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….

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…