Fathering My Father

I have always wanted to write about my father but never did that for reasons unknown to me. My mother was very close to me but my father had a totally different status in my life.
He was a sports enthusiast and a cricketer himself in his early days, so what if he is lying on bed lately. It seems he has completely forgotten to walk . I have always seen him surrounded by his friends and admirers be it at office or home. I have heard of people urging him to utter some foul languages directing them, which they took as a blessing. At present he doesn’t even want to talk to people and more so if they ask him to walk.
I have seen him distributing tickets of cricket and football matches… the complimentary ones that he used to get from his friends. Probably he did so because he had to fight and beg for these tickets when he was young and yearned to watch the match live.
He was an apolitical trade union leader during his service period and always fought for people even who had committed mistakes that had severe repercussions. “Why should their family suffer?” I heard him saying several times. During his tenure if you went to any of the branches of the Bank he was associated with and took his name, your work would have been done in no time. From Managers to the security guard everyone knew him and respected him.
I know several people who have bagged jobs in banks due to this bed ridden old man. Though a very few people would admit it now. I know a vegetable seller from our local market who respected him like God after he got a job in a bank and got promoted as a clerk in due course.

For me, he knew anything and everything. He used to tell me stories on different subjects like sports, politics and his childhood days and even bedtime stories. Bedtime stories ranged from that of Jim Corbett to some serious real-life stories but they would have a bizarre ending everyday as he would fall asleep while telling these. Things like a tiger got arrested by the police or a bus moving kept under the water etc. I still cherish those moments.

Like every middle-class family we too had financial problems which he managed to hide very smartly. Spending his half a months’ salary for my first ever SLR camera and having faith on me with my passion for photography, was a big thing.
Now, I am a grown-up man and don’t urge him to tell bedtime stories or play with me. I don’t look for this bald-headed man if I am in any trouble. With time I have seen him becoming a childlike figure. If you listen to our conversations, I bet you would prefer that over any other comedy show.
A few examples will give you all a better clarity. Once he was served with a dish of prawn and bottle gourd curry (a Bengali dish called Lau Chingri). Expecting a happy review, I had asked him about the dish. “It’s good but I had to search for the prawns” he replied.
Very rarely we give him black. One day I found him drinking the hot tea, in fact gulping it at one go. I was perplexed and when enquired about it, “it’s black tea” he promptly replied.
It’s very hard to keep him seated against his wish. So, we tried an innovative idea, introduced him to Ludo (board game) with his attendant. During such games you can hear fights with the number rolled on the dice or may be which colour he would take and all. 

We have deleted several phone numbers from his mobile without his knowledge. They are just missing for him. It all started when he asked a neighbour to bring betel leaves, late at night and the latter complied. Once I had gifted him a Caravan radio for time pass. One day he just asked me to remove it from his room. Reason behind it being his physiotherapist who would toy with it. Now that radio has returned to his room as the physiotherapist is not coming due to corona.
Just to converse with him I would go to his room and talk nonsense for fun. After quite some time he would get fed-up with me and play a trick to make me leave the room. His trick involves asking his attendant for the urine pot. If his attendant complains about him, he would scold them for poking their nose into everything. If I ask him to do some light exercises with the count of twenty, invariably he would jump numbers and finish it early.

If I ask him to walk with the help of a walker, he would bring out a list of pains, whichever suits the occasion. Later he would accept that he was lying about the pain to avoid walking. Thereafter out of nowhere he suddenly reiterated yesterday ‘you should have opted for the bank job’. He had always wanted me to take it up.
After more than two years of his femur bone fracture we don’t know if he can’t or he doesn’t want to walk. One thing is for sure, he is not a 78 year old man anymore but a 5year old child. He has developed growth of hair on his ever-barren scalp thanks to the medicines he lives on.
With the increasing life expectancy day by day by all probability we all will experience this cycle of life.

 It’s not as humorous as I have described though. Treat every child as a child, be it 5years old or 80. When I had decided to come back to Kolkata, everyone had asked me to reconsider my decision. As predicted, I have lost my dream run, but I am getting to spend quality time with this child whom I fondly refer as ” Baba”. The question that remains is: If not now…. when?”

Text & Photo : ARIJIT SEN



Children’s Day

“Happy Children’s Day…”
I shouted out from our balcony for the twins on the third floor balcony.
They replied – “Thank you”
I insisted – “Say, same to you”
They laughed at me and said – “same to you”.
Its not that I believe in “Age is just a number” but I feel comfortable with the child within than the adult outside. I am not adult-rated.
I don’t know about you but I am a child just with some experience. Aren’t you a child within?
Do you still fight with your siblings? Yes, I do.
I still remember last year, when we had a fight during “bhai dooj” on wearing a kurta. I was against it while my sister was insisting me to put it on. We actually had a wrestling match which was witnessed by our neighbour uncle from the opposite balcony. I finally managed to lock myself inside a room to avoid it. I was just gasping for some breath when I noticed a kurta crawling in underneath the door. I had to give up.
Do you sing song out of tune while neighbours are listening? Yes, I do.
After three years in this housing society our neighbours know it’s me when a song in a donkey-ish voice sails through the window.
Do you have more children as friends than the adults? Yes, I do have.
My new friend is a little girl who resides on the first floor of the building opposite to us. Yesterday we conversed in sign language for nearly twenty minutes as I was on the fourth floor and I can’t hear whispers (unless spoken loud).
My wishes to all those adults who believes in the the child within them.
We all are wishing “Happy children’s Day” to the children. All the schools are wishing their students.

Aren’t we missing something on this day?
Do we know there are thousands of children who don’t even know what childhood is?
Going to a school is a privilege for them. They do all the work an adult does including earning for their family.
While a child in our society is playing video games, these children are picking rags and searching for toys for themselves.

While a child is sporting a new dress during the festivals these children are trying to extend the life span of their torn dress with a safety pin.
When our children are crying for a new shoe these children are looking for a shoe of their size in the garbage dump which I & you have discarded.

When our children are inside the home well protected from the corona virus these kids are out there to collect free ration for their family.
When will they celebrate children’s day?

Text & Photos : ARIJIT SEN



Age Is Just A Number?

“Age is just a number”.
This can only be said by a person who has lived his/her life fully well in control of the situations that cropped up.
You see one can’t start going to school if he/she hasn’t attained a particular age. Again, one can’t vote if he/she has not reached a certain age. We know that one can’t drink alcohol before a certain age. Also one can’t get married before a stipulated age. One has to retire from job after a particular age.
And they still say age is just a number?
There are some hidden age barriers too. Someone marrying late face people’s judgements and comments. One can’t conceive late since the body clock is ticking hard. One can’t apply for a job late as again you need to be a certain age to be deemed a ‘fresher’. One can’t get a government job after a certain age again for a set criteria.
And they keep saying age is just a number!
There are some exceptions too. One can get extensions after extensions for a certain post even after retirement. No matter how many people are waiting in the queue to get that job.
Still age is just a number?
Those who are waiting in the job queue eventually lose their working age. Yes this is pretty common. You will find these priveleged souls in all sectors who hold on to a chair in the name of honorary service doing very mediocre job, earning a lions share, all thanks to their contacts. But there are professionals who cannot get a job after a certain age, no matter how experienced they are. Unfortunately if you are in your mid 40’s with years of experience, no one will even touch your CV. They consider you way costlier than others.
Still age is just a number?
In the last couple of years, I have applied for nearly hundreds of jobs. No one has even sniffed my CV, to be honest. I have diversified to videography and video editing leaving my passion for photography. No one showed any courage to invest in my work.
I shredded all my experience and wanted to do an internship in the field of video editing. But ,no , I was told I can’t do an internship since I have missed that age bracket. Internships therefore are not meant for a bald headed person in his 40’s.
But you see age is just a number!
Tomorrow is my 44th birthday and people are going to wish me a “Happy Birthday”!
Yes, of course it will be so because as we know one thing for a fact that : AGE IS JUST A NUMBER!

Text & Photo : ARIJIT SEN


daily life, Humour

SOLO with a hole

Travelling is a blessing to mankind. It teaches us about the outside world, its culture and traditions. It tells us the history, gives us the geographical knowledge. More importantly it refreshes our mind, rather heals it which is stressed with our self created problems. Travelling introduces a break in the monotonous daily routine. I believe instead of reading books of history, geography and life science a short excursion could teach us more interesting things that are not considered to be important in our education system. We tend to rely more on books but not on our own experiences.
For the Bengalis, travelling is so popular that it comes just next to eating fish curry and rice. All the extended weekends of next six months are pre-booked with trips. Vacations are planned according to the calendar of school holidays. One trip ends with the planning for the next one. They don’t visit just one place, four to five cities are planned in a three day trip. If you meet five tourists in an extreme location, three of them must be Bengali. If you hear the unfortunate news of deaths of four tourists in an avalanche, two of them must be Bengali.

Such are we Bengalis.

In my childhood I used to travel with my parents. Now I travel with my wife. There is a small difference between travelling with parents and wife. With parents you can complain about the food and the accommodation or may be the choice of places to visit and with wife…
My wife’s dream is to go on a solo trip. Initially, I was a bit worried if she would be able to manage it on her own. During a regular fight she made it very clear that she was not going to include me in her solo trip.
One day she woke me up in the morning and asked me to book a ticket for her solo trip. On asking about the location she said, Mumbai. Her brother’s place. I said how is it a solo trip, if you are visiting  your brother? Anyways I am not included in her solo trip, why should I poke my Nepalese nose? 

Ticket booking plan subsided.

One evening she comes up with a new plan for her solo trip. She will be going with her friends.
Me and my sister pulled her leg for the definition of her solo trip but the result was even worse, she shouted back and said that she is not going to include my sister as well in her solo trip.
On a fortunate evening, she asked me how many days would I be happy to stay without her? I was a bit considerate yet didn’t want to lose the chance. I said a month is okay with me. She dropped the idea and one more plan of a solo trip got postponed.

Once she even planned a solo trip with her parents. Later, she dropped the idea after introspecting her way to Nirvana.

It has now been postponed only till her next whim shows up but we remain excluded in her solo trip for sure.

Text & Photo : ARIJIT SEN