Hunter’s Moon

Chandrabhanu lay motionless as a rock on the wet and cold forest floor, camouflaged in the colours of the jungle like a predator patiently waiting for his score. Neither the seldom trickling of the night dew nor the occasional insects crawling across his seasoned skin made him blink or move. The creature he was after…

Flame Of The Forest

Deep in the jungles of Ajodhya Hill and Forest Reserve Area in the Purulia district of the state of West Bengal in India, blossomed the sacred Dhak tree or the Butea monosperma. Locally known as the Palash, it was nicknamed Bastard Teak by the Britishers. Much of its ancient forest tracts lying in the historic Doab…

The Dom And The Goddess

In the year 1690 on the banks of the river Bhāgirathi-Hooghly locally known as the Kali-Ganga or Ganges in the ancient village of Sutanuti or India’s present-day Kolkata city stood a mesmerising idol of the Hindu Goddess Kali under the shade of a bowing colossal Neem tree. The appearance of the idol was simply bone-chilling. Her…

Chidam

In the heart of the traditional northern localities of India’s Kolkata city, right opposite to the Mukul Bithi Children’s School on the Abhedananda Road previously known as the Beadon Street; survives a hundred-year-old barbershop under the main staircase of an equally antique mansion in a room measuring ten feet by four feet. Rain, hail, or…

Alibhadra

In classical Buddhist literature and the five-thousand-year-old epic Mahabharata, there is a mention of a road called Uttarpath or the Northern road connecting the eastern regions of India to ancient Greece through Central Asia. Later in history during the 3rd century BC, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya rebuilt this mighty highway to reconnect India with Europe. Following him, Emperor…

Pallagram Pandemic Pandemonium

Deep in the heart of the ancient and mysterious jungle tableland of Ajodha Hills and reserve forest at the easternmost part of the lowest step of the Chhotanagpur Plateau and the extended regions of the Eastern Ghats mountain range, very close to the Chamtaburu mountain peak, at a distance of a day’s walk from the…

Priest Pundit Moulvi

Much before the rooster crowed at the crack of daylight and sometimes even before the sun peeped from the horizon to say good morning, three very distinctive loudspeakers blared to wake up the sleepy resident of the green and pristine village of Dhormosthol in the southern fringes of India’s most cosmopolitan and diverse Kolkata city….

The Tracker And The Desert Wraiths

Flashing sparks from two clashing flintstones landed on a small mixture of powdered camel dung and dried Babul leaves to spot a steady ember in a ditch dug three feet below the ground level to hide it, for a single flash leave alone a steady fire could be spotted a mile away in such a…

Bhuto’s Banyan Tree

On a chilly December morning, as the first rays of sunlight pierced through the veil of fog created by the condensing water vapour rising from the forgotten Adi Ganga river passing nearby, it revealed the silhouette of a massive and ancient banyan tree the likes of which perhaps nowhere else could anyone find. The golden beams of…

Tarachand And The Trembling Tracks

Tarachand turned over in his wobbly charpoy. The rickety bamboo bed meshed with handmade jute cord was just strong enough to support his enormous frame, however, it squeaked in protest with every twist and turn that the slumbering hulk made. At seven-and-a-half feet of stature, the sleeping man’s arms and legs jutted well beyond the…