We have moved …
From the heat and dust of Kolkata to the traffic jams and torrential rains of Bengaluru, something I didn’t believe – even six months ago – that could ever happen. Life is so beautifully uncertain!
In 1996, we moved into our Kolkata flat bought after spending on it every penny that my wife and I had had, and a few lakhs of rupees that we hadn’t. At that time, I proudly told my friends I would leave the flat horizontally, and in no other manner. In fact, it was a promise I made to myself. After living a peripatetic life of transfers every two years, I was disgusted of moving homes and desperately wanted to “settle down”.
But at that time, our two grandsons were in the wombs of a distant future. And I was way too young to imagine what gigantic pull two tiny boys could have on us! So Goodbye, the city of my birth and growing up! Goodbye friends, relatives who I can still relate to, cinemas, theatres, art galleries, coffee shops, pubs, the beautiful always-full-of-water river …. Goodbye, my colleagues who have taught me so much. Goodbye, Kolkata, a place difficult to live in, but difficult to leave behind.
For the West Bengal Assembly elections 2016, the pollsters have predicted a thumping victory for the Trinamool Congress (TMC), or rather, their supreme leader, a barely-educated, megalomaniac enigma who believes she knows everything from painting to what animals in the zoo should eat, but who actually knows nothing. And the results will be known in a few hours from now.
Indian Bengalis, who have long become an insignificant community on the map, always prided themselves of their intellectual achievements. It was not unfounded on facts. From one of the greatest poets of all times to the scientists who invented the radio, discovered ORS or the oral rehydration salt that has saved millions of lives, to the unsung doctor who had to commit suicide after creating the first test-tube baby in the world, to some of the finest novelists, actors, and film-makers ever born, the short and often pot-bellied Bengalis had no dearth of brilliant men and women. So it was odd when a woman with zero academic achievements and who had once started calling herself Dr Mamata Banerjee, based on a fake degree bought from a fictitious US university, became the chief minister of West Bengal. Sadly, she had to be, we had no choice. The previous rulers had becomes demons in human shape after enjoying unfettered power for thirty-plus years.
The five years of this lady’s reign hasn’t been without some positives, such as civic facilities, which are certainly way better than what they used to be. But they look insignificant beside the colossal damages she has inflicted on a nine-crore (ninety-million) population.
Coming back to pollsters, let me stick my neck out and predict that in a few hours’ time, they will be proved horribly wrong. The ruling party will lose and lose by miles. But how can I be so certain?
My prediction is not based on statistics or any careful study. Rather, it is based on an unshakable faith on human beings. Firstly, I refuse to believe that the people of Bengal have become so corrupt morally that they would vote for the leader of a bunch of goons whose sole purpose of being in politics has been to make money in every possible and often impossible way. Secondly, I refuse to believe that the people of Bengal have suddenly become politically illiterate and not notice that under the present government, all the institutions, from education to policing to the recruitment machinery for school teachers, have been nearly destroyed. Finally, I refuse to believe that the people of Bengal will be so stupid that they wouldn’t realise that if this evil force is given another five years to rule us, nothing much will be left of West Bengal by 2021.
A CAVEAT: I must quickly add that everyone who has voted for the ruling party in 2016 doesn't fit the above descriptions. In fact, many of them are my closest friends who have excellent sense of judgment otherwise. I fail to understand why they support the TMC, but I have seen a common thread among them. Every one of them was a victim of the misrule of the political parties who are in opposition today, and who I believe are the only alternative for us at the moment.
Bengaluru / 19 May 2016, 5.28 AM