The Boatman

Robi’s boat gently swayed in the cool evening breeze of the mighty Ganges at the mouth of the estuary as he prepared his supper in it for the night, a little bit of rice, a bowl of dal and two fried Tilapias. His life as a boatman in this part of the river, especially after dark…

Spy To Lhasa

Snow Leopard crouched and huddled himself shivering in the piercing cold winds that danced all around him and the glowing woodfire that did its best to give a little warmth in the dead of night at an altitude of seventeen thousand feet close to the Lanak La mountain pass in the Himalayan region. His mission…

Doctor Train

Srikant anxiously glanced at the time displayed on the HMT Sona strapped on top of a sweaty handkerchief wrapped around his left wrist. People all around him squeezed and pushed each other in a pile of obnoxious human fumes, sweat, and breadth. Beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead and nostrils falling on the shoulder…

Tarok

The unbearable cries of men being force-fed through rubber tubes inserted in their throats surpassed the sounds of the roaring waves of the mighty Bay of Bengal lashing on the rocky northern shores of Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman and Nicobar Islands on a summer night in 1933. The screams came from within…

The Palanquin

“Hun Huna re, Hun Huna… Hun Huna re, Hun Huna… Palki choooleyyy gogon toooleeeyyy (The Palanquin mooovesss under the skkkyyy),” rhythmically chanted the fast-moving group of twelve. A torchbearer bearer in front and one in the back provided the only lights casting dancing shadows of the men and a swinging wooden box amidst them on the…

Brihospoti’s Clock

In the year 1582 AD the Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, and polymath, from Pisa, Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de’ Galilei discovered that time could be calculated using a pendulum. He inked the blueprint of a wound-up device, which could measure time and changed the history of Christendom. Using his designs, seventy-four years later in 1656,…

The Ancient Guards of Pancharatna

In the year 1980, a 17th-century cryptic temple lay hidden deep in the Joypur forest of Bishnupur subdivision in the Bankura district of India’s West Bengal state. This archaic monument was stone-built, unlike the other commonly found historical structures of terracotta in the region. The jungle had completely engulfed the structure, and ancient trees and…

Masala Tea

As the clock struck four in the twilight hours every morning, as the slumbering postcolonial Indian city of Kolkata slowly woke up to face another day, Shibnath Sammadar or SS would get busy opening his 150-year-old tea-shanty. Located diagonally opposite the main gate of Scottish Church College, on the north-eastern wall corner of the Hedua…

Children Of The Moon

Dawa moved slowly across the cold desert surface. The sun was bleak, and the land was dry. The wind blew mercilessly stinging on the little exposed skin of the old man’s face with fine particles of needle-like sand. The chill in the air made everything bow in its path. The landscape was sad, stretching flat…

Maratha Ditch

Savitri hummed the ancient Bengali lullaby – “Khoka ghumalo, para juralo, Bargi elo deshe. Bulbulite dhan kheyechhe, khazna debo kishe? (My boy has fallen asleep, silence has set in the locality, the Bargis have come to our state. Passerine songbirds have eaten the rice grains, how shall I pay my taxes?) She was trying to make…