Weirdo Behind The Window

Behind the College Square swimming pool on Bankim Chatterjee street in the Indian city of joy, Kolkata, stood a dilapidated tiny two-storey building crowned with unwanted banyan saplings sprouting from the cracks in its outer walls. A forty-year-old weird man with a midget face and enormous arms lived in a small plaster pealed damp room…

Soul Of A Gorkha

The ten-year-old Tau sat in front of a glowing charcoal hearth under the cold moonlit night sky in a small and obscure village in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas in the ancient land of Nepal. His father pulled out a glowing piece of steel from the burning embers and hammered it on an old…

The Human Bullock

On a blistering day in June, under the scorching midday sun, when the surrounding air danced in a haze of heat and rose towards the glaring sky, a giant of a man standing eight feet tall and weighing nearly a quarter of a ton tugged on his shoulders a massive wood and iron plough. Scarring…

Tears On The Sand

Under the fading silver veil of a moonlit night, in the last hour before the dawn of morning light, on the glittery shores of a once turbulent river, an eighteen-year-old low-caste boy tirelessly shovelled grains of rock and coral into a banged-up truck’s weathered wooden cradle. The driver handed over five shiny ten-rupee coins to…

A Pair Of Shoes

Thirteen-year-old Monikanchon dashed into the sea of clueless strollers, joyous visitors, and perplexed shoppers. The enthusiastic teenager head-butted and elbow-jabbed to reach some of his favourite stalls at the annual street fair on the occasion of Charak Puja on Beadon Street of Calcutta of 1920. It was the last day of the festival, and waves…

Keeper Of The Family Tree

As the tower clock on top of Maniktala Bazar chimed three at the nocturnal hour before dawn every morning, an ancient and wrinkled mysterious man was up and ready to perform his most unusual antic. Centenarian Jotayu Pakrashi was the last leaf in the Pakrashi family tree of the corner house at the intersection of…

The Man Who Brought The River

Somewhere on the mighty Himalayan range in the northern mountain lands of the Indian state of West Bengal flickered the hilly settlement of Kharapahar. Surrounded by deep jagged cliffs on the east, west and southern sides and a colossal mountain wall in the north, the tiny village was not easily accessible to the outside world….

The Last Click

At 141 Surendranath Banerjee Road in the New Market area of Dharamtala, in the post-colonial city of Kolkata, stands a dilapidated building named Photographe. Established in 1840 by famous Calcutta lensman William Howard from Britain, the studio was taken over by the British photographer and traveller duo – Samuel Bourne and Charles Shepherd and renamed…

Duburee

Atop a small hill, on the banks of the mighty Damodar river in the steel city of Durgapur in the Bankura district of the state of West Bengal in the Indian subcontinent stood a rickety little mud cottage. In front of this tiny earthen adobe towered a metal and concrete two-way vehicular bridge atop a…

The Gatekeeper

Neither very far from the hustle-bustle of the Kolkata city nor very deep in the lap of the South 24 Parganas rural landscape stood an ageing gated community, the Adidham Housing Complex. It was developed in the year 1937, a decade prior to Indian independence. At the time of its inception, the project was a…