My friend, Subhadip, is a wonderful storyteller. When I asked him to write something for mY FaTHer illustrations page, this is what he wrote –
The Shadow Within:
The first book my father gave as a gift to me was Chander Pahar. The Mountain of Moon. By Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhay.
It is the best thing that can happen to me. In that childhood I got the real taste of Bengali literature the dream of reaching some unknown land got mixed in me and also the lesson that may whatever barriers can be there if you dare to dream and you work hard you can reach the summit. The top. Chander Pahar.
Then in my next birthday I came across another book. Pather Panchali. This also changed my life. And then on I always believe that life is a journey where one should always be simple. His face towards soil. And he should be truthful.
But as I grew up I found life an exhibition of hypocrisy a game where one should adopt the art of telling the lies and anyway run behind money. Everything is money in this world. And that is the naked truth. I though like a fool lived a simple life my roots dig deep down to the lessons of literature.
Each morning I wake up and prayed to a picture of a prince like charming person. Rabindranath. And then my day starts. Instead of signs I still can dream of the world which nowhere exists. But I know I can find it someday.
In one morning of Mahalaya after Tarpan or a ritual of giving water to ancestors my father along with me seated in a bench in Outram Ghat. In front of us the Ganga river is flowing. And in the reflections of morning sun the water looking like a river of gold. Some steamers passing from the side od Chandpal Ghat towards that of Howrah. Some dinghi boats are also floating among them some are fishermen boats. The Majhi while flapping the wide net smiling towards us.
I got excited and said, ‘Baba what about a dinghi ride?’ Father smiled. ‘Not now son.Later on.’ ‘Please Baba please..’I pulled my father’s hand. Father got up. And calling a dinghi we for one hour took a ride along the Ganges. The most enthralling part of the journey was when we crossed beneath the towering architecture of the Howrah Bridge. I jumped and shouted, ‘Yahoo!’ My father looked at me. Seeing his son happy his face was shining.
He at one time slowly came towards me and then brushed my hairs with his fingers. He then in emotional voice said, ‘You have to go a long way my son. Not only this Ganga river but you have to go through seas oceans mountains cities continents and reach the top.The summit.What I never can achieve in my life I want I know you would achieve that one day.You would make me proud. For whole life I sacrificed my all aspirations my dreams for my family which include my three brothers and I tried my best to give them comfort.Where I am today that doesn’t matter may be I have become a lost chapter but I know that you my son, would reach that mountain which I always hope to reach.
I said quietly, ‘Chander Pahar Baba?’ My tall fair handsome father now in a very tired voice but shining eyes said, ‘Yes my son, Chander Pahar.’ And from ten months from that morning I lost my father.
‘Babu Chai!’ The call of Rana, the caretaker surprised me. I saw he is standing with the cup of tea. I asked him to keep it on table. Rana kept and went.I took the cup of tea and came to roof. Ah! What silence!
I lighted a cigarette. Alongside sipped in the chai. I kept my eyes in front. Below the vast clear star studded sky of the ripe evening I felt the cold air. A very thin mist converging in air. Far down a light attracted my attention. No. Not a light. Three Lights. Dwindling moving dancing lights. In that light the silver rail tracks once got flashed. Shades of Sal and Mahua trees created beautiful ripple marks in shades over the tracks.
The lights moved on. Three lights. Three persons. With a torch in their hand moving. Seeing them I shivered. Unconsciously. I kept on looking at those three persons walking parallel to the rail tracks. As if my own life sketched in those three shadows.
The short leaning man with his short shadow. My past. Another a bit tall but tumbling man with his undulating shadow. My present. And that tall man walking first with his tall shadow. My future.
I raised my eyes then towards the open sky. Can I raise my head high in future? How? Which way? I felt within that I may myself know the answer. I am prepared now for a new renaissance. And also somewhere felt my father within.
The Shadow Within.