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…

Gopi And The Tank

Gopi Chand emerged from the pitch dark bowels of one of the four compartments of the world’s largest elevated steel drinking water tank, at a height of 110 feet from the ground level. His livelihood could be easily featured in the ‘World’s scariest jobs’ list, however, hardly any of the 10.5 million people whose lives…

House Of The Living Dolls

There is a house near the Shovabazar jetty on the banks of the mighty river Ganges, in the postcolonial city of Kolkata in India’s West Bengal state. Once it was a beauty to behold, a mansion of breathtaking artistry, a marvellous reflection of the Roman architectural style. A spectacle of wealth and power of the…

Bridge On The River Kopai

A strong and assertive old-man stood on the edge of the¬†Khoai, a canyon of purple geological rock formation naturally created by millions of years of effect of wind and water erosion on red laterite soil rich in iron oxide commonly found in the region. From, top of the purple hill the greybeard looked at the…

Leopard On The Terrace

At 3:00 AM every morning Gopal Gaitonde would diligently answer to natures call. He believed the nocturnal hour was the ultimate to empty one’s internals of faecal waste. On missing this specific moment, his bowels would go bonkers for the rest of the day. Failing the sacred potty hour meant a day of total commotion…

Across The Valley Through The Air

Taibok hung dangerously from the edge of the forest a thousand feet above the raging mountain river that flowed at the bottom of the cliff, on whose edge stood his small and obscure village. The hamlet lay in India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya, in the interiors of the dense East Khasi Hills near the modern-day…

The Lighthouse

Khurram Kha anxiously glimpsed at the trickling sand in the hourglass. Glanced up towards the night sky, and then gazed at the frothy ivory waves lit up by the moonlight, lashing on the ancient and rugged rocky cliff-shore, on which stood his lighthouse, and finally looked at his daughter standing on the edge of the…