Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bhashan (The Immersion)

My car steered slowly towards the tin barn. My experienced driver maneuvered around the massive craters.  I wondered as to whether “moon” walking would be more comfortable than this bumpy roller coaster ride ironically on the FM set the song “Tum aaye to aaya mujhe yaad, gali mein aa chaand nikla” played on.

As I neared the tin barn at last I could see the idols. Clay or thatch figurines bathed in moonlight as a around 5 kumors moved about slowly giving them a final coating of clay.
Kumor para, or the neighbourhood of kumors, the artisans who make the thousands of idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and help in receiving their blessings.

As I stepped out of the car I realized that the road was 'kacha' (made from mud) and uneven. “Gali mein aa chaand nikla “ the radio set played on...

As I neared the workshop, a artisan came to me “ Ki TV??” (Are you from a television channel?) “ Na Radio” (No I am from a Radio channel) I replied. “ Ashun, ashun “ they warmly welcomed me inside. I was lead directly to the man in charge, Pal Babu( In Bengali caste system Pals have been regarded as excellent kumors for decades). “ Ami Arijit Pal(name changed) ja jiggesh korar amay korun.” And thus the interview started.

As proud as a father is of his children, Pal babu showed me his various creations. As I gazed on asking questions about the methods used in their creation all of a sudden I realized  most of the artists who were working were pretty aged. Only one boy of 16-17 was working on a kali murti in some distance. “Aapnar chele?”( Your Boy?) I asked . “ Na, na .. notun projonmo ei byabshaye dhukbe “( No, No , do you really think that the next generation is going to come into this trade) he started laughing sarcastically. “ Keno?”(Why?) I asked. “Jei byabshaye 2 maser jogar hoy na shekhane ke aste chaibe. “ (who would like to be in a business that cannot give one money enough to survive two months?)
I stared at him for some time. Amused at the sight of utter shock on my face he started to explain. With the escalating prices it was getting more and more difficult for them to make their trade economically viable. “ Sarkar??( Has the Govenment helped...” “ Vote era age pabo sarkar er dekha” He explained that for the last two years the candidates have gone on giving them false promises of building a shade, A permanent workshop etc. “ O shob bhaota, oki aar hobe( all this is nonsense, nothing will ever happen) He said confidently. “ Tai to amar class 9 er chele tao kaaje aaste chay na, amio boli na, ami I last ei bonshe ...kumor” ( That is why when my son who studies in class 9 refuses to work here, I do not insist, I am the last generation of kumor in my family clan). It was difficult to judge in the dim light as to whether it was his bright eyes sparkling or the tear drop glistening in the moonlight.

As I neared my car, I took a last glance at the tin barn workshop. It is indeed amazing to realise that the idols of the Gods and Goddess, whom we mostly see adorned with gold, silver, zari and precious silks have such a humble upbringing. I wondered as to whether these idols were one of the last few generations of kumor made idols that we were ever going to see in Siliguri. As I stared at the moon bathed landscape the unfinished idols, the workshop, the craters I turned up the volume of the radio... Suman Sridhar humming.. “, khoya khoya chaand, khula aasmaan ...”

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