Here is the story…
The story begins on the first of Baisakh according to the Bengali calendar in the year 1974 in Madras. They name every year down south and this one was ‘Anandam Varsham’. The child was named…
First twist in the story, at 3months the family relocates to New Delhi, the place where the father was born and brought up. Though a pukka Bengali family, they had been living in Delhi from pre-independence days. The grandfather was at a leading position in ‘The Statesman’, the newspaper that was recommended by many English teachers to get your language correct. The uncles were in various fields from Art, to News broadcast, to automotive engineering…
The child was brought up in the area where the family had lived for many years, Karol Bagh. A central place in New Delhi, which is easy to access and explain to guests and visitors. No complex galis. Well, there are, but then, they did not live there and still don’t.
Speaking in Bangla was a must at home, just on occasion when you said something in English or Hindi and your diction was misplaced, would you be corrected. The father could put many a Punjabi to shame with his proper usage of the language. Unfortunately, none of his children picked the language as well. Which brings me to the siblings, both girls, both elder to this fellow.
The mother is from West Bengal. From a village named ‘Rasulpur’ near Tarakeshwar. She was an active sports person, who had been brought up in an uninhibited environment.
It was a twist to return to Delhi, as an astrologer had mentioned to the father that he shall never return to Delhi, when he left shore in the early 70’s. To this the father had ‘literally’ given away land and property to family and friends, thinking that what use would that be in case he never return to his birthplace.
Through the formative years, the child was always compared with his siblings and his cousin. The child was a not good student of numbers or physical equations or chemical reactions. Somehow that left him lonely in the family…strange isn’t it, when the father is a renowned name in the art and advertising circles. The father was also one of the leading Bengali theatre actors of his times.
However, this nature cannot be blamed completely on the family, it was more to do with how this child was. He was a loner. He was not a public person. He was an observer. He would stand for hours, while his father worked on artworks and advertising campaigns. He learnt from observing. How to hold the pencil, How to fill the ink pot, How to clean the palette, How to cut paper; How to pour glue; How to name and archive work. All this will help him in the years to come…
The child spends many days at Pragati Maidan, where the father is leading the design for many exhibition sites. That was one of his specialties. The first Defense pavilion being his design. Through these years, the children too were exposed to advertising, the were models in many ad campaigns. This fellow had featured in most public sector ad campaigns…ONGC, MMTC, STC, etc. As a child he remembers the bright lights and the many takes and retakes. Well, we must remember, that that was the time of ‘NO CTRL Z’. No computers. Everything was done by hand, spray guns and rubber solution was the perfect photo mask 🙂 Many photoshop experts would be put to shame with the results that the master hands produced. Cut and Paste, is something that these artist brought to the world, not computers.
Around the time when the child is on Fifth grade, he understands that he came to this world to be the ‘name bearer’ for the family. The family was otherwise complete with the two daughters. A realization that changed his outlook towards the family as well as life. Anger…Disappointment…He was here for a mission from Day 1, a reason… and not …
The child does not take to anything without effort, he is not a natural – scholar, sportsman, musician, cook. The only things that comes naturally to him are colors and composition. He understands, camera angles without having laid his hands on one, he understands what color combinations and styles will suit people. He understands style.
His passion for sports gets him to play – cricket, volleyball, table tennis, basketball, hockey, soccer, badminton. He finds that he could play just basketball and cricket well, he quits the other games, continues to play table tennis, no one knows why. If we drew a pie, it would be 80% effort, 15% will power and 5%natural talent for Cricket, while for basketball, it was 70% natural talent and 30% effort. Later he would be selected to play baske ball for the National Stadium team.
Meanwhile, amidst other things the child displays a natural flair for elocution and public speaking. He moves into the literary circles of school while continuing his sporting interests. The child chooses the subjects of his interest and leads his student life in complete control. His father made sure, he respected his son’s interest. Even when choosing his first school, the father respected the child’s decision to choose a school of his own choice.
The young man (well he is no more a child now), decides to take on Hotel Management as a life choice, to which the father for the first time says – “Waiter hobe naki?”, the young fellow, just nods his head. The father is almost certain, that the child will not get through the examination when he sees the thousands of aspirants. The young man proves him wrong. He gets through the written as well as the interview. This is the first time, the father thinks, maybe his son will do something in life…at the same time the fellow, also gets selected to represent the National Stadium team in basketball and he proves to the family that with Humanities – one can still get an average of over 70%. He misses a overall distinction by 1.4%… the comparison does a flip flop.
Sunday, 14 June 1992 was the last time that the young man walked properly. He did so for 18 years, 2 months.
Then came Black Monday –
Monday, 15 June 1992 – The young man gets up from bed feeling a little weak. Well, he had had a great weekend after the results were declared and he had also been called for the Hotel Management interview. Many of his friends too had got through their respective career choices. But this was a strange day and the life of this man will change over night. He tries to lift a bucket of water and is unable to, he tries to sit on a chair and literally falls into it, he tries to stand still one place and is unable to. He still is unable stand at one place. The boy is detected with ‘polynueritis’ of the limbs.
The boy jokes with the doctor, one Mr. Prasad, “Doctor, see it has affected the parts of my body that I used the most, thank god, I did not use my brains that much.” The doctor told the father, he will be alright.
Physiotherapy, Steroids was all that is there in the medical world for such a disease. For two long years, the man is confined to a bed. The parents try everything, astrologers, soothsayers, pundits, other than doctors obviously.
There is a visible gap between the thumb and the index finger on both the hands. The strong thigh muscles degenerate completely. The calf muscles too disappear. The man continues his struggle and learns how to write again. He would listen to songs and write their lyrics. He would often compare his current hand writing with his previous pieces to compare the formation of letters and words.
He would walk with his father in the morning and then used an elbow crutch for a year.
In 1994, having lost two crucial years the man joins an institute to learn how to programs computers. Doctors had told him, that he would not be able to take the strain of Hotel Management. The young man was on a mission, he didnot forget that ever, he enrolled himself into a graduate program via the School of Correspondence.
Life moved on, the father moved to the next world on March 20, 1999 while the young man was still finishing his training stint at a leading eLearning organization.
The true meaning of why he was given life started that day, and the mission continues…
It is now more years that the man has walked in the funny manner that he does than the correct way.
He has worked hard to be where he is – same equation 70% will power, 20% determination and 10% talent returns every single time.
The man is still finding the person who brought this fate upon him. He knows who that that person is but is still finding the reason.
A mission as always…