By Sreyashi Mazumdar
“While crooning away to Anjan Dutta’s ‘Ranjana aami ashbona‘ and paging through the crumpled pages of an old newspaper, I ran into the scribbler’s corner. Since I was 4, I used to see my Dadu scribbling some odd graphics and letters on the extreme right-hand side corner- or the scribbler’s corner as I used to denote it- of the newspaper…I was too young and naive to look over those amorphous paragraphs which failed to unveil any hidden meaning before me. It was after his death that I started fidgeting with the scribbler’s corner.
Dadu Bhai will become a doctor one day…Dadu Bhai will become a journalist one day…(the grey-haired used to address me as Dadu Bhai)…I really don’t know whether he used to ever lament the deplorable condition Kolkata might get into after like 20 years….I am neither a doctor nor a journalist…I think, I am a bemused fellow nibbling on a mirage, a mirage that mirrors Kolkata’s lost vigor–once a plush place with opportunities thronging it and culture touching new heights with stalwarts like Tagore, Michael Madhushudon Dutta, Mrinal Sen, Satyajit Ray, Ritvik Dutta creating history. May, be my future has donned the history and has got reduced to a withered leaf with no air to breath in or develop”, laments Kritika Sarkar, a third year Calcutta University student.
Kolkata or the city of Joy once emanated vivacity, with the city’s young minds shouting their lungs out, essaying their ideas through words, films, movements, with vigor etched in their minds to bring a change. A change that would meliorate the city and flesh out the potential the city once bore– the high-spiritedness rendered by its citizenry and the vitality that it’s economy took to.
“Who doesn’t want to stay rooted? I have been born and brought up in Kolkata. The city makes me ponder upon my evolution as a person. Every nook and corner of this city unleashes its magic, leaving me awestruck. But, unluckily the city hasn’t much to give. I have left no stone unturned to get a job but like the majority of the ignited minds of this city I, too, find it difficult to find my own feet,” mused 20-year-old Tulika Mukherjee, a Jadavpur University graduate.
Despite the teeming crowd of intellectuals herding the posh hubs and confabulating over post-modern ideologies flavored with their personal experiences, with prolonged drags of cigarettes satiating their unrequited want to fill the void, the lacklustre city stands still at the honking horns while passers-by stare at the city with sullen eyes, hoping to reap the yield of their hard work.
“I just fail to connect with this city. Everything in this city is imbued with an ideological color. At times, I feel like being infixed in a constant ideological tussle–a tussle between the vying political factions. There is an incessant urge to take over the coveted end, nevertheless, the coveted end remains unresolved, with nobody really being aware of that end.
I want this city to be free from the constant ideological warfare that in a way impinges on ones personal space and intellectual capabilities. I want this city to get rid of the ideological clutter,” said Ritika Chatterjee, a Jadavpur University student who seems to be quite perturbed at the banality pervading the city.
While sharing a series of distressful experiences, 24-year-old Abir, an ex-Kolkatan, sounds out his take on the deplorable condition of the city, “Every alley in this city has its own share of stories, but then again the resources to bring those stories into existence seem to have taken a back seat. I am a budding journalist. I want to talk of every nook and corner of this city, ranging from politics to economy, but the media industry in itself is on the brink of a major wipeout. It’s just the old stalwarts ruling this city”.
“Despite being an intellectual hotspot the city hasn’t seen any new publishing house trying to create its own space in this city. I mean new age schisms like new media seems to be rocket science for the grey-haired gentry of this city who still think newspapers are the only valid form of journalism,” he adds.
“Rebellion sounded like a lot of fun, but in Calcutta there was nothing to rebel against. Where would it get you?”, questions Bharati Mukherjee from Desirable Daughters.
Bharati Mukherjee’s sentiments seem to tune into the feelings borne by a large number of young Kolkatans who aspire to do something big and better. Despite the relentless voices’ attempt at cracking down upon the status quo, to start anew, with a fresh vigor and vim, there is an inherent monotony seeping in, glutting the possibility of a probable change.
” What do we even rebel for in Kolkata? There has to be a conclusion to every rebellion. But, in a city like Kolkata rebellion doesn’t fetch the requisite results. So, everything goes in vain,” quetches Sumana Nandi, an independent scholar, hailing from Chandanagar.
“Ranjana Aami Ashbo Na…” (Ranjana I wouldn’t come back)
As a last nail on the coffin, one would surely end up finding a stark connectedness between Ranjana and Kolkata. Ranjana, despite being the beloved, breathes in a sense of forlornness owing to her admirer’s lack of faith in her; similarly, Kolkata despite being the sought after treasure trove for many is gradually being abandoned by her lovers for the lost charm and dynamism she once bore.