There’s fire raging in his eyes. Tired eyes, tired of seeing the same old pain, the same old dream.
The sixth straight peg of whiskey at his table;
He liked facing the world through the reddish haze of the liquid, nowadays. It looked more serene, more diffused, mellowed. He tried playing with the glass, rotating, turning, shaking, and listened to the soft tinkering of the two ice cubes floating around, before he could gulp down the poison and let it sear his already charred veins. The tinkering of the ice cubes seemed fanatic, a voice seemed to be lingering away, “Che is alive, he’s in our hearts” The music seemed more distant, the cluttering of the crockery more rhythmic and the moon?
A big blotted white dot in the black canvas — “oh! God, why did you forsake me?”
It was in the early 80’s. Exact date he couldn’t recall, maybe November. Late sunny morning. Mother was busy as usual shuttling from room to room and banging at his closed door in between.
Lying curled up peacefully in a different time zone. Unaware that a soft chilly breeze was blowing through the half open window, the siphon curtains rippling carelessly, the fan creaking away at its own ease, two sparrows quarrelling at the window pane. A Karl Marx biography tucked carefully under his pillow and an angel in his eyes. Dreaming, dreaming, streaming. The seed of communism was sprouting, thriving, desperate for a drop of water, as it flung it roots into his mind’s canvas. Growing too, was his new found love, revolutions galore.
By the time he got up, the sun was blazing away. A split sunray fell upon the black and white life size poster of Che Guevara sitting majestically fondling a cigar at the right corner of his half open lips. His father, a man he idolized and despised at the same time was preparing for his 9-5 office. A bundle of dirty half corrected exam papers held carefully in between his armpits, a Bengali daily clutched in his hand and dying communist beliefs in his heart. Idolized because, he had never a man with such level of integrity. He did fantasize that he would be able to stand up to support his family as his father did. Year 1947 partition, two nations thousands of people streaming in across the Indo-Bangladesh border, seeking political asylum. Searching for a single shade under the sun, crying their lungs out for a mouthful of rice, not for themselves, but for their children; it is then that his father stood rock solid. The patience, the resilience, the hardship, and the sacrifice he idolized him for all this. And despised? Because he succumbed to responsibility. 55 years of his life, he had spent preaching a bunch of ignorant student in a govt. funded very ordinary school. Shabby and downtrodden.
“Why the hell can’t you wake up a bit early?” His mother shouted, “24years and you can’t even say a brinjal from a papaya!!!” startling him from his daydreaming.
“This boy has a long way to go, before life teaches him something; hopeless”, muttered his father in a half pessimistic tone.
“As always”, he thought of his father, “soft spoken, idealist, half hearted” he tried to hide a chuckle under his breath.
“Comrades!!!!” thundered Manick da. Mr. Manick Chakrabarty, clad in a yellowish white shirt, tucked out, a trouser that had gone through enough, unshaved, yellowed eyes, but there was spark within them, a thick framed black spectacles, which he proudly says was gifted to him by his wife, in their 20th anniversary. He is the man, who made him that how communism can change this unequal and divided world, where liberty is earned through revolution, where every drop of blood that people like his father sheds will have its true value. Where every head is held high and knowledge is free, where beggars are choosers and kings stripped naked and made to run in the city streets. He used to echo Marx, “the philosophers only showed how this world can be changed, but the point is the change to actually take place.” Revolution was in his eyes, youth his veins and dreams in his heart. He placed his first stepping stone in his red empire. Words, golden words, Che Guevara came to life, suddenly, “I know you have come to kill me, come shoot, you coward, you are only going to kill a man.” The words were of fire and ideologies are all in red, Red, RED. Laal salaam!!! He desperately wanted not to succumb to responsibility, like his father did. The world has never seemed so brave, so daunting, and so convergent. He stopped believing in Gods.
Mid 80’s. Maybe January. He’s not so sure. He had spent days under the sun, painting protest posters in red, rallying at the Brigade grounds, the writers’ building, burning puppets of opposition leaders, even holding a gun and idolizing Manick da.
He spent them in puffs of smoke, nurturing hand made bombs, sleepless, or sleeping with the dogs, reading Karl Marx, Lenin, and Che. By that time it was high noon in his life. He tore off his scholarships for the US, gave up his lucrative career, where money came at flick of a finger and he told his sweetheart the same thing as he did to the Gods years ago. He hated it when his father used to say, “Being a common man is hereditary”. He pillared up his father’s failures and laid his stepping stones to success. He gave up his family for his ideologies, his responsibilities for his fantasizes his realities for his dreams, after all this what the likes of Marx, Lenin and Che did.
Year 2000. Yes, today he can say that the two people he idolized the most did bless him. He might not have rubbed shoulders with the greats of communism, but he did go past his fellow comrade Manick da, with due respect. This time there was no need to hide the smile.
But yes, today’s sun did rise, but at a heavy price. The old retired school teacher, that his father was, is no more. He died of an askemic heart, ill treated, lack of medicines, lack of money, because in his world money didn’t come at the flick of a finger. His mother terminally ill; she was diagnosed with colon cancer 2 years back. Irreparable. His one time sweetheart settled in Cincinnati, US of A. he stood rock solid. He never even for a split second thought of laying down his ideologies, so that “his” people would question his integrity. After all he was his father’s son. Patience, resilient, and the sacrifice; he felt like the God, a god who sits among equals, he has no lesser children. Every drop of blood still boil, they are just as red as they were 30 years ago. The words still spit fire, but sadly beggars are still not choosers. There still some work left.
That evening his mother breathed her last, the final brick in the wall of his RED empire fell crumbling, broken down into thousands of pieces. After decades tears fell, instead of blood, white ruled instead of red, and Krishna became God instead of Marx.
The secretary (on phone): yes, sir the CM had already sanctioned the proposed site for the SEZ. The meeting is scheduled sharp at 4pm.
There’s still some unfinished work.