Ranjan and prayer

Ranjan was deeply moved by the scene of the heart-rending wail of a forlorn, panic-stricken child in the glitzy and colourful reportage, on a colour TV, of the barbaric assault on some country by the another and its allies. The child was a four-year-old boy who probably lost his parents and his entire family in consequence of the bombardments.

His little headpiece was bandaged with blood-stained gauge. And he was shouting like a demented person, tremendously, applying the entire energy at the disposal of his tiny, weakened body. Sitting before the TV, making a pair of clenched fists with his helpless hands, Ranjan muttered to himself, on that day like many other days : "God! Oh, God!"

Ranjan's dream

One day, while skimming through heaps of bit and pieces of text spread over several diaries, written by Ranjan, I chanced to discover the following lines:

I wanted not to be the sunshine,
I wanted to be a friend.
I wanted not to be the peace of a monsoon night,
I wanted to be a lover.
I wanted not to be the roar of the sea, nor the sound of a waterfall,
I wanted to be a singer.
I wanted not to be a statue,
I wanted only to express myself ...

"Got it all wrong, Me Lord!"

One day, at a friend's place, Ranjan came to know that a known writer, famed to be a protestor, had recently penned a moderately sized ad-reportage in a famous magazine, praising some fairness creams.

Later, while on his way home from that friend's place as Ranjan started regurgitating the matter, a quote from a famous Hindi anecdote  surfaced on his mind : "You've got it all wrong, O Rama!"

Ranjan's ethnicity

One evening, Ranjan and some of us his friends had a tough debate on the present status and the probable future of Bengali literature and culture. After several comments and arguments, Ranjan suddenly remarked: "Look pal, I don't follow this stuff like Bengali and all, nor do I want to! If you can set aside words like Bengali, Bihari, French, Parsee, and still talk, then come!"

Someone retorted, rather excitedly: "But you are a Bengali, Indian, Hindu. You are not German or French, not a Christian or a Muslim, not a Jew or a Shintoist. Mustn't you admit this?"

Ranjan replied back with the same excitement : "I am neither Bengali, nor Gujrati, nor Japanese, nor British."

"Goodness! What the hell are you then? Rhinoceros?"

"No, no! Of course not! I am certainly a human being!"


"Meaning a live instance of the offspring of the most intelligent species belonging to the latest phase of the biological evolution of a planet named Earth among the several million planets moving along their orbits in space."

Barely one or two seconds after this the adda was over. One by one everybody left the place, saying "Anyhow, let's part now" and similar things.

Ranjan and sorrow

Once I, while discussing with a friend about some of his familial problems, told my friend with a pacifying tone: "Always remember this, that the deeper the darkness, the nearer is the possibility of light." Hearing this Ranjan, who was so far listening silently to my friend, commented: "Look, such words sound good, no doubt, but one can't rely on them."

"Why?" I enquired.
"Look!" - Ranjan answered grimly, -"That the Sun comes after the dark night is a natural phenomenon. No question there. But the darkness that is of a deep unrest of the mind, the darkness that is lack of love, the darkness that indifference, insult - how can nature's light penetrate that darkness?"

I could not find an appropriate answer to this.

Ranjan on literature

One morning I had a long discussion with Ranjan about writing, literature and the like. Among many topics raised came up the topic of the success of writing, of the acceptability of writing to the readers at large.

During the discussion, Ranjan said to me: "Look, people at large are already bored to the back teeth with scores of assaults - and if on top of that you ... I mean ... you depict in your writing "one drop of tear", people will read that piece ... but try writing about the tears of thousands, of millions of people, about the drying up of their tears - you'll surely back out! ... In that muddied flood of tears your writings shall simply drift away! ..."

"But then how can you tell about this deep stream of the accumulated sorrow of all the people over the entire world?" - I asked him.

"Who the heck has made you promise to tell about that? That stream exists around you and me, and everybody. Do you have the idea that unless you the writers come along and point that out, people won't even sense that stream of sorrow? I would say that that idea is wrong!"

"That means, you want to steal the daily bread of the writers?"

"Heck, no, why? Say rather that I want to kill the racism of the writers."

"Then tell me what the hell a writer would do!" - I enquired.

"Why? The writer shall carefully write what he or she would write. - And then with humility float his or her work down the river of life. Period. The writer's work is done! Thereafter, whereto the writings shall drift, reach whose hands, what gain anyone will make out of them, what anyone will achieve therefrom ... all this will be fixed by the current of that river. Making much ado about these isn't quite becoming of a writer. ..."

Ranjan and the name

One day I showed Ranjan all these notes named "A few more words on Ranjan and his whereabouts". Feigning consternation, Ranjan glanced through a few paragraphs, and then said : "What's the point in writing these? Who'll ever read 'em?"

"Just so!" - I said - "Call it a bit of catharsis if you like, or else simply a little practice of  literary writing!"

"Hmm! And you've placed others' stories on my shoulders in quite a few places, as I see!" - Ranjan commented.

"So what? A writer can surely do that!"

"That he can, of course." - Ranjan said. And he fell silent for a little while. Then he started muttering, slowly, like a thinker: "In fact, my tales are certainly your tales ... just as yours are mine ... many words of many of us are sure similar ... you've done the right thing that way ... and besides ... perhaps it's only our names that are different ... perhaps we are all ... nameless ... and so one can use any name to call me ... you ... anyone among us ..."

"Ranjan! ... I'm supposing that  Ranjan IS your name!  It's not a class on Philosophy ..." - I protested.

"Oh goody goody goody!" - Ranjan said, smiling, - "No ... what I was driving at ... a name for your work could be - "A few words on the whereabouts of some persons" ..."

[to be continued]

Someslal Mukhopadhyay


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