Debasish Banerjee’s poignant story takes us to the dingy lanes of Kolkata and the struggle for existence hidden therein.
IT WAS RAINING IN TORRENTS for three days. Occasional thunder woke up a ten-year-old lad before the hammering on pegs and shlop-shlop of clay could get him up to what he was used to——-an alarm for him. Parijat, only in half-pant with his hair unkempt and eyes full of dreams was staring at the thousands of eddies into a pool of the flooding courtyard crafted by the millions of slanting drops descending from heaven. In all these years the boy(though a brief span of life so far) had learnt that every year the monsoon brings misery to Kumartuli. The traditional potters’ quarters in this northern pocket of Kolkata had seen many ups and downs since the British era. Those artisans were magicians…the enchanters…had been putting life in clay years after years laughing and shooing away their inherited poverty.
Parijat presently thrust his hand into his pant pocket and took out a miniature model of Lord Ganesha, made of baked clay. He always kept the idol with him——-in the school, in the bazaar, or within the gaps between the worn-out bricks on the compound-wall of the Sabuj Maidan(Green Field) while playing football or romping half-naked across the ground in the rain.
His sleepy eyes were looking through the rusty window-rails at the unfinished idols of Durga, Laxmi, Kartik, Saraswati, Ganesha, Lion, and Asura——–all mounted on rough bamboo platforms in a line——–still lifeless.