to happen and had kept a handkerchief ready. When I touched her part I found it was tied with cloth. She whispered that she was in period and it was her bleeding time. As long as she stayed at Imlitala we slept side by side and silently kissed and embraced each other. WeI started licking each other's lips. The first day happened by itself. Her style of speaking and the recklessness I have used in my detective novel’s teenage character Mili. I have immortalised her dialogue in the novel :
    Khemi or Mili: You idiot, blood oozes during this period, I will open it tomorrow, then you may touch as many times as you want. Khemi or Mili  loosens her cloth to allow my hand to touch it. I found it sticky. Khemi or Milli wiped my hand on her frock and said, “I see! you couldn't wait for tomorrow. But you really are a bull. I had  once seen in market place,  a big sturdy bull doing that. Very pink. Why? You are fair. The next day, Mili or Khemi said with the middle finger of my left hand, put it here, just keep it, don't move it, but if you move it, I will sleep in another place from tomorrow. I moved my finger and said, what happens when I move the finger? Mili or Khemi put her hand on my button-open pants and began to swell and say, this is, this is, this is, this is, this is, this is mine, this is mine. - Let's see tomorrow during the day. - What will you do again? Want to see hair? Khemi showed up on the terrace, at noon, when everyone was  relaxing after lunch. It was better to see, than to touch.  Feel the tingling near the veins. 
    Before Khemi, at Imlitala ,  a similar affair had taken place with Kulsum Apa. I had the experience that I knew that overdoing it could lead to what happened to me, scattering and suffering. In 1949,  where else could she  find a silent fascinated listener like me, who is addicted to watching her black deep looking round thick lips and cheeks. When the listener is fascinated by the smell of the meat being cooked in her house, when the boy wanted to eat such meat, not cooked in his own house, Kulsum Apa brought a bowl and the boy ate it. She told me never to tell anyone that I ate beef. she wiped my lips with her tongue. I always blackmailed her whenever  meat was cooked, before we started the love game.
    Khemi never came back as she died of pox after going back to Uttarpara. Her eldest brother who had turned rogue like our brother Arun was found murdered in Calcutta port area. Uncle Biswanath had left behind a big metal trunk at Patna. Several years later, when I was in college, cousin brother Ajay, eldest son of Kamala, Dad’s only sister, had come for a visit to Dariapur and encouraged us to open the trunk and find out whether the coins were there. We opened the lock with a hammer and found out, instead of costly things, the box contained many naked photographs of uncle Biswanath’s wife Kuchi, in various poses that we find in paintings of old masters. Biswanath and Kuchi used to sleep in the studio hall of Dariapur house and those photographs were certainly shot during night and prints taken in the darkroom which was adjacent to the studio. The photos were verymuch sex appealing but we decided to destroy them, Ajoy keeping one with him as memento. I never thought aunt Kuchi had such a perfect body and smooth skin. At Imlitala house she never participated in kitchen work or washing utensils. She was always found lying on her cot in Biswanath’s room and whiling away her time. Probably being childless caused depression in her. Instead of taking her to a psychologist, I do not know whether there were any at Patna at that time, she was taken for treatment to our family MBBS doctor Akshay Gupta. 
    After Granny’s death in December 1964, Uttarpara’s Savarna Villa looked deserted except for strange tenants who did not know to whom to pay the rent. It is at this time that Biswanath arrived and occupied eastern portion. After a few years, Sunil, another uncle, arrived to occupy the western portion. Since the building had four staircases intact, the brothers, who were at loggerheads, had separate entries and exits. Seven years after Granny’s death, when the roof of the biggest ground floor room crashed and it became haunted, as cousin Puti, Uncle Sunil’s eldest daughter, uprooted the noose of a heifer and hung herself from the exposed wooden beam of the ceiling to be discovered in the night chill by a tenant who took her to be a flying ghost. Puti was in love with a Marxist revolutionary, dubbed by the government as ‘Naxalite’ who was killed in a staged ‘encounter’. Sunil had three sons and four daughters. Sunil’s eldest son Nilkumar eloped with a girl of lower caste and left Uttarpara for Hyderabad. Sunil was the only uncle who had attended primary classes in school at Patna which drew a railway officer to select him as his son in law and appoint as an employee at railway catering, the job which he liked and got posted at several cities in India. 
    After Dad and his brothers shifted to Imlitala house, ours was the only brick dwelling in the entire slum, the house having been constructed in instalments, each brother and his family got a small room with a common bath  and toilet. Water had to be fetched in buckets by male members including Samir and myself from a roadside tap. Dad got a ten-foot-by-ten-foot room facing west  on the first floor, a cot beneath which our belongings were kept, a wooden packing box used as our bookshelf cum table, and a wall to wall wire for hanging our clothes. The packing box was one in which photographic items came from various suppliers and we got them changed quite frequently, mainly because wood pieces were used for firing coal ovens when dung cakes were not available or there was shortage of coal. Coals were purchased in big chunks which had to be broken in small pieces by Samir and myself.
    The eclectic ideal of the Imlitala family was such that several people came from Uttarpara or other places in Bengal, who were our distant relatives, and stayed for some time with us. Some came to help Dad in his shop, others came when they fought with family members or on their way to pilgrim places. I remember an old person who was addicted to opium. Another named Nitai who had come to help Dad and ate two raw eggs everyday in the morning, who left after a few months and he failed to adjust in Hindi speaking society. Biswanath’s brother in law came to learn photography but stayed for a longer time as by then the Dariapur house was being constructed and he took refuge in it. I was also sent to Dariapur house under construction as it had running water and electricity. Granny’s brother, who lived in Benaras and was reported to lead a life of a sanyasi, used to come to Dad for financial help ; once he came in frail health with a lady and her son and requested Dad to take care of them. He died after a few days and we came to know that the lady was a widow and Granny’s brother had developed a relationship with her. The lady and her son stayed in Imlitala house till the boy became school going and the lady got a job in that school. 
    Dad’s sister Kamala’s eldest son Ajay whom we called Sentuda, used to come quite often ; everytime trying his hand in a business. I remember once he came with a large number of hand held mirrors for sale in the local market. All of them were defective, having bubbles on them. He pasted labels of ‘Belgian Glass’ on those bubbles to hide the defect. Another time he came with broken biscuits. He tried his hand in all sorts of business but failed to succeed. He was ageing and wanted to get married with a girl whose father would allow him to stay with them. Ajay loved his country liquor drinks and evening visits to prostitutes just like his own father Tinkori Halder. When Samir was posted as District Fisheries Officer at Madhubani, he requested Samir to find such a bride for him. Samir, through his office workers, could succeed in locating an uneducated dark complexion girl. The father of the girl, his only child,  was a wholesaler of clarified butter, searching for such a groom for his daughter. A bald headed friend of Samir had to act as Ajay’s father for negotiations of marriage. The marriage went well except that the make-shift father of Ajay was drunk on that night and started talking in his native Bengali of Dhaka, whereas Ajay was from Calcutta. Ajay stayed in his father in law’s house for entire life.
    Ajay’s Kolkata house at Ahiritola  was in more dilapidated condition than our Uttarpara house and there were dozens of members of the clan who lived in one or two rooms. Ajay’s father Tinkori Halder had one room on the ground floor and on top of it a room where all members of the family used to live. The children slept on the floor and Tinkori with wife Kamala on the bed. Since the room was small, some of the children slept below the cot. There were several brothers and sisters : brothers were Ajay, Bioy, Sanjay, Dhanajay, Babli, Tabli and the sisters were Gita and Khuku. Except for Sanjay, none of the brothers went to college. Tinkori Haldar had a fixed routine for his evenings. He would go to a country liquor den, have a few drinks, visit the prostitute he loved and come home with puja flowers shouting Oh Mother, Oh Mother, Oh Mother right upto home. When his house was being sold, including his portion, he committed suicide on a semmer night by jumping from the terrace where all the children used to sleep. Rest of the family shifted to a thatched house in the suburb called Konnogar which granny had gifted to her daughter. Before shifting they got both the daughters married. Gita, the elder daughter, was not happy with her husband as the man was dark and unsmart. One day Gita just eloped with the nephew of her husband, an act which was approved by all in a family meeting of both parties.
    Aunt Kamala’s dwelling being the only place to stay during our visits to Kolkata, the floor of the room meant for guests was also where we sat and ate steamed rice, pigeon pea pulse,and shrimp fried in mustard oil served in brass plates. The toilet was slippery, without doors, and I used to keep coughing to notify my presence to any intruder. The brothers roamed on Ahiritola roads even in their sisters’ clothes. Uncle Tinkori Halder was a famous swimmer in his youth and several of his photographs were hung at the office of a local swimming pond. The cups and shield won by him were sold one by one by his sons to free the room from extra items in order to make room for keeping clothes and other family items.
    On the land gifted by granny the brothers constructed  a house, mainly funded by Sanjay who was educated and had a job. All the brothers had a very small room and a smaller room to cook. Ajay never returned. Aunt Kamala was very angry at Samir as he got Ajay married without involving them. Aunt Kamala had become blind at Kolkata house as the cooking room on the ground floor was very dark, even with a high power bulb which was switched off only during night. She had to spend most of her time in that dark room which gradually made her blind, though she told me once that after looking at a man’s feet with six fingers she became blind. Dhanjay was sent to Patna to learn photography. He was at Dariapur for several years. Dad fundeed him to open a photoshop in another area but he could not succeed. Aunt Kamala reprimanded Dad telling him that he should have handed over the main shop to Dhanjay. He went back to his mother and got a job in a photo company in Kolkata. All the brothers got married except for Bijoy who had a strange dislike for women. 
    Each year aunt Nandarani’s mother, an aged widow of about seventy, used to visit us on her way to Benaras, Haridwar ets pilgrim places. She used to exchange her silver coins with copper and alloy metal coins with Samir, Arun and me. We collected those coins from the funeral processions that passed through the main road which was straight from the square where Imlitala tap was installed. Whenever a funeral procession of a lower caste or business caste passed they used to shout Ram Naam Sat Hai, and we would run to join it in order to collect coins. The person leading the funeral procession would throw coins with rice krispies in front of the bamboo cot on which the corpse was carried. Children of the area collected those coins. The first chair that we purchased was with the money that Samir saved from funeral coins supported by funds from Ma’s kitchen expenses. There was no table in our house.
    Imlitala was a Hindi speaking area, the Hindi being a mix of Bhojpuri, Magdhi and other dialects ; hoochers and gamblers had their nights, no neighbours’ children went to school, women in veils kneaded dung cakes for fuel as well as for sale. The outer wall of our house was used to paste and dry the dung cakes, which our family purchased at regular intervals in order to fire two coal ovens in the kitchen. Nobody knew of tooth-brush paste, we brushed our teeth with fresh coal ash powder using our forefingers. Once in a month we were advised by elders to brush our teeth with salt and mustard oil to make them shine. Dad also preferred Neem tree fibrous twig to cleanse his teeth. All male members had to take bath at the roadside tap. Ma, aunties and sisters took baths with the water that was stored in a cement tank at the corner of the toilet. 
    Uncle Promod’s daughters, Sabu and Dhabu, were married before my birth, prompting him to purchase a male infant from a Punjabi prostitute whom he did not legally adopt and could not decide what to do with as the boy grew up to become a ruffian and mugger at fifteen, exhibiting unabashed scorn for everything Bengali to deculturise himself. Uncle Promod admitted him to various schools but he never took interest in studying and ultimately got rusticated from each school. He was three years junior to Samir but Samir could never recollect the mother of this boy, who was named Arun. Except for Sabu, Dhabu and Samir none of us cousin brothers and sisters knew that he was a purchased brother. We came to know of it when he turned rouge.  I was a few years junior to him and in complete awe of the fearful respect he generated in neighbours. As he reached his teens, he procured a country made revolver spinning on his forefinger. One day he allowed me to shoot at a sitting popinjay – I got my thumb bruised. I learned shooting with revolvers and rifles when I joined the National Cadet Core after entering College.
    Sabu and Dhabu were married to two brothers of a family. Their uncle was a famous criminal lawyer at Patna High Court, but was childless. When a landlord of Gaya was exonerated of several murders in a criminal case, the landlord transferred a large cultivable area and a market to the lawyer. He did not legally pass on his huge zamindari house to his younger brother whose sons were married to Sabu and Dhabu. The aunt stayed at the Gaya property which the brothers would visit for collecting monthly rent from persons who had shops in the market and for sale of crops when they were harvested. The aunt became religious minded and a few sanyasis took advantage in getting some cultivable land transferred in the name of their organisation. The brothers did not do any work which led to their separation in the same building. After several years of court cases they could retain the huge Patna house where an eight storied building now stands. Sabu and Dhabu both learned classical music from Pandit Bulakilal at Imlitala house and introduced uncle Promod to the elder brother which led to Sabu’s marriage to Dinanath. Promod loved music and played clarinet himself. Lots of musical items had been brought from Uttarpara on boats through Ganges river. Imlitala house had sitar, harmonium, organ, tabla, gramophone and gramophone records. After Sabu and Dhabu’s marriage most of the items were not in use. When in college I had tried my hand on violin and organ but left practising because of tough studies.
    I remember Arun whose nickname was Buro – an affectionate name in Bengali families for a lovable male child — brought a whore home with him secretly, double his age, and the thud of the wooden bolt woke up an aunt whose midnight yell pulled out sleepy  adults and children from their rooms, an event sufficient to provoke Dad and my uncles to dismantle the Imlitala establishment. In 1953 we, Dad Ma Samir and myself shifted to the thatched hut that Dad had purchased for construction of an alternate shop. 
    Arun had a sad death, Aunt Nandarani, Promod uncle's wife and Buro’s foster mother, who loved the boy like his own son, on advice from some quack of a sanyasin, devised an enchantment potion made of intoxicant herbs, fed to him weekly with the food items Buro loved to eat, resulting in slow poisoning. He grew weak and dropped dead right on the circle which demarcated the water well which was filled up and closed at the time of constructing our Imlitala house. Aunt Nandarani wailed uncontrollably over his corpse. Uncle Promod refused to go to the burning ghat for cremation. There were discussions as to who should burn the fire and perform last rites. Sabu’s husband was selected to do the job. Aunt Nandarani ordered that everything that belonged to Buro should be consigned on the burning pyre so that all memories are wiped off. The chickpea powder seller lady and Kulsum Apa’s granny also wailed with aunt Nandarani. Kulsum Apa’s granny shouted in full voice and declared that this family has killed the son of Imlitala.
    Uncle Pramod worked as a keeper of paintings and sculptures at Patna Museum. He tucked his shirt inside his dhoti and wore a sun hat.  I sat at the back of his bicycle and visited it during our school holidays. The Museum was not air conditioned at that time ; uncle Promod would sit in his room with curtains drawn and fill a few inches of the floor with water from the tap in his room. As he took his nap I roamed around the Museum halls for hours to become a part of ancient and prehistoric mysteries amid granite apsaras, Egyptian mummies, fossilised monsters, remnants of various Indian kings, going back home with him on his bicycle, the only movable asset of the household, cleaned and oiled in turns by children. I learned how to cycle on it and in 1956 Dad purchased a bicycle for me, enabling me to learn by heart the town’s alleys and joints. I also watched the activities of some visitors. Ladies would touch the penis of a bust without head, probably of Alexander ; gents would touch the breasts of an apsara while passing through. This made the two parts shine and this shine itself attracted others who felt like touching.
    In 1956 I was in college and had a class friend named Tarun whose uncle owned several lorry trucks. We travelled to various Indian cities on those trucks carrying salable items as well as goats, sheeps, cows etc. Transportation of animals was prohibited on trucks from one state to another. The owner of the animals would take them down before interstate border crossing and take the animals to the other side through cultivable fields. The drivers took rest during the day on roadside hotel cots, drank country liquor with roasted chicken and drove during the night. They knew about the villages on the road where young ladies would be waiting for customers to make a few quick bucks, even with the knowledge of their family members. Those ladies, when they saw truck lights from a distance, used to signal by lifting their clothes up to their thighs. They would stop the truck and carry a tarpaulin to spread over grass for a shot. They requested us also to participate but both Tarun and me were scared of syphilis and gonorrhea, transmissible deaseses through sex. Moreover we had our fill of country liquor and chicken roasts which made us sleepy. 
    Imlitala was considered to be a dangerous locality by the Bengali cultural gentry who did not venture to come to our house even if they were friends of Dad or any uncle. Even my  friends avoided the locality. We were thus outsiders to the Bengali culture of the town. We had to create our own happy cultural events. Aunt Nandarani, who came from a family of priests, used to make various types of sweets on auspicious days of Hindu calendar and we enjoyed the feasts. The kitchen, however, was controlled by Ma as Dad was the main earning member of the family. While going to his shop he would hand over a list of items needed in the kitchen to the grain merchant who would deliver the items and the children had to compare them with the list. Unlike Dad, Ma was a nonvegetarian like all other members except uncle Biswanath who also was a vegetarian, and she loved to eat small fishes of various types since my maternal grandfather had two ponds at Panihati, which have now been sold of by maternal uncles, as they found it difficult to maintain after influx of Bengali refugees and forcible occupation of land because of India’s partition. 
    The government failed to relocate most of the refugees who had to resort to forcible occupation of other people’s lands and properties. The West Bengal government wanted to settle them in Andaman and Nicobar islands and convert them into Bengali colonies but the then communist party leaders misguided the refugees for their own benefit and the proposal did not succeed. Later the same communists after forming government, killed thousands of refugees on the island of Marichjhapi at the Sundarbans where the refugees had resettled themselves, built roads, water connection etc. A few who survived the bullets were bundled on trucks and sent outside West Bengal to some arid places for resettlement. I have visited several of those settlements during my tenure as Rural Development Expert and found that the children have forgotten to talk and write Bengali. The refugees who came from Punjab were mostly cultivators whereas the refugees who came from East Bengal were of various castes and most of them did not know how to cultivate land and grow crops. Some refugees had been settled at Motihari in Bihar and I remember Ma was stunned to find a Bengali rickshaw puller as she thought Bengalis could never go down to such a lower level. She started crying on Bari Road as she was not much aware of the political nightmare of the time. 
    Uncle Promod Loved picnics. On holidays our entire clan except  Dad would go out to cook and eat by a slim stream in a mango orchard or near a wellspring. Sometimes other Bengali acquaintances were invited to join the picnics, probably as an effort to overcome alienation from mainstream Bengalis of Patna. One of the ladies or Sabu and Dhabu would burst out singing, invariably a Hindu religious song, as film songs were taboo and Rabindranath Tagore songs considered un-Hindu. Rabindranath Tagore’s songs, novels, poems were banned at Imlitala as Granny and uncle Promod considered Brahmo religion harmful. Tagore entered our house without anybody knowing that the beautiful songs they were listening to were composed by Tagore. 
    Since uncle Pramod, a patient of diabetes, did not have a son when he died – in 1966 during a hectic election campaign for an obscure Marwari candidate — I performed the funeral rituals by setting fire to the pyre on which lay his cold body embalmed by me with clarified butter.  He was a fat man who turned to ashes in two hours in a yelling blaze that licked the horizon on the other side of Ganges river. Satish Ghoshal, our family priest, directed me to collect a few bones from the ashes, which I immersed in the river. This was my first encounter with the beyond, as I was not allowed earlier to accompany Arun’s dead body to the shores of Ganges for his funeral, a plight Satish Ghoshal sermonised not to give importance to as it happens to all when you came to burn or bury the dead.
    Uncle Pramod used to practice homoeopathy and the Marwari family, who had more faith in homoeopathy than allopathy, was his client. Uncle Pramod treated us as well during fever or stomach trouble. The Marwari family used to invite our entire family whenever there was a function at their house, which was quite frequent. We brothers and sisters used to pocket extra sweets to enable us to eat them during the week. Uncle Promod loved to sniff perfumed snuff. Various types of persian perfume vials were brought from Uttarpara, which had become almost sticky in hundred years and kept in an almirah in Sushil’s room. Uncle Promod used to mix one perfume at a time. If any of us children touched a vial he could make just by sniffing him or her and the punishment was a few taps by twigs kept beneath his bed ; the twigs were very old and broke just after a few strikes on the palm. 
    A couple of years later Aunt Nandarani died of burn injuries she received when her cooking stove exploded. I was not allowed to perform the funeral rites in her case as Sabu and Dhabu thought this might lead to a claim by me on the Imlitala property, although their own zamindari building called ‘Sylvan House’ was quite big with a dust road leading up to their main building, there being tall flowering trees  and flower gardens on both sides which gradually disappeared due to neglect and lack of resources. There were guava, jackfruit, and many other fruit trees. I used to visit them and played with my nieces who were a few years younger than me. Aunt Nandarani used to stay on the upper floor and gave the first floor on rent to two families. They belonged to the milkman caste to which the Chief Minister of Bihar belonged. Despite efforts by Sabu and Dhabus husbands, they did not vacate and ultimately the house had to be sold to them at throwaway prices. When I visited the area in 1990 everything had changed. I could not recognize Imlitala in my childhood. Two or three storied brick houses had come up in place of thatched ones. The mahadalit caste families had left and in their place office going middle class other caste families had taken over. Kulsum Apa’s house had also been rebuilt and the adjacent mosque had four minarets with loudspeakers tied thereto for azan;  the domes were painted green with oil paints. Ladies were seen in that area wearing black burqa, eyes peeping through nets. On enquiry I learned that Kulsum Apa has been married to someone in an Arab country after her father’s death ; other members of the family had dispersed to strong Shia localities. 
    Once we four, Subarna, Barin, Tarun and myself decided to visit the area where prostitute of Patna do their business. We did not know the locality but had heard that it was near what is now called Patna Saheb, at that time called Phulwari Sharif or Patna City. Tarun was ready to fund the visit and if we felt like it we should pick up a girl. We did not want anyone to know what we were going to do. We knew that the tongas called khadkhadi which had a cot-like top on which eight to ten people sat for travelling assembled at Sabzibagh for onward journey to Phulwari Sharif. We talked to an old mule cart Khadkhadi driver and divulged our secrets. He said we may hide inside a canopy room on his cart which he prepares for the Bihari bride and groom after their wedding when the groom takes the bride along with him to his house. The cart driver inserted four sticks on four side of his cart. There were holes meant for it. He covered the top of the cart from all sides and we four sat inside so that nobody could see us. We travelled in that position for an hour when the cart puller told us to alight and pointed towards a big gate of a building which looked like some zamindar’s old house, probably not repaired ever. Tarun paid the cart driver who went inside, came back and told us there was nothing to worry about as the girls are all free.
    We went inside and saw ladies of various ages either taking bath at the compound well or drying their hair or gossiping among themselves. They started laughing after a look at us and called for a girl standing on the upper floor verandah. We were directed to go to her as she had completed har bath and performed her puja and had her breakfast. We went upstairs, the staircase being dirty with paan spit and marks of puking. The lady we met was about thirty years of age. She asked whether all four of us will sleep one by one and if so then let us take a boat and go to a hut on the sand ait in the middle of river Ganges as her room was yet to be cleaned. She said that we have to pay the boatman two rupees and she will charge two rupees for each of us. Tarun whispered to us that he could fund only one person as we have to retain funds for returning home.
    All five of us came back and entered the makeshift room atop the cart and went for the rivershore. For the first time had a close look at a prostitute. She was going to apply lipstick when we all at the sametime told her not to look like she looks in the evening. I told her that her eyes were quite big and black. She replied, adoring my chin with left hand, Babua,  eyes were the reason why she was thrown into the fire of this hell. Then she added, Babua, you come again when I become old and perform my last rites. At Imlitala the ladies called me Babua or baby. Her touch was electrifying. But I was scared of sexually transmitted deseases as one of my maternal uncle Chheni’s father in law suffered from unbearable because of STD and had to take heavy dose of opium for relief. Those days intoxicating drugs were not banned and one could purchase from government shops. Chheni was a football player at Uari Football club. His wife was beautiful but bulky and once left home to be found at Tarakeswar station singing Rabindra Sangeet. Another time she was kidnapped and was being carried in a car when police intercepted at the East Pakistan, now Bangladesh border. Their elder son married a very low caste girl who was not accepted by Chheni and told his son to live separately. Chheni’s younger son developed an illicit relationship with an elderly housewife. These incidents made Chheni and his wife quite deranged at old age. I had visited them when they were old and both of them failed to recognize me.
    The prostitute asked us whether any of us had slept with a woman so far as we looked very boyish and innocent. We said we never had the opportunity. She asked whether we were going to pay separately or one of us would pay for it all. Tarun said he will pay. We got down at the river shore, paid the mule cart driver, went down the steps behind the lady and sat on a boat which seemed to be earmarked for the purpose. When we had crossed some distance the boatman looked at us and said slyly, ‘what are you paying for, you should enjoy the trip, kiss her, embrace her, undress her blouse, press her teats’. The lady started laughing loudly and said, the boys are novice and scared even to touch me and you are talking of kissing and undressing. She herself started removing her green front-hook blouse when we had to tell her to stop. Despite our warning she revived har blouse. Both she and the boatman started laughing. Her brown teats scared me instead of titillating. 
    We got down from the boat on the sandbank and walked towards the hut. There were watermelons and cucumbers growing around the hut. The boatman probably was the cultivator and went for tending them or plucking those ready for sale. Who first, the lady asked, and without waiting held Tarun’s hand and went inside the hut. We had nothing to do, found a skull on the sand and started playing football with it. The skull might have been some murdered person’s head. 
    Tarun came out after sometime looking morose. The lady said she had herself undressed Tarun quite slowly but the fellow was so scared that he did not have an erection. We three said that was enough for our experience. Tarun paid the full amount and the boatman took all of us back. The lady alighted at Phulwari Sharif and directed the boatman to take us to Patna town. We felt happy to get down at Mahendrughat near Subarna, Barin, Tarun’s house, as all three resided within walking distance. I took Subarna’s cycle and paddled to Dariapur.
    Two similar incidents had happened later in my life. During my trial at Kolkata an American poet, David Garcia, had come to meet us after raising money working as a cobbler in Greece. He wanted to sleep with a Bengali girl. Saileswar, Bsudeb and Abani were regular visitors to Sonagachhi, the famous red light area of Kolkata and one evening we took David to one house known to them. Seeing a foreigner customer the pimps started accosting our group telling us they have more beautiful girls than Anarkali. We purchased rice liquor from a shop at the corner of the entry lane and went upstairs to a house. The girl’s name was Baby, probably twenty years old. We pooled money and said we would drink in her room and do some touchy-feely. Thereafter the foreigner and one of us would sleep with her. In her room the bed was on the floor on which we sat and drank rice liquor in glasses provided by her. She also drank with us and kept on giggling with our combined touches and kisses. We all except David came out of the room and waited at the verandah. Meanwhile Basudeb and Abani went for a view of other girls. When David came out and Baby asked as to who was coming, Saileswar jumped on her and went inside. Basudeb and Abani had talked to two girls named Deepti and Meera for afternoon sojourns to which they had agreed. Saileswar, Basudeb and Abani had become their regular customers ; probably each of them fell in love with the three girls and used to financially help them when requested. In later years Basudeb used to lament when Baby shifted to a rich person’s house as a mistress.
    Another incident happened after I rejoined my job at Reserve Bank Of India. Employees were on relay hunger strike at the gate within a tent raised for the purpose. I sat beside Shibu Palit, in the tent, who was lying down and smoking. I could make out it was hashish and had a few plumes of puff. He said this was the best drug, the local people and Bengalis are still in prehistoric age taking ganja, bhang, toddy and rice liquor. I told him toddy was the best among all as your health is not affected. Phanishwar Nath Renu drank toddy after sprinkling cardamom powder on it. Shibu Palit informed me that they are going for a picnic to Rajgir on the next day and invited me to join them.
    Eric Page and Mohammad Zohair, two of my colleagues informed that they have formed a group which arranges a chit fund scheme of sex and picnic, and invited me to join as I was not required to join in hunger strike. I enquired about the sex part of it. Eric Page informed that he has purchased a matador van within which the seats on both sides could be pulled to make a bed for the lucky couple when the group is not going out for picnic. When they go out for a picnic a game is played somewhere to enable a person to find out the girl who would be hiding. The person who finds her gets the girl as well as the rest of the pooled fund. Shibu Palit had talked about this picnic cum sex game.
    Next day morning I went to Shibu Palit’s house at Ashiana complex. He was wearing half pants and waiting in the van. He told me to wait and went to pick up someone in a dinghy area behind Golghar. He returned after fifteen minutes with a girl about eighteen or nineteen years old. I had never seen a girl so dark, almost like an African but with an Indian body. She was wearing sky colour plastic bangles in both hands, firoza colour nosepin, black chiffon sari, sky colour blouse, eyeliner applied to eyes, and a garland of jasmine flowers around her coiffure. I wondered how such a lively girl lived in such a godforsaken place. Men hound out beauties from the worst of places. She came into the van and jumped in between us, looked at me directly and said, I have never seen you earlier. Shibu told her that I was a first timer. In a somewhat Hindi tone the girl said that her name was Shefali and everybody called her Tu ; her father was a Behari Brahmin at a jute mill with whom her mother had eloped. She placed two of her hands on our shoulder and shouted Hurray. The van took a sudden jerk and Shibu had to tell her to control herself. But she appeared to be beyond control.
    As per schedule everybody took  rest for the night at Devendra Singh’s ancestral palatial building at Rajgir. In the morning we proceeded for the ruins of Nalanda University at the gate of which Robin Dutta, the group leader for this outing, gave a lecture by starting : “Friends, Romans, fellow workers, lend me your ears; we  come to bury sanity,  to praise sexuality. The evil that men do lives after them, The good is often interred with their bones; So let it be with social rulers. The noble Shefali hath told you she was ambitious; If it were so, it was a life to rejoice, And insanely we have responded. Here, under leave of we hungry wolves and the rest,--”
    Eric Page shouted, bloody idiot stop your pseudo Shakespeare and let us know the programme. Robin Dutta explained that Shefali will enter the ruins first and she has the freedom to change her dress and looks as many times as she likes. Rest or the sex starved will enter after half an hour. Shefali gets five thousand rupees and the one who first finds out Shefali gets her for the night at Rajgir and ten thousand rupees. Once someone comes out he will be disqualified. Shefali winked at me . I thought there probably is no difference between love and perversion. I went inside and watched the perverted part of my colleagues running around in search of a black whose energy was to be sucked by a young man. I was tired in the sun and came out after ten minutes. Abhijit came out in the afternoon holding her tightly. Shefali had changed to an orange colour silk sari, bifocal specs, powdered face, plastic bag hanging from left hand.
    The next picnic was arranged at Sonepur fair. I did not join but had seen the faces of fifty girls in an album which was being circulated secretly in office. They were, I was informed, call-girls and the phone number on photos was that of their pimps since mobile phones had not arrived till then. Only one of them was supposed to be a part of the game, the winner receiving one lac rupees and the girl. The winner would get a room on a tugboat to spend the night on Ganges river. Asim  had won the game but for unknown reasons he committed suicide by jumping into the river at midnight when the girl was sleeping. The boatmen said they did not hear the sound of anything falling in the river.  However, Asim’s diary was found in the couple’s sleeping room, and on all pages he had scribbled Om Ramakrishna Namoh for hundred and eight times each day. The girl was arrested.
    I had helped Nishith, a friend of mine, who had come back from the  short service commission in the army, to get the job of Caretaker in the new office building in which we shifted. Nishith got a flat in the same building and fell in love with Aleya, a lady employee with whom he used to copulate in his flat  during her menstruation days, as those days were supposed to be safe. The girl wrote a big letter to Nishith indicating that she will commit suicide if Nishith did not marry her. Nishith came to me and requested to write a reply as he was from Hindi medium school and did not have much command over Bengali. I wrote a reply on his behalf telling her that she need not worry as parents have been convinced and a date would be fixed soon for marriage. Instead of copying my letter Nishith just signed it and delivered it to Aleya which enraged her. Next day she came in front of my table and in the presence of other employees and loudly said that  the love letter was written by me and  I should marry her ; otherwise she would show the letter to my parents after tearing off Nishith's signature portion. It was really scandalous. Other employees knew that Nishith was having an affair with Aleya and they were meeting in his flat. Aleya threatened that she remembers every line of my poem, in fact most of the girls have had a photocopy of my poem. Aleya said that it would not be difficult to convince my parents as her name features in the poem. Nishith’s parents had to talk to Aleya and her parents to solve the problem. I felt like a rat caught in the trap till they got married.  Somehow the news reached my parents and Ma informed a few marriage brokers who started bringing girls of marriageable age to the office to select one of them. It was so silly that I had to express my anger to my parents.
    In another incident, one day a retired peon came to meet me along with a girl of his granddaughter’s age and informed me that she has purchased the girl out of his provident fund money and married her as his sons and grandchildren were grown up and busy with their families and he feels lonely after his wife’s death. He also claimed that the girl was already pregnant with his child. Since marriageable girls were meeting me, he advised me, I may purchase a good looking fair girl and either marry or keep her as mistress. He was ready to arrange for a selection meeting at his village which falls in Vaishali district, famous for the courtesan Amrapali. I felt that right from peon upwards everybody took me as a lecher after my court case and newspaper reports thereabout.
    My only friend and supporter in office Sushant,  had met with an accident. He was waiting at a road crossing on his motorcycle when an elephant standing beside his motorcycle raised its trunk suddenly and hit Sushant’s head. He lost consciousness and had to be hospitalised for bone resettlement. My school friends Tarun and Barin were busy with their new jobs and Subarna had left Patna after he got a scientist’s job at Sindri. The elephant, I was told by hospital staff, was the same on which prime minister Indira Gandhi had travelled to Belchhi village to meet family members of Kalicharan Mallah, Daso Paswan, Ramchandar Mochi, Mahavir Majhi, Shravan Paswan, Rajo Paswan and others  who were killed by upper caste Mahatos. I used to visit Sushant in the evening and spend time with him. 
    It was the same hospital where my Hindi and Maithili poet friend, and Bengali translator Rajkamal Choudhary would die in 1967. He was a bridge between the Hungryalists and Hindi writers. He was in Kolkata for several years and would take me to the Chinese area behind Lalbazar police station to procure intoxicants and meet Chinese women. These Chinese families have since been shifted to Chinatown in Kolkata to enable them to retain their culture and let tourists visit the place. His father Madhusudan Choudhary remarried a girl, after the death of Rajkamal's mother. Arrival of step mother in his house was the beginning of a tumultuous relationship between Rajkamal and his father. Because his step mother was of similar age as Rajkamal was, he could never relate himself to her in the same manner as he used to see his own mother or his earlier step mother. Prior to Madhusudan Chaudhary's marriage to Rajkamal's mother, he had a previous marriage but did not have a child from that marriage. Being a "mother" to a man just a little younger than her,  Rajkamal developed a complex love relation with his step mother. For this marriage, Rajkamal never forgave his father. To forestall any sexual relations between them Rajkamal’s father took him to the mass marriage of Saurath sabha and got him married. Later, Rajkamal fell in love with his wife’s relative and married her. When he was working as an assistant editor with a Kolkata based Hindi newspaper I had visited his village Mahishi, sixteen  kilometres west of the Saharsa district headquarters . It is a place of utmost religious importance due to Shaktipeeth of Goddess Ugratara. We had gone during the tantric festival of the goddess when buffaloes were slaughtered and the cooked flesh eaten as prasad. It was really carnivalesque with villagers drunk with rice liquor gulping roasted buffalo meat, some of them as well as we two having buffalo blood on our shirts.
    Rajkamal was allotted a separate room in the hospital unlike Sushant who was in the general ward. One day Rajkamal had requested me to bring a packet of condoms for him ; pointing to a nurse he said that she was agreeable. The nurse nodded in affirmation. Next day when I reached the hospital the bed was empty. The nurse said that Rajkamal had died during the night itself. His body was handed over to the first wife who performed the last rites.
    Three
    As any venture uncle Sushil embarked upon was a flop he joined Dad at the photography shop on the main road that shifted later to Dariapur in 1953. The shop which had been opened for him at Chhapra, on the other side of Ganges had to be closed when aunt Karuna, uncle Sushil’s wife developed tuberculosis. In a  room on the ground floor of Imlitala house was given to her, where she lay on the bed on cement floor, our family doctor Akshay Gupta visiting and prescribing whatever medicine he thought fit as tuberculosis at that time was considered untreatable and contagious. She died in that room leaving her husband and two daughters, Dolly and Monu, to be looked after by Dad and Ma. Dad performed her funeral rituals as uncle Sushil did not take much interest.  Dolly and Monu regularly flunked school. Whenever they attended school regularly they brought lice in their hair for which their hair had to be regularly shaved.
    I have recollections of uncle Sushil as a snuff inhaling afternoon dreamer though an artist par excellence. Whatever money Dad gave him for daily expenses he would purchase sweetmeats or fruits and eat on the road as if nobody is looking at him. He, Dolly and Monu had a big room upstairs where all three preferred to sleep on the floor. Uncle Sushil got up quite late and went to Dad’s shop to attend to the work given to him. He and Satish Ghoshal, the family priest, were friends, and loved to watch Hindi films on Tuesdays when the shop was closed. They discussed the beauty and dresses of  heroines which Dad found quite embarrassing. He reprimanded Satish Ghoshal for discussing the beauty of female stars despite being a Hindu priest with considerable knowledge of vedas. Satish Ghoshal argued that most of the Hindu puranas talk of beautiful ladies as goddesses as well as of apsaras who enticed legendary saints with their beauty, even Amrapali belonged to the city where Sushil had a shop, and had enticed king Ajatshatru and his father. 
    At Imlitala house films were forbidden for us brothers and sisters. Arun did not have any interest in films. Samir and his school friends, including cousin brother Ajay, were very much attracted to certain actresses. But there were instructions that all children should come back home before sundown, it was difficult to be absent from home for three hours. During those days Cinema Halls used to have intervals when audiences could go out to pee or smoke or eat something. For them gate passes used to be issued. Samir made arrangements with me that he would watch a film upto  interval, give me the gate pass, telling me the row and seat number so that I watched the later half. Next day I would watch the first half and Samir would watch the second half. Thus we would not be absent from Imlitala house for three hours. English films were shown during morning hours and there were no difficulties watching them as Tarun funded our ticket expenses ; by our I mean four of us school mates, Tarun, Barin Gupta, Subarna Upaddhyay, a friendship which continued during college days though we studied different subjects. Barin had a cycle and he would identify the film to be watched, depending on the sex appeal of the actress on the poster. Barin was expert in whistling and did so in kissing scenes.
    Uncle Sushil’s daughter Dolly was packed off in a negotiated marriage with a relative of her maternal uncles which I could not attend. Dolly died in 2000 at Kolkata after her son in law, younger daughter’s husband died. Monu decided to marry a local non-Brahmin Hindi-speaking boy whom uncle Sushil and Dad did not approve of, so the responsibility of solemnising the marriage in a Shiva temple at a place called Khusrupur in Bihar befell me, I was attired in a pink dhoti and yellow shawl given by Monu’s inlaws, with collyrium in my eyes, applied by them, and performed priest directed rituals I was not conversant with, as they were different from our Bengali rituals. I placed my trousers and shirt in a bag I had carried with myself. It was a mass scale marriage at the temple, there being other couples and their families. When everything was over I took the train back to Patna and changed my dress at the station after washing off the collyrium from my eyes. Monu now lives in Patna with husband, son and grandchildren and talks to us whenever there is a Hindu festival. Uncle Sushil died in 1968 at Patna of a hernia he was too shy to get treatment for, on the day I was getting married at distant Nagpur. Since I had decided to marry field hockey player Shalila Mukherjee my parents did not think it was right to inform me about uncle Sushil’s death. Dolly, who had arrived at Patna to attend her father’s post-funeral rituals, was quite angry with me and had said that I should have married at a later date. After that heated exchange she died without talking to Dad, Ma,  me or Shalila.
    Anil, the brother next to Dad, had a photo studio at Uttarpara at the time of his negotiated marriage with Omiya, a school educated lady who was already in love with a guy living in the erstwhile French colony of Pondicherry, now called Puducherry. She continued the relationship despite her marriage, provoking uncle Anil to abandon his shop and become a recluse. Dad, who  had gone to Uttarpara to persuade him, found hundreds of letters from suppliers and customers lying unopened,  to run the shop and live his life his own way. But he was adamant and said that his life had failed. He could have gone for another marriage but seemed to love Omiya despite having been betrayed. I thought he was nuts when he, along with daughters Khuku and Rakhi came down to live with us at Imlitala house in 1947. 
    Initially the couple was happy. They ran a nursery school in the outer hall of Uttarpara house. There were lots of students. I remember I was once sent to manage the class. The kids were being taught only Bengali alphabets and drawing. The school was named after granny, Apurobomoyee Smriti Vidyalaya, probably to keep granny happy so that she does not interfere. But the school had to be shut the day Omiya’s lover gave a visit to Uttarpara house. Most sad person was granny, who said that at least the house was alive with the children. 
    Aunt Omiya did not give a damn to uncle Anil. She took a teacher’s job at a primary school for small kids and introduced newspaper reading in the family, creating in us a fascination for her. Among the children she had a strange soft spot for me though I should have drawn her hatred as I somewhat resembled Anil uncle. The daughters were not good at studies ; the elder was sent to her maternal uncle’s place to get rid of her array of boyfriends. She married a Kolkata based underworld young man of non-Brahmin caste, a refugee from Assam, as she was pregnant with his son. She could not adjust, came back to Imlitala, and enticed another plumpy young man. They both went to Kolkata and the young man sent the son to Delhi, where he resided with his relative. Later they opened a school for kids and gradually got it upgraded while giving birth to four more sons. Aunt Omiya got her second daughter married to a Doctor who was from Silchar in Assam. I had visited them during their son’s marriage and found that the rituals were completely different. They also loved to eat small fishes stored underground for several months in small bamboo cups. Though I had experience of having eaten various types of meat since childhood, I failed to consider this item to be a delicacy. 
    The frequency with which aunt Omiya visited Pondicherry Aurobindo Ashram, uncle Anil’s dementia, instability, distraction, and mania increased. The couple lived in the same room left by us at Imlitala, husband and wife not talking to each other, a menage of dissent with a window opening inside. He stopped wearing shoes and walked barefoot even in the scorching sun. Washed his own clothes. Stopped eating dinner. Whatever work Dad gave him he took them to Imlitala house and handed them over after finishing. Uncle Sushil used to eat on the road, visit cinema halls but uncle Anil did not talk to anyone and I do not know what he did with the money Dad gave him. He used to address even a small child as Sir or Madam. When Omiya died of breast cancer, after one of her teats were removed, he also developed cancer of the nose which started looking  cauliflower shaped. After Omiya’s death he went back to Uttarpara house and lived on financial help from daughters. When I visited Uttarpara to handover my share to the new apartment builder for a meagre sum of rupees sixty thousand, the tenants who were still there informed me that Anil used to wail for Omiya.
    Unhappy with his three daughters and three sons, after elder daughter Puti’s suicide, Uncle Sunil, who had a catering job in the Eastern Railway, broke Imlitala eating taboo by including varieties of forbidden food into the menu of the children, depending on items knocked of from pantry car he was travelling in. The train would pass through Patna rail station and he would hand over to us a packet containing the items. He had sent his son Khoka to Dariapur for studies at Patna University from where Khoka did his Bachelors in Economics. Khoka went back to Uttarpara and got a job. Uncle Sunil had by then settled himself at a portion of the house. When Khoka eloped and married the non-Brahmin tutor of his brothers and sisters, Uncle Sunil told Dad that it was because of bad company at Dariapur house, meaning me. He got a good reply to this allegation when one of his daughters married a youngman of washerman caste. He got the other daughters married quickly in succession to avoid such eventualities. His two sons flunked school after the departure of the tutor and tried to start a broiler farm in the gloomy rooms of Uttarpara that made the fowls sick and mad. They brothers got small jobs such as cooking gas vendors or shop assistants. Uncle Sunil died on the day after I met him in February 1989, in unbound glee that he was on the verge of getting out of the mess his incorrect decisions had created. 
    At imlitala, Ma was in charge of cooking which she did for twenty persons on two coal ovens made of clay placed on the kitchen floor. Through day and night she sat there beside a large wooden box containing spices stored in phials of used medicines and cereals in tin canisters bought out of a collective fund. She would detect sudden shortages while cooking and haul me or Samir up from studies for an immediate purchase in the smallest quantity, which we would procure in a jiffy from the shopkeeper outside the lane to enable her to complete the dish. Sometimes uncle Promod would like to cook himself when he brought fishes of his choice. Ma loved to apply vermilion on her parted hair twice a day after birth. And her favourite vegetarian dish was dhoka -- asafoetida-flavoured cakes of steamed and grinded chick-pea. Since we did not have electricity, I do not know whether mixies and grinders had been invented by that time. 
    Grinding of every item was done on a big stone with a smaller stone. On the bigger stone marks had to be made with chisel for which a person came every month to do the job. Spices were prepared on the big stone grinder by our part time servant Shivnandan Kahar, on whose back we brothers and sisters climbed while he swayed to and fro pulping turmeric, chillies, ginger, cumin, onion, coriander, garlic and spearmint for an hour or two in the evening before our study time. We had to study seated around a kerosene lantern before dinner. When powdered spices arrived in the market, grinding continued till we shifted to Dariapur as most of the members felt that powdered spices available in the market did not create the requisite taste.
    Each of my uncles had his own time for lunch and dinner, when he ate alone, served by his wife, whereas the children and ladies ate together each on a small piece of mat sitting cross legged, except for Sundays, which was a meat eating day, when lunch was late. We ate goat meat, since chicken, duck, cow, buffalo, rabbit, deer, frog, horse, turtle etc meat were prohibited, either because of family tradition or because we were a Brahmin family. Even those fishes like eel or flounder were taboo as they did not have scales.  We ate some of the meat at cheap roadside restaurants when we grew up and accumulated some pocket money. There was a famous shop called ‘Mahangoo’s Meat’ where we ate all sorts of meat balls sprinkled with poppy seeds and white sesame. Ma never went beyond goat meat though she cooked fowl for us after we shifted to Dariapur. Our neighbour at Dariapur was a bangle seller Muslim family who taught Ma how to cook various dishes of fowl and biriyani. The Muslim family shifted to Pakistan later as they did not feel comfortable in Bihar. 
    Four
    As I have said earlier, Samir, about five years my older, was the first individual of our family to complete school and college, as he was first sent to our maternal uncle’s place in Panihati for studying at Kolkata when Dad decided to keep him culturally incorrupt, though Samir shifted to Uttarpara house after some time when he became friends with young poets and required freedom to smoke, drink and talk loudly which was not a suitable behaviour in Panihati. He studied science in City College, joined Satyajit Ray’s drama group Harbola, and started frequenting joints visited by the reigning Bengali poets of the thirties, about whom he talked to us in bated breath, often brandishing books of verse written in a Bengali diction foreign to our tongue ; not even Aunt Omiya used such words while talking to her guests. 
    Panihati was just a boat ride across the river Hooghly, which is wrongly called Ganges river by the boatmen. Nowadays the boats are run on motor. In my childhood it was plied on oars by boatmen, who were mostly from Bihar and were happy when I talked to them in their language. During my vacations I was sent to Panihati to keep in touch with Bengali language and culture, as also to improve my health, as I was quite skinny, and my health did improve at Panihati as maternal uncles had a huge garden full of fruit trees and two ponds full of various fishes. The maternal uncles were comparatively richer and educated, had a radio, a gramophone, a library full of books in both English and Bengali, read the English daily newspaper The Statesman, a status symbol for Bengalis of upper echelons, talked among them sometime in English, and were interested in political developments. The library walls were adorned with photographs of leaders of Bengal renaissance. In fact I learned about the Bengal renaissance from maternal uncles. 
    Ma was called Bhulti at Panihati and Amita at Patna. She did not know how to read and write when she was married. Once while we were crossing the river on the ferry boat, I remember she jumped out into the deep water, presented us with her memory of cross current swimming, and came out with tiny transparent crablings crawling down her un-coiffured hair.At Patna, every time she went to the bank with Samir or me, to withdraw from her savings, she misspelt Amita in her laboriously practiced signature. Ma was scared of pox inoculation, locking herself up in the lavatory whenever the municipal doctor arrived for the annual prick.
    In 1948 I was withdrawn from the Catholic School and admitted to the Bengali-medium Ram Mohan Roy Seminary, a Brahmi Samaj school, primarily, I learned later, because Dad came to know we were having a prayer class everyday at the Catholic cathedral of the school, meeting with folder hands Jesus Christ in agony in flowing Italian marble surrounded by azure-tipped candle flickers. I was showing how to cross the thumb while praying to my cousin sisters,  which gave away the news of Bible class. I used to tell them stories from the Bible as well about Moses, Exodus, Ten Commandments, Abraham, Christ etc. Dad did not have high opinion about Brahmos though, as the sect had been advocating against idol worshipping. Ma did have weakness about Brahmos as maternal uncles had photographs of Brahmo leaders on the walls of their library. But this might have added to the source of my religious pacifism which I had gained from the lower caste inhabitants of Imlitala. I do not consider myself an apostate or atheist and may probably define myself as vaguely Hindu without much to do with religious rituals, gods and goddesses. I still remember the prayer we used to say before class everyday;
    Our Father in Heaven Holy by your name 
    Your Kingdom Come
    Your will be right on earth as in heaven 
    Give us today Our Daily Bread 
    And forgive us our sins 
    As We Forgive those Who Sin Again 
    Come Do not bring us to the test 
    But Deliver Us From Evil
    Amen. 
    As soon as the prayer was over, everyone ran to their class. On the first day a  sister-nun took me by the hand and led me into a classroom. I don't know what the 'Sin' thing was then, I still don't know. Now all I know is Gilt. 
    The Catholic School to Ram Mohan Roy seminary was a non healing journey of cultural hiatus for me, because of the schism that still invades my poems, novels, drama and other writings. Doe-eyed nuns carrying a bleeding Jesus made of soft marble through the bazaars of Patna float in my dreams even at this age. Like the Catholic School this school was also coeducation where I met Namita Chakrabortyl, an upper class girl who also doubled as librarian and introduced me to Brahmo poets and writers : that is when I started reading Rabindra Nath Tagore, Jibananada Das, Sukumar Ray and others. Crush for her will lead me to a greater journey in scholarship, literature and knowledge. She had dimpled cheeks like Kulsum Apa. 
    At Ram Mohan Roy Seminary the ‘Anandaloke Mangalaloke’ song before class had been written by Tagore, as told to me by classmate Tarun Sur, who directed me to shout along with others because the entire school is booming with this prayer. In English translation the song would be somewhat like this:
    You are honourably present with the halo at the blissful world.
    Your majestic appearance gorgeously fills the sky,
    The mortal world coiled around your adorned feet.
    The Sun, Moon, the planets, stars anxiously drink and bathe
    In your everlasting beam, with incredible speed.
    Springs dance down the earth, what a beauty
    Flowers, leaves, melodious sound add to colours.
    Ever new stream of life continues to flow day and night,
    Your kindness is reflected in life and death without rest.
    Love-affection, kindness, respect softens the heart,
    Your raining consolation cools down.
    What a grand celebration all around, revere the whole world
    In the carefree, omnipresent shelter, where beauty is wealth.
    Ram Mohan Roy Seminary, a three kilometre walk everyday, sun or rain, had boys and girls of same lower class milieu as that of mine to whom I was initially embarrassed to divulge my fleabag Imlitala residential area considered infested by criminals, deterring classmates to visit me at home, until I shifted to Dariapur house. I did not have personal friends for long and learned to adjust to my loneliness, Samir always at Panihati, Arun away with his ruffians, other cousins very junior to me. Sari-clad girl students were there in my class but the mystery seized me late, when I came close to a girl named Anjali, who left the school leaving a lengthy letter informing me that she is being sent to a newly built religious Hindu school in Nabadwip in West Bengal. I can remember three other sari-clad girls with effort : Hashi, Juthika, and Bijoya, probably because of their colourful attire, big teats and buttocks. A classmate named Rakshit used to bring a pencil cutter sized mirror to enable us to look at their teats bursting out of blouses. 
    Lack of a cricket bat, white dress, shoes of my own did not give me much scope  to have a place in the school games and I could not do well in football either because of my weak physique, so I found my way into the library and reading room, Namita Chakraborty chaperoning my interest in school editions of Homer, Edmund Spencer, Miguel de Cervantes, Shakespeare, Voltaire and Sanskrit classics compendium, finding finally in the last year of my school text writings of six persons who changed the condition of my loneliness : George Gordon Byron, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Byshee Shelly, John Keats, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Unfortunately I carried impressions of these poets for a long time and have been criticised when I started writing poems in Bengali. Except for Tagore, the Bengali poets in the text had only moral sermons to deliver, whereas Hindi poets talked about greatness of the creator in a never-changing rhythm. I learned later that some poems and stories had been included by writers who were members of the syllabus committee. After the death of T.K.Poddar, the principal of our school, his son became principal, and teaching Bengali was discarded as the school could not get Bengali teachers. The only Bengali teacher, Karmakar,  who continued for some time was a Brahmo and had to be busy with marriage etc rituals of his community. T.K.Poddar used to wear dhoti on his pyjama.
    In the final years of school I made friendships with three boys who were themselves unable to make friends, Subarna Upadhyay, Barindranath Gupta, and Tarun Sur. This is a strange way of connecting people ; you just become friends with certain men who suffer from the same strength and weaknesses as yours. Subarna could not afford to have a cricket uniform, white shirt and pants, and was removed from the team though he was a good bowler because of his six feet plus height. Barin was a myopic. Tarun a short and weak boy who talked little but was from a rich family, his ancestors being liquor suppliers to the East India Company. We sat at the shore of Ganges river, talked about whatever we knew, pooled resources to watch Sunday morning English movies, ate at cheap restaurants, and roamed about from camp to camp during the three day festival of the goddess Durga. Barin had a good voice, sang Tagore and Atulprasad songs at the river bank and old film songs at a locale full of palm trees out of town where toddy was available quite cheap. Subarna played music with the ring on his finger on the empty toody pipkin. After getting drunk we all joined the song in nasal tone, imitating Sachindev Burman :
    O bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney re bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney 
    Jalaye chandero baati
    Jege robo sara rati go
    Jalaye chandero baati
    Jege robo sara rati go
    Aami kobo katha
    Aami kobo katha shishirero shone re bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney 
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney
    Jodi ba ghumaiya pori
    Swapanero patho dhori go
    Jodi ba ghumaiya pori
    Swapanero patho dhori go
    Tumi nirobe chorine jaiyo re bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney 
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney
    O bhromora
    Aamar daal jeno bhange na 
    Aamar phool jeno bhange na
    Phooler ghoom jeno bhange na
    Tumi nirobo chorone jaiyo re bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney 
    Jalaye chandero baati
    Jege robo sara rati go
    Jalaye chandero baati
    Jege robo sara rati go
    Aami kobo katha
    Aami kobo katha shishirero shone re bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney 
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney bhromora
    Nishithe jaiyo phulo boney
    For the main three days of the Durga Puja festival, Subarna wore saffron, white and green shirts stitched out of discarded silk national flags of earlier years supplied to his father’s office each year by the government. His father was an engineer in charge of a high and huge tank that supplied drinking water to the city. When I shifted to Dariapur and Dad had yet to bring his old shop to Dariapur, we four assembled to avoid the rain and strong sun. We were joined by uncle Biswanath’s brother in law Buji who had come to Patna to get trained in photography. Bujida used to cook for himself and me. During the night we had noticed that our Punjabi neighbour brought a new prostitute each time with him. Bujida would put off our lights and climb his stairs, knock at his door to ask for his torch. After a few nights the Punjabi neighbour understood our motive and the moment we knocked at the door it opened and just in front of us stood a completely naked young woman. He told us, ‘take this torch with you, you both will get more light from her than any torch’. Bujida, while coming down, had said, we should have accepted his offer, it is only because of you I was in two minds. Whenever he was annoyed he would repeat his anguish to have lost an opportunity of free sex with a good looking young woman. After completion of his training in photography, Bujida went back to his native place Kotrong and opened a photographic shop and married a girl who was dark and not good looking because he had opened the shop with the dowry he got in his marriage.
    In 1948, I experienced the punishment of ‘kneeling down’ at the Ram Mohun Roy Seminary, on the verandah outside Hindi Sir's class, as he found out that my Hindi books were soaked wet in the rain. He had  said, "Learn to respect the state language, you donkey ." It was raining outside the verandah, but I did not know that Hindi was not the state language but an official language. I had seen donkeys standing quietly, soaking wet in the rain, and looking at people with umbrellas, dancing and laughing.
    The first stand-up on the bench was experienced by me in 1949, when in English class, while the teacher was explaining Wordsworth's Daffodils poem, I showed him  dried daffodil flowers kept in my book which nun Irene had brought from Ireland. I  said, "I know, sir, took the dried flower out of the fold of the book." The teacher said, "There is no place for a joker like you in my class, stand up on the bench." He explained that the purple flowers of water hyacinth were called daffodils. When I went to Europe, I saw daffodils on the side of the road, obviously they were not like hyacinths, and red flowers which Europeans call poppy, but not poppy flowers that produce opium. In 1949, at  Dariapur , in the evenings when drunk and stoned  bullies would start shouting and screaming, I would try to read my books even in a louder voice. As a result  the outside shouting would  stop. Our house in Dariapur was on the edge of a ruined cemetery; one Allu Mian, the caretaker of the Muslim  cemetery, used to make huts and do business with his two daughters at night. Their grooms used to work as brokers. That was my higher standard of learning abuse after Imlitla’s primary abusive words.. 
    In 1950, I was knocked unconscious in the Rammohun Roy Seminary, and the scars are still there. Signs of being infected. After reading  negative criticisms, I applied  my hand on the forehead and forgot the negotiator. When my father died, I was not present  during his funeral proceedings. After a few months, I was so depressed for not being at Dad’s bedside during his death,  that when I saw a saloon on the road in front of me, I went straight in and got my head shaved. I stood on the street and cried for him. Standing among the pedestrians and crying, it felt good, which was not the cry of collective mourning. I had tasted ice cream for the first time one day at school after we were tired after playing hide and seek in the evening. Tarun purchased a stick of ice cream and told us. “Today I am going to teach you all what is meant by communism. Take this ice cream and lick just once and pass it on to the next friend seated beside you and at the end let it come to me.” We were eight friends seated in half circle and licked the ice cream as much as we could ; Tarun did not get much and was happy with the stick left at his end.
    Overreading strained my eyesight even though there was electricity at Dariapur. I got specs in 1952, the year of my sacred thread ceremony when our family priest Satish Ghoshal gave me a mantra of goddess Gayatri.. My head was shaved and I wore a saffron Dhoti. I was required to perform puja twice a day, observe celibacy, eat only vegetarian dishes, no cereals on the eleventh day of the moon, no talking while eating out, and the sacred thread continuously on my left shoulder. I tried for a couple of weeks, gave up thereafter, just what Samir had done. Subarna was also from a Brahmin family and he continued to have the sacred thread entire life. Barin was from the Vaidya caste who got their sacred thread during their marriage. Tarun was from the lower caste. Once when we travelled to Kolkata on his maternal uncle’s truck and stayed with Tarun’s family, they arranged a separate place for me to stay. Tarun’s maternal granny came to meet me with lots of fruits and sweetmeats, placed them at my feet and paid obeisance. I was not accustomed to such behaviour even at Imlitala where we were surrounded by lower caste families. Tarun explained that the old lady continued with her custom and I should not bother. Thankfully such  practises have disappeared from urban Bengali society, though it still persists in far away villages despite left front rule for three decades in West Bengal.
    Performance wise I was average in High School, completed in 1954. Then I left home with Tarun, hitchhiking to Kolkata on his uncle’s truck illegally carrying old and sickly goats for slaughter and sale as meat. As interstate carriage of animals was prohibited by road transport, we feigned ourselves shepherds and herded the goats on the roadside grasslands, heigh-going them at the border checkpost into West Bengal where the empty truck was waiting after showing documents of an empty truck at the crossing. We took a bath at a village well in a bucket full of coldwater. At sundown, stopping at a Punjabi dhaba or roadside open restaurant, we ate handmade bread fried in sheep lard, p[ickled onion, and liquor made of mahua – my first taste of this intoxicant. The driver bargained with a village whore, went with her into the paddy field under a neap-tide eroded moon while we fought phantoms inside the dim-lit truck, after the driver offered us to go with the whore first. 
    During 1954-55 we made several such forays in bus, train, steamer, or jeep, visiting Allahabad, Jhansi, Kanpur, Ranchi, a hundred to a thousand kilometres from Patna. Anjali used to write me letters at Tarun’s address but she never gave me her own address. Amongst us Tarun married early and died also early, of leukaemia, though his father once visited Dariapur to tell Dad that Tarun died because of his association with a lecher like me. Tarun’s father had come across a letter written by Anjali after his death. Dad told Tarun’s father, I still remember, that it was Tarun who misguided me and I left home several times without telling Ma or Dad as to where I was going. Dad remembered my disappearance from Dariapur home and had talked to my daughter about it. Once my daughter Anushree, she was four or five years old, had asked me why I used to leave home without telling Dad or Ma. Strangely, neither Ma nor Dad admonished me after each of my return. But since then I have visited thousands of towns and villages in India. 
    My first two years in college were a real academic disaster. At school I had studied physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, history, geography, along with Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali and English. At college, on Samir’s advice, I opted for economics, political science and mathematics, though I was interested in English. I found interest in none, devoting most of my time at various libraries of the town gobbling up the history of literature of various languages, history of art, philosophy, and the lives of poets : Western and Eastern names started reeling in my brain. I felt shy of meeting Namita Chakraborty, who had become a teacher in the same school in which aunt Omiya was teaching the kindergarten children. I could not gather courage to visit Imlitala to meet Kulsum Apa either, just to tell her that I have entered college.
    For a year I joined the Infantry Division of National Cadet Corps run by the college as they visited several places for setting up camps and training the cadets in revolver and rifle shooting. We visited several places and enjoyed our collective visit to jungles before sunrise for shitting as the makeshift bamboo latrine was dirty. We sat in a circle and competed for the loudest fart. The mug with which we washed our arse had to be used for drinking water, tea and evening sweet rice-milk. Six or seven of us were accommodated in tents, practice marches in morning and evening and once a week we went for training in foring of two types of rifles and a heavy revolver. One of my classmates was so short and thin that the instructor had to press him down on the ground as everytime he fired the rifle he was pushed back because of the thrust. Even then I felt alone. After returning from camps I felt rootless, obscure, anonymous. My exam results were weepable, mainly because Dad,  Samir, Ma and my school teachers thought I was a good student. I was pulled down by mathematics as I did not like the subject and lost concentration whenever I tried to solve the mathematical problems.
    In 1956 I got admitted in Bachelors of Arts Honours in Economics, regular subjects being English, Bengali, Hindi, and politics. At Dariapur, an exclusive room on the first floor was at my disposal now, a steel table without drawers and a wooden chair without handles, a three feet wide bed, and three wall almirahs for college books and other books of my interest. These would become full when I would get introduced to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Beat poets through Allen Ginsberg. I also got world classics from Prof Howard McCord of Washington State University who met me and my poet friends Debi Roy and Subimal Basak at Kolkata’s Ramkrishna Institute of Culture in 1965. Unfortunately, most of the books were stolen by young writers, during my thirtyfive month's absence due to the obscenity trial of my poem Stark Electric Jesus, who came to meet Ma in search of my whereabouts, but actually to steal books. Some of them told Samir after a few decades that they used to steal books from our home.
    The complete ground floor was used as a photoshop by Dad, with a studio having powerful bulbs the size of a football each, as photography was not invaded till them by electronics. Because of the electricity those bulbs consumed once they were switched on, the power line would snap and Dad had to send someone to the electricity company for an early connection. When Ma shifted from Imlitala to Dariapur, Dad would also inform Ma from downstairs that he was going to switch on the bulbs. 
    At Dariapur everybody slept on their respective mattresses spread on the floor. Dad was a few inches short that five feet. He purchased a five feet cot at a cheaper rate from our family priest Satish Ghoshal. After the death of a person  a ritual is performed on the 13th day. This ritual is performed to place the departed soul with the ancestors and God. During this ritual items are offered to the departed which he loved in his life. These items were collected by priests. One family had given the cot alongwith other things to Satish Ghoshal which he sold to Dad. Since most of the cots Satish Ghoshal used to get were not more than five feet, we did not purchase for other members and continued to sleep on quilt-mattresses spread on the floor. I purchased my own cot out of the money that I saved from teaching two school going boys at their home. Samir, when he got a job purchased a bigger cot for himself and his wife which was mostly used by Ma as Samir remained out of Patna till retirement being posted at various district head quarters as District Fisheries Officer. He used to bring lots of fresh fishes in his office vehicle when he came to Patna.
    Alone in my room I felt despair for no known reasons and attempted in March 1956 to get a few crystals of potassium ferricyanide from the downstairs photo studio used for making sepia prints. The pent up emotion withered of its own. To keep me absorbed Ma purchased a gramophone and some records containing songs of Rabindranath Tagore. I added some records of Hindi songs on Barin’s advice. Music did not become an industry till then. ্Playing gramophone records  became necessary to avoid the sounds of fighting between various groups of ruffians who also used weapons. Sometimes the Sunnis fought with Shias when police arrived and intervened. Once something was written in Urdu on a donkey which triggered a threeway fight between Sunnis, Shias and Hindus.
    I climbed this fence in 1956 to graduate in Economics. I can never memorise, so I would write a whole book over and over again to remember. Due to this writing, I could  impress a dimpled-cheeked Nepali classmate named Bhubanmohini Rana, a Mongol beauty wearing thick glasses; She requested for the copied books as my handwriting was good. We two became friends, Bhubanmohini agreed to my offer of kisses, whose name is Rano in the novel 'Rahu Ketu'. Only women know the magic of making a pulse. The subtle secret of repeatedly saying "I hate you" while having sex. I was a whirlwind in the previous birth, I will be a graveyard in the next birth. Many events will pass by, let go, as well as unimportant events will suddenly assert themselves with a blow, however, the chronological sequence of time does not seem urgent. 
     I wrote a poem in English for her, that is one of my last English love poems. Bhubanmohini was the only student in my class who drank liquor. She drank costly foreign liquor. Once I gave her rice liquor in a medicine phial and she gulped it straightway, Later, I talked about the  incident to Hindi writer Phanishwar Nath Renu, who said, “what have you done, do you know how powerful the Ranas are in Nepal, if they come to know about your affair, they will bury you alive”. I knew Phanishwar Nath Renu,  a famous Hindi writer  since 1950, who was injured in Nepal when he was fighting the Ranas, as a result had been admitted to a nursing home in Bhomra Pokhara, Patna, right in front of Sylvan House of my elder cousin sisters' in laws palace. Latika was a nurse there who fell in love with him and got married. Renu didn't know that I had started writing. After Samir's and my arrest in 1964, he found out, and regularly wrote about us in Hindi newspapers and magazines, while the Bengali newspapers and magazines were attacking us at that time. Renu also inspired S.H. Vatsayan Ajneya, who  took the pen for us. In Renu's book "Bantulsi Ka Gandh '', he has discussed our literary movement  in an article titled "Rampathak Ka Diary ''. I used to go to his house in Rajendranagar often in the evening to drink wine or toddy. I used to take marijuana with me. Renu was a rebel from the start of his authorial careerer. In 1942 he took part in the Indian Freedom Struggle. Later he participated in the Nepali revolutionary movement in 1950 which resulted in the establishment of democracy in Nepa Many young Hindi poets and writers also used to come. When they arrived in the morning, they used to drink palm toddy, by spreading cardamom powder on the drink. Renu died in 1986. Latika was taken by Renu's sons from first marriage  to their village, where she died of old age; she was childless. All his life he had raised the voices of the oppressed people in his novels and short stories. The way peasants’ issues were handled at the top level, worried him. He believed that people who are not aware whether paddy is a plant or tree, make policies for the farmers.  
     I kissed Bhuvanmohini in the dark of the evening, when I became sure that she was drunk, a state in which she allowed me to kiss her. After the kiss she slapped me so hard that I was scared someone might hear the sound of the slap and come to find out what was happening at the river bank . The sound might have reached the oarsmen of the tugboats who were ferrying bananas, lychees, mangos from the opposite shore of Hajipur. In return for the kiss, I wrote this poem for her called 'Exchange a Kiss': 
    Let your perfumed hallo 
    Fall for a few seconds 
    To enable me in picking up 
    Memory of Your Glance 
    You left in the notes I lent you
    Not for nothing! 
    At least you should Kiss on the exchange, 
    Even flying will do. 
    After listening to my poem she exclaimed, “my God, the cultural bastard has become a poet!” Thereafter she always kept me at a commoners distance, never allowing me to touch her queeny complexion, even while taking the notebooks from me, as if she was doing a great favour. I felt like a lecher, always getting attracted to girls with dimpled cheeks. I remember an incident with another teenage dimpled girl named Shefali who belonged to a refugee family staying in a forcefully occupied house, at Panihati whom I used to send Christmas and New Year cards to, as I was sure she had never seen such cards. Strangely, she knew who was mailing the cards to her and the cards reached Ma through my maternal uncles. But none of them ever talked about my shenanigans. 
    The years 1957-58 were the period of my introduction to poetry in a big way. I stumbled upon Bengali poet Madhusudan Dutt, who exemplified moral violence in his epic work ‘Murder of Meghnad’ in such deft rhyming that he proved somewhat curative for me — a stunning perceptual accuracy that instilled purpose. There was something beyond experience in him I became enamoured to. I hero-worshipped him, read the story of his turbulent life, allowed my scanty beard and moustache to grow like him, for which Subarna, Barin and Tarun made fun of me. Madhusudan embraced Christianity at the Old Mission Church, Kolkata, in spite of the objections of his parents and relatives. He experimented ceaselessly with diction and verse forms, and it was he who introduced amitraksar, a form of blank verse with run-on lines and varied caesuras, the Bengali sonnet—both Petrarchan and Shakespearean—and many original lyric stanzas.. 
    Ma found out that I was trying to write and infomed Dad, who instead of scolding  gave me an expensive diary of Agfa-Gevaert Company in 1956, and that's when I started composing poetry. When I found out that I wanted to build a collection of English language books at home, Dad would ask me to make a list of books. I would go to the bookstore and pick up the books and get them. Samir used to bring Bengali books, especially poetry books, from Calcutta. Later I also read a lot of books and magazines from foreign friends. During the Hungry Movement, the Calcutta police came to arrest me and took my books and threw them all over the house. They smashed the glass cupboards in the shop. The old costly sari of Ma’s marriage was torn from the fold when her  wedding trunk was opened with an iron rod. Police could have very well asked for the key. But when the police took me by the shirt collar and handcuffed me, I saw Dad in a state of shock, which was not normal. As a child I ran away from home several times; Back then, Dad didn't seem upset; He would not ask me anything in this regard. Later, he told my daughter that I was running away from home without informing them.
    Five
    My memory of India’s liberation movement is strewn with opaque scenes of Ma waving a tricolour in a crowd of Bihari ladies at Patna, horsemen ploughing through a procession, a fat lady donating her bangles to Gandhi under a green canopy, a leader in marigold garland, and a burned junk of a 1942 van on a road crippled with monsoon weeds. Ma told us a story about uncle Pramod one day came rushing with the news of firing and death of students who were trying to hoist the Indian flag at the Patna secretariat not far from his office. It was the morning of 11th August 1942, three days after the Quit India Movement was launched. Uncle Promod had described that around  6,000 students rushed into the gates of the erstwhile Patna Secretariat. They bore no arms and had a singular objective–to hoist the flag on the building of the Secretariat, without causing any damage–neither to lives nor the public property. It was also a reaction to the imprisonment of eminent Gandhian Dr Anugrah Narain, when he tried to unfurl the national flag in Patna. But the British were firm in their resolve to sabotage the movement. Their Military Police, under the command of the District Magistrate W G Archer, was tasked with nipping the movement in the bud.The Force tried to keep the students from reaching the Secretariat until 2 in the noon, but despite the resistance, the students marched on. Archer knew their strength was unmatched. He decided to open fire.But alas, the Brit Magistrate had forgotten that the men in his own police were Indians.When the Bihar Military Police and the Rajputs put their guns down, the British decided to use the loyalty of the Gurkhas against the students. They did not fire on the crowd directly. Their shots were measured and targeted at the group which broke away from the crowd.They wanted to kill the one bearing the flag. But the spirit of the men was such that when one flag-bearer was gunned down, he passed the flag on to his companion. The companion too was pushed to the ground by the barrage of bullets. And like flies they fell, one after the other.By the time the gunshots stopped, all seven were dead. Martyred in the name of the flag they wanted to hoist atop the Secretariat. A sculpture of those gunned down has been installed in front of the Secretariat. 
    Patna Secretariat had a clock like the Big Ben and the person who operated the machines was known to my Ram Mohan Roy Seminary classmate Tarun Sur. One day in 1952  he took us to the top of the secretariat where the clock machine was installed. We waited for some time and saw how the bell struck eleven times. We could see the entire office complex from there, though not the Ganges river. 
    When the British quit in 1947 I was eight years old, a student in Catholic school about to leave and join Ram Mohan Roy Seminary. I remember, most of foreign nuns and priests were leaving India along with the British rulers. Sweets were distributed by the school on the day of Independence. My Catholic school had the presence of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and saints in their premises and in the adjacent church, Ram Mohan Roy Seminary had none. If Hindu boys wanted to celebrate the festival of goddess Saraswati, they had to gather at the house of a Hindu clerk who used to install her in his house for a day. Samir had started worshipping goddess Saraswati at Imlitala after his thread ceremony due to which I did not go anywhere else. Samir maintained this habit till his death but I am unable to explain as to why I gradually lost interest in organised religion. 
    From the talk among elders I could make out that Dad had no good opinion of Gandhi, did not forgive Jawaharlal Nehru, who he insisted was responsible for the partition of the country and eventual plight of the Bengalis. He highly esteemed Subhas Chandra Bose, the nationalist leader, and believed that Gandhi and Nehru had conspired to evict Bose from leadership. But he thought that murder of Gandhi by Nathuram Godse was unnecessary as Gandhi had become irrelevant after Independence. Other uncles also did not have much knowledge or what was going on in the country, though uncle Biswanath used to make fun of Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, wife of the last viceroy of India, based on gossip among the customers who visited our photoshop. He talked of open marriage of Edwina and Mountbatten, which he explained was a form of non-monogamy in which the partners of a dyadic marriage agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded by them as infidelity, and consider or establish an open relationship despite the implied monogamy of marriage. We failed to understand the relationship until we grew up. He also made fun of many leaders of the Indian National Congress party, who used to visit our shop to get hundreds of copies of their stylised portrait photographs for distribution among their followers and reporters. Discovery of electronics, computers and mobile phones have obviously been a boon for politicians and their publicists.
    We did not have photographs of any politician at Imlitala or Dariapur. Sabu and Dhabu’s Inlaw’s house had photographs of the British King and Queen Victoria, which was very strange as the family was staunch supporters of  Hindu Mahasabha, a Hindu nationalist party. Leaders of Hindu Mahasabha used to gather in their house and we were informed to enter their house through the side gate or not to visit during certain periods. 
    Pre Partition communal riots I do remember. Relatives from undivided Bengal had started to arrive at Imlitala house during 1946-47, whom we had not met earlier but our elders were known to and seemed happy to meet them after decades. There was a hush-up discussion about killings, we children could not make out for what purpose as our knowledge on such subjects were limited to ghost stories. Gradually it became clear that Hindus and Muslims are killing each other, but I could not make out why since relations were peaceful at Imlitala. Both Hindu and Muslim family members gathered at the tap square to fetch water. We purchased duck eggs from Kulsum Apa’s house as usual. Dogs of Hindu area were whiling away yawning time just as dogs of the Muslim area. When guests started talking about burning hutments, kidnapped teenage girl, religious howls in their village, shrieks, mutilated bodies lying in fields, vultures in the sky, people being chased by gangs, army patrols, caravans proceeding towards nowhere, I felt that something was wrong beyond Imlitala. 
    Dad had taken on rent a flat in the side lane of his shop in front of Bihar National College in which his shop helper Ram Khelawan Singh used to stay. We called him Dabur as he was earlier a worker in Dabur company. Dabur had to visit Imlitala house everyday for lunch and dinner. Though he was illiterate he knew by heart certain lines of saint poets such as Kabir, Rahim, Dadu and others. Since he was a servant, not authorised to scold us, he would be using lines from those poets in order to identify our mistakes. For housing the new guests who arrived at our place for shelter, the flat meant for Dabur was also used for them. Thereafter it became a regular place for housing distant relatives who came as  guests from Bengal, annoying Dabur who had to adjust with them.
    The seriousness of the situation percolated down to us when Dad informed us that he may have to keep the shop closed for some days and purchase our Durgapuja dress and shoes would be delayed. Dad used to go to his shop through either of the two roads : Gola Road surfaced with granite blocks or the dusty Bakarganj Lane. He had a fixed Muslim tailor in the Lane, and the members of the tailor family were all deaf and dumb. Probably as a favour, Dad had selected that family for the dresses of his brothers when things were peaceful and the relationship continued after children were added to our family. Dad would purchase in bulk the same cloth for all members of the family so that no member felt discriminated against. We had just to go to the tailor shop, they would take measurements and stitch our shirts or kurta or frock. Only I had another set of shirts and pants for my school uniform. We did not communicate with them as we did not know how to. Our dresses were ready in time before  Puja each year and this set of dresses was the only set for the entire year. But from 1946 onwards the system had to be discontinued as the tailor family, scared of riots in Bihar, left for Karachi where they had a few relatives. Dad replaced the Muslim tailors with a Bengali one whose products were not liked by any member as a result the system of a fixed tailor was discontinued. Similar to dresses Dad had a fixed shoe shop from where we had to purchase our shoes ; this was also for the entire year till the next Durga Puja. Samir used to use his shoes as goal posts during football in the nearby lawn with Imlitala boys and forget to wear the shoes while returning home. There had been occasions when Samir had to go to school without shoes. Ma had told me to go with the football team so that Samir did not forget to wear his shoes while returning home.
    It was Samir among the children who came to know that communal riots were occurring between Hindus and Muslims in Bihar as a repercussion of the killings of Hindus in Kolkata and a place called Noakhali in East Bengal. From him we came to know about Kolkata killings which started on 16th August of that year ; that for the Indian Muslim community a Direct Action Day was declared by their leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who wanted a separate country for them. Samir had the benefit of reading newspapers at Hulas Babu’s house. He was told not to discuss these matters with us children in the presence of our guests. Though the riots did not effect Imlitala, the urchins started annoying the dogs of Muslim area by shouting this slogan at them “Puri Kachauri Tel Mein, Jinnah Beta Jail Main.” After the country was partitioned a new slogan emerged for the urchins of Imlitala, composed by Hulas Babu, “Jawahar Lal Gelai Bangal, Tukra Karke Karlai Kangal.” Samir had gathered information that someone named Suhrawardy was responsible for the 1946 Calcutta Killings, referred to as the "Butcher of Bengal''.
    One day, when aunt Nandarani was hospitalised for a tumor operation, Gandhi was murdered. I learned of it in the evening sitting inside mosquito netting and completing class work, as uncle Pramod told everybody in a hushed voice. Dad was worried because Samir was to be sent to our maternal uncle’s house for admission at City College, Kolkata, after his matriculation in 1949. From our maternal uncle’s house at Panihati he was required to commute daily from Sodpur to Sealdah station and then on foot to City College. Sealdah railway station at that time was a site of refugee ‘settlement’ in the aftermath of Bengal’s partition. From 1946 to the late 1960s, the platforms of Sealdah remained crowded with Bengali Hindu refugees from East Pakistan. Some refugees stayed a few days, but many stayed for months, even years. Sealdah was a very busy railway station that uniquely shaped the experiences of partition refugees.T he railway platforms of Sealdah provided these refugee residents with certain opportunities. Many preferred to stay at Sealdah instead of moving to any government facility. However, even for the most long-term residents of Sealdah, it remained a temporary home, from where they were either shifted to government camps or themselves found accommodation in and around the city. The plight of these refugees were the first fount of our anger that catapulted our thoughts to a movement which came to be known as Hungryalism. On his way to college Samir had seen that both within and without the station buildings refugee families were living clustered together in filth and misery compared to which Imlitala slum was paradise and the dead body carriers tying together several male and female dead bodies of refugees being carried away for mass cremation. 
    Partition brought unknown Bengali families and their lingo to our surroundings. I will know more about the scattered refugees in India during my tenure as a rural development facilitator. In Bihar, these Bengali  refugees were first set up in a camp near Paschim Hazari area. They were then relocated to the 46 refugee colonies spread across West Champaran. Bihar still has 115 refugee colonies. West Champaran has the maximum, followed by 38 in Purnia and 13 in East Champaran. Many of the Hindu refugees from East Pakistan settled in Bihar are yet to be granted land and have no source of income. In a state in which caste plays a major role, these Bengali-speaking people are struggling for recognition. Each of the displaced families were given two types of land -- five acres for farming and 18 decimal to build a house, or four acres and 18 decimal land. They were given voting rights only  in 2015. Most of the refugees from the then East Pakistan belonged to the communities of Namasudra, Jalia Kaibarta, Sunri, Dawgarh, Pond, Bhimali, Mochi etc. Those communities were recognized as Scheduled Caste in the then East Pakistan. On their migration to the territories of India and settling in the State of Bihar, they were entitled to be declared as Scheduled Caste people and get the benefits available to the Scheduled Castes. 
    At Ram Mohan Roy Seminary just a couple of refugee students joined our class, Arabinda Ghosh and Mohan Rai. I developed friendship with Arabinda and visited his camp and was dismayed to find that several families were accommodated in makeshift bamboo rooms on a platform which earlier was a fish market. Even the smell persisted. The toilet was common and they had to take baths in the open. I met his father who came to know I lived at Imlitala and said he was working in a tin factory near our locality. From Arabinda I came to know that his father was a school teacher at Faridpur in what is now Pakistan and had to flee after their house was looted and set on fire, as a result he could not collect his certificates, degree and other documents.
    One day Arun came running and told us ‘someone is hanging, let us go and see, the entire Imlitala has gone there to find out who was hanging and why’. I accompanied him and found out that it was Arabinda’s father who had committed suicide by hanging. But I wondered how he climbed on that high beam. His stiff body was swinging two ways, once left another right. I had written a poem on the incident :
    Someone is hanging
    Arun said, “come, lets go and see, at tin factory someone
    Is hanging in circles.” I ran with him, hoping to see magic—
    They cut canisters and straighten them with a wooden hammer.
    How does the thin person wearing a shirt and dhoti climb so high ?
    Wearing specs ! I noticed carefully and exclaimed, “Hey Brother
    He is father of my class mata Arabinda ; because of partition
    He had to flee from Faridpur, used to teach at a school there,
    Had to leave behind his certificates etc in their burning house
    That is why did not get any job, at last the sounds of
    Beating tins told him everyday, “What a shame ! What a shame !”
    How did he climb so high ! Collecting the rope from tied tins
    Prepared a noose and now hanging, taking turn, once left
    H…i…n…d…u…s…t…a…n… then right.. P…a…k…i…s…t…a…n
    H….i….n….d….u….s….t…..a....n….P….a….k….i….s….t….a….n
    Arabinda left school after that tragic incident. I had visited the makeshift camp but Arabinda’s family had left. I found him many years later. That too at Uttarpara. He was entering a cinema hall. I thought he must have adjusted with life like millions of other partition affected refugees. 
    Not until 1956-57 was I able to get out of several self-contradictory opinions and confusion about Indian politics of our family members and allow the formation of my own ideas and views, clashing then with Dad and other uncles. Samir had the benefit of staying at Panihati where the maternal uncles regularly read newspapers and periodicals and mixed with local politicians. The leftists of various shadows were emerging in West Bengal due to refugee pressure. But Samir’s progressive and liberal leanings had been worrying our family eldes for quite some time. One day Samir had a heated discussion with Sabu’s husband Dinanath who was a rightist as well as communally inclined man, having huge cultivable land in a Bihar village named Tarwan. 
    Dinanath’s house was palatial. Samir used to organise dramas on assembled cots on which we brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews performed various plays. Since Sabu and Dhabu had command over various musical instruments we performed several plays by Tagore. Historical plays were also performed. But it had to be stopped after Samir’s friend Niranjan got an electric shock while connecting wires. Since we had a lot of space in our Dariapur house, uncle Pramod started an ameteur drama group after his retirement when aunt Kuchi’s father who was a famous actor in a professional Kolkata company came to visit us. He had come alone ; his wife Bibasana did not come with him. They staged mainly nonpolitical works, Hindu mythologies . There were no women in the group and some actors with somewhat feminine voices acted as female characters. Dad’s shop was closed for the weekly holiday on Tuesdays. Members of the group rehearsed their parts on Tuesdays only. Voices of silky goddesses or woolly monsters barged into my study upstairs in gargling voices, characters in beards of jute with silver painted wooden swords and tin crowns delivered dialogues in nineteenth century textbook Bengali occasionally interrupted by a sudden spurt of harmonium followed by a line of a song. There were lots of moustaches-clips which were kept in a room along with artificial weapons, smelly dresses, shoes for kings made of cloth and jute painted in black for women characters. 
    I never heard Dad singing or humming, nor other uncles. Uncle Pramod who had a sort of holiday gaiety, had a clarinet of his own and used to play it every week at Imlitala, though due to irregular use it had gradually become junk. Aunt Kuchi knew some imitation bharatnatyam. Nandarani Sang religious songs which everybody listened with folded hands. Ma did a little bit of one line when in a good mood.  That's all. My indulgence in music had to wait till a gramophone and records were purchased at Dariapur.  Samir, before he left for studies at Kolkata, sang  Ye Duniya Toofan Mail, a Hindi song from the 1942 movie Jawab in which the heroine and singer Kanan Devi sang it: that’s the name of a fast train of those days.
    Travelling from Patna to Uttarpara was a nightmare. None at Imlitala wanted to go to Uttarpara unless it was absolutely necessary. Grandpa used to travel by tug boat in those days on Ganges river upto Allahabad and from there to Delhi on Yamuna river. At that time there was information panic about the band of thuggees roaming on grand trunk road forcing him to avoid road travel till Allahabad, His travel to various places in present day Pakistan must have been for days and nights as he tagged his entire family with him. Probably the princely states might have provided their vehicles and boats. At Uttarpara house there were western dresses of grandpa which Samir and I wore for a long time. There were saris made of jute which were called koushiki which granny wore in winters. 
    Everybody who had to get to Uttarpara, first went to Howrah and took a passenger train back to Uttarpara. Obviously travel had to be in third class, the lowest and cheapest during British rule as Dad was not able to fund higher class travel.Third class consisted of plain carriages with wooden benches having insufficient space or facilities for sleeping and without lights, fans, toilets or even bars on the windows at first. These had doors opening outside, instead of inside, as was the norm in those days. Indians usually travelled in these and the coaches were filled with dirt and filth. They were like the general second class compartments of today, but only far worse. Dad talked of travelling next time in Inter Class which was better than third class.
    Fourth class was abolished by the expedient of providing benches in the carriages, thereby reclassifying these carriages as Third class. Consequently, the existing Third class was then started to be provided with cushioned seats and renamed as “Intermediate  Class” or  “Inter Class' '. These were, more than often, of five berth variety, with a central lower berth. This was possible owing to the width of compartments, there being no corridors. This gave more seating space during the day, which also meant they were more crowded than the First or Second Class compartments, which were very rarely overcrowded. Intermediate Class also had cooling fans but toilet facilities were of the Oriental variety rather than the Western style! Inter class was seen to be a class between the Second and Third, providing an economical form of travel with better seating and bit of better comfort for those Indians who were better off than the poorer majority who could only afford the lowest class of accommodations, and where they would not be bothered by the 'low-class' travellers travelling in Third class. 
    During British rule, First class and Second class were generally the domain of Europeans, although very wealthy Indians did occasionally travel in First class. The class system of the British Period as enumerated above, continued till 1955. During 1955, First-class was abolished and the erstwhile Second  and Inter classes were renamed as First and Second respectively, Third remaining Third. I remember, when Ma, Dad, Samir and I travelled to Uttarpara, Dad shove Samir, me and Ma through the window which did not have iron bars in a jam packed third class compartment. It was full of luggage and passengers, no space to drop a pin. I hoisted myself throughout the night on a gunny bag from which fresh potatoes peeped out. 
    Later a Janata Express was introduced which had only Third Class compartments. An extra coach used to be stationed at Patna for passengers to be joined to the main train. Whenever any member of our family went to Uttarpara, I would go to the railroad station a few hours in advance, occupy a berth in the compartment attached to the train, and keep a space for them so that they could join me about half an hour prior to departure. The train was invariably late, sometimes hours together, and the afternoon heat was unbearable as the fans were switched on only after the coach  was attached to the main train. Most of the trains ran on steam engines and that might be the reason for their delay. Samir, after he joined City College at Kolkata visited Patna only once a year to avoid train journeys. Travel might have been the main reason why elders did not bother to go on pilgrimages.
    Six
    My result of a B. A. in Honours Economics turned out quite good though I did not get the first position. A professor said that a lot of caste politics are at work in the University. Being a Bengali it would be difficult to secure first position. I was satisfied with my result but in later days when I entered the employment market I found out that securing the first position gives a boost to one’s curriculum vitae. It was easier to get admitted for an M.A. in the same subject in Patna University, where in the beginning of 1959 I got a glimpse of Toynbee, Marx and Spengler. Pages of their books had been removed in several places with the help of a blade in the copies available at the University Library. I went to other libraries, took notes, revelling in Spenglarian prophecy taking off from celebration of decentralisation espoused by Bakunin, Kropotkin, Godwin and wrote a hundred page postmodernist treatise, The Marxist Heritage. For the moral vacuum laid bare, the printed book gave me shivers. Moreover the responsibility of publishing the book was given by Samir to his poet friend Shakti Chattopadhyay, who was a drunkard and got the book printed on cheap paper with a dirty cover. I was annoyed with everything related to the book. I visited Shakti Chattopadhyay’s house at Ultadanga, Kolkata, and dunked all copies in gasoline and set them on fire, allowing Spengler to haunt me till I launched our Hungryalist movement with Samir and Debi Roy.
    Samir got a fisheries officer’s job and was posted first at Dhanbad where I met his poet friend Dipak Majumdar who inspired me to read about philosophy of history. Samir was then posted at Bhagalpur where he stayed with a few bachelor friends one of whom was Biplab Bandyopadhyay who got married to a girl named Dolly whose marriage Samir attended at Chaibasa. There Dolly’s elder sister Monti fell in love with Samir after listening to him about poets of Kolkata and their activities. Samir got attracted to her and got himself transferred to Chaibasa, at that time a tiny hilly township of tribals surrounded by green sal, sesame, and teak trees splashed in spring with scarlet splendour of kapok and kino flowers. He took on rent a two-room thatched hut on a hillock touching the moon. Distant cool nights flickered in the villages below amid the sweet aroma of hand pounded tribal rice, roasted pigs, faint drum beats, sparking laughter of Santhal and other tribal women. During the day fowls fought each other with knives tied to legs, a gambling sport, and overloaded ricketty buses passed by. I visited Chaibasa during vacation, and again after completing my M.A. The results were exemplary in view of my preparations. The caste factor did not allow me to top the batch and some professors again egged me to approach University Syndicate to re-evaluate my papers. I did not get into the caste politics of the University.
    Samir wanted to stay at Chaibasa to be in touch with Monty and decided to marry her younger sister Bela. Dad had no objection as he did not know the reason for Samir’s sudden decision to get married. When Monty was asked by Samir’s poet friend Shakti Chattopadhyay as to how she was maintaining a balance between her husband and lover, she replied that she has informed her engineer husband that Samir was a man of literature and she was in love with him and she did not want to desert her children and husband. Monty and Samir maintained this strange platonic balance lifelong. Bela knew about it which made Samir somewhat dependent on her wishes and orders. It was some sort of a family straight out of Emile Bronte fiction with the gentlemen having eight daughters and two sons. I thought it better to keep myself out of the reach of the ladies though Bela used to bring her sisters one at a time to enable me to get involved.
    Ma and Dad never knew about Samir’s involvement with Monty though Shakti Chattopadhyay had written about the affair in his novel ‘Kinnor Kinnori’. Though they were sometimes surprised by the behaviour of Bela. They never enquired as to why Samir got himself transferred to Chaibasa quite frequently even after getting married. When Samir constructed a house at Kolkata and resided there after retirement, Monty used to arrive at his house as a guest along with her children. After Ma’s death, Bela seized Ma’s gold and silver ornaments, prizes of grandpa received by him at various photo exhibitions, property documents etc. She threw away the portraits of aunt Nandarani, Omiya and granny painted by Anil as well as landscape paintings by Pramod. She also threw away the large photographs of Tolstoy and Tagore. She dismantled Ma’s puja table and did away with the small idols of goddess Saraswati and lord Ganesha – Ma had become a little religious at the end of her life. All these things happened during Ma and Dad’s absence from Patna as they were with me at Lucknow. Ma died in Lucknow due to a heart attack. I feel that I am responsible for her death. When I visited Patna after her death I was stunned to find that attempts had been made to erase her memory from Dariapur house. Samir probably suffered from guilt and kept quiet.  Since Samir had installed his elder son on Dad’s photoshop and did not allow Dad to take his regular seat he left Patna and went to Kotrong to live with Biswanath and Kuchi. When I went to meet Dad at Kotrong I found that Dad also believed in the tricks of Biswanath regarding the supernatural power of goddess Kali in their room. Samir was worried that Biswanath may trick Dad and get a legal document signed to get Dariapur house transferred in Biswanath’s name ; he went to Kotrong and brought Dad back to Patna.
    Dad was not happy at Patna and wrote letters to my wife and daughter about his treatment by Bela. I was posted at Mumbai at that time and both me and my wife were office going and the children were school going. I thought who would look after Dad in our absence and did not bring him to Mumbai, a decision for which I repent whenever I think about him. Dad had directed my wife and children to write him letters at Sabu-Dhabu’s address so that Samir and Bela could not read the letters. I used to send him money at Sabu-Dhabu’s address. When Dad died I was on official tour at Bhubaneswar and could not attend his funeral. About a year later I felt very depressed and got my head shaved in memory of Dad. When I visited Dariapur after Dad’s death I found that his memory has also been erased by Samir’s son. His studio had vanished and stacked with photo items. The name of the shop was changed. Most of the side doors of the shop were blocked with bricks. 
    I am getting carried away remembering Ma and Dad. Let me return to my University. After my disastrous start as an author I indiscriminately stormed through whatever works I could lay my hands on : Rimbaud. Poe, Baudelaire, Apollinaire, Pound, Eliot, Rilke, Mallarme, Mayakovsky, Lorca and obviously the thirties poets of Bengal , Jibanananda Das, Vishnu Dey, Buddhadev Basu, Premendra Mitra, Samar Sen, Amiya Chakraborty, Sudhindra Dutta, whose books Samir brought to Patna to add to my personal library. He also brought little magazines run by mentors of various groups.  Surrealism thrilled me. I could imagine myself on the streets of Paris, Madrid or Moscow with a young Andre Breton or Jean Coctau. Samir published the first collection of poems of Sunil Gangopadhyay from his first salary as a Fisheries Officer.
    From the notebooks I maintained, Samir copied a couple of poems and got them printed in Krittibas poetry magazine in 1959 which was edited by Sunil Gangopadhyay and funded from time to time by Samir. I feel quite embarrassed even now for these poems as I wanted to do something historical, an entry with a bang, an event to remember in literary history, which I eventually did in 1961 with launching the Hungryalist movement. 
    My perception of Bengali literature was that it had a place in the sun. notwithstanding its treatment in Western academic circles and the media as a language of a handful. A Nobel prize to Tagore was the last glory in 1913. I wondered about the limitations of Bengali not being talked about  in international literature as French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese were, though some of those countries had less population than Bengali speaking people. No doubt the Indian government was spending millions to sponsor Hindi which was not my mother tongue ; something had to be done in Bengali literature itself. I felt.
    I found that most of the editors of literary periodicals, called ‘Little Magazines’,  were not conversant with international writing standards, read very little, detested the avant garde, and had contempt for experiments in prose and poetry. Bengali novels, mostly pulp fictions, thrived on the market of half-literate ladies. Poems were time servers, filling up spaces for which no advertisement could be procured. Bearded gentries in kurta-pyjamas stitched in handloom cloth, which Allen Ginsberg copied when he stayed in India during Sixties, with dirty sling bags passed for poets, even the films invariably depicted them in such fixed attire. The entire corpus after Tagore had been a soft option for the creative writer, articulated in a language not spoken in a common Bengali household. Most of the poets till then were from upper castes, that is, Brahmin or Kayastha from urban areas. Poetry magazine edited by Buddhadeva Basu, Sunil Gangopadhyay and Aloke Sirkar abstained from publishing works by lower caste writers. 
    I was a tortured soul after watching the plight of refugees at Sealdah station while going with Samir from Panihati to Kolkata. Samir was also very disturbed. We knew we could not do anything alone. We did not have money. We  did not have access to reputable periodicals. We did not have any group ; Samir was not in favour of associating Krittibas with our vision. We did not have a mentor or a sponsor. I did not know famous writers and poets in Kolkata. Samir thought those intellectuals were urban and did not have a background such as that of Imlitala. 
    I found a queer name in a little magazine in early 1961,  Mr Haradhan Dhara, traced him out in a notorious slum at Howrah on the other side of river Ganges on the shores of which Kolkata stood. The slum was stinky, winding through a buffalo-shit lane on to a hay-roofed mud tiled clayhut with small cane windows nibbled by termites. In the middle of the room lay a high squeaky antique bed beneath which were stacked old magazines, newspapers and books gathering dust. Further magazines were sprawled around with no room to move about except for a folding chair offered to me.  De Roy, which was Haradhan Dhara’s pen name, belonged to lower cultivator ‘Kaibarta’ caste, had worked as an errand boy in a pedestrian restaurant, as a taxi washer, did not have any knowledge of world literature till then, had written a few poems rejected by reputed periodicals, and could not speak English well. Could be a genuine anchorman, I felt. His parents, like mine, had never gone to school. He himself had completed school studies and was thinking of completing graduation after sometime. Presently, he was employed as a clerk of the Indian Postal Service, a Central government secure job.
    We sat together on the clay verandah beside heaps of gourdseed and pond snails which were to be shelled by his mother for sale in the market. There were other such one-room huts around a clay compound the residents of which did not have an attached bath and had to take bath outside the compound in a tube well meant for all, the toilet also was common and the residents were required to put their washing mug outside the door to indicate that someone was inside.
    I gradually explained my views of unleashing a sociocultural and literary movement to be called “Hungryalism”. I had concentrated on the word ‘Hungry’ from Chaucer’s prophetic line “In the sowre Hungry tyme” with a Spenglarian perspective of the assimilation of cultures and ultimate decline thereof in view of the overwhelming infiltration of an alien ethos into Bengali culture. Oswald Spengler wrote a book ‘The Decline of the West’ in 1918, in which he wrote that the fate of civilization was a matter of ‘destiny’. He saw society moving in continual cycles of growth and decay. The Roman Empire rose to power and then gradually collapsed. The British empire grew strong, and then deteriorated. Spengler believed that social change may take the form of progress or of decay, but that no society lives forever. Arnold J. Toynbee, the noted English historian, has also propounded a cyclical theory of the history of world civilization. He maintained that civilizations pass through three stages, corresponding to youth, maturity and decline. I told him that Hungryalism was a postmodern idea, not a philosophy, but rather the apotheosis of self-expression, which accepted contradictions as a part of the human condition. Not a theory.
    Debi Roy was happy with the coinage from a different perspective, as he thought Hunryalism suited for economic nightmare of a post partition society suffering from unemployment, shortages of food and clothing, inhuman living conditions, hunger of body and soul, mind and being, essence and existence, matter and spirit, known and unknown.
    Samir discussed the idea with poet Shakti Chattopadhyay who was staying as Samir’s guest at Chaibasa continuously for three years, drinking mahua-made liquor in the evening and writing love poems for Samir’s sister in law Sheela. Samir brought Shakti to Patna and I invited Debi to come down. We four sat together and discussed our future course of action. It was decided to print one-page handouts initially, when and as money permitted, for distribution, not for sale, bringing gradually within our fold like minded poets, writers, artists, activists as a beginning of a multicentered formlessness pervading all diversity where the individual was whole and the whole was individual.
    In April 1961 I got a job in the Reserve Bank of India with a monthly salary of one hundred and seventy rupees ( ten dollars at that time ) which required me to write owners' names on gilt-edged bonds. From this work I was shifted to another type of job which forced me to leave the Reserve Bank of India. At that time rotten, soiled, torn etc bank notes were recounted before destruction and put into an incinerator for burning. The notes were so dirty and fungus ridden that I started suffering from various ailments. There were risks involved as well. It was difficult to keep a watch on those young men who used to recount sample packets before destruction because one never knew whether some banknotes were being pilfered. When I left the job and joined Agricultural Refinance and Develop Corporation, some fellows were arrested by the Police for pilfering banknotes in an organised way. Based on the bank notes burning experience I wrote my first novel in 1994 titled ‘Dubjaley Jetuku Proshwas’ which was published in ‘Haowa49’, a literary periodical started by Samir in early nineties after he constructed a house at Kolkata.
    It was difficult to get Bengali scripts printed at Patna at that time since the printing presses did not have arrangements to get Bengali matters printed other than funeral, wedding etc cards. I was forced to write in English, a language in which I did not have command, to get a thousand copies of handouts printed for distribution at Kolkata’s intellectual joints. First such handout I wrote was on poetry in November 1961, and sent the entire lot by mail to Debi Roy. He distributed it in the Albert Hall Coffee House on Kolkata’s College Street, Language departments of Kolkata University, Colleges, newspaper offices and residences of poets and writers. 
    The effect of the first handout was stunning as it started a swelling of the ranks and provoked editorials and literary headlines in newspapers and periodicals. Free distribution created a magic as compared to selling magazines, though some people thought them to be advertisements of some sort, crumpled the handout and threw it away. The Hungryalis – later Hungrealist – bulletin went from one page to twenty pages, in Bengali, in quarto to scroll size, woodcut designed cover to offset, black and blue prints to hand paint, when Samir and I both started sending money to Debi Roy for getting the bulletins/manifesto printed at Kolkata. 
    Between 1961 and 1965 about a hundred bulletins were released by participants, of which nine are preserved Sandip Dutta in the archives of the Little Magazine Library and Research Centre and a few at Bangla Academy, Dhaka. Samiran Modak, a researcher, is trying to collect as many bulletins as possible from various sources in order to compile them in an anthology. 
    Poets, authors, artists, activists who had joined the movement are Subimal Basak, Rabindra Guha, Sankar Sen, Arupratan Basu, Basudeb Dasgupta, Ashok Chatterjee, Pradip Choudhuri, Binoy Majumdar, Amit Sen, Amrita Tanay Gupta, Sayyad Mujtafa Siraj, Bhanu Chatterjee, Utpalkumar Basu, Tridib Mitra, Alo Mitra, Falguni Ray, Satindra Bhowmik, Sambhu Rakshit, Tapan Das, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Anil Karanjai, Subhas Ghosh, Karuna Nidhan Mukhopadhyay, Ramananda Chattopadhyay, Subo Acharya, Saileswar Ghose, Debasis Bandyopadhyay, Sukumar Mitra, Mihir Pal, Arani Basu, Arunesh Ghosh and Abani Dhar. Subimal Basak did the woodcut covers and line drawings, Anil Karanjai and Karuna Nidhan painted posters. The posters and line drawings on paper were regularly pasted on the walls of Albert House Coffee House and Presidency College.
    I had drafted the manifestoes on poetry, prose, politics,  religion and obscenity for the Hungryalist movement, reprinted at that time in ‘Kulchur’ 15, USA, edited by Lita Hornick, Salted Feathers 8/9, Portland, USA edited by Dick Bakken and Lee Altman, Klactoveedsedstene  edited by Carl Weissner of Germany. Carl Weissner later edited ‘Intrepid #10’ along with Alan De Loach which included our works.
    The Bengali press had started writing against the movement. Here is a news item published in the 16th July 1964 issue of The Daily Jugantor : The news of the staff reporter in the daily Jugantor under the headline 'Beatlemie in literature'.
    "The real place of the politician in modern society will be pointed out - that place is somewhere between the corpse of a prostitute and the tail of an ass. - The announcement is made by a group of people who identify themselves as a literary group. However, they also have politics and this quote above is one of the ten point objectives of that politics that has been declared. Their declaration of poetry is even more striking - ‘the collection of poems is more beautiful and enduring than the wife. A married woman becomes a cover under a two-day-old book, but the woman of poetry clings to you day after day. 'The young people in Calcutta who started this movement of 'extra adventure' and 'ignoring guardians, society, literary decency, even the police' in 1971, have dubbed themselves 'Hungry Generation'. According to their spokesperson, the movement has attracted at least 50 young people in Kolkata in the last two years. They range in age from 18 to 32. Among these young people there are people of different levels like employees, professors, students etc. They hang out in a few restaurants, bars, sometimes on the sidewalk in central Kolkata. They have no aversion to cannabis etc. The police are keeping a close eye on the gangsters in search of sewage pantaloons and needle shoes, while the Hungarians object when they identify themselves as Beatles who are going to pull marijuana from the Ganges. (Because they are intellectuals). Global Yoga: This group's communication is global. Photostat copies of their bulletins can be found in the New York Public Library and the British Museum. A well-known London publisher has decided to publish a paperback collection of their poems. The Citylights Journal of San Francisco (No. 1) has published a manifesto on their poetry. Mexico's Elcarno Emplomado introduces them to Spanish speakers. Angry people from England and Europe contacted and applauded the Hungarians. Who pays to run this movement? They say the money comes from a sari-wearing minister, Jharia Mining Workers Association, Baruipur Exercise Society, Jogmaya Club, an actress, an influential person from Pakistan and a secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha. Bibliography: Members of their group publish bulletins on literature, politics, society, and practice literature in a few Little magazines. The names of some of their members' books - 'Triangle of flesh and us',' Ghost talk with horse ',' Broken car porch ',' Devil's face ',' Round darkness', 'Bastard', 'False cable', 'Rape' etc. Their works are not published in any of the literary magazines which were once started by them. So one day they went to a paper office and said with a few foolscap papers - this is a story that needs to be printed. They sent a shoebox to 'review' the book review column. "
    Reacting to the political manifesto The Daily Jugantor wrote main editorials on two consecutive days. 
    On 19th July 1964 the editorial had the Title: 'No More A City of Processions’ : "The long-standing distrustful politics in West Bengal is busy chewing its head today. Is it because of this weather that a kind of pessimism is emerging in the society, whose appearance is like a drainpipe mastani, whose voice is being terribly expressed in the whistles of the street romeos and the ‘frivolity’ of literature? It is not surprising, therefore, that the worshipers of these perversions, who bear the name of 'Hungry Generation', want to point out the place of politicians 'somewhere between the corpse of a prostitute and the tail of an ass' in utter disrespect. Is this the curse of the infertile politicians or the curse of the sick society?”
    Tabloids had headlines such as ‘Hungry Dynasty in Anglo-Bengali Literature ( Desh ) ‘Angels are dangerous’ ( Chatushparna ), ‘Is it irresponsible madness’ ( Darpan ), ‘What is waywardness in literature and why’ ( Amrita ), ‘Sexual perversion in the name of literature’ ( Janata ), ‘Erotic lives and loves of the Hungry Generation’ ( Blitz ), ‘Vagabond community’ ( Jalsa ). In order to react to these senseless headlines we printed REMOVE YOUR MASKS on hundred paper masks of various animals and demons and sent them to the editors of these tabloids as well as to various persons considered to be leaders of Kolkata’s cultural establishment. In another lot we got printed this slogan inside Bengali wedding cards : FUCK THE BASTARDS OF GANGSHALIK SCHOOL OF POETRY. There was no such school of poetry but poets who used nature as their subject got offended. The same card invited persons to visit Lindsay Street to view a topless exhibition. Nobody thought that a wedding card could be sabotaged in such a way.
    Hungry activists had gathered in Khalasitola to celebrate Jibanananda Das's birthday. Abani Dhar got up on the table and started singing this song with dance, which he used to sing while working on the ship, with the foreign sailors. Everyone present, even some from the Hungry Movement, thought the song was nonsense, because they did not know such words in English. The journalists who came to cover the news also thought that the song was an insult to the Hungry Movement. The next day, The Statesman broke the news. In that week's Amrita magazine, a two-page joke was written under the headline 'Lost Generation', with a cartoon of Abani Dhar.
    The person who used the term 'Lost Generation' in 'Amrita' did not know that the phrase was coined by Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T., who took refuge in Paris in the twentieth century. S. Elliott, John dos Pass, E. E. Cummings, Archibald McLeish, Hart Crane and others were called members of the Lost Generation. The song is sung to a special tune by Mozart:
    Ging Gang Goolee, Goolee,
    Goolee, Goolee Watcha
    Ging Gang Goo Ging Gang Goo
    Ging Gang Goolee, Goolee,
    Goolee, Goolee Watcha
    Ging Gang Goo Ging Gang Goo
    Hayla, Hayla Shayla, Hayla Shayla Hayla Ho-o-o!
    Hayla, Hayla Shayla Hayla Shayla Hayla Ho-o-o!
    Shalawally hallway shalawally shalawally!
    Oompah, Oompah, Oompah, Oompah! 
    Many people are not familiar with the name of Abani Dhar. Those who have not heard his name and have not read his only book, One Shot, know that the definition of short story is to say that Abani Dhar was the greatest short story writer of the Hungry Movement.
    Dancing together was a favourite act of the Hungryalists when friends got together. Once myself and Subimal Basak had gone to Champahati with Ashok Fakir who arranged opium for us and we danced like mad at the station in the rain. Ashok Fakir ditched his Bengali wife at Champahati and went to the USA with an American lady. We also danced when we gathered at American poet David Garcia’s hotel room in blaring western music. Later I danced with poet Kedar Bhaduri and Uttam Das after a few pegs in Kedar’s small room. 
    Actually I did not know all the Hungryalists personally as it was Debi Roy and later Subimal Basak who did the organisational work. I knew the authors, however, who came to be known as major Hungry Generation writers, poets and artists and was in correspondence with them : Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Debi Roy, Saileswar Ghose, Subimal Basak, Pradip Choudhuri, Utpalkumar Basu, Subo Acharya, Falguni Ray, Alo Mitra, Tridib Mitra, Subhas Ghose, Arunesh Ghosh, Anil Karanjai and Karuna Nidhan. Binoy Majumdar wanted to be designated as leader of the movement, which I did not know, as he was a schizophrenia patient and crossed the border without a passport and went to the then Pakistan where he lived a happy life with poets of Faridpur and one day surrendered to local police who helped him to cross the border to India.
    Later Falguni died of real hunger and overdose of drugs like his elder brother Tushar who was associated with Krittibas group. Falguni used to complain, when he came to Patna to reside with his sister, that Tushar beats him up every now and then for being a part of the Hungryalist movement. Falguni was in love with a Kolkata girl who was married to a Patna boy. Arunesh Ghose died by drowning, probably a suicide. Saileswar Ghose died on the operation table after a heart attack. Same was the case with Subhas Ghose who had joined the Communist Party of India ( Marxist ) and had become a local committee member at Chandannagar, a strange decision as he posed as an anti-establishment activist at Kolkata and a part of the ruling party at Chandannagar. Tridib and Alo gave up writing due to machinations of Saileswar and Subhas. Subo Acharya joined a religious sect led by Anukul Thakur and discarded literary activities. Basudeb Dasgupta and Abani Dhar got a house at Ashoknagar under refugee settlement scheme. Funny to note, a police informer by the name of Pabitra Ballabh had infiltrated the movement keeping a tab on us ; we did not even notice till he spilled the beans by becoming a police witness against me during my obscenity trial. 
    Till 1963 I visited Kolkata quite frequently, staying at our ancestral house in Uttarpara, aunt Kamala’s house at Ahiritola, Debi’s place at Howrah, or in Subimal Basak’s uncle’s goldsmith shop, which did not have a window, ceiling fan, lavatory, compelling me to go to the nearby Sealdah railroad station, where I used the toilets of arriving long distance trains. We slept on the cement floor using old magazines wrapped in our shirts for pillows. The shop had a castor oil lamp which Subimal Basak made use of at night for drafting his novel ‘Chhatamatha’ , written in the dialect of horse cart pullers of Dhaka. Subimal himself did not have a permanent place to stay at that time and mostly lived with his uncle at Dumdum. He later constructed a house after his marriage just by the side of Belgharia station. Subimal was beaten up in December 1963 at the entrance of the Albert Hall Coffee House by a group of status quoists hostile to our movement. 
    The Bengali press was comparing our movement to the Beat Generation. They never bothered to compare our financial and cultural background with those of Beat generation writers and poets. We all came from poor families as cultural outsiders or The Other. Subimal Basak’s goldsmith father had committed suicide by drinking nitric acid as a result of gold control orders of Moraji Desai and had to look after his mother, brother and sisters. He belonged to the weaver caste. Subhas, Saileswar, Pradip, Subo, Abani, Basudeb were from refugee families trying to get settled in West Bengal. 
    Most of us were first generation literates, whereas the Beats came from rich educated families. Allen Ginsberg’s father was himself a poet. Burroughs was born into a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a grandson of inventor William Seward Burroughs I, who founded the Burroughs Corporation, and a nephew of public relations manager Ivy Lee. Kerouac was a capable athlete in football and wrestling. Kerouac's skills as a running back in football for Lowell High School earned him scholarship offers from Boston College, Notre Dame, and Columbia University. He spent a year at Horace Mann School, where he befriended Seymour Wyse, an Englishman whom he later featured as a character, under the pseudonym 'Lionel Smart', in several of Kerouac's books. He also cites Wyse as the person who introduced him to the new styles of jazz, including Bop. After his year at Horace Mann Kerouac earned the requisite grades for entry to Columbia. Gary Snyder’s mother , Lois Snyder Hennessy (born Wilkey)] worked  as a reporter for The Oregonian. Diane Di Prima’s  father Francis was a lawyer, and her mother Emma (née Mallozzi) was a teacher. All these Beat writers and poets had enough money to travel all over the world whereas the Hungryalists found it financially difficult to go to Kolkata from their home.
    There were other strange happenings too. Several Kolkata presses refused to print Hungryalist bulletins ; some of the owners said that they had been warned by reputable persons. Pradip Choudhuri was expelled from Visvabharati University, Santiniketan for his poems. Subhas Ghose was notified to vacate his rented apartment by the owner. Pritam Book Stall at College Street Corner was threatened by a gang for keeping our bulletins for sale.Pressure kept on mounting. Refusal of auditoria led us to read and recite our poems at Howrah station platform, parks, graveyard of famous Bengali poet Madhusudan Dutt, crematorium at Nimtala, Khalasitola rice liquor den to the attention of growing crowds everyday. The main theme that our movement was foreign inspired and against Bengali culture continued in the afternoon papers. 
    Allen Ginsberg had met Samir in 1962 when he visited Chaibasa. He met me at Patna in 1963. I translated his HOWL and Kaddish much later, in 1985-86 after receiving copies from Lawrence Ferlinghetti. None of the other Hungryalists had read Beat literature till then and none had met Ginsberg, Orlovsky and Snyder when they came to Kolkata. In the sixties I had translated poems of Neruda, Lorca and Artaud. 
    All these three years from 1961 to 1963 I had been working  on ‘Shoytaner Mukh’, a collection of my poems. Samir selected some of them for their ratiocinative abstraction and total effect in terms of sound and sight. Sunil Gangopadhyay of Krittibas Publishers agreed to publish the book. There were guarded critical reactions to the book at that time. Sunil did not talk about the book as he proceeded to Iowa Poetry Workshop and was disturbed to find the Hungryalists being published and talked about in American little magazines whereas Krittibas poets were not even known to readers. The cover of ‘Shaoytaner Mukh’ was based on a drawing made available by American poet Margaret Randall, editor of El Corno Emplumado, who was based at Buenos Aires at that time. Margaret Randall is now known as a rebel poet both in English and Spanish ; she was later associated with sandinistas. 
    Explaining Bengali etymology in the costume of a Bengali jester, I wrote a drama, ILLOT, assured of being staged by Nripen Saha of Gandharva. He retained the manuscript for a year then developed cold feet because of its political overtones. Sandipan Chattopadhyay gave the manuscript to Kumar Roy, the editor of Bahurupi who refused to print ILLOT in their magazine. 
    Seven
    Sunil Gangopadhyay’s friends were instigating him about our activities in Kolkata which agitated him at Iowa. I also wrote a letter to him about the upheaval created by us. He responded by writing angry letters to me, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Shakti Chattopadhyay and Utpalkumar Basu. He did not write a similar letter to Samir as Samir was trying to convince him that there was not much difference between the Hungryalists and Krittibas. The letter written by him to Sandipan has been translated in English and available in the net which reads as follows :
    313 South Capital, Iowa City, Iowa, USA, 15th June 1964
    Sandipan
    Right now I am resting beneath the canopy of a big tree on the bank of this river. It is quite breezy. And 5 dozen cans of beer lie littered. Been watching that blonde girl in a swimsuit . Once in a while I am mildly adoring her bottom with my feet—- how does that look visually ? I am literally resting in this state. But I am not part of this scene though. As soon as I bring my palm closer to my eyes, everything disappears. No woman’s face. No hunger. No thirst. But beer—- yes, that is a reality. Have been resting on the grass for hours so to say. Tried at least 5 times to catch a rabbit but failed miserably.
    I was in love with your letter for a couple of days. Especially the words highlighted with red pencil. I knew pretty well that you would not like my story. I have no illusion of delighting you ever with my prose. That is because you have written some great prose at one point. Not any more. But the kind of magic you have produced—- we are simply not nearer to you. I cannot write such prose. I will not write such prose. But that kind of prose pulls me irresistibly. That you will be one of my readers makes me fearful. Still I write prose. Mostly for money. I do not recall indulging in prose but for pecuniary considerations. Once I had written a novel— quite unlikely that it would ever get published. I do not fear you though for my poetry. I write poetry similar to prose and shall continue to do so. I have no qualms about that kind of style. Shakti ( Chattopadhyay ) has written some extraordinary lines. Much, much deeper and greater than me—- that is Shakti. I respect him a lot. But his poems are headless. I cannot write like him and do not want to write like that simply because I do not live that kind of life. I can relate much more to Utpal ( Kumar Basu ). But this, my slumbering in beer, makes me oblivious to all poetry. There is no poetry, no heart, nothing.
    Sandipan, why have you not written much in recent times ? What are these quirks of occasional pieces ? This habit of yours has attracted you to the Hungryalist hullabaloo– the latest fad. I had forbidden you. But you did not trust me. And then you quietly distanced yourself from me. I did not stop Shakti. Shakti is greedy. Utpal too has chosen that path. However, I thought you were not that greedy. I have often shared a bed with you, stood in the same shadow while walking in sunlight. I very well have the understanding of my own greed. And, as a result, I could instinctively estimate that your greed is less than mine. I became deeply uncomfortable with, in fact felt strong aversion to this New Phenomenon. I had always felt that writing poems in English in order to earn cheap accolades from the West is the worst possible example of greed and a manifestation of utter narcissism.  This inner feeling has deepened this time after coming here, to Iowa. Would you ever like to be an object of curiosity and pity to non-Bengalis ? I have met some Hungryalists here– it is these people who are  attracted to  them. Every single day I receive some request or the other to contribute in English. I have been refusing, steadfastly. There are seven crores of potential Bangla readers for me. Much more than French and Italian. I am fine with it. I write poetry and have no intention to translate my sensibilities. If you wish to enter my world of thoughts in English— then get me translated. In gay abandon. I had officially come here to do this kind of quid pro quo back-thumping. Till now I have resisted this trap.
    But the real problem with Hungryalism is not English. Their Bengali is even worse. They are trying short-cut narratives — the idea is to taste ready-made fame by criticising and denigrating others in this business. I hope you do not end up thinking that Malay (Roychoudhury )  really has some authorial qualities in him ! I am amazed because recently I have read in a Hindi literary periodical an eulogising piece by you about the Hungryalist fad. I was rather surprised that a thinker so abstract as you could consider that contributions in the Illustrated Weekly ( edited by Khushwant Singh ) merit any real literary discussion ! I know the Hungryalist participants have made efforts to challenge  Krittibas ( periodical ) or Sunil ( Gangopadhyay ). I could have destroyed their Movement. Yes, I could. But I refrained. I am telling you these things because I so much admire you as a writer and thinker. There is no conspiracy in this exhortation of mine, Sandipan.
    I could not properly comprehend  the events that have been taking place at your end. Why did you write the same letter to four of your friends—- to us ? I could not fully grasp this technique. Nevertheless, who has ordained me the right to understand how your mind functions! That point is that once I return to Kolkata, I shall sleep peacefully, will roam around light-footed quite happily. I do not require any Literary Movement. I was wonder struck to know as to why Malay ( Roychoudhury ) had published my letter. I hope he has not published any truncated version. That will be so out of context. These are the words I recently wrote to him : “If you edit sections of the head or tail of my letters and use some fashionable dotted spaces or some such tricks, I shall box your ears and slap you real hard once I return.” The same is true of your letter. Shakti’s, yours and my dirty linen are being exhibited in public.
    However, these are just ephemera—to conclude. No one would dare touch you. And I shall stand by you always. We have fought over many issues, Sandipan. But I did ponder about you pensively ; we can not do without you. I can not. In a simpler way to tell you, you are my obverse. Your split-up, fragmentary character, your follies and your treachery—- to all these qualities I aspire. It is like a life I never had but wished for it so much. Whenever I think of any writer of our generation who has some real promise, I think of you and only you ( except for Tanmay Datta ). There is no one in the city of Kolkata—who will dare touch your delicate being. You lie there softly, oh so softly beside Rina ( Sandipan’s wife ) and keep telling her those adventures to Mars.
    I shall reach Kolkata on 18th August. I have been detained here for strange reasons. As a result of my idiocy, yes, really. There is a faint chance of staying in Paris during late July or early August. But prior to that, by mid-July, I shall travel to New York city and thereafter to England. How could you presume that I may join a Masters degree course here in Iowa ! You have lost all sense of proportions ! I have troubled you a lot about your narratives in Krittibas, but this time I became apprehensive when I could not find your imprint in the periodical. Any command for me from you to get something from here?
    With love
    Sunil
    And here is the letter Sunil Gangopadhyay wrote to me five days before he wrote to Sandipan Chattopadhyay :
    Iowa, USA, June 10, 1964 
    Malay, 
    I don't know if you wrote this letter bragging about all the incidents in Calcutta. What are you doing? Some of my friends have written vaguely about all the troubles in the coffee house. Your focus is more on movement and commotion than on writing. Do you sleep at night? None of this - I don't have a headache. You can go as far as you want with the movement - Bengali poetry doesn't matter. I think you have a greed for a shortcut to fame. You can get it, it can't be said. I have never done these movements; I am so busy with my heartbeat. But that's right, the city of Calcutta is mine. When I return, I will reign there. You can't change one of his hairs. Many of my friends are emperors. I would be afraid of you if I could see a little glitter in you till now. Tanmoy Dutt, the youngest of me, came to Bengali poetry with a sword in his hand. He was at least six years younger than me. With great arrogance he left. That's why I still feel sorry for others. I haven't written anything myself yet, I'm just trying to write; But it never occurred to me to make a poem like yours a 'commercial'. Like Balzac, I set my vocabulary apart in poetry and prose. As much as I love you Malay, but I still have no interest in your poetry. Of course I'm waiting. Many people think that fame will not survive in the hands of the next generation of poets. That's why some of my friends once became your mentors. I don't care. I have enough strength on my own feet, even to stand alone. My point is: come close to whatever friend you have, come close to whoever writes good poems - write to bad friends, write bad poems, get away from them. I like the age gap very much. Continue the hypocrisy of those movements or generations. I enjoy reading or watching. From a distance. I don't know how the greed of one party to get the Maursi lease on literature comes. But it is better to keep one thing in mind. You must have seen me as a calm, good man. I am so, even though I have Padma riverbank blood on my body. So, you should keep me away, not push me too hard. Otherwise you can't say what to do if you get excited suddenly. I have been so excited a quarter of the time in my life. Last year Having a couple of friends in the O-team didn't break your Hungry Generation at the beginning out of sheer affection. I still hold that power, you know. However, he still does not want to break the O-playhouse. A friend of mine reported that you printed some of my letters. I do not write letters for the sake of literature. My letter is nothing. Of course, there is nothing to hide. But if anyone has printed any of my letters for cunning, let alone dot-dot - let alone slap him twice in the ear two-and-a-half months later. I hope you are well. 
    Take my love 
    Sunilda
    One can make out the position of Kolkata intelligentia from this letter written by poet and editor Jyotirmoy Datta, son in law of famous Bengali poet Buddhadev Basu, Written to Dick Bakken who wanted to publish a special issue on us. Jyotirmoy Dutta had also gone to Iowa just like Sunil.
    Iowa, December 12, 1966
    Dear Mr Bakken
    I am still bewildered why should anyone in Portland, Oregon, be interested in publishing a special issue on the ‘Hungry Generation’. Is there no local talent in Oregon to fill up the pages of ‘Salted Feathers’. Which you described as a small magazine ? Or is it due to an interest in the out-of-the-way, the quaint, the fantastic ? It is like someone in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, bringing out a special number on the ‘Trotskyite poets’ revolutionary American poetry by bringing out ‘Penny Paper of Iowa City’. Hurrah for the public relation work and promotion by Allen Ginsberg, TIME magazine, and the silly magistrate who convicted Malay.
    Very Sincerely yours
    Jyotirmoy Dutta
    After returning from Iowa, Sunil wrote the following editorial in his magazine ‘Krittibas’: “Since many people are asking, we are forced to inform in writing that Krittibas has no relation with any institution or movement named Hungry Generation. We do not believe in such movements and never wanted to associate the name of Krittibas with it. Some poets identified as Hungry do write in Krittibas and would write in future, but just individually like other poets, not as a representative of a group. We do not believe in organised literature. Rather our invitation is to all poets of Bengal. We do not know whether the Hungry Generation movement is good or bad. We do not have any opinion on the future or outcome of that movement. So far nothing literary  important has been found in their leaflets. Ordinary efforts to do something new. Certain childish behaviour has also been observed. Apart from this some activities create annoyance. It was beyond our comprehension that a group of young men of Bengal would suffer from the greed of writing in pidgin English even after nineteen sixty. Nevertheless, if that movement ever creates new literature – we would definitely be happy.”
    Sunil was the High Priest of Krittibas. But our movement did not have any high command, polit bureau, headquarter or power centre. Anyone who considered himself to be a Hungryalist was free to publish his own or friend’s work from anywhere. Our movement brought the marginal discourse to the notice of readers. It had spread to North Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Benaras, Kathmandu and even then East Pakistan where the ‘Kanthaswar’ group was called Hungryalists. 
    That the gatekeepers of Bengali culture are conspiring against us became clear afterwards when I received a letter dated 27 January 1965 from Mr. A.B.Shah, Executive Secretary of Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom in which he wrote: “I met the Deputy Commissioner of Police the day after we met at the office of the Radical Humanist in Calcutta. I was told that they would have not liked to bother themselves with the ‘Hungry Generation’, but for the fact that a number of citizens to whom the writings of your group were made available, insisted on some action being taken.”
    When Sunil Gangopadhyay was annoyed with the Hungryalist movement Samir Roychoudhury tried to pacify him as may be seen in this letter :
    Bombay May, 25, 1963
    Sunil
    Received your long letter. I am really hurt after learning about your mental stress. It is we who have made Shakti so large. Its main responsibility is yours, mine and Malay’s. And even now I want to make all my friends quite big. You were the first who first goaded Shakti to write. Every now and then you were the first to say “Best Poet of Bengal”. The difference is that Shakti claims the same thing today. While at Chaibasa, quite some time ago, Utpal and Shakti had planned to remove you and sit on the throne of Art. I had to be present in these discussions. The plan to bring out a magazine was taken in that meeting. The matter of launching the literary  movement was also repeatedly asked by the Malay. I had always said that I would not be able to leave Krittibas. For various sentimental reasons, I consider Krittibas as my own magazine. It is not possible to think of  it as 'Sunil's paper' like many others. I don't think Shakti and Utpal can start Zebra magazine without you.. At least Malay won't let it happen. Moreover, even in the midst of all baseness, Shakti may not be able to avoid the sting of subtle feelings. I do not believe there will be a breakdown in our relations. If it happens, it would harm Shakti the most. He wants money for Art, Sheela is also there, needs intellectual loans from Samir and Malay and  he knows very well that if he drops you then he might be in great trouble. Shakti has written to me that your works will be there in Zebra magazine. It will probably come out after two months. Rather Utpal is  a little more against you. Maybe jealousy, maybe some other reason. Shakti is creating complications to keep Utpal happy. Malay’s anguish is that you do not care for him at all ; very childish. Last time when Sheela was to be admitted at Patna University, I had taken Shakti with me. There Malay convinced him about the literary movement. The short story ( Khutkator Akromon ) that he has written, its plot and plan was given to Shakti by Malay. It was decided that we shall go to Calcutta and start with publishing a booklet. WEe all will be in it. Without waiting for our instructions Shakti returned to Calcutta and immediately started the matter. Meanwhile I came here for training. Malay was at Patna. At Calcutta Shakti adopted various methods to create his throne. You're not joining it, which got slowed down,  due to misunderstandings, the situation has reached this stage. Malay has also talked about it. Malay wants you at all costs.  Maybe the attacks have arisen because of it. Strange complications. He wants to bring out a poetry anthology titled KHUDHARTO. He has written to me to request you to send a poem. He wants to edit it himself by avoiding Shakti’s machinations. Sandipan may also bring out a prose collection. I have sent short stories for Chinho, Chhotogapo and Zebra on their request.
    For Shakti, the temptation of power to fame has all along been there. Maybe it's normal according to his environment. In fact, it is possible to become an artist without being a human being. Underdogs, scoundrels and thieves can also be artists. These things help to be an artist. As a result, there is a rift between friendship and humanity. 
    In an instant, maybe all the pride, arrogance and meanness of Shakti can be shattered and openly presented before Bengalis. I have no shortage of suitable examples; But it is never possible for me to take revenge against  Shakti or against anyone. I have my own ideals, whether they are right or wrong, I want to live with them. I do not want to live the life of a reactionary..
    You have to hold on to your ideal for Krittibas too, there is nothing to be embarrassed by the screams of anyone around. We shall surely keep on publishing Krittibas.  I personally love people more than Art. Shakti is much bigger as an Artist and thinks Art is much bigger than humans. I can’t think of Art as separate. 
    It is normal and appropriate for everyone to have a different point of view. I don't believe in such juvenile arguments that if one does not  write poems like Shakti or Utpal he is not a poet. Just as some poems of Shakti make me crazy and bewildered, some poems of Alokranjan opens me up. At that moment Alokranjan seems to be the owner of all my being. How do I deny him? Similarly, there may be someone who is cured by Tarapada’s verse. Who are we to measure these excellences? One should leave it to those who read poetry, to time, instead of fighting over beating their drums. If this continues, Shakti will make a big mistake. As great as he can be he will cut it short with his own hands. Maybe he's a little excited to see Allen's worldwide fame. Shakti has told me this many times. 
    I shall  leave this place  and reach Chaibasa on the 17th. You  come at that time. I will tell Shakti to come too. If the three of us are together, many misunderstandings will  automatically disappear. We may visit the places around us. Bella’s health has also improved.      
    Please reply. Why not write some fierce prose and verse against the Hungry Generation. I will publish in a special booklet of Hungry Generation; Malay will also agree. In fact, the movement of the heart is needed before all such movements. 
    This is how I will have to absorb all suffering of loneliness throughout my life. Yet and perhaps for this reason I cannot separate human beings from Art. I am unable to  find reasons to think someone is greater and smaller. 
    Samir Roychoudhury
    But Sunil Gangopadhyay never pardoned me and Samir. Though Samir funded Krittibas for a longtime Sunil did not invite him to write in Krittibas. When Samir started HAOWA49 magazine in the 1990s, Sunil did not contribute to it.                   
    Eight
    On September 2, 1964, Sub Inspector Kalikinkar Das of the Kolkata Police lodged a complaint based on a copy of a Hungryalist bulletin — made available to him by Pabitra Ballabh, a poet – claiming that it came within the purview of Section 120B and 292 of the Indian Penal Code, and I should, along with other members who had contributed in that particular issue be prosecuted. Section 120B laid down that, “Number One, whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death, [imprisonment for life] or rigorous imprisonment for a term of two years or upwards, shall, where no express provision is made in this Code for the punishment of such a conspiracy, be punished in the same manner as if he had abetted such offence. Number Two, whoever is a party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable as aforesaid shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term not exceeding six months, or with fine or with both.” Though this Section was irrelevant in our case, it was applied so that during arrest we may be handcuffed and a rope tied to our waist like ordinary criminals, in order to humiliate us before ordinary public.
    Section 292 laid down that, (1) For the purposes of sub-section (2), a book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, shall be deemed to be obscene if it is lascivious or appeals to the pruri­ent interest or if its effect, or (where it comprises two or more distinct items) the effect of any one of its items, is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend to deprave and corrupt person, who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it. [(2) ] Whoever—(a) sells, lets to hire, distributes, publicly exhibits or in any manner puts into circulation, or for purposes of sale, hire, distribution, public exhibition or circulation, makes, produces or has in his possession any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, drawing, painting, representation or figure or any other obscene object whatsoever, or (b) imports, exports or conveys any obscene object for any of the purposes aforesaid, or knowing or having reason to believe that such object will be sold, let to hire, distributed or publicly exhibited or in any manner put into circulation, or (c) takes part in or receives profits from any business in the course of which he knows or has reason to believe that any such obscene objects are for any of the purposes aforesaid, made, produced, purchased, kept, imported, exported, conveyed, publicly exhibited or in any manner put into circulation, or (d) advertises or makes known by any means whatsoever that any person is engaged or is ready to engage in any act which is an offence under this section, or that any such obscene object can be procured from or through any person, or (e) offers or attempts to do any act which is an offence under this section, shall be punished  [on first conviction with im­prisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, and with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, and, in the event of a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, and also with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees]. [(Exception) —This section does not extend to—(a) any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, repre­sentation or figure— (i) the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, art or learning or other objects of general concern, or (ii) which is kept or used bona fide for religious purposes; (b) any representation sculptured, engraved, painted or otherwise represented on or in— (i) any ancient monument within the meaning of the Ancient Monu­ments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (24 of 1958), or (ii) any temple, or on any car used for the conveyance of idols, or kept or used for any religious purpose.
    In the case of Samir an additional Indian Penal Code Section 293 was added which said, “Sale, etc., of obscene objects to young persons.—Whoever sells, lets to hire, distributes, exhibits or circulates to any person under the age of twenty years any such obscene object as is referred to in the last preceding section, or offers or at­tempts so to do, shall be punished 2[on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, and with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees, and, in the event of a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and also with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees.
    On September 4, 1964, I was arrested by Police Officers S.M.Barori and Amal Mukherjee based on the complaint registered at Kolkata’s Jorabagan Police station. I was handcuffed with a rope tied to my waist, and paraded to the Bankipore Police station of Patna. A posse of policemen searched Dariapur house, broke open Ma and Dad’s boxes, seized a number of books, magazines, letters, manuscripts and a typewriter which were never to be returned.
    I was incarcerated without food and water in a dark cell with crooks and criminals. The corner of the lockup was used as a toilet by inmates, the flow of urine and shit blocked by a tattered rug on which was lying a dead drunk pickpocketer ; rodents moved around in search of food crumbs and bugs crawled the walls with mosquitoes singing slum anthem in the stinky air. Through the night I stood at a corner like a statue of flesh and bone aside the crooks and criminals, who thought I was absurd having been arrested for having written a poem. In other lockup I could hear the scream of some prostitutes who were picked up for soliciting on the streets and now being raped by interested constables in the dark. In the morning, rope tied to my waist, I was told to go towards the back of the building to finish my morning shit. It looked like a garden of shit with no place left. Even then I relieved myself at a place and washed my arse in a standing position with my back at the constant flowing tap.  When I came back, the constable holding the other end of the rope said, “Are you a fool ? You could have easily untied yourself, climbed the outer wall and fled away. The Bengali police would not come again in search of a person for having written something.”
    In the afternoon, along with other seven persons who were in the lockup with me, including the pickpocketer who seemed to be still out of senses as he was loudly abusing the police, were handcuffed with rope tied to our waist, goaded on foot like dogs on leash, marched toward the local court. One reporter who knew me asked the accompanying policemen about me and published a derogatory report the next day. The editor of the newspaper The Searchlight knew me and had published a supplement on Hungry Generation movement, probably as a sort of atonement. The local court released me on bail of ten thousand rupees with orders to present myself at Kolkata’s Bankshall court. My lawyer at Patna was Basanta Bandyopadhyay, father of Minakshee Mukherjee and Enakshi Bandyopadhyay. Minakshi’s husband was our English teacher for a few months at Ram Mohan Roy Seminary and later became professor at JNU.
    The first thing that happened was that I was suspended from my job, making money scarce. Worse still, granny was shocked to hear about Samir’s arrest and suffered a heart attack and died. She helped her grandsons by dying as all her sons had to reach Uttarpara for her last rites and attend to the problems arising out of the court case. Aunt Kamala’s husband Tinkori took Dad to a lawyer, who Tinkori thought was a very good criminal lawyer as any prostitute and pimp arrested by Kolkata police are compelled to set them free because of his arguments. Tinkori was a regular at Sonagachhi, Kolkata’s famous red light area and thus knew the lawyer Chandi Charan Moitra. His chamber was just opposite the lane through which one enters Sonagachhi, the redlight area and while waiting in his chamber I could watch through the window the poets of Krittibas group entering the lane led by Parboti Mukhopadhyay, member of one of the old residents of Kolkata. 
    I surrendered at Bankshall court as directed by Patna court and got bail. I was not chargesheeted immediately, the Police required me to report to the Lalbazar press section every alternate day. At the Lalbazar police headquarters myself and Samir were interrogated by a group of officials in the Commissioner's chamber which consisted of the Home Secretary, Legal Remembrancer, Culture Secretary, Deputy Commissioners and the Police Commissioner himself. They probably wanted to be sure whether we were just half literate nuisance or really educated. They must have been baffled by our knowledge of literature and philosophy. The Police Commissioner said, “your one page leaflets seem like you people are selling tooth powder on the streets.”
    I was chargesheeted on 3 May 1965, when I came to know that all others have been freed as they have decided to become witnesses against me.The chargesheet stated : “In August 1964 a printed booklet entitled Hungry Generation published by Samir Roychoudhury was found in circulation in Calcutta. The poetry captioned ‘Prachanda Baidyutik Chhutar’ by Malay Roychoudhury was found obscene and Director of Public Prosecution West Bengal being consulted observed that the book was actionable under Section 292 IPC and suggested prosecution of Malay Roychoudhury with printer and publisher. Accordingly, Jorabagan Case No 360 dated 2 September, 1964 under Sections 120B and 292 of Indian Penal Code was instituted and Saileswar Ghose and Subhas Ghose who contributed in the book were arrested on 2 September 1964 from their Calcutta residence and a number of said booklet were recovered from their possession. Malay Roychoudhury was arrested at Patna on 4 September 1964 and on search of his house more copies of the poem in question and a copy of the booklet were found and seized. Then Samir Roychoudhury named as publisher and a few other contributors namely Debi Roy alias Haradhan Dhara and Pradip Choudhuri were also arrested in connection with this case. Samir Roychoudhury disowned the publication and the printer could not be traced despite serious efforts. The opinion of the handwriting expert and oral testimony of the witnesses indicate that Malay Roychoudhury was responsible for the production and circulation of the booklet containing an obscene poem composed by himself.  Evidence forthcoming does not establish direct responsibility of other persons. In view of the above circumstances, Malay Roychoudhury, who is on criminal bail till today may be prosecuted under Section 292 of Indian Penal Code. Names of witnesses :
    1. Tarak Nath Sen of 48/A Sankar Halder lane
    2. Samir Basu of 5/1 Motilal Sil Lane
    3. Utpal Kumar Basu of 23 Royd Street
    4. Subhas Ghose of 16A Shyamacharan Mukherjee Lane
    5. Saileswar Ghose of 16B Shyamacharan Ghosh Lane
    6. Pabitra Ballabh of 28/A Paik Para Row
    7. Pradip Choudhuri of Kulai Tripura
    8. Shakti Chattopadhyay of Adhar Chandra Lane
    9. Sandipan Chattopadhyay of 18 Sarada Chatterjee Lane, Howrah
    10. Pashupati Banerjee, Handwriting Expert, Anderson House
    11. S. M. Barori, Sub Inspector of Police, Detective Department
    12. Amal Mukherjee, Sub Inspector of Police, Detective Department
    13.  Kalikinkar Das, Investigating Officer, Detective Department
    14. Shri Brojendra Prosad Sharma, Patna Municipal Worker
    15. Shri Ramnath Prasad, Patna Municipal Worker
    16.  Krishna Kumar Sinha, Sub Inspector of Patna Police Station and others.
    Along with the chargesheet, Police gave copies of statements by freed Hungryalists, from which relevant portions reveal how scared my associates had become and turned against me :
    Shakti Chattopadhyay : According to my estimation the writings of Malay manifested mental perversion and his language is vulgar. I also saw a copy of the booklet and strongly condemned the poem captioned Prachanda Baidyutik Chhutar written by Malay.
    Utpal Kumar Basu : According to my estimation the writings of Malay Roychoudhury carry a sense of disgust and nonsense. I feel that their literary movement degenerated into depravity and I have disassociated from the Hungry Generation.
    Sandipan Chattopadhyay : As a poet myself I do not approve the theme or the language of the poem of Malay Roychoudhury captioned Prachanda Baidyutik Chhutar. I have severed all connection with Hungry Generation.
    Saileswar Ghose : I know Malay Roychoudhury who is the creator of Hungry Generation. After the recent issue of Hungry Generation which was published without my knowledge and consent, I have cut myself off from the said organisation. In future neither I shall keep relations nor I shall contribute to the Hungry Generation.
    Subhas Ghose : I never liked to be acquainted with such a type of magazine which in my opinion is bad and never thought that my article would have been published in such a magazine. I do not believe in the motto of Hungry Generation and have cut off every relation with it after publication of my article.
    I felt depressed except for some letters of encouragement from Octavio Paz, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and others, which were edited and published by Tridib Mitra and his fiance Alo Mitra in 1969. On a few days of hearing Subimal Basak, Falguni Ray, Tridib Mitra and Alo Mitra used to come to court. Otherwise I was all alone and loitered in other courtrooms to find out stories of the cases. A lawyer, Satyen Bose, volunteered to defend me alongwith Chandi Charan Moitra and intervened to stop my visits to Lalbazar police headquarters. Dipak Majumdar, a poet of the fifties and one of the founders of Krittibas magazine initiated a signature campaign in my favour, got rebuffed by a senior editor and other writers and had to abandon the initiative. Most of the writers of my group were avoiding me ; I was feeling alone, tormented, frustrated, estranged, abandoned and angry. 
    News of my persecution appeared in Indian and foreign periodicals and papers. Commissioned by Bonnie Crown of Asia Foundation, Prachanda Baidyutik Chhutar, translated as Stark Electric Jesus was printed in Lawrence Ferlinghetti edited City Lights Journal with an essay on the poem and our movement by Professor Howard McCord. It was also published separately in the United States in 1965-66 in three ditto editions by Tribal Press with a verifax cover showing the sorcerer of the Trois Freres. It is a poem based on mourning with fundamental questions about life and love based on speech rhythms.
    Nine
    Allen Ginsberg was very much disturbed with my arrest and wrote letters to several persons in India and abroad as well as to me. I got letters supporting me from other poets as well. Here are a few :
    Allen Ginsberg, 704 East, 5th Street, New York
    28 September, 1964
    Dear Malay,
    I saw clippings from BLITZ, Sept 19, 1964 p6 and also I think Calcutta STATESMAN 17 September 1964 that you were arrested as well as Samir and two boys named Ghosh whom I don’t know, for your HUNGRY GENERATION manifestoes. Are these the same as were printed in the issue of KULCHUR#15? As soon as I read about it, I racked my brain what I could do to help, and so today wrote a whole bunch of letters to the following:-
    A.S.Raman, Editor, Illustrated Weekly, Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Bombay.
    Sharad Deora, Editor,Gyanodaya, 18 Brabourne Road, Calcutta.
    Abu Sayeed Ayub, Editor, Quest ( sent a message to him indirectly), and member of Indian Congress for Cultural Freedom.
    Shyam Lall, Editor, Times of India, New Delhi.
    Khushwant Singh, novelist and member of Congress for Cultural Freedom, 49 East Sujan Singh Road, New Delhi.
    I also wrote to Jyoti Dutta and phoned Lita Hornick of KULCHUR. I asked them, the Indians above all, what they could do to help you, suggested they activate the congress for Cultural Freedom as this sort of thing is the proper activity of the Congress and Quest magazine, and told them that the manifestoes were printed here in CITY LIGHTS JOURNAL and KULCHUR, and were not obscene. So the whole mess was scandalous bureaucratic illiteracy. Please if you need literary help or advice do try to contact these people for support. And in addition perhaps ask for advice/help from Mrs. Pupul Jayakar, 130 Sundar Nagar, New Delhi---she was our proteress in India, we stayed with her, she’s a friend of Indira Gandhi and others. I also notified Bonnie Crown here in New York, the Asia Society, 112E 64 Street, NYC---she commissioned poetry to be translated by Sunil and others and that pack of poems plus your rhythms etc. will be printed together by CITY LIGHTS. She can send you a letter on her official stationary saying your manifestos are known, published and respected in the US and not considered obscene. I will also enquire about Mr. S.K.Roy, the Indian Consul General here in New York who I do not know what he can do at this distance.
    If there is anything you want me to do let me know. Write to me and let me know what the situation is and what is the cause of the trouble. In judging from BLITZ I suspected jealous ideological Marxists or something. Are you ruined at the bank?? I hope not. Regards to your family. Get the Congress for Cultural Freedom to supply you with a good lawyer who’ll take no fee. If the Indian Congress doesn’t cooperate, let me know, we’ll explain to the European office. Who are the Ghosh brothers? The manifestoes on prose and politics are pretty funny. I thought they were a little literary-flowery, but they MUST HAVE HIT SOME MENTAL NAIL ON THE HEAD. Good Luck.
    Jai Ram
    Allen Ginsberg
    Allen Ginsberg, 704 East 5th Street, NYC
    January 11, 1965
    Dear Malay,
    Enclosed copies of letters from KULCHUR, from Abu Sayeed ayub ( 3 letters in answer to mine---each letter 2 pages) and one from A.B.Shah---Congress in Bombay. You should follow their letter up. Congress office in Paris has been contacted & they will probably send some note, notice to the Indian Committee.
    I answered some of your letters via Utpal---I sent copies of these letters, also, to show Sunil, Jyoti, etc.
    CITY LIGHTS JOURNAL#2 is on its way to you.
    That Jyoti, Sunil, Sandipan & yourself are all working at slight cross-purposes is making things difficult. I suppose they are embarrassed by your ‘brashness’ (as TIME magazine might term it) or your slight edge of naivete as I would term it. However, if it is possible to reconcile with them & put up a united front it would be best for everybody’s safety. Best thing is to stop all cutty gossip, for it is only mainly gossip that Abu Sayeed is using as an excuse. Obviously they also were questioned by the Police, and so, feel a common threat with you. Don’t get angry at them---just work out a basis where you can all defend each other---and try you now---the only present basis (since there seems to be some literary disagreement) being freedom of literary expression.
    They all don’t want to be grouped as Hungry exclusively apparently, and they may resent or be scared or not want you to lump them all under your Hungry banner. And this is natural. Once a MOVEMENT gets name and publicity it is also a drawback as I’ve found. Also, the name is irrelevant & a drag sometimes to one’s individuality. See the first sentence of my letter to Shakti, Feb10,1963 that was published in a Hungry type magazine in Bengali.
    Best not to get angry at anyone---Jyoti, Abu Sayeed---even the police. Think carefully & coolly & get all working together if it is possible. I leave for Cuba in a week and will be back in 2 months.
    Love & Happy New Year
    Allen
    Howard McCord, 304 Oak Street, Pullman, Washington.
    22 May 1965
    Dear Malay Roychoudhury:
    I have enjoyed reading your letter and coming in contact with your thoughts very much. Artaud, Genet, Burroughs:yes.They are the dialecticians of chaos presiding at the dissolution of the west. They describe, with joy and exactitude, the destruction in which they are themselves involved. Burroughs, to me, is a man performing an autopsy on himself. They are all quite mad, and therefore speak the truth. We can only trust the mad anymore. The West began to die around 1750, and it has been the function of poets to recite, in series, the long funeral oration. William Blake began it. Goethe, Baudelaire, Lautremont, Rimbaud, Huysmans(unknowingly), Pound, Eliot, Crane, and all the other familiar names have continued the chant. We are their heirs, and perhaps the culmination, for our anguish and despair, the aesthetic suicide of which we are capable, may mark the end. Perhaps it will go on. Sometimes it seems as though it is the plan for it to go on.
    The inadequacy of my coming, touristic encounter with India is deeply felt. I am not an Indian, I will not become one in two months of hurrying through the landscape. I will be richer only by the validity of my meetings, the openness I can maintain. Here in my own country I am alien enough, separated from the culture by an aversion to much of it, by a self-imposed identification with the Mexican part of my life (perhaps it is as if you felt yourself drawn to Tibet), by a long-standing estrangement from its more common goals. I identify most closely with the folk of the southwestern deserts---the American Indians---Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, Hopi, Zuni, Yaqui, Tarhumara, Comancha---and the ranchers. (My family has for a century run cattle ranches in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona---all poor people in a poor land). My wife is Mexican, my second language is Spanish: my children, blond & blue-eyed though they be, are technically mestizos---the mixed-blood that is the strength and heart of Mexico. And here I sit, perfumed with education, owning not an acre of ground, lost from the desert, 2000 miles from Mexico, a poet in my decadence and reality. My children are apt to be technicians, I pray they will be artists.
    I have plans, most vague and tenuous, for a book of Contemporary Indian Poetry. University published. Likely no money would come of it, but some passing fame. I ask now for some of your poems for this nebulous enterprise, and your aid in contacting other Indian poets.
    From the foregoing you can see some of the difficulty in raising money from letters in the USA. Raising money per se is not to hard. It is raising it in a way that feels decent that is difficult.
    Such fantastics we are!
    I look forward to seeing the poem that has been the cause of all your trouble. I envy you for your courage, for the more I understand about contemporary Indian society, the greater your courage and daring seem.There are no longer any words we can not use in literature, nor any scenes we can not describe. Our only constraint lies in the definition of hard-core pornography where the obvious intention lies in the excitation of base impulses without any redeeming social features. The change in the last ten years has been tremendous. I remember first reading Miller’s TROPICs in their prohibited Paris editions and actually worrying about official interference were the fact of my reading known. Now the TROPICs are available everywhere and professors use them in discussion groups (though not in class here, perhaps elsewhere). It would be stupid of me to laugh or denigrate Indian society in which movies, for example, may not show kissing or the like, and in which mention of the sexual organs is prohibited. I do not like censors or censorship, but I do not expect Indian censorship to cease with my dislike. You have a hard, long battle before you, for a society of great and unyielding complexity must be moved before you are free. If free you must be. And I suppose you must. But may I say, from the point of view of one who can say in print fuck, shit, cunt, prick, whatever, describe scenes of fellatio, cunnelingus, hetero (Praise God) sexual intercourse or homosexual intercourse, and all (Please pardon my spelling, for I have been drinking very much). My bloody prose style suffers!
    That saying these things is not very important. I have one poem in which the cunts of women are sweet and moist as peaches, and one other in which ‘the fuck of voices’ appears as an image. Henry has more, and we ought to be able to say these words, because the mind is like the penis, coming out of the spinal column, sewn to the belly, hard as sugarcane, it talks.
    But I will say that there is more. That the societal context is more, that the identity of the speaker and spoken to is more. (As I could not honestly, without compunction, use Fuck in conversation with my parents). For they do not so much respond to it as they are defended by it, and do not hear. (So for me Kandel’s POEMS FOR PERVERTS misses, collapses; fatigues itself). What must we use to drive the mule? WE SHALL SAY ANY WORD.
    WHEN ANY WORD NEEDS SAYING.
    This is an oblique way of saying that I do not trust EVERGREEN REVIEW. There is the stink of money about that magazine. Money that comes from the hard-on, the erection (it is the intellectual’s PLAYBOY, complete with airbrushed nudes. Something coy, cute, cloying---and dead). Hard words for a magazine that has published great writers like Eastlake………
    Send me a translation of your poem: for obviously, I have worked myself into a blue-eyed stupor about the problem.
    I see you as trying to survive as an artist in a society 70 years detained. India is strangely Victorian in its public morals. (How did this come about? Considering Khajuraho, etc.?) Were the English that potent? Or is it Muslim? Hindu? Who digs the mithuna couples now to save us degenerate foreigners? All right. The pattern: woman’s position in marriage/household: the corporate family (security at the cost of independence?), the precarious economy (do not rock boats, ever), the tension with the West. The civil service.
    Now I must go to bed.
    Next day:
    The questions still seem to be here.And tomorrow I must lecture three hours on Epictetus, the Enchiridon, and stoic philosophy. Later in the week a special lecture on Blake’s THE MAARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL (which I contend is the first modern poem, the very beginning of all of us). It is so fine. I am translating it into Spanish for the Goosetree Press, which will publish it next year, with fragments from Blake’s drawings. So, I best get busy and to work.
    Best wishes. And I hope that we can meet. Write again soon, please.
    Howard McCord
    Margaret Randall, Mexico City
    June 17, 1965
    Dear Malay,
    Please, please excuse so much time without writing, and now that I finally am able to sit down to write, this jumpy typewriter is driving me out of my mind. The man promised to come this week to fix it but this is Mexico (land of ‘manana’) etc!. How are things going for you---the trial; your case, the things taken from you and your friends, etc.??? All over the world, through EL CORNO, people write asking about you and wish you well, it has caused an international scandal among people in the arts, at least. I hope for good news, please write!!!
    And the book with Carlos Coffeen’s drawing on the cover---did it come out???
    Under separate cover and by regular surface mail I have sent you two copies of our 13 in which I printed your letters. Hope they arrive one of these days and in good shape. Naturally: when the issue was printed I sent you a copy, but it must have gone astray. I don’t know why Samir Ray received his and you didn’t.
    Here we are in deep problems with the magazine. No money, for one thing, and tremendous work. Just when EL CORNO seems to have become a world wide interest spiritually and literally, it faces a quick death financially. The change of government here in Mexico in December has thrown us into utter gloom. All our base patronage was cut out from under us, and we were faced with stopping publication altogether, and so we had to turn to a thousand improvised plans to get us through. At the moment we are having a giant art show (more than 50 painters and other artists have donated works to sell for the benefit of the magazine). The show opened at a local gallery a week and a half ago. So far we have sold 18 works, keeping the linotype purring at least through the first part of 15. 15 is now at press and we hope to get through all of it, fingers crossed. I’ll try to use your poem in the first part of next year, but it isn’t at all sure. We have so much work at hand and so little space and money. In reality, space and money are the same thing!
    Otherwise we are fine. Working like hell! Translating; writing, praying, trying to keep the mag going. Learning daily from our children (now there are three), the youngest is a year old today!
    Be well. Write. Good luck with the court case!
    Love
    Margaret Randall
    Allen Ginsberg, c/o City lights, 261 Columbus, SF, Calif
    July 11, 1965
    I have been wandering around from Moscow to Havana to Warsaw to Prague & thus didn’t get your letter of Jan 29th, much of which is obsolete by now?
    I have gotten so many conflicting letters & gossip from every body, I actually have no idea who’s doing what to who in India. Is your trial over or not, & what’s what? I’ve done all I can from here.
    I went to Cuba, as judge of a poetry contest ( and later got kicked out for talking too much). It was a Latin American contest, the judges (as myself) all had to be able to read Spanish. Also they’d published poetry of mine & I had friends there and I had spent years in South America. So I got invited. I’ve been back a week & leave again for San Francisco in 2 days. Then settle down to solitary poesy again. Write me news. I haven’t much time to correspond, tho, except in big emergency.
    As ever
    Allen
    Carol Berge
    15 January 1966
    Dear Malay,
    Now I have the third letter from you. Now I have news for you. First of all, I have sent you books, or rather magazines, and in a separate package my own copy of ‘Lady Chatterly’---but if you don’t get my book that’s okay, since we can get them here. The magazines are for the most part just literary types, and they are a ‘test’ to see if you will indeed receive things I send you. They have no risky stuff in them. If they arrive, let me know at once.
    News: our Ed Sanders has just been arrested for pornography and is out on $500 bail. We’ve all been waiting for this move for years. This will probably not hurt him, since he is by now a national figure, and many of this country’s finest literary figures are published in his magazine, over the five years it’s been going. But it should be an interesting trial---if it gets to that stage. He is just ready to publish another issue, in which I believe your poem would be included. I’ll tell you more later.
    It is so beautiful of you to speak of love to me. Let me put my hand on your cheek and tell you something about me and about my child. Although many men have been in love with me in my small time, it is not a good idea.
    I am the kind of woman who has the innate temperament of all writers. It is not so easy for me to remain calm and easy, as the women of your country. We Americans are troubled and difficult. My ideal is to become gentle and fine and quiet, but I am not like that. I love to be active and alive and making things happen. Of course this applies to things literary, such as the group of poets
    Who needs guidance and action here in New York. Now we have arranged for a new and more comfortable place for the group to read poetry (we used to be at a place called Le metro but the owners were such racists and I felt as did many others that we could and should move out). There is more news. About twenty of us made a recording which will be issued on Folkways Records soon. It is called Jazz Poets’, a category which does not always apply but was used to attract buyers. You shall have a copy if I have any way to get it to you for sure.
    I am so very glad to hear that you’re free and safe. I had worried about you. There is a good pride in your being the first to go through this ordeal. Of course, if your friend does the essay on your writings, send it along to me at once; I will go over it and give it in to AMERICAN DIALOG or another good mag, and hope they print it.
    You don’t say how old you are but I will tell you I am now in my thirties and my son is 9. He and I are both dark hair and eyes. I am a small woman and very intense, somewhat pretty, and the boy is very beautiful, with shining eyes and tremendously strong ways. It is getting very difficult to raise him alone. What he needs is to go out into the woods the way we did this summer, and run wild a bit. But it isn’t so easy for me to make this happen. Yes, I love the countryside as much as he does. But I don’t feel safe without a man. So we go very very timidly. But this is a good city to live in. I wish you were here, so that we could share some of it with you. We too believe in love, any and all love, which is all that is worth living for. I love the writing too, as it gives us our friends. Here we have friends and in many cities of this world. Japan, London, Helsinki, Cologne, Mexico, you know. I wish we could come there to visit you. But I too don’t see how it is possible. I have saved some money but it will have to go toward our next long summer---the boy is out of school over three months---I must find a place outside the city for us.
    But Malay---somehow I am with you---we all feel alone most of the time---‘the sanctity of the skull’---it is not easy to be a writer and a human---I think of philosophical ideas much of the time these days---how it is to live on earth in this time---how each man is the centre of his world---how we move toward and away from each other---I would give you the warmth of your wishes if I could---with this New Year. O yes there is a great difference between being alone and being lonely, which you know. I have so much respect for the struggle of many of my friends, whose work is strong and true. I just wrote a book review on the book LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, by friend Hubert Selby Jr., which is a major book because it tells in true language about a group of so-called depraved and perverted types---and in the review I defended them and him, because those people have had no choice about how to spend their lives. They (and we) have become what they are, because of the circumstances of their birth and their experience. Of course, Selby has run into a lot of unfavourable comments on his book. And you have heard o0f the trial and subsequent suppression of magazine EROS, whose contents are obvious from the title. Well, Selby had to go through a court trial for one section of his book, called ‘Tralala’ as published in the magazine PROVINCETOWN REVIEW. I think they seized and suppressed all copies of that issue. But eventually, all such cases win out. You know, they have to. Because we writers are dealing with the mediaeval morality of the masses---who, after all, can use the kind of FREEDOM and LOVING , which we are able to teach them. To me, this is a prime reason for being a writer: to use this gift for a good purpose. It strikes me this is as strong a cause to work for as the Peace Foundation. How do you feel about it? Though I feel I already know your answer; of course. I would like you to send me one of these things: most important, a picture of you. Or, and, a small woodcut or print of any kind which speaks to me about ‘your’ India, and which I can put on my wall and know you are there. Tell me in your next letter about the room in which you live, or the house. Where are your parents? Who are your friends and how do they live? Let me share your in any way you can. I am absolutely your loving friend. The skin on my back says so to you. My boy Peter is your boy and your friend as well. You would find us always loving and sharing. In future I will try to be more faithful about answering your mail. I will send you some more books if you get the magazines I sent. And I will send you a photo and also a print or such, for those moments when the world seems too dry and too difficult or alone. You have our love, Malay---
    I kiss you.
    Carol Berge
    Daisy Aldan, 325 East 57 Street, New York
    February 1, 1966
    My dear Malay Roychoudhury
    A friend of yours, Howard McCord, has sent me your address. I am distressed to hear about your plight, and hope that the situation will be ameliorated as soon as possible, even though, I do not at present, agree with the kind of poetry you and your friend are writing. I think YOU ARE EXTREMELY TALENTED. I am a poet myself and Editor, and a great associate of the Avant Garde. I consider myself in the forefront of the true Avant Garde. I published a magazine called FOLDER which presented poets whose work could not be published elsewhere because of its contemporaneity. But I think what you are doing now is first of all, passé, and second of all, a debasement of the spirit and language. I also think it is all wrong for India, and that there is room for excellence and contemporaneity without debasement. However, this is just my opinion, and I am sure you have good reasons for yours. You certainly should not be persecuted for your poems.
    The major reason for this letter is to let you know that I am editing a book for Thomas Crowell called POEMS OF INDIA and I would be happy to consider some of your poems, and those of your friends. I wish to include poems of every region of India. Since the book is directed to young people, I can not publish any of the poems of the nature of the one Howard McCord published (a copy of which I have). If you wish to choose poems that do not deal with sex in this way, then I shall be more than happy to consider including them. I am eager to publish much contemporary work. Also any suggestions you may have about poems of the past which should definitely be included would be deeply appreciated. If any of your friend wishes to send me poems, then they should include a brief biography and permission for me to use.
    I will send you under separate cover, my own poems: THE DESTRUCTION OF CATHEDRALS, SEVEN:SEVEN, and A NEW FOLDER:AMERICANS:POEMS AND DRAWING, an anthology. Since it takes months for mail to get to India, I hope your answer will arrive before you receive them. All submitted poems, by the way, must be in English or translations.
    I spent four months in India last year---mostly in Bombay and gave a lot of readings of my work. I met many poets whose work I admire, among them, Padgaonkar, Karandikar, Ezekiel, Bapat, Katrak.
    I love India, and am happy to be involved in this project. My best wishes to you, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
    Fraternally,
    Daisy Aldan
    Daisy Aldan, 325 East 57 Street, New York 10022, NY
    February 25, 1966
    Dear Malay Roychoudhury,
    Thank you so much for answering my letter so promptly. I shall certainly do all I can to see that your booklet is publicised. I have a copy of it myself. It has some great beauties in it, but contains what I was referring to in my last letter. Perhaps I am wrong, and perhaps I am conditioned by the fact that we here in the West are so bored by now with sexual references, and no longer shocked by them. We feel that the purpose of this shock is now over, and it is the mission of the poet to give humanity hope and not to bore him with these petty sexual references, for example to the pubic hairs of one’s love. There was certainly a time for this when Apollinaire introduced this type of a technique in 1917 and our ‘Beats’, inspired by Miller, drained such words as s -t and f-k to the limit.
    I feel, as you, that the poet must be “free”, yes, but “freedom” that we mean is a consciousness. It does not abrogate inner morality based on intuition. (I am not speaking about outer moral laws). Then when one becomes truly FREE, one is also released from pettiness---of concept. This is so hard to write in a letter. Also I feel that modern man (as Krishna himself indicated), cannot be absolutely free of the earth and of men. If he becomes TOTALLY free , as you indicate, even of himself, he no longer has the need to write poetry either. This totality will only come to be in a future that is far distant---and if we poets develop true consciousness. True consciousness also assumes a certain responsibility. Am I contradicting myself? Ask yourself deeply and truly. Malay (please forgive the first name, but I hope it is all right), what was your intention in writing about masturbation and pubic hairs? Was it because you were truly deeply expressing a Free Divine---earthly concept? Or was it shocking? Be honest with yourself. Was it to destroy Indian rigidities? Or was it a false Luciferic temptation, disgusting itself in Light?
    I do not demean your nobility, and am willing to be convinced. Once again, I am not speaking from the point of view of prudishness, heaven knows. I was one of the leaders of the American “avant garde”. But we have moved past the destructiveness into a direction of wholeness and spirit.
    “Spirit”, yes, but in a contemporary idiom. I am sending you my books. They will arrive in about four months, no doubt. Please send me your poems SOON, as time is limited as far as the publisher is concerned. The poets will receive compensation or a book for works used..
    My deepest wishes for your vindication in that disgraceful trial. What can I do for you? I am ashamed of India for this.
    With reverence,
    Daisy Aldan
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    26 March, 1966
    Dear Malay: I have read the legal decision on your case, and thank you very much for sending it. I find it laughable. I want to publish it together with your poem STARK ELECTRIC JESUS in the next ‘City Lights Journal’ which will be out this coming summer, and I enclose a small payment immediately, since I know you must need it desperately. I am sending a Copy of this letter to Howard McCord. Perhaps he knows the answers to the following questions and will send them to me right away, since time is of essence, and it may take some time to get a reply from you. I think it is a wonderful poem, and I will certainly credit McCord for having first published it. Bravo.
    Allen is in NY and his new address is: 408 East 10 Street, (Apt 4C), New York, NY.
    I need to know the answers to the following questions: (1). Was the poem first written in Bengali and was it the Bengali or the English version which was seized and prosecuted? (2). Is this your own translation, or whose is it? (3) Do you wish me to use the typewritten copy of the poem which you sent me last year, or the version printed by McCord? (I find some differences.)
    Let me hear as soon as you can. Holding the press.
    And Good Luck. I hope you are still able to survive! With love.
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
    Robert Kelly
    5 June 1966 (birthday of Garcia Lorca)
    Dear Malay,
    How hungry we all are---and that is that Associative Energy brings prick to its house, food to our bellies, friends to our table, my hand to this paper to wish you “News and well”. I write by the light of two green candles, the smaller one moulded from the melt-wax of the larger---its wick burns faster---the wax is softer; only the hard endures, keeps enough of its divine form to let itself petrify in form, become amorphic fossil of itself ---alive in sports if not in conditions. (Last month I finished a very long poem, weeks, in 150 Sections---it represents a non-linear structure which is nevertheless deeply committed to receiving what happens around me, to me: what emerges. Work had been started just a year before, right on the heels of that dancer Round Dances was: her body. Now there is a much shorter long poem, “Map of Annandale”). Obscenity we must finally begin to praise and pornography as such, as genre, legitimate form: too long we have hedged about with art vs pornography. Be well and strong, in the image of the body- --I look to see your poems in English.---Courage, love.
    Robert
    Octavio Paz, New Delhi
    The 16th of July, 1966
    Dear Mr. Choudhury:
    Last time I was in Calcutta, I met some of your friends who talked to me about you.
    I hope I shall find an opportunity to meet you when I visit your city or whenever you get a chance to come to Delhi
    Meanwhile please accept my best regards.
    Cordially yours,
    Octavio Paz
    Ameeq Hanfee, 104 Gandhi Park Colony, Indore
    26 July 1966
    My dear Malay,
    I am extremely grateful to you for your permission to translate your poem ‘Zakhm’
    into Urdu. I assure that the Urdu version of your poem will do full justice to it and may even sound better than the Hindi one. The Hindi translator has done his job very well, no doubt, but at places either he or the press has not been vey careful in the use of ka! ki! ke!
    etc., as well as certain Urdu words. On the whole the Hindi version seems to be a fairly faithful reproduction of the mood, spirit and expression of the original
    I had written to Basak to send me literature of and on the Hungryalist writings and movement, and he had promised to enlighten me, but I did not get anything except his own article, the Calcutta Presidency Court judgement and the Hindi version of ‘Zakhm’. Whatever I know about your movement is through what I read in BLITZ, TIME, DHARMAYUG, MARAL, GYANODAYA, ANIMA, and LAHAR. I wish to go still deeper before venturing to write about the Hungryalists in Urdu. I am a poet and find your poetry---Hungryalist poetry---full of inspiration, freshness, fire and oxygen.
    I am looking forward to the day when we will meet and not only compare notes but also exchange heart and mind.
    I was all the more interested in ‘Zakhm’ because I found that you and I share a lot of common ground. There are so many lines in ‘Zakhm’ which express the same or similar experiences I have expressed in my long poems ‘Sindbad’, ‘Sharzad’ and ‘Shabgasht’. I must give you the credit of being more modern---rather up to date in your imagery, diction and poetic statements than I could be. Still your wound is not very different from mine.
    Let us all succeed in exploding the atom for real peace and freedom---the atom of our individual experience. After all the subterranean source is the same from which we all have our blood-lines connected.
    With admiration, regards and love
    Ameeq Hanfee
    Gordon Lasslett, 67 Acton Street, Hurlstone Park, NSW, Australia
    August 20th, 1966
    Dear Mr. Choudhury---
    Having recently read your ‘In Defense of Obscenity’ I wish to say that I agree almost completely with you. Consider this one a fan letter!
    Magazines & books (of poetry) from India are not unknown here but they are all so very very stuffy. Could you recommend some decent titles, perhaps your own, and tell me where I could obtain them.
    The maternal side of my family has associations with India in that they were officers in the very British ‘Indian Army’. Perhaps my great grandfather kicked your great grandfather!
    How do Indians feel about migration to Australia.This is one of my ideals and I speak in favour of it whenever possible---but Australia is too ‘white’. This country is so bloody empty and in need of cultivation (pastoral as well as artwise) that one goes in to fits of manic depression to see such waste. All because a few sit on their unwritten ‘white Australia’.
    With that, in view of Americanization and the growth of authoritarian nationalism, Asian migration is the only hope of keeping our freedom.
    Kiss the Additional Chief Presidency Magistrate
    for me
    please,
    Gordon Lasslett
    Dan Georgakas, Box 418, Stuyvesant Station, New York, New York 10009
    August 23, 1966
    Dear Malay,
    Sorry to be so long about writing but you can see I have been moving around. Your ‘In Defense of Obscenity’ is a beauty. Allan Van Newkirk is going to print it in GUERILLA. Allan and I are not connected with Artists Workshop except for in the most casual way. Smyrna Press is separate and so too is the new GUERILLA.
    Karl Heinz Weissner tells me he has contacted you (at my urging), and he is tuned on by Stark Electric Jesus. I hope you will dig my own Manifesto For The Grey Generation.
    Allen and I have founded a group called The League of Revolutionary Poets: Torp. We combine politics with poetry-in-happening---action events. Example: On August 6th we attended a peace parade and hung Johnson in effigy and flew the NLF flag. August 7th we attended the Festival of People at Artists Workshop, and held a mock trial (they had no warning) of love-dove poems, which angered many in the audience. August 9th: Anti-war poems: reading at downtown rally. August 13th: letter to paper congratulating Detroiters on letting their Greek Theatre die since any nation supporting a Vietnam atrocity could not support Gk Theatre too. New activities: war crime tribunal in Detroit, melon poetry reading in Pittsburgh, trial of love in Chicago. We seek creative vandalism. Today I read a foul story in Village Voice. Wiped my ass with it and sent it in to the paper. I am getting a squirt gun and will fill it with paint. Shoot when ready, the Grey Generation. I want to go to the opening night of the Opera when all the shitheads are there, and hurl anti-war poems from the galleries when the war-criminals enter. DADA lives. SURREALISM returns. Lasslett in Australia, Weissner in Germany. Nutall in Britain. Partisan of the world unite. Towers, open fire.
    Doubleday & Co will anthologize a poem for me. Story in homosexual magazine. Poem in communist magazine. Makes me a capitalist homosexual communist dog or a chameleon. Clifton de Berry is our man. io! ee! This is the world, begins with a BaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnngggggggGGGGGGGGG…..’’’’’
    Wichita Vortex Sutra-----wonderful. Ginsberg reads in Washington Square on Sunday to test new law about pornography and such.
    Allen says he has sent Miller’s Sexus.
    Prices sky high in New York. Faces ugly. Squalor everywhere. But a vitality. The Blacks are beautiful. Anger. Revolution. You must stay in India and smash them. This is the age of sabotage and subversion. Smash the word. Destroy the logic. Warp the system until it snaps. Love, oxygen, semen, tulip buds, serendipity syringes----breakthrough in the grey room---dan georgakas
    Dan
    Carl Weissner
    24 September 1966
    Dear loving brother guru
    This finds me in the process of recovery from illness & series of bringdowns & now again working diligently on issue 4 of the mag….before the sickness had led my metabolic blues astray. I got me a job & they had to pay me for the whole period of illness which is the only pleasant thing about a job,…I have been able to cut costs for printing the mag down to something like 150 bucks, but still…
    Tell me: did you get yr copy of the manifesto? (I mailed two copies to Subimal Basak) and did you get my last letter? What abt the proceedings of appeal? already over? And what is the outcome? favourable for you I hope!....Yes, I will write to Donatella…..she has just sent an English translation of her Ginsberg essay which appeared in ‘Studi Americani’ in Italy last year…also good letters from Carol and Dan….
    YES! BY ALL MEANS SEND THE TYPE SCRIPT OF LIFE , ARREST, TRIAL, GINSBERG, CALCUTTA!!!!! Listen:!! Gerard Malanga just sent a large and fantastic collection of poems, 4 of them dedicated to Allen! Also magnificent photos of Allen and himself! He will probably also write for KLACT abt his friendship with Allen! And Diana Di Prima sent a collection of cute short poems, all from 1957….all this will be included in KLACT 5 (spring 67)…I have also written to Allen & asked him to contribute original work, hoping he be willing to do so…COULD YOU WRITE HIM AND TELL HIM A FEW GOOD WORDS ABOUT ME AND KLACTO PLAN AND URGE HIM TO SEND STUFF??!!!! He is at 408 East 10th Street, Apt. 4C, New York, NY 10009…
    I have not yet found time to contact the people you told me, but will do so any day now….I will concentrate on Subimal’s and your work, tho… in No 5….but may be I will also contact Howard McCord (please give me his address!)….if it shd turn out that I have space left for more Bengali/Indian in No 5…..
    DID YOU RECEIVE THE ‘ICONOLATRE’ ISSUE I SENT YOU??!!!
    Also Larry Eigner sent me more poem: today, which will be in KLACT 5…yeah, things are really swinging now!....I am also thinking of publishing George Dowden’s new great visionary poem RENEW JERUSALEM in a limited edition, sometime later this year, if I have the money….(!)…..
    The English original of your article of course will be in KLACT, and I will translate it into German, too, and look around for possible publication in German mag…ok? O YEAH! Looking forward to translated passages from ‘JAKHAM’ plus one page in original BENGALI! GREAT! Please note: Bengali page, if possible, should be written on white sheet of paper in black ink, and should be sent whole, that is, not folded----so that it can be used for repro….
    Do you know MAHENJODARO (ed. Samir Roy, 55/4 Natabar Pal Road, Howrah)? What it is like?---and POETRY TODAY (ed. Nissim Ezekiel, The Retreat, Bellasis Road, Bombay 8)? Qk. So much for this time.
    All best to you
    Love
    Carl
    Carl Weissner
    5 December 1966
    Dear malay
    The great sky is open----northern Italy washed away in vast mud & storm chaos & deluge----desperate letters from Donatella Manganotti----priceless artwork destroyed forever---and just a few minutes ago I hear in the news that they are in for yet another meterologic showdown---Bihar province like a vast dried-up cunt I gather---hunger & revolts everywhere---German government collapsed, neo-Nazi movement scoring for the gaps: Christian & Social Democrats joining forces to make a last desperate attempt at saving the old ship St. Nanana already half drowned---Hanoi set ablaze by efficient hordes of technicians of death masterminded by sick pentagon eunuchs & a corny Texan cowboy putting out fake charismatic vibrations that materialize in tons of explosives & charred remnants of Asian bodies enabling Wall Street to hang on for another fiscal year---you see how they are caught in loops and spins of lethal genetic roulette---a uniform grey generation scurrying among nuclear debris of heavily infected areas of cancerous mind like rats in terminal stage of dream withdrawl eating erogenous holes in huge chaotic setup of punch-cards that represent lives marked for Total Disposal---one more turnstile before the whole shithouse blows up---Nova Criminals wishing up dwarfed marks everywhere on this sick planet---SECONDS TO GO---you can already hear that heaving human blues heading for its irrevocable Dead Whistle Stop---so? Burning heavens, mister---nova armies conspiring across the wounded galaxies---icarus, nova-directed asteroid, due to blot out a terrestrial spot of bother the size of new york or tokio or London, on june 15, 1967---or September 13, 1968---what’s the difference---with the impact of one thousand hydrogen bombs---you see how things have grown to hitherto unimaginable bad proportions---a disarmament conference would have to include representatives of Nova, Interzone & Minraud, and there’s little chance that one could ever bomb this intergalactic gook rot to parley---and god knows how many of their agents are already operating among us disguised as word & image technicians seconds to go---we’ve got to attune our paranoiac feelers to that vast danger around us, spot them wherever they show a blind spot & stop them dead in their tracks---
    In order to achieve this we have to provide ourselves with an insight into their methods & operating schedules, and the work of Bill Burroughs & a few other semantic cosmonauts shows precisely who they are & how they operate---in supersonic patterns of sense-wave control---or long, medium, short & ultra short waves of the world---in cosy bed sitters, court-rooms, arenas, parliaments, newspapers, or gone streets---in subcutaneous offices of annexed brains around the paralyzed globe---right where you are sitting now there in Bad News Department walking in on you cool & casual with a perfunctory ‘hello there’---and metamorphosing you into an obedient Hate Virus host in a matter of seconds---if you are not fully aware---each second & if you do not know who they are & how to fight them---now---in forthcoming issue of KLACTOVEEDSEDSTEEN you will find more details & outlines of steps to be taken towards an immediate universal survival training in a piece by Mr. Burroughs & Mr. Weissner; called LAGUERRE PARTOUT (war everywhere), precisely showing some of the hideous techniques by which the nova criminals try to mono-police & control & manipulate so-called ‘reality’ in order to subvert & takeover mind & consciousness of every single of us---
    Carl
    Howard McCord
    10 January, 1967
    Dear Malay,
    It is a joy to receive your last three letters, for I see in them your good spirits and your kindness in telling me of the various Indian drugs. I do hope things turn for the better with you from now on, and that your appeal is successful. I have sent today the copy of the CITY LIGHTS JOURNAL you requested. I sent it directly to you by airmail. Yesterday I sent you a copy of my new book. Just today I received a copy of Gary Snyder’s reaction to the book, and it was wonderful. I admire him greatly as a poet, and he found my own poetry worthy and exciting, so I too am in good spirits.
    Yes, I would like some things from India: either ganja, bhang, or charas. I like the hemp/hashish derivatives of cannabis sativa (here in America the plant is generally weaker than in India, and the leaves and flowers are only smoked). But I do not care for any of the opiates. They are physiologically addictive, and depressants, additionally, cannabis is a psychedelic. In working over your letters, I have found INDIAN MATERIA MEDICA, by A.K.Nadkarni---and it is a great store of information about Indian medicinal plants. It has an especially good section on cannabis(marijuana).
    I have just been through many of the proofs of the new SALTED FEATHERS. It has a fine production, and should be out in a month. Dick may well already have sent one of the flyers, but I enclose one also. He has also written to Ferlinghetti for permission to publish once more STARK ELECTRIC JESUS, with more money coming to you, and I hope Ferlinghetti grants his request.
    My anthology goes along---I think by Feb I shall have the manuscript finished. Most of your things---like SEJ---will be included and as soon as I have a good list of contents, I’ll send it along to you.
    I really liked the paragraph about your mother & your youth. It would make a good poem.
    Ether is probably a good bash & drunk, but I wonder if it does what LSD does. In the old days Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas---as anaesthetic) also provided researchers with interesting experiences---William James for one. If, by the way, you should get into bad LSD trip, THORAZINE, a tranquilliser, is supposed to be a good antidote.
    A thick letter could probably also contain enough ganja, etc., for a cigarette or two and not be too noticeable, yes?
    Much love to you, and I hope the poem in
    FABLES AND TRANSFIGURATIONS talks.
    Howard
    Carol Berge
    March 7, 1967
    Dear Malay,
    Now I have your photo. McCord sent me a copy, or was it Dick Bakken! .Anyway, one of the friends here. You seem a fine handsome man---and I am glad to see
    Samir’s daughter as well. Your face sits opposite me, it is over my kitchen table, on the wall, so that each day when I break bread, I can share with you.
    Sometimes I don’t like being a part of a big city, but I never feel alone. This is trouble, in a way: there are always too many things to see and do: too many people and friends. The hardest thing is to be alone and do the work, too much temptation to go out and be busy. I tend therefore to be a recluse in my own way, though quite active to other eyes, in writing activities. I stay home almost all day everyday, to write or read or answer letters etc. I go out three or four nights a week, reading poetry or listening, going to dance programs, or to hear music etc.,---there are many activities within just a four-block radius of where I live.
    Yes, of course, I received your resume, didn’t I acknowledge it yet? I gave copies to McCord, to David Antin, to Joel Oppenheimer (I think), and to Bob Creely up at Buffalo (State Univ). I have no idea what might happen but all I can do is to try for you, with those friends who are academically affiliated…..I wish you so much good luck!
    Sure, I would like to have a double-volume of poems out, your poems and mine. I shall make the suggestion to Nelson Ball, Apt 4, 22 Young St., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, who publishes VOLUME 63, at University of Waterloo, Canada. Nelson recently let me edit a section of New York poets for his magazine. He is also editing a series of small poetry books. Let me get him to write to you; in the meantime, you could write to him if you wish, offering him 15-18 pages of poetry for him to select from. What do you think? I had the idea of giving him two or three ‘long’ poems, each about three pages long. You might do the same. This is one of the propositions that he would be interested in the idea of double volume. I think it would be very interesting indeed & it is possible it would give us a nice public interest, and a tiny bit of money maybe. How are you doing for money these days? Are you still working? Tell me.
    What you say about always having felt that in your life there is always something pending, something big about to happen----no, my story is that I did not go anywhere or do anything at all of any importance till I was 30 years of age---so that at 30 I still looked around 22, and my mind and emotions were that of an adolescent. I’ve done all of my growing up in the last eight years. This keeps me naïve and still 10 years behind my peers in my work and my ideas. But I sure did live a fast and hectic 8 years, trying to catch up. All the work of mine that you’ve seen comes from this period. All of everything. I think it is a question of working against fate to get the world to accept you on your own terms. You could call it ‘the Establishment’ too if you wanted to. Of course here we don’t have
    The desperate poverty and the simple physical argument you have in India---although I was poor as a child. But each artist constructs its irritant against which the struggle seems stronger. All of us seem ill---suited to fit into the society in most ways. I think it has always been thus, as we shall always have wars. Part of the human condition. And the artist representing the human condition has to extend to cover all of human experience somehow---the rich, the satisfied, the ugly, the lovely---all of it---you know all of it no matter where you live or how you live. And so do I, somehow….
    A friend, Wendell Metzger, a strange fine man who is a playwright, is going to be in India soon. I gave him your address so that he could contact you if he was able. He is not a part of our ‘hip’ scene as with Allen G. & our other friends, somewhat older too, but a good friend. See him if you can.
    Today I think that life means only resisting; there seem to be no easy steps or solutions. I wish for too much and then I wish for the peace of no-wishing. This has been a good year until now but begins to get difficult and moody again. But my health is good and there are a few people who understand, and a few others who love me, and always the writing, so one continues. I haven't any idea what sustains any of us, do you? I call it ‘The Infernal Spirit’ in my own mind sometime.That doomed flame. You will be a popular success in this country before you are accepted on your own! And how often this has been the case. US writers succeeded in England before the US, and our musicians certainly find more success and response in European Opera halls, concert halls and Jazz cellars than in the slow sedentary stiff minds of their own countrymen. Stubborn!
    Write to me again soon, now I feel we’ve had some kind of long talk about the condition of being creative----at least a beginning----
    With love as always, yr friend
    Carol
    Ameeq Hanfee, 140 Gandhi Park Colony, Indore 1
    April 12, 1967
    My dear Malay,
    I am sorry that my correspondence stood still for the last two months or so. I found myself quite barren to create and produce anything. NO communication was possible. A very turbulent emotional and neurotic storm was raging within me. My intellect failed to play the Noah’s Ark. Somehow I am emerging out of this and feel better and fertile. It was quite an experience I never had before. Though incomplete, I find it has filled a gap. When I look back, I feel that only a storm could wash my inner self that had accumulated a lot of dirt and the wet dusters of reason could not clear it off.
    I feel it was a process of catharsis. It was like a surgical operation of the heart of my soul and the suffering and pain was because no anaesthesia was given. Now, when the wounds are healing up, I have a different vision. It is a pleasure that fills me. The words break, the images crack and the expressions burst when I try them to contain this new experience---perhaps because it is still too hot. I very much doubt if LSD and other drugs can bring forth the images and ecstatic patterns that this semi-mystic experience is projecting before the inward eye. Language is a very weak vehicle to convey this
    Well I am anxiously awaiting the finale of your trial. It is not you but all of us on trial. It is freedom, in you, on trial.
    I am glad to hear that the Hungryalists have warmed up again and are assailing the literary scene with more vigour and virulence.
    ‘Zakhm’ is waiting to appear in print. The mag in which two of my articles and ‘Zakhm’ have been accepted for publication has been delayed and I have not been told when it will be published.
    Your suggestion that I must bring out a cyclostyled collection of my translated poems strikes me immensely. I am inclined to take to it.
    Sincerely
    Ameeq Hanfee
    George Dowden, London.
    22 April 1967
    Dear Malay,
    Good to hear from you; glad you have some kind of job now. I’ve gotten together with Utpal Basu here, good bloke, but doesn’t seem to be doing any writing here; just teaching. He introduced me to the shehnai (recording: The Magical Shehnai of Bismillah Khan), which is a lovely instrument. I dig the morning raga on that recording, but not the evening one particularly. I also wrote to Dick Bakken about collecting SALTED FEATHERS, just yesterday. I am about to write to the National Library of India about Ginsberg, as you suggested. Meanwhile, if you have spare copies of any Indian mags he was in, please send, like UTTARSURI of Dec 1963, MOHENJODARO of 1963 etc. AS I said, I’ll pay---or send you things in exchange. You mentioned wanting books on Cubism, Surrealism and Dadaism---there is a good series here, which includes all of these, a book on each; the publisher is Thomas Hudson; the Cubism book is by Edward f. Fry, Surrealism by Patric Waldberg, Dadaism by Hans Richter. Do you have these available there? If not, I’ll get them for you and send. Let me know.
    Did RENEW JERUSALEM arrive all right? Let me hear you about it. Seeing lawyers now, wanting to safely bring out an edition here.
    America is getting worse and worse; lies and destruction, threat to the whole world. Fortunately the youth are not listening to their bullshit except to jeer at it, and as long as that goes on, can not be stopped, there is hope. If the totalitarian impetus in America gets its own way, and all the power, then all hope is gone. South America would become the next Vietnam, and so on. But I think they will be stopped---though not until more blood flows.
    Let me know how you are doing. Write soon.
    Cheers,
    George Dowden
    Ten
    In the issue dated 20th November 1964 TIME magazine wrote, “A thousand years ago, India was the land of Vātsyāyana's Kāma Sūtra, the classic volume that so thoroughly detailed the art of love that its translators still usually leave several key words in Sanskrit. Last week, in a land that has become so straitly laced that its movie heroines must burst into song rather than be kissed, five scruffy young poets were hauled into Calcutta's dreary Bankshall Court for publishing works that would have melted even Vātsyāyana's pen. The Hungry Generation had arrived. Born in 1962, with an inspirational assist from visiting the U.S. Beatnik Allen Ginsberg, Calcutta's Hungry Generation is a growing band of young Bengalis with tigers in their tanks. Somewhat unoriginally they insist that only in immediate physical pleasure do they find any meaning in life, and they blame modern society for their emptiness. On cheaply printed paper, they pour forth a torrent of starkly explicit erotic writings, most of them based on their own exploits ("In the Taj Mahal with My Sister") or on dreams. "My theme is me," says Hungry Poet Shaileshwar Ghose, 26, a schoolteacher. "I say what I feel. I feel frustration, hunger for love, hunger for food." Three Widows. To all appearances, their appetites are unlimited. In a short story, Bank Clerk Malay Roychowdhury, 25, tells of a starving poet who first devours his fiancée, then his poetry notebook, then a building and Calcutta's huge Howrah Bridge. A poem by Schoolteacher Ghose crows that "I impregnated three widows at a time, and now I am lying in bed happy. What next?" Absurd as they seem, the Hungries see themselves as the spokesmen of a betrayed and miserable people. "Our frustration is not just personal," says a 28-year-old geology lecturer. "It comes from the strains, the poverty, the squalor of our society." And in a series of violent manifestoes, the Hungries singled out their enemies, including hypocrites, conventional writers and politicians whose place in society lies "somewhere between the dead body of a harlot and a donkey's tail." To "let loose a creative furor," the Hungries last summer sent every leading Calcutta citizen—from police commissioner to wealthy spinsters—engraved, four-letter-worded invitations for a topless bathing suit contest. Done-for World. With that, the entire Calcutta establishment rose up in rage. Newspaper editorials, quoting passages from their works, proved conclusively that they were dangerous and dirty—so much so that Calcutta's reading public began to look for them. Under civic pressure, the police hauled away 26 of the "poets" for questioning. Five were suspended from their jobs and booked on charges of obscene writing and conspiracy against society. The evidence for last week's trial was irrefutable, but meanwhile the Indian government had been approached by sympathetic intellectuals at home and abroad. Looking for a face-saving exit, the Calcutta prosecutor, temporarily, requested a postponement in court. To celebrate their temporary freedom, the hungry beats raided an art gallery, beat up three painters, then walked happily away to resume their pursuit of the Hungry Generation's declared goal—"to undo the done-for world and start afresh from chaos."
    Allen Ginsberg hsd gifted a copy of City Lights Journal  to Buddhadev Basu in which our poems were published and he wrote about Bengali poetry. Buddhadev Basu wrote to Sunil Gasngopadhyay that Ginsberg had no idea of Bengali poetry. The copy gifted to Buddhadev Basu by Ginsberg was later purchased by Adrish Biswas from College Street footpath. The letter Ginsberg wrote to Abu Sayed Ayyub, a member of Indian Congress for Cultural Freedom and Ayyub’s reply have appeared in several periodicals. Abu Sayed Ayyub’s mother tongue was Urdu. The letters give a glimpse of the thought process of gatekeepers of Bengali Culture: 
    Allen Ginsberg’s letter to Abu Sayed Ayyub :
    704 East, 5th Street, NYC, Apt 5A, USA, October 6, 1964
    Dear Abu Sayyed
    Obviously my note to you was stupidly peremptory or short witted and I am sorry I got your goat, possibly or probably I deserve to be put down for the irritant discourtesy of my writing & the presumption in it, telling you what to do, etc. butting in where it is not my affair and possibly ignorant of the quality of the texts. And chiding a senior. For which I do wish to apologise, offering as an excuse that I wrote in great haste — many letters on the same subject the same afternoon — and that the situation as I understand it is a little more threatening to the young scribes than you understand it to be. Maybe it has settled a lot since I wrote. But from what I understand, from the letters from Malay, as well as Sunil Ganguly & Utpal Basu ( & the latter two seem to be mature in judgement ) ( Malay I like as a person & do actually admire the liveliness of his englished manifestos — to my mind a livelier prose wit than any other Indian English Writing. ) ( though I realise he is inexperienced & impetuous and part of the charm is the naivete of the manifestos. or, better, innocence of them ) ( this simply being a matter of of gut taste preference intuition & certainly not the sort of literary matter to be settled by police action ) : the police situation at one time was that not only Malay but his brother Samir ( an excellent philosopher ) as well as Debi Roy as well as two young boys I never met Saleswar and Subhash Ghose were all arrested. Then let out on bail. In addition to a general police investigation, according to Utpal, “those arrested are already suspended from their jobs & if they are convicted they may lose it.” Further Ananda Bazar Patrika, Jugantar, Janata and other Bengali papers fanned the fire against “obscene literary conspiracy.” Simultaneously the Supreme Court judgement of Lady Chatterley as obscene also, has, according to a clipping I read, from Times of India, “led many people to complain about the lewdness in the writings of many Bengali poets and novelists. Says Basu, “impossible to get any other job if one is lost.” The arrested five were tied and locked up for one or two days each. Utpal Basu was detained by police and questioned for five hours. I also understand that Sunil was questioned by police. As far as I know it is still not decided whether or not the police will actually prosecute, and that decision will depend on the support given to the younger writers by older established writers and like the cultural groups Indian Congress For Cultural Freedom. Everyone I hear from has said that the Congress for Cultural Freedom has not spoken up in any way. All told the situation, whether or not one approves of the literary quality of the texts, is much more threatening than I would gather from your letter. My own experience of the bureaucratic complications of police investigation in India — it is endless and Kafkian grimness — led me to a much less light-hearted view of the matter than yourself. As you may remember I was followed for months in Benares, visited by the police, threatened by Marxists, given a ten day quit India notice on vague charges of distributing obscene literature & corrupting the young. It took intervention by friends in the Home Ministry in Delhi & a letter from the Indian Consulate in New York to begin to straighten it out. So I have no confidence that a dismal legal process on literary matters once started, is so easily dismissed. Particularly where young apolitical inexperienced enthusiasts are concerned..
    I do not agree with you at all in your evaluation as obscene & filthy the sentence :”Fuck the bastards of Gangshalik School of Poetry”. Not that I even know which school that is. But it is common literary parlance both in speech and public texts from cafes of Paris or Calcutta to old manifestos by Tristan Tzara. The style, the impetuousness, the slight edge of silly ill-will, the style of “Burn the Libraries' ', an old charming XX Century literary cry. I do not really feel very “shocked” to hear that they let a lady show people her breasts in public. Do you seriously find that offensive ? I suppose it is a little bit against the law — of course they had a woman completely naked on the balcony last year of the Edinburgh Festival — brightest moment of the Fete I hear tell — Yes, certainly I do approve. However I did not think of it myself nor “promote” it from halfway around the world. And I do not really think that mere publicity is the deepest motive one can find in such typical Dada actions. In that I think you are really doing them an injustice, however low you grade their literary productions. Because, after all there is considerable difference of opinion, as to the literary quality. Ferlinghetti, who does not know these writers, is publishing a self-translated section of writings by Malay, Sunil & basu in his City Lights Journal. The texts were collected by Mrs Bonnie Crown of the Asia Society, who found them as interesting as any translated texts she had been able to collect. The magazine KULCHUR here — which has considerable avant-garde circulation — also reprinted three of the manifestos in question ( on prose, poetry & politics ) earlier this year. This is independent of my correspondence with anyone.
    In sum, what I do know, in translation of the poetry & manifestos of Malay & the other poets arrested or questioned by the police, was pleasing. So, despite half a world difference, and acknowledging your greater familiarity with the literature, I must claim my prerogative as poet and also as critic ( since I edited and acted as agent here for such unpublished writers as Kerouac & Burroughs & Artaud as well as several different schools of US poetry ) to stand by my intuition and say I do definitely see signs of modern life well expressed in their works. Not claiming they are geniuses or even great — simply that in certain precise areas expressing psychic dissatisfaction with their society, they do reflect well their thoughts, and reflect uniquely –their other contemporaries & seniors being more interested in classical piety or “sociological” mature formulations, Marxism, Humanism etc. I do not think it would be correct to term them Beatnik much less Beatnik imitators, since that is primarily a journalistic stereotype that never even fit the US supposed “Beatniks.”
    Regarding the Congress for Cultural Freedom, I do stand by my fear that it is 1) possibly supported by Foundation funds connected with the US government. 2 ) Less alert to dangers of suppression within the Western world and allies than within the Iron Curtain. In the US we have been all this year undergoing a siege of legal battles over stage works, books, movies, poetry etc. which has nearly crippled the public activity of avantguard. I contacted the US Committee for Cultural Freedom head Mr A. Beichman who said himself, the Congress is only a skeleton group in the US now inactive. And this year I contacted John Hunt from New York to move the Congress to defend Olympia Press in Paris. This is a lag. My criticism was more just than you will allow, though overstated. OK Best Conscience.
    Allen
    [PS]
    Do you really insist that the Manifestos can NOT be classed as “Literature” & therefore it is not a literary repression problem ??? Really ?????????????????????????????????
    I will write to the Paris Office as well as Mr Karnick. You must remember that the Russians denounce Brodsky and Yevtushenko/Voznesensky as 3rd rate writers, worth no official attention. And I have heard that often enough about myself from US Police agencies.
    Abu Sayed Ayyub’s letter dated 31 October 1964 to Allen Ginsberg :
    Dear Mr Ginsberg,
    I am amazed to get your  pointlessly discourteous letter of 13th. That you agree with the Communist characterization of the Congress for Cultural Freedom as a fraud and a bullshit intellectual liberal anti-communist syndicate did not, however, surprise me; for I never thought the Congress had any charge of escaping your contempt for everything ‘bourgeois’ or ‘respectable’.
    If any known Indian literature or intellectual comes under police repression for their literary or intellectual work, I am sure the Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom would move in the matter without any ungraceful promptings from you. I am glad to tell you that no repressions of any kind has taken place here currently. Malay Roychoudhury and his young friends of the Hungry Generation have not produced any worthwhile to my knowledge, though they have produced and distributed a lot of self-advertizing leaflets and printed letters abusing distinguished people in filthy and obscene language ( I hope you agree that the word ‘Fuck’ is obscene and ‘Bastard’ at least in the sentence “Fuck the bastards of the Gangshalik School of Poetry’, they have used worse language in regard to poets whom they have not hesitated to refer to by name ). Recently they hired a woman to exhibit her bosom in public and invited a lot of people including myself to witness this wonderful avant garde exhibition  ! You may think it your duty to promote in the name of Cultural Freedom such adolescent pranks in Calcutta from halfway round the world. You would permit me to differ from you in regard to what is my duty.
    It was of course foolish of the police to play into the hands of these young men and hold a few of them in custody for a few days ( they have all been released now ) thus giving the publicity and some public sympathy—publicity is precisely what they want to gain through their pranks.
    I do not agree with you that it is the prime task of the Indian Committee for Cultural Freedom to take up the cause of these immature imitators of American Beatnik Poetry. I respect your knowledge of European literature but can not permit myself to be guided by your estimation of writers in my language —- a language of which you choose to remain totally ignorant.
    With all good wishes in spite of  our grave disagreements and in admiration of some of your wonderful poems.
    Yours Sincerely
    Abu Sayeed Ayyub
    The legal battle at Bankshall Court went on for twenty to thirty minutes every week which was creating big holes in my pocket, without any place to stay or have lunch and dinner. My health was deteriorating. The prosecution produced witnesses to prove it was my poem, written and circulated by me, seized from my custody, and that it was obscene. Police informers Pabitra Ballabh and Sasmir Basu claimed that they knew me very well, though I did not meet them earlier, and that the poem was vulgar and obscene, and that they had seen me distributing the booklet in Albert Hall Coffee House. My associates, Subhas Ghose, Saileswar Ghose, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Utpal Kumar Basu, though did not say that the poem was obscene but were vague in their reply at the cross examination. 
    The courtroom was very dirty, with a two blade British ceiling fan above your head which made more sounds than air. The walls were layered with spit, red colour betel leaf spit at the corner of the room. Most of the chairs were without handles and some benches at the back, all full of bugs. The light bulb was dim. My lawyers did not take any seats. They just argued and proceeded towards another room for another client’s argument. I was made to stand by the side of a big cage in which undertrial bandits and murderers who did not get bail, assembled. They came from jail through the back door. One day one of the bandits, who was listening to arguments, suddenly told me in a hushed voice, “Those fellows were members of your gang and now speaking against you ? Do not spare them. Cut off their heads after your trial.”
    To counter the arguments of these persons my lawyer Chandi Charan Moitra advised me to approach some writers or poets who would argue in favour of the poem. Ginsberg had written to Sunil to become a defence witness. Jyotirmoy Datta and Tarun Sanyal themselves approached me and offered to be defence witnesses. I also approached poet Ajit Dutta;s son Satrajit Datta who was a psychiatrist at Kolkata’s Lumbini Park Mental Hospital. Sunil, in cross examination, told the judge that he had read the poem and read it out loud if the court permitted it. ‘Stark Electric Jesus’ was a beautiful poem, he said. The expression of an important poet. Tarun said that his students had liked the poem, that it was a piece of creative art. Jyotirmoy testified that it was an experimental poem and not at all immoral or obscene. Satrajit said there was no question of inflaming passion or depraving the mind of a reader.
    The trial came to a close at Bankshall Court on December 28, 1965, which means my ordeal at this lower court took one year and three months. The judge Amal Mitra, in his ten page verdict, found me guilty, directed me to pay a fine of two hundred rupees or be imprisoned for one month, and gave orders for the destruction of all copies of the issue. The judgement created such fear among poets and writers that they not only destroyed this particular issue but all the bulletins they had saved, Daniella Capello who has worked for a doctoral thesis on our movement has found several bulletins and photographs at various universities in USA and Europe. The Indian author Uttaran Das Gupta found them in the British Library. 
     It being the maximum penalty, the judge did not permit me to appeal to Kolkata High Court. I filed a revision petition at the High Court and started searching for a good criminal lawyer. Stark Electric Jesus was the first legally condemned poem in Bengali literature. The judge did not rely on prosecution or defence testimony, but rather drafted his own piece of literary criticism, aware of its going down in our literary history, as evident from the last passage of his verdict which is as follows :
    “By no stretch of imagination can it be called, what has been argued. An artistic piece of erotic realism opening up new dimensions to contemporary Bengali literature or a kind of experimental piece of writing, but ot appears to be a report of a repressed or a most perverted mind that os obsessed with sex in all its nakedness and thrives on, or revels in, utter vulgarity and profanity preoccupied with morbid eroticism and promiscuity in all its naked ugliness and uncontrolled passion for opposite sex. It transgresses public decency and morality substantially, rather at public decency and morality by its higher morbid erotic effects unredeemed by anything literary or artistic. It is an affront to current community standards, decency, and morality. The writing viewed separately and as a whole treats sex, that great motivating force in human life, in a manner that surpasses the permissible limits judged from our community standards, and as there is no redeeming social value or gain to society which can be said to preponderate, I must hold that the writing had failed to satisfy the time-honoured test. Therefore it has got to be stamped out.” 
    Eleven
    The hearing at the High Court takes several months, even years, as thousands of cases pile up. Jyotirmoy Datta introduced me to Karuna Sankar Roy who had practised in London and had started to act as an assistant solicitor to famous criminal lawyer Mrigen Sen. Mr Roy informed me that fighting a case in the High Court requires big money. He however assured that he has talked to Mrigen Sen who is aware of the case and would not charge much, but his assistant lawyers Ananga Dhar and A.K.Basu should be paid the expenses they incur while filing the case. I gave him all the papers and files containing court documents. I also handed over to Ananga Dhar whatever money I had pooled till then to enable him to get the vakalatnama or the power to fight the case on my behalf signed by me. He said I need not bother about the trial as they are going to argue the case at the High Court whenever it comes up for hearing. 
    Although The Searchlight, a daily newspaper, published a special supplement on the eve of my conviction by lower court, with a twenty thousand words essay by its editor, Subhas Chandra Sarkar. Life for me had become miserable all those six months. Living in a dark, damp, dilapidated room at Uttarpara most of the time, alone, shrinking, taking a bath once or twice a week in the Hooghly river to get rid of lice, eating at anybody’s expense, begging around money for the court expenses, in dwindling health, suffering harsh criticisms and with dementia creeping in, I felt shattered. All these experiences I was getting bit by bit, being a slow writer, in JAKHAM, a long poem  alternating sighs and shrieks as I abandoned traditional metrics. It was translated by Carl Weissner in German in 1967, who had translated William Burroughs in German and reprinted by Joan Silva in NETWORK, translated into Hindi by Kanchan Kumar. 
    Prof Howard McCord had raised some money from three editions of STARK ELECTRIC JESUS. Crore Berge organised a poetry reading at Saint Marks Church, New York, where poems were read by Paul Blackburn, Allen Hoffman, Clayton Esleyman, Armand Shwerner, Carol Rubenstien, Gary Youree, Allen Planz,  Ted Berrigan, Jerome Rothenberg, Bob Nichols, David Antin, Jackson McLaw. Special Indian issues of INTREPID by Alan de Loach, SALTED FEATHERS, FACT, SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE, IMAGO, WHERE, TRACE, WORK, ICONOLTRE, PANAROMA were printed in USA and UK and the proceeds sent to me. In Calcutta I got help only from Asok Mitra and Kamalkumar Majumdar. I also raised some loans to meet the fees of my solicitors.
    With my conviction at lower court most of the Hungryalists started deserting me ; it was difficult to hold them together. Debi and Saileswar, Subo and Ramananda, Subhas and Tridib developed a sort of George Oppen-Louis Zookofsky relationship, making it very difficult to carry on the group with me. Those who were sitting on the fence, a large number of them, just disappeared from the literary scene. Myself, Subimal and Tridib made a trip to Subo’s Bishnupur house for a change. Subo had fled to a Tripura village when the Police issued arrest warrants and reappeared after my conviction. I had not been to Bishnupur earlier, which was  150 km away from Kolkata by road. Bishnupur was the seat of power for the Malla dynasty, which built the famous terracotta temples during the 17th and 18th centuries. We found that Subo had devoted himself to Hindu religion. His family background and the place might have influenced him. The origins of Bishnupur as a religious and cultural hub with its distinctive temple architecture is closely tied to the Gaudiya Vaishnava devotional movement of the sixteenth century in eastern India and Bengal in particular (then known as Gaud or Gaur). The bhakti saint and social reformer, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486–1533), founded Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a brand of spiritualism marked by an emotive and intimate devotion to the Hindu god Krishna, the central deity of the tradition. Vrindavan—the mythical site where Krishna spent his youth, believed to be located in the woods by the river Yamuna in north India—held a profound fascination for devotees of the Vaishnava faith. Pika Ghosh argues that Bishnupur’s emergence as an important centre for Gaudiya Vaishnava is tied to the transformation of the forests of Bishnupur into a hallowed centre in an attempt to recreate a ‘Gupta Vrindavan’, that is, a hidden Vrindavan in Bishnupur. It is unfortunate that we could not take Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder to Bishnupur. 
    We forced Subo to spare a day for us and saw the town’s terracotta work and conch shell bangles cutting and weaving of Baluchari sarees famous for depicting events from Ramayana on borders. Thereafter we had a few puffs of cannabis and started walking aimlessly through the green paddy fields. We came to a river bank and took off our clothes and waded through the river water. After crossing the river we sat beneath a tree all naked and smoked the leftovers. Next day we went to meet Ananda Bagchi who taught Bengali at a local college. He was very happy to meet us. Years later, he was the first academician to include Stark Electric Jesus in a poetry anthology. 
    My next trip was to Berhampur in Murshidabad with Subimal Basak as our bulletins and books used to be printed at a local press after Calcutta presses refused to print our works. We met famous poet and author Manish Ghatak. He was also happy to meet us. I felt that those poets and writers who lived out of Calcutta were supportive of us. Manish Ghatak's parents were Suresh Chandra Ghatak and Indubala Devi. Noted Bengali film director Ritwik Ghatak was his youngest brother. Ghatak married Dharitri Devi, who was from the well known Chaudhuri family in Dhaka, in undivided Bengal, with Sankho Chaudhuri, the noted sculptor and Sachin Chaudhuri, the founder-editor of the Economic and Political Weekly of India, being her siblings. Mahasweta Devi is their eldest daughter.  His eldest grandson, Mahasweta Devi's son, Nabarun Bhattacharya was also a very well-known writer. Apart from Manish Ghatak I have not met any of them. Subimal took me to a village where his aunt’s mother resided. While we were sleeping inside a mosquito net, in the morning we got up after hearing shrieks of children. We found a cobra on the roof of the mosquito net, which might have fallen from the wall or ceiling. We had Hungryalist bulletins with us with which we succeeded in throwing away the snake. The old lady saw that the snake had entered a hollow of a tree. She took lots of sugar and with it drew a trail from needle ants to the place where the snake had hidden. By afternoon we say the snake has been eaten by the needle ants and only its head remained looking at us. I remembered that at our Imlitala house we used to see a large number of ants coming out of holes and fighting among themselves. At Imlitala house we also encountered scorpions.
    Along with Subimal and David Garcia I visited Samir, who was now posted at a place called Dumka. The house was quite big but the lavatory did not have doors. In front of the lavatory there was a big jackfruit tree from which jackfruits hung right from the ground. Those who went to the lavatory for shitting would hang their clothes on any of the jackfruit. Most of the hippies who visited Dumka for tasting mahua liquor found the lavatory very funny. 
    Hippiedom had started by then and a large number of hippies arrived at Benaras in search of Karuna Nidhan who arranged for their stay and food as well as the pot joints to be visited at Benaras. Hippie ladies paid him in sex. He would have sex with any foreigner women, even older than him. Whatever he earned from the Hippies he would send to his wife through someone or go himself to handover the money. His wife knew about his sexual life. Karuna Nidhan lived with a hippie woman in a hut on the other side of Ganges river. When I went to meet them in a boat they were both naked. The hippies inherited various countercultural views and practices regarding sex and love from the Beat Generation; "their writings influenced the hippies to open up when it came to sex, and to experiment without guilt or jealousy.One popular hippie slogan that appeared was "If it feels good, do it!"] which for many meant "you are free to love whomever you please, whenever you please, however you please". This encouraged spontaneous sexual activity and experimentation. Group sex, public sex, homosexuality; under the influence of drugs, all the taboos went out the window. This doesn't mean that straight sex or monogamy were unknown, quite the contrary. Nevertheless, the open relationship became an accepted part of the hippie lifestyle. This meant that you might have a primary relationship with one person, but if another attracted you, you could explore that relationship without rancour or jealousy.
    Hippies embraced the old slogan of free love of the radical social reformers of other eras; it was accordingly observed that "Free love made the whole love, marriage, sex, baby package obsolete. Love was no longer limited to one person, you could love anyone you chose. In fact love was something you shared with everyone, not just your sex partners. Love exists to be shared freely. We also discovered the more you share, the more you get! So why reserve your love for a select few? This profound truth was one of the great hippie revelations.
    Ginsberg and Orlovsky had made Benaras quite famous. The hippies followed a route from Amsterdam which came to be known as Hippy Trail, the name given to the overland journey taken by members of the hippie subculture and others from the mid-1950s to the late 1970s  between Europe and South Asia, mainly from Turkey through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan,  India, to Nepal; an alternative route ran from Turkey to the Levant. The hippie trail was a form of alternative tourism, and one of the key elements was travelling as cheaply as possible, mainly to extend the length of time away from home. The term "hippie" became current in the mid-to-late 1960s; "beatnik" was the previous term from the later 1950s. In every major stop of the hippie trail, there were hotels, restaurants and cafés for Westerners, who networked with each other as they travelled east and west. The hippies tended to interact more with the local population than traditional sightseers did. The hippie trail largely ended in the late 1970s with the advent of a military dictatorship in Pakistan that banned many hippie attractions, the Iranian Revolution resulting in an anti-Western government, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan starting a major war, closing the route to Western travellers.
    Most of the hippies while travelling to Nepal would make a stopover at our Dariapur house for a day. Ma felt they were quite dirty as they did not take bath regularly. She was, however, conversant with their naked bath as Ginsberg had come and stayed at our Dariapur house for sometime in 1963. Like Ginsberg they had accustomed themselves to eat by sitting on a mat on the floor. In Nepal, housing and all drugs were very cheap. Ma used to sit with them and ask whether they liked her cooking. Ginsberg had learnt a little bit of Hindi. So it was not difficult to converse with him. I had taken Ginsberg to Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna Museum, Golghar and the Ganges river bank. He had recited SunFlower Sutra inside Golghar inside which the sound reverberates for twentyone times. But I did not like his interest in taking photos of beggars, lame men, wayward sanyasis etc. Dad also was angry about it and told him, ‘your foreigners find only these things in India, whether you are an ordinary tourist or a famous poet’. That was the correct opinion. I have not taken photographs of beggars or destitute people when I visited Europe.
    Sometime before my case came up in High Court Karuna Nidhan wrote me a letter to come urgently to Kathmandu in Nepal as he had gone there with some Hippies and that there were lots of women, cannabis and hashish of good quality. Myself, Samir, Anil, Subimal, Kanchan Kumar and Samir went to Kathmandu and stayed in a room in a huge building flocked with Hippies. It was a three storied old wooden palace in an area called Thamel. There were hundreds of residents. Toilets were limited. We stopped taking baths. We were provided with hay mattresses on the floor and had to pay one rupee per head per month. On the news of our arrival the Nepal Academy arranged for our food, drink, poetry reading and visits to various places. We drank Nepalese liquor Rashki with raw buffalo meat crushed by hand, not cooked as well as pickles made of deer flesh. Famous Nepali lady poet Parijat invited us for a drink made of wheat. A painting exhibition for Anil and Karuna’s works were organised by the Afro-American owner of Max Gallery at Kathmandu, Anil’s paintings were sold off but some of Karuna’s paintings remained unsold which were gathered by Karuna and put on fire. The Hippies who had assembled started singing and dancing  around the fire.
    The Hippies could not utter Swayambhunath, so the ancient Buddhist shrine became known  as The Monkey Temple. I did not know what a monkey temple was when Karuna talked about it. There were lots of monkeys and hippies high on hash lying around. Most of the Hippies had fled home to avoid going to the Vietnam war. They were getting their expenses sent by parents through American Express. A fat American lady, Madeline Coreitt,  probably was impressed with the news about the Hungryalist movement and my photo in TIME magazine. She used to kiss me on my lips in the morning as long as I was there. I have written about her in my novel ARUP TOMAR ENTOKANTA.The bamboo and brick palace in which we stayed has since been demolished. It is a modern city area now.
    Freak Street was the epicentre during the Hippie trail from the early 1960s to late 1970s. During that time the main attraction drawing tourists to Freak Street was the government-run hashish shops. Hippies from different parts of the world travelled to Freak Street in Basantapur in search of legal cannabis. Direct bus services to Freak Street were also available from the airport and borders targeting the hippies looking for legal smokes. Freak Street was a hippie nirvana, since marijuana and hashish were legal and sold openly in government licensed shops. A young restless population in the west, seeking to distance itself from political and social frustration, had firsthand contact with the culture, art and architecture, and lifestyle that attracted them to Freak Street. Subsequently, like all other countries Nepal also banned cannabis and hashish. 
    I returned to Uttarpara. The building was desolate without granny. Number of pigeons had multiplied. Trees had grown in crevices of the building. My lawyers informed that the case had not even been listed and may take time. I was feeling very lonely. When I visited the Albert Street Coffee House and took a seat at a table all others would leave to avoid me. Subimal bought me a train ticket for Patna, which I reached in stupor and delirium ; Ma weeped at my trauma, and I remained bedridden for a month. Tridib’s letters were awaiting my recovery. He had written that Subhas, Basudeb, Saileswar and Arunesh had launched a separate group using the word Khudhartho which is the Bengali of Hungry – keeping me out – and that their magazine contained a vituperative attack on me. I felt that I was a cultural outsider to even my friends. In the ‘Indian Writing’ edited by and published by Penguin, Sandipan Chattopadhyay claimed that “he was also responsible for starting the Hungryalist movement in Bengal along with Shakti Chattopadhyay and Utpal Kumar Basu.”  Khudharto's first issue was published in 1969 and Saileswar wrote ‘Malay was a Bihari Babu,. I was attacked by Subhas Ghose as late as in 1975 though he himself had joined the Communist Party Marxist, becoming a local committee member, storing party flags and publicity material in his house. The Party was  was creating havoc in West Bengal about which Subhas kept silent. My erstwhile friends were unable to forget me probably because the demon of my Outsiderness was haunting them. 
    Music was there to fall back on as I came to know Robin Dutta, who drew me first into stories from Palestrina, Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel, Haydn, Berlioz, Franck and then to his discs and cassettes of compositions by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Brahms, an engaging experience relieving my burden. Dad purchased for me a record player with a sitar recital disc of maestro Ravishankar and thumri of Bade Gulam Ali. Ferlinghetti sent me Ginsberg’s reading of Kaddish and Ezra Pound reading his cantos, which I listened to in the evenings. I had, on doctor’s advice, stopped smoking except for a rolled tobacco once in a while. 
    Subimal’s younger brother informed Dad that the hearing at the High Court was fixed for July 26, 1967. I did not feel like going to Calcutta. The life I had spent there was horrifying ; I shuddered at the thought. July 26 came and passed away. Subimal arrived after a week, smiling, with newspaper reports of my exoneration and a certified copy of the verdict of Justice T.P.Mukherji of Calcutta High Court castigating the lower court judge for his judicial blunder and the Calcutta police for their harassments. There was only one congratulatory postcard. It was froom Sandipan Chattopadhyay.
    I felt blank, gave Subimal whatever books, correspondence files, diaries he wanted, gave up meeting people, withdrew into my Outsiderness. I was unable to write, no images flittered by, lines refused to be composed in my mind. I sat at the table doing nothing, for weeks, for months, nervousness galloped, without a purpose ; there were no letters from friends and editors. 
    Twelve
    In the winter of 1968, at Nagpur, I was introduced by Sulochana Naidu, a Telugu lady, to her bespectacled friend Shalia Mukherjee, a frail lady of peacock gait, a couple of schoolgirl tresses, deep wide eyes and a voice shy enough to make me fumble for words as I controlled myself from placing my head on her lap and weeping. She had lost her mother when a baby, had two sisters, elder married, younger teaching in a Chrstian school. Har father, Sudhir Mukherjee, had left them with the maternal grandfather and disappeared to appear again after several decades with a wife and little son in her lap but was ordered to get out of the house for his irresponsible behaviour. He did not arrive again to claim his children. Sudhir Mukherjee was a rich smart man in tuxedo working as a manager in a big hotel at Murree Hills, now in Pakistan. Shalila’s maternal grandfather’s family members had heard that he was secretly serving the interests of leaders of the freedom movement which became known to the British owners of the hotel. He was incarcerated for sometime and did not get a suitable job to sustain. This might have changed the flamboyant young man to a destitute, forcing him to leave his wife with the rich father in law.
    Shalila knew nothing about my literary activities and was informed about it by Sulochana Naidu who showed her my photographs and write ups by Hindi writers in well circulated Hindi magazines. For Sulochana I seemed to be a somewhat famous guy. Shalia seemed to have no interest in such activities of mine. Rather she was more keen to know about my parents and other family members. 
    On my first visit to one of her uncles, who seemed to handle family issues, probably wanted to indicate that you better leave the girl to herself as she is an asset for us earning sufficient amount to run our extended family, showed me eight rifles and double barrel guns, the heads of predators his father had hunted now mounted and hanging on walls of drawing room, and then whistled for two pet pomeranians, Suzie and Ceasar. I have been scared of dogs ever since I left the dogs of  Imlitala and not as scared of guns as I had handled them during my National Cadet Corps days. I did not propose to Shalila and neither had we talked about our marriage but somehow we silently agreed that we should marry. Our feelings were exchanged without words and things moved within forty eight hours of our meeting.
    I got the message and obliquely told the uncle to get in touch with Dad or Samir in case he felt uncomfortable about me. They were an overtly rich family whereas we were well to do but did not show off. We did not have a landline telephone, as we never felt the need for one, despite Dad being a businessman. Shalila’s house had a landline phone. They told me to ring up my Dad so that they could talk to him. I told them that we do not have any. I was told to send  phonograms to Dad and Samir informing them to come to Nagpur, which I did. I found that they did not have much knowledge of present day West Bengal and its culture. Their conversations were overloaded with Marathi and Hindi words for which they felt some sort of pride. They had not heard about the Sabarna Roychoudhury family of Calcutta, which was obvious but I felt somewhat sad for it. Their drawing room, however, was full of English paperbacks which had yellowed over ages as nobody read them after the death of her maternal grandfather. There were cups and shields which, I was told, belonged to Shalila as she was a field hockey player for her State and won them. Photographs on the walls were testimony to her having played field hockey.
    Ma must have jumped with delight after receiving my telegram as now she was sure that her younger son was going to get away from his wayward life. I wrote a letter as well to Samir, who was posted at Chaibasa, and I am sure he was happy that his brother’s lecherous days are over. Dad and Ma did not come though I had expected them to come to Nagpur. Instead Samir came alone to take stock of the situation, had a talk with Shalila and her family members, confirmed the marriage on behalf of our family and returned back the same day with a photo of Shalila to be shown to Dad and Ma. The family had informed Samir that a girl of the family, elder daughter of the gun-loving uncle, was going to get married to an Mumbai Airport Officer within a few days on 4th December and that they wanted our marriage to be solemnised on the same day. 
    Samir Came back with his wife and daughter on 2nd December. Dad or Ma had not come ; instead Samir had brought with him his mother in law. He said it was not possible for them to arrange for tickets as there were no direct trains and that they did not want to keep the shop and house shut for so many days as there was a theft earlier. I expected that our family priest Satish Ghoshal, who travelled even in bullock carts to visit places would have come but he also did not come.
    I married Shalila on December 4, 1968, reciting full throated Sanskrit mantras I vaguely understood, prompted by a bearded priest in a saffron robe who had Old Testament prophet looks, in front of crackling holy fire and tear augmenting smoke, angels, gods and goddesses, friends and relatives, in a carnival of midnight glory and glamour. When in school Samir used to laugh at marks scored by me in Sanskrit and that might be the reason why he was giving a sly smile. The marriage rituals generated my lust for life, Wordworthian fullness, an inspiration to live that was robust, Shalila’s cousin had married the airport officer at the same venue an hour earlier and the joint marriage created a sort of flutter in the sleepy town. Shalila informed me that some of the young men who wanted to marry her and sent proposals to her uncles were present at the venue with morose faces.
    Samir did not take us to Patna, as he had to drop his mother in law at Chaibasa first. He had already booked train tickets for our circuitous journey, after paying the requisite bribe to the booking clerk. Since there were no direct trains from Nagpur to Chaibasa, we went up to Chakradharpur and from there took taxis to Chaibasa. The journey was short through Chaibasa forest and we reached it in forty minutes. There were Samir’s young sister in laws who were eager to marry me and whom Samir had brought to Patna one by one but Dad as well as Ma were not inclined to bring the second bride from the same family. For me, none caught my eye. 
    We spent a couple of nights there. Samir said that we have to go to Patna from Jamshedpur which means from Chaibasa to Jamshedpur and then Jamshedpur to Patna. We must have been a great burden on the family which I am sure was being taken care of by Samir. He showed me Ma’s approval letter in which he directed Samir that there was no need for all marriage rituals to be followed ; just follow the sindoor ritual and that would be enough to solemnise the marriage. 
    We reached Patna in the morning. On reaching Dariapur house Ma came out on the street and greeted the bride by feeding honey with her finger and putting honey in both ears telling Shalila that whatever you hear would be sweet. This was not the ritual that is expected when the groom reaches his home with the bride. Ma was not wearing new clothes though the house was full of relatives as is expected during a marriage of the groom from the family. After entering the house we came to know that uncle Sushil had died on the same day my telegram reached Dad. After receiving my telegram Samir had sent Sentu, who was at Chaibasa with him at that time, to Patna in an office jeep so that Dad may accompany him to Chaibasa for onward journey to Nagpur. Dad and Ma informed Sentu about uncle Sushil’s death and instructed him that this news should not reach me and Shalila till we reached Dariapur. Thus no marriage rituals were performed at Patna and the ceremony having been dubbed as half-marriage half-live in. All the relatives were happy except uncle Sushil’s elder daughter Dolly who told me angrily that I could have chosen another time to get married ; she did not believe that I was not informed of uncle Sushil’s death. Thereafter she never talked to me in her life.   
    Those who would not otherwise have attended my marriage had also arrived on hearing of uncle Sushil’s death. Those who wanted to get married without much waywardness, such as cousin sisters Sabu-Dhabu had come with their daughters, son in laws and grandchildren. Dasarathi uncle, a retired high court lawyer at Patna, about whom I forgot to tell, was also present. He was a fat old man with old style whiskers and came to sleep in Dad’s studio in the night in order to avoid family problems of several of his sons ; his bed and pillow was kept in an almirah. He claimed to be a relative of ours as we had the same forefathers. Funny thing about him was that his tummy touched the roof of his mosquito net and it went up and down with his breath and snores. In the morning he left for his own house.
    I left Patna with Shalila for the tribal jungles of Palamau, four hundred kilometres away by train, in the grip of spring, with a whiff of blooming kino and kapok. We had lunch there of coloured rice, barbecued meat, boiled snails, and a dash of liquor made of mahua or madhuca indica, rejuvenating my lazy tendencies of pluralist happiness. Pangs of not being able to write were subsiding. Palamau was soothing. During a short period when my case was yet to start at the lower court at Kolkata I had visited the place where Samir was posted  and feasted on deer meat. 
    I got back the job after winning the case at High Court and joined service, paddling my old college bicycle to the office. A Punjabi coworker proposed that we visit his village near Ropar in Punjab and from there we may go to Shimla where snowfall has already started. At that time I did not know that he is taking his family to his native place so that the elders could advice his wife to control her association with a Sikh male with whom the lady was having a sexual relation and my coworker friend loved her so much that he accepted what was going on. After returning to Patna the lady eloped with the Sikh man and their whereabouts were not known to my coworker for three decades. When the lady wanted to come back to my coworker he gladly accepted her. But she again went away and my friend had to die of cancer quite lonely in Delhi after retirement.
     We went to his village in Punjab where they were growing sugarcane, mustard and other winter vegetables. They did not have a lavatory and the ladies had to go to the sugarcane field in the morning to ease themselves. Shalila participated in it. I was accustomed to my National Cadet Corps days. They had very small doors in their house for entering from one room to another. We had a good reception as we were the first non-Punjabi guests in their house. We visited the nearby mango garden of Ropar famous for mass massacres during Partition which looked eerie in its green darkness. The Punjabi family seemed unable to forget the scars.
    We took a bus to Kalka and from there another bus to Shimla. I got down in knee deep snow experiencing the first snowfall in my life. For Shalila also it was a fascinating experience. Our luggage on the top of the bus was also covered with snowThe Honeymoon suite was strange with mirrors fixed on the ceiling so that couples could see themselves naked. With snow falling outside we had no desire to look at the mirrors. We drank old monk rum and drank till we felt warm within our embraces. Next morning we went out but unfortunately my friend and his wife accompanied us ; she seemed to be pregnant and I was sure, like her husband, that she was carrying her lover’s child. She actually did carry her lover’s child. When she eloped with her paramour after the child’s birth she took the child with her.
    Many years later I met this friend of mine in Mumbai. He was in the Reserve Bank but I had left it for NABARD. On his request I visited his flat at Prabhadevi and found that his wife had returned. It was quite embarrassing to talk to her. I again met this friend at Delhi when he had retired and learnt that his wife had left him. She had come for a short stay at Mumbai just to fool my friend; she wanted to ensure that she was still his pension nominee. Since there had been no legal divorce, she remained a nominee and enjoyed a family pension after my friend’s death.
    When we were back at Patna, Kaviraj George Dowden, an American hippie settled in England had come to meet me, in a saffron dhoti, with flowing hair of a sanyasi, with the help of his Indian guru Muktananda, he had spiritualized into the persona of the “Kaviraj. George Dowden liked to imagine that he was a sort of direct literary and spiritual descendant of Whitman. He was working on Ginsberg’s bibliography, which he had sold to Texas University for $4000 to stay at Muktananda’s Ashram in Mumbai.Ginsberg had become so famous that he could appoint Bob Rosenthal, as Secretary and Bill Morgan to catalogue all his belongings before they were sold to Stanford University for one million dollars. Both Rosenthal and Morgan had come to Calcutta and met me at my Naktala flat. Before  Kaviraj George  Dowden died in 2014 he wrote several books and taught Beat Literature once in a while in Colleges. Like many minor Beat writers, he also seems to have disappeared from the pedestal of their icons.
    Shalila introduced a Marathi dimension to our Bengali cuisine. Their family had no contact with West Bengal, did not have any relatives there. Maternal uncles and relatives of their wife were all from Maharashtra or the then Madhya Pradesh of which Nagpur was capital. They talked in funny Bengali. Earlier we did not have dining tables, sofa sets, curtains on windows and doors, flowerpots in rooms. Shalila arranged to introduce them in stages. Dad being a staunch believer in Hindu customs, still sat on the floor-mat while eating his lunch and dinner. Sometimes he forgot what he was doing and wiped his wet hands on the door curtains. We used to eat on various sizes of brass plates. Shalila introduced stainless steel. In fact, before she introduced stainless steel, some of her Nagpur cousin sisters, on a visit to Patna made fun of our use of brass utensils. We also appointed an old lady as a part time cook in the morning. However Dad’s rice had to be cooked either by Ma or Shalila as Dad wanted the rice to be cooked by a Brahmin. Whenever Dad went out of Patna for any purpose, he would eat roti. The maid was earlier working only in the morning. Now she started coming both in the morning and evening.
    Ma was now free ; she seized the opportunity to revive her interest in Hindu gods and goddesses she had forgotten after coming to Patna at a young age. At Imlitala the duty of pleasing gods and goddesses was bestowed on aunt Nandarani and there was a room in which small idols and photos were housed, the same room in which aunt Karuna had died of tuberculosis and the room was disinfected with Ganges water after her death. I do not know what happened to those idols after Aunt Nandarani’s death and forced sale of the Imlitala house to two families on rent by Sabu and Dhabu’s sons. I came to know the fellow downstairs was having cows and the walls were plastered with cow dung cakes as the fellow upstairs did not allow him to dry in the sun. I realised that I have never lived in the same room, in the same house, on the same street, in the same area, in the same town all my life. I have been an outsider even in my own space.
    Ma and Shalila enjoyed each other’s pagan faith. Shalila probably had faith in all Hindu gods and goddesses which waned with her age and association with friends of various faiths, ultimately losing interest in all. Ma’s favourite god was Ganesha at Dariapur, a marble replica originally worshipped by granny. Ma did abandon her interest in Ganesha later and transferred her interest to stitching kantha, a patchwork bedsheet for my daughter. Ganesha was neglected for a longtime after Ma’s death and our departure from Patna to Lucknow. It landed with Samir’s elder son Toton when he took over the charge of Dad’s shop. But the idol was kept in a place and kept on gathering dust, the shop being just on a busy road.
    Dimple, as we called our daughter, born on September 5, 1969, got her name changed to Anushree fourteen years later when a film star named Dimple hit the screen. She introduced me to an infant’s universe of wordless communication that I never knew so closely, her vocabulary growing sound by sound, deciphered by Ma and Dad in their new vocation of baby sitting after Shalila went out to her job. Annoyed with my patience of teaching Anushree the English alphabet and numbers, she appointed a tutor.
    On a day of cloudburst, driblets trickled down the ceiling and entered one of the bookshelves, which had been shut for more than a year. I opened it to find corridors of hefty termites revelling through several books. Most of the important books were stolen during my absence from Dariapur because of the trial at Kolkata. Howard McCord had sent Autobiography of Malcolm X, Genert’s Our Lady of The Flowers. Volumes of World Literature, Complete Havelock Ellis, Works of Surrealists and Symbolists. Some Beat poets had sent Fanny Hill and various magazines. Lawrence Ferlighetti had sent Beat literature published by him. Samir had collected lots of modern Bengali poetry books. All were stolen. After watching the Roman march of the white ants I closed the bookshelf and allowed them to spread their colony. Why did I have this acquisitive streak ? Since then I have been giving away books and magazines to others after I have read them. Lithe turning to water, Ezra Pound had written.
    Thirteen
    As I have stated earlier, after a change in my job I began to understand the life and living of cultivators and artisans, the social system at work on ground level. I loved the job. Now I could tell from afar whether a stalk was of rice, wheat, barley or millet pulses of various plants and various types of vegetables. I could make out the differences between various sweet water fishes which Ma loved to eat and which I could not purchase in Machuatoli market. At Imlitala fishes were purchased by Promod uncle and he rarely purchased all types of sweet water fishes, preferring mostly rohu, katla and mrigel. I could now identify, though I did not like to eat them and Ma relished, were tangra, bata, puti, banspata, bacha, eel, chanda, mourola, boyal, chitol and of course hilsa. I developed a liking for hilsa or ilish after we purchased a pressure cooker in which hilsa was steamed in curd, poppyseed and mustard powder.  I had earlier purchased a fridge and gas oven which Ma avoided using for unknown fear but with Shalila’s presence she started using them. 
    I loved the job and read a lot about my job requirements. I acquainted with the daily life of a farmer’s family, the ruthlessness of rural poverty, machinations of caste substratrums, village violence, names of birds, herbs, shrubs and trees I had not known, men and women ploughing, harvesting, threshing, levelling, jungle clearing with their own hands. I thought of Whitman, Neruda, Mayakovsky and the Bengali poets Jibanananda Das and Sukanta Bhattacharya but was unable to write any line myself. The thought of writing itself disappeared gradually. 
    I am an introvert but now talking to people was a part of my job – farmers, labourers, social servicemen, government officials, rural headmen, bank workers, craftsmen, tribal heads – characters fluttering through experience. Hundreds of thousands of kilometres I traversed from village to village – more than fifteen days a month – on train, steamer, boats, van, bus, horsecart, elephant, camel, bullock cart – whatever was available to go from one place to another. Alone on a bed in a hotel or a rest house or someone’s guestroom, I thought of literature. I was barren. Secretly, I felt happy about it. Shalila bought me a lambretta scooter on my birthday in 1973. We started celebrating birthdays after the birth of my daughter. Ma and Dad had not been aware of the custom. We drove into town Sunday evenings entertaining ourselves with Chinese dishes. I had become fond of rum and cola, given up smoking, and gathered fat around my waist. Our son Jitendra, known as Bappa to all and sundry, was born on February 19, 1975.
    Saint Joseph’s Convent, my first school, where I got Anushree, later Bappa admitted, has expanded like a deep sea fish out of water ; cement crawled to eat up violets, roses, marigolds, dahlias, chrysanthemums. Doe eyed nuns were replaced by serious looking Keralite nuns ; children spilled out like mustard seeds from multi storey blocks onto grassless playgrounds ; Saint Joseph’s statue was full of crowshit. I visited the other school, Ram Mohan Roy Seminary, changed beyond recognition, physically and ideologically, under the new principal, who was the son of the earlier principal. 
    I had become fond of goat meat available at a muslim butcher’s shop ; in fact he taught me which portions are to be purchased for what type of dishes. I became a regular and ate a lot of red meat and eggs.The inevitable stroke in the winter of 1975 ; I pissed blood, my blood pressure shot up beyond limits, infraction of the heart, bedrest for two months, medicines and medicines, sleeping pills even during the day. This led to a lot of restrictions on my food which I gradually forgot and started eating everything as I am a foodie and have relished food of all types wherever I have visited. In fact I brought sweets and salted eatables from the places visited for my children and Saris for Shalila.
    My office, the Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation, in the summer of 1979 transferred me to Lucknow, city of Nabobs during the British Raj, which saw to the decimation of Muslim aristrocracy and departure of Kulsum Apa’s family for Imlitala slum. Historically, Lucknow was the capital of the Awadh region, controlled by the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire. It was transferred to the Nawabs of Awadh. In 1856, the British East India Company abolished local rule and took complete control of the city along with the rest of Awadh and, in 1857, transferred it to the British Raj. Under the rule of the Nawabs, Lucknow flourished like never before. After 1755, Lucknow grew by leaps and bounds under the rule of the fourth Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. Kulsum Apa claimed that their family carries the bloodlines of Asaf-ud-Daula. 
    Though Patna has now become a developed modern town, at that time Lucknow seemed better than Patna. I could not get a house immediately and stayed for sometime with Abdul Karim, A telugu speaking agricultural economist, who later accommodated Parabhakara and Madan Mohan, who prevented me from lapsing into disorder as I was damn scared of loneliness. Karim was unmarried and had no problem to accommodate such guests as another junior officer Kurkure also arrived. Prabhakara was a Karnataka Brahmin and took up cooking south Indian dishes. When we wanted to eat non-vegetarian food we went out to some hotel at Hazratganj or Chowk. Kurkure took up the work of sweeping whereas myself and Madan Mohan took up washing of utensils. Sometimes Karim wanted to eat Andhra preparation of chicken or meat which he had to purchase based on his religious norms. We ate it irrespective of the norms followed by him. What was strange for us is that he used to keep the meat submerged in water for an hour so that all blood oozed out of it. Similarly he directly burnt the chicken on fire to remove blood. Before Prabhakara introduced it I did not know that Sambar was cooked with various types of spices and it differed from state to state. I love sambar and every now and then I try different types.
    The incharge of my office was a south Indian christian with several children and he loved to go on tour in order to earn extra money. Obviously he wanted to keep his staff happy and sent them on tour as well. I got tours to several places in Uttar Pradesh and for several purposes. The one tour which I remember quite vividly was to the terai areas of Himalaya where me and my veterinary doctor assistant had been sent to find out whether purebred Indian cows are still there or all Indian cows are now mixed up with foreign breeds. We did find pure Indian cows, small in size, with pointed horns, which did not give enough milk to be domesticated and lived in the jungles of the foothills. Some Sikh refugee families who had been settled at the foothills try to domesticate oxen for cultivation purposes but are not satisfied. They had tried to artificially inseminate with other breeds but the pregnant cows died because of the size. 
    The story that intrigued me during this tour was the death of a tiger in a cemented canal which could not crawl up and died. Since it was deep in the interior the district authorities requested my assistant to perform a postmortem. The news of a dead tiger spread to nearby villages and all and sundry from villages gathered to collect tiger flesh, blood and bones. I did not know that these are eaten by Hindus. It was a female tiger and its rozy vagina attracted me. I told my assistant about it. He arranged to keep the corpse in a tractor shed of a Punjabi cultivator who arranged bottles of rum for us. In the night I got drunk, went into the garage and lied down over the tigress, sucking at its teats. My penis also responded. Next day its flesh, blood and bone was distributed among villagers. A Brahmin priest of the local temple brought cooked tiger meat for us which we ate, though the smell was different from goat or sheep meat. The skin was sent to the district authorities.
    The same area had lots of artesian wells.In places where the overlying impermeable rocks are broken by joints or faults, water escapes through them to rise to the surface as artesian springs. We had to request our office to take up the matter with the state government so that these are capped and water is gainfully utilised. Just like the Punjabis, many Bengali refugee families had been given land for cultivation without taking into account the caste factor. The Punjabis were of cultivator caste whereas the Bengalis belonged to various castes such as carpenter, potter, blacksmith, fishermen etc who were not conversant with cultivation and had to work as labourers in Punjabi cultivator’s lands who had taken over lands of Bengalis. Punjabis had gurudwaras to look after the education of children but Bengalis had started forgetting their mother tongue.
    Office allotted me a newly constructed Bungalow across the Gomti river and adjacent to the Kukrail crocodile sanctuary in early 1980 when Shalila and the children joined me. Getting the children admitted in schools was very difficult and I had to approach various schools. Ultimately I got both of them admitted to English medium schools. Anushree used to go to school as it was closer to our house. Bappa had to go to his school in a shared rickshaw specially built for carrying six children of his age. Myself and Shalila went on a scooter as we used to in Patna. Our house had to be kept locked with the main door key hidden in a hole to enable the child who arrived first, to enter. Shalila used to keep food for them on the table. Over time things fell into routine.
    I developed a lawn of Bermuda grass and a rose garden in front, having brought various types of roses from the rose nursery ; Shalia took care of the kitchen garden at the rear. At Imlitala and Dariapur we used packing boxes from my Dad’s shop, filling them with earth, to plant flowers and spices. Now I had the freedom of a complete garden and the earth was virgin for plants and trees to grow faster. I planted guava, jujube, plum, banana, papaya, horseradish, maize, drumstick and kept on changing. We distributed the fruits among friends and neighbours. On the gate we had multi-coloured bougainvillaea through the entire year spreading a soft carpet for visitors. I regained my health. 
    Prabhakara and Karim had taken houses nearby. Karim brought a lot of items for my son whenever he went on tours or to his village in Khammam. Karim proved to be conservative after the death of his wife. He constructed a seven room house in his village but unfortunately his wife died of cancer. His son married a Hindu girl whom Karim did not accept and disowned his son Hasnain whom he loved. Karim grew white long beard like maulvis and died alone in his big house.
    The entire period from 1979 had been one of regaining helplessness for me. I was a drawing room intellectual, retheorising frightening abstractions, suffering from an inexplicable sense of guilt capped with a secret gnawing anxiety of not being able to write, which aggravated my nervous system. By now I knew that less than ten percent of people had the freedom to pursue happiness, the rest were nonpersons, invisible pariahs of our polity. There was nothing I could do, nothing. Sometimes I wonder how I have journeyed my way from Imlitala slum to the centre of town dropping back people of Imlitala whose faces I had started to forget. Ma and Dad came to lucknow to spend the winter of 1981 with us, Samir Having shifted with his family to Dariapur house. We enjoyed winter, sitting in wicker chairs placed on the lawn on holidays with Dad and Ma reminiscing their busy days at Imlitala, dozing off during sunny, shaded afternoons, disturbed occasionally by a couple of grumbling doves nesting in the bougainvillaea creepers. Flocks of low-flying Russian white cranes glided towards Bharatpur Sanctuary a hundred kilometres away. Parrots nibbled ripe guava and maize ; there were sparrows, swifts, woodpeckers, mynahs, bitterns, thrushes, buntings, cuckoos, falconets, larks, kites, orioles, storks, warblers visiting the garden, and the insects, frogs, butterflies of endless creations, and earthworms and lizards. It was a long way from Imlitala and Dariapur days. But there were no fresh water fish markets nearby. Small fishes preferred by Ma were rare. I had to go to a market to purchase big sized fishes and small prawns. 
    As the astrologers had predicted Dad would die first, Ma did not reveal the severe arthritis and pain in heart she was suffering from, detected when her legs swelled, but not before wrong medicines prescribed by a physician led to a massive heart attack, hospitalisation, and death two days after the 1982 Diwali festival of lights. My neighbour, Hayder Ali, descendant of a nawab family said we should have informed him as he knew most of the doctors of Lucknow. Yes, I agreed. Abdul Karim was of great help as he sat through the night in Ma’s room in the hospital and met doctor’s directions. Ma had been in a coma for two days, cut off from us, in her suffering, oxygen pipe in her nostrils, eyes closed, soundless. Where was she ! I always ponder over what Hyder Ali had said and suffer from the guilt feeling that somehow I am responsible for Ma’s death.
    I had to send a telegram to Samir as the telephone had to be made from the main post office at that time which was far away. Samir rushed from Patna and scolded me and Shalila that we had neglected Ma and overburdened her with the upkeep of my children as we both went to office. For taking her to the Gomti river bank Abdul Karim, Prabhakara and others helped me. She was cremated on a funeral pyre the next morning on the banks of the Gomti river. Getting a Brahmin priest was a problem as I was, as usual, a cultural outsider in Lucknow as well. A Brahmin employee of my office was contacted who gave part time service to a priest and last rituals were performed according to his direction. Samir went back to Patna to arrange for Ma’s Hindu rituals to be completed by our family priest Satish Ghoashal. I remained in ritual mourning for thirteen days in a single piece of loincloth, barefoot, without shaving or combining my hair and went to Patna with Dad, Shalila and children to join Samir and other family members for ritual mourning. We all came back after the Brahmins were fed for Ma’s peace.
    Personal loss is the exact description of the depressive void created by her absence. I brooded in blank anguish and aching insight ; no death had absorbed me earlier. A few months later, returning from the office, I found myself weeping one day in the busy market square of Lucknow, overwhelmed by a sudden feeling choking my throat. Shalila felt a different type of absence as she had never had the presence of her own Ma in her life and had filled up the space with my Ma’s presence in her life. 
    I booked train tickets for Dad, Shalila and the children, journeyed two nights to south India, which I had visited during my college days but Dad and Shalila had not. For a month we visited various towns and Dad’s favourite temples he had read about in books but could not visit due to his preoccupation with the shop. I returned confused, mystified, unsettled, words and images in a whirling chaos in me searching for an expansive flow of ideation. A letter was waiting for me from an editor of a Bengali magazine from Dhaka, East Pakistan requesting for a few poems. I felt delighted that at least some readers are still in search of me. I started writing poems and sent them to Dhaka. At that time postal expenses were nominal and I received requests from several magazines from Dhaka. Later Kamal Chakraborty, editor of ‘Kaurab’ magazine asked for prose and I wrote them in my own way, without bothering about them being literary pieces. They did create interest for my works and I wrote a magic realist novella titled ‘Ghog’ based on India’s partition and main characters of the then political firmament. Floodgates were sprung open.
    That spread the word. Poet and researcher Prof Uttam Das with his wife Malabika, visited us at Lucknow with the proposal for a book on the Hungryalist movement for which I made available whatever papers and court documents I had. His book created a stir in the hornet's nest again, but of a different kind. During my absence from Calcutta, some of my friends had started a smear campaign against me, specially Saileshwar Ghosh who wrote and told his young friends that the trial was against him for a poem written by him in a Hungryalist bulletin. Prof Uttam Das’s book had published the declaration given to the Police by Saileshwar, Subhash, Shakti, Sandipan and Utpal and that they had testified against me as police witness at the lower court which led to my conviction. The book included letters written to me by Allen Ginsberg, Felinghetti, Sunil Gangopadhyay as well as letters between Ginsberg and Abu Sayeed Ayyub. I had to give several interviews, clarifying my current thoughts on life, literature, past and present. There was now a generation of writers who were born or were infants when Hungryalist movement was launched and I was convicted, and they had their own image of me. I came to know that some young writers from North Bengal, such as Aloke Goswami, Raja Sarkar, Jibotosh Das, Malay Majumdar, Manoj Raut, Bikash Sarkar had tried to revive Hungryalist movement but it was sabotaged by Saileswar and Subhas as they thought that the young boys are trying to steal their limelight. Aloke Goswami has written a book titled ‘Memory Local’ on those events.
    Prof Uttam Das, who had his own publication, Mahadiganta Publishers, got the available manifestos and earlier poems collected and published in two volumes in 1985 with covers designed by Charu Khan, turning them into avant garde collectors items. I dedicated the manifesto collection to Malabika, whose voice resembles Parijat, and the poetry collection to Bhulti, my mother.
    I reciprocated Prof Das’s consideration by a visit to his house and farm at Baruipur, near Calcutta, a cool country green with fruits, foliage, coconuts, and bamboo. We had poetry reading and binge drinking. Malabika, a teetotaler, cooked steamed prawns, my favourite dish. I visited Debi Roy and his wife Mala at their fourth floor one room flat at Golf Green, Calcutta as well as at Subimal Basak’s house which he had constructed at the outskirts of Kolkata at Belgharia. They had greyed and become old. Debi had become a prolific writer but did not keep in touch with Hungryalist writers who were still publishing a Hungryalist magazine called ‘Khudharto’. Subimal had translated several Hindi writers and published an ‘Anthology of Superstitions’. 
    On a request from Prof Sibnarayan Ray, a ‘Radical Humanist’ who had recently returned to Kolkata after teaching at an Australian University, and launched a magazine for original thinkers called ‘Jijnasa’, I wrote an essay for his periodical recounting the Hungryalist days, leading to an avalanche of special issues of Godhulimone, Swakal, Uttarapath, Giraffe, Pather Panchali, Goddo Poddo Samvad, Atlantic etc. 
    I was now experimenting with a post-Hungryalist eugenic ethos in my poems, a new type of diction to overcome the traditional musical pattern of Bengali poems, a possible perfection in timelessness, and closing myself in the back room during the night. Prakash Karmakar, a reputed Bengali painter, who was in France for a few years and returned to stay in Allahabad in India suggested that we bring out a one page offset magazine with my poem and his drawing on the theme of violence. Every month during 1985 and 1986 a sheet was published. These poems were collected and publisher poet Mrityunjay Sen of Mahadiganta Publishers brought out my poetry collection ‘Medhar Batanukul Ghungur’ during the Kolkata Book Fair of 1987, with a cover designed by Jogen Choudhuri, head of the department of painting and sculpture, Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan. The book was a great success.
    Before I left Lucknow on transfer to Mumbai, I had to experience a terrifying proposal. A lady junior officer, twenty years younger than me, caught hold of my wrist at the long distance bus depot from where I was going to attend a meeting, and whispered, “let us elope”. She seemed serious. She said, “I love you, I have told your wife that I love you.” I was unable to respond and took a minute to absorb the shock. She was having a rucksack behind her back and was really prepared to flee. I asked her whether she wanted to leave her home and whether there was any problem at her home. She did not leave my wrist which was quite embarrassing as I knew several employees are daily passengers between Kanpur and Lucknow. If we are noticed in this position it would be scandalous. I remembered that this lady was coming to the office dressed in a Bengali sari with conch shell bangles in her hands and a red bindi on forehead just like young Bengali ladies. I could not gauge that a young lady was secretly in love with me. I shook off her hand and just got up on an auto rickshaw which was passing by and took another route to catch a bus to where I had to attend the meeting. She did not come to the office for several days. She had committed suicide. Sometimes I remember my father in law who left his wife and children for another woman. 

     
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  • আপনি কি কম্পিউটার স্যাভি? সারাদিন মেশিনের সামনে বসে থেকে আপনার ঘাড়ে পিঠে কি স্পন্ডেলাইটিস আর চোখে পুরু অ্যান্টিগ্লেয়ার হাইপাওয়ার চশমা? এন্টার মেরে মেরে ডান হাতের কড়ি আঙুলে কি কড়া পড়ে গেছে? আপনি কি অন্তর্জালের গোলকধাঁধায় পথ হারাইয়াছেন? সাইট থেকে সাইটান্তরে বাঁদরলাফ দিয়ে দিয়ে আপনি কি ক্লান্ত? বিরাট অঙ্কের টেলিফোন বিল কি জীবন থেকে সব সুখ কেড়ে নিচ্ছে? আপনার দুশ্‌চিন্তার দিন শেষ হল। ... আরও ...
  • বুলবুলভাজা
  • এ হল ক্ষমতাহীনের মিডিয়া। গাঁয়ে মানেনা আপনি মোড়ল যখন নিজের ঢাক নিজে পেটায়, তখন তাকেই বলে হরিদাস পালের বুলবুলভাজা। পড়তে থাকুন রোজরোজ। দু-পয়সা দিতে পারেন আপনিও, কারণ ক্ষমতাহীন মানেই অক্ষম নয়। বুলবুলভাজায় বাছাই করা সম্পাদিত লেখা প্রকাশিত হয়। এখানে লেখা দিতে হলে লেখাটি ইমেইল করুন, বা, গুরুচন্ডা৯ ব্লগ (হরিদাস পাল) বা অন্য কোথাও লেখা থাকলে সেই ওয়েব ঠিকানা পাঠান (ইমেইল ঠিকানা পাতার নীচে আছে), অনুমোদিত এবং সম্পাদিত হলে লেখা এখানে প্রকাশিত হবে। ... আরও ...
  • হরিদাস পালেরা
  • এটি একটি খোলা পাতা, যাকে আমরা ব্লগ বলে থাকি। গুরুচন্ডালির সম্পাদকমন্ডলীর হস্তক্ষেপ ছাড়াই, স্বীকৃত ব্যবহারকারীরা এখানে নিজের লেখা লিখতে পারেন। সেটি গুরুচন্ডালি সাইটে দেখা যাবে। খুলে ফেলুন আপনার নিজের বাংলা ব্লগ, হয়ে উঠুন একমেবাদ্বিতীয়ম হরিদাস পাল, এ সুযোগ পাবেন না আর, দেখে যান নিজের চোখে...... আরও ...
  • টইপত্তর
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  • ভাটিয়া৯
  • যে যা খুশি লিখবেন৷ লিখবেন এবং পোস্ট করবেন৷ তৎক্ষণাৎ তা উঠে যাবে এই পাতায়৷ এখানে এডিটিং এর রক্তচক্ষু নেই, সেন্সরশিপের ঝামেলা নেই৷ এখানে কোনো ভান নেই, সাজিয়ে গুছিয়ে লেখা তৈরি করার কোনো ঝকমারি নেই৷ সাজানো বাগান নয়, আসুন তৈরি করি ফুল ফল ও বুনো আগাছায় ভরে থাকা এক নিজস্ব চারণভূমি৷ আসুন, গড়ে তুলি এক আড়ালহীন কমিউনিটি ... আরও ...
গুরুচণ্ডা৯-র সম্পাদিত বিভাগের যে কোনো লেখা অথবা লেখার অংশবিশেষ অন্যত্র প্রকাশ করার আগে গুরুচণ্ডা৯-র লিখিত অনুমতি নেওয়া আবশ্যক। অসম্পাদিত বিভাগের লেখা প্রকাশের সময় গুরুতে প্রকাশের উল্লেখ আমরা পারস্পরিক সৌজন্যের প্রকাশ হিসেবে অনুরোধ করি। যোগাযোগ করুন, লেখা পাঠান এই ঠিকানায় : [email protected]


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