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I am finally putting pen to paper. The scrunch of the sheets against the fanged nib, the slow absorption of the ink, seeing these unusually curved letters, is definitely satisfying; I’m not sure if writing journal entries to myself like a schizophrenic is the answer I’m looking for. But I have got to try. My head’s dizzy from riding on the sinusoidal wave that has been my life for the last two years.
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On most days I look for ways to die—the highest building around my house, the sharpest knife in the kitchen, the nearest railway station, a chemist shop that would unquestioningly sell twenty or more sleeping pills to a sixteen-year-old, a packet of rat poison—and on some days I just want to be scolded by Maa–Baba for not acing the mathematics exam, tell Dada how I will beat his IIT score by a mile, or be laughed at for forgetting to take the change from the bania’s shop.
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I’m Raghu and I have been lying to myself and everyone around me for precisely two years now. Two years since my best friend of four years died, one whose friendship I thought would outlive the two of us, engraved forever in the space–time continuum. But, as I have realized, nothing lasts forever. Durjoy Datta Books Free Download
Now lying to others is fine, everyone does that and it’s healthy and advisable —how else are you going to survive the suffering in this cruel, cruel world? But lying to yourself? Durjoy Datta Books Free Download That shit’s hard, that will change you, and that’s why I made the resolution to start writing a journal on the first of this month, what with the start of a new year and all, the last of this century. I must admit I have been dilly-dallying for a while now and not without reason.
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It’s hard to hide things in this house with Maa’s sensitive nose never failing to sniff out anything Dada, Baba or I have tried to keep from her. If I were one of those kids who live in palatial houses with staircases and driveways I would have plenty of places to hide this journal, but since I am not, it will have to rest in the loft behind the broken toaster, the defunct Singer sewing machine and the empty suitcases. Durjoy Datta Books Free Download So Raghu, let’s not lie to ourselves any longer, shall we? Let’s say the truth, the cold, hard truth and nothing else, and see if that helps us to survive the darkness.
If this doesn’t work and I lose, checking out of this life is not hard. It’s just a seven-storey drop from the roof top, a quick slice of the wrist, a slip on the railway track, a playful ingestion of pills or the accidental consumption of rat poison away. But let’s try and focus on the good. Durga.
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Durga. Today was my first day at the new school, just two months before the start of the tenth-standard board exams. Why Maa–Baba chose to change my school in what’s said to be one of the most crucial year in anyone’s academic life is amusing to say the least—my friendlessness.
‘If you don’t make friends now, then when will you?’ Maa said. Durjoy Datta Books Free They thought the lack of friends in my life was my school’s problem and had nothing to do with the fact that my friend had been mysteriously found dead, his body floating in the still waters of the school swimming pool. He was last seen with me.
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At least that’s what my classmates believe and say. Only I know the truth. When Dada woke me up this morning, hair parted and sculpted to perfection with Brylcreem, teeth sparkling, talcum splotches on his neck, he was grinning from ear to ear. Unlike me he doesn’t have to pretend to be happy.
Isn’t smiling too much a sign of madness? Durjoy Datta Books Free He had shown the first symptoms when he picked a private-sector software job over a government position in a Public Sector Undertaking which would have guaranteed a lifetime of unaccountability. Dada may be an IITian but he’s not the smarter one of us. ‘Are you excited about the new school, Raghu? New uniform, new people, new everything? Of course you’re excited! I never quite liked your old school.
You will make new friends here,’ said Dada with a sense of happiness I didn’t feel. ‘Sure. If they don’t smell the stench of death on me.’ ‘Oh, stop it. It’s been what? Over two years? You know how upset Maa–Baba get,’ said Dada. ‘Trust me, you will love your new school! And don’t talk about Sami at the breakfast table.’ ‘I was joking, Dada. Of course I am excited!’ I said, mimicking his happiness. Dada falls for these lies easily because he wants to believe them.
Like I believed Maa–Baba when they once told me, Durjoy Datta Books ‘We really liked Sami. He’s a nice boy.’ Sami, the dead boy, was never liked by Maa–Baba. For Baba it was enough that his parents had chosen to give the boy a Muslim name. Maa had more valid concerns like his poor academic performance, him getting caught with cigarettes in his bag, and Sami’s brother being a school dropout.
Despite all the love they showered on me in the first few months after Sami’s death, I thought I saw what could only be described as relief that Sami, the bad influence, was no longer around. Now they use his name to their advantage. ‘Sami would want you to make new friends,’ they would say. I let Maa feed me in the morning. Durjoy Datta Books It started a few days after Sami’s death and has stuck ever since.
Maa’s love for me on any given day is easily discernible from the size of the morsels she shoves into my mouth. Today the rice balls and mashed potatoes were humungous. She watched me chew like I was living art. And I ate because I believe the easiest way to fool anyone into not looking inside and finding that throbbing mass of sadness is to ingest food.
A person who eats well is not truly sad. While we ate, Baba lamented the pathetic fielding placement of the Indian team and India’s questionable foreign policy simultaneously, ‘These bloody Pakistanis! They shoot our soldiers at the border and have the gall to send their cricketers for a friendly cricket series. Terrorists should have bombed the hotel the cricketers were staying in. At least we wouldn’t lose cricket matches to these brutes,’ said Baba in anger and frustration.
‘It’s a step in the right direction, Baba. If you have a problem with them, might I remind you that our captain is a Muslim as well?’ said Dada. ‘That’s what I’m saying, Anirban. Durjoy Datta Books PDF We were supposed to be a Hindu version of Pakistan, the holy land for all Hindus, and look what we are now! Secular! Bah! A nation of hypocrites.
They might be . . .’ said Baba, his voice trailing, eating up the abuses that bubbled at the back of his throat. ‘. . . But they respect and preserve their religious identity unlike us who bow down to the whims of the minorities here. I’m sure they laugh at us!’ ‘Not again, you two,’ Maa interrupted, stuffing Dada’s mouth with a comparatively smaller rice ball, cutting off the oft-repeated religiously charged conversation midway.
Baba left to mutter prayers to our Hindu gods, for our floundering cricket team to be led by Saurav Ganguly, a Bengali Hindu brahmin. ‘Do well in school,’ said Dada before he left. Maa came to drop me to the bus stop and cried when the bus drove away with her favourite son. I waved to her till the bus turned the corner. It makes her happy.
Maa’s obsession and deep love for me is now old news. Durjoy Datta Books PDF Maa had no choice in the matter. Dada grew up too early. When I was twelve, Dada went off to the hostel and found friends and happiness outside our family and carved a son-shaped void in Maa’s heart. That’s when Maa turned to me for succour, the apple of her eye, and loved me with the power of a thousand suns.
Even now, she clutches my old clothes and mourns that I’m no longer the child who used to need her for everything. When I sat back in my seat, the other students in the bus looked at me strangely for they had seen me looking at Maa like a puppy left behind at a shelter. I don’t blame them and neither do I care.
I will be her best son till the time I can . . . but I also wonder how long that will be. Durjoy Datta Books PDF As Dada told me, I tried to do well in school. Since my shift of school was sudden and unexplained for, a lot of schools had turned me down. My new school isn’t as good as the last one; it is lenient, the teachers are a little slow, and the students are rowdier. I didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t make any new friends. I picked the empty first bench, sat there alone, stared at the blackboard and waited for the day to end.
Just 700-odd days in my new school, 1200 days in whichever college I go to and then some more days and then some more and then some more . . . and then I die. My plan to hide in plain sight at school lasted till two days ago. Our class teacher, Amarjeet Kaur, a round-faced, stout and beautiful woman, who had been on leave till then, introduced me to the whole class and asked everyone to say their names out loud.
I was prepared to forget every name as soon as possible but one name stuck in my head, entangled in my thoughts like a chewing gum stuck so badly in long hair that it needs to be burnt off. Durjoy Datta Books PDF That name is Brahmi Sharma, the class monitor. Besides being toweringly tall at 5’7″ like every class monitor should be, she is also the march-past incharge and the teacher’s pet.
From the number of times I have seen other boys throw furtive glances at her I’m fairly certain that she has a long line of secret admirers. I had prepared myself to not join that line the very first time I saw her. I have found an effective strategy to not like someone. All you do is find a flaw in that person and then concentrate all your energies on hating it, fix a magnifying glass to your eye and train it on that flaw.
It could be a mole, or a crooked finger; it could be a gender or a religion or a social class too. Slowly, you only see the flaw and not the person. It has worked with everyone other than Maa–Baba and Dada whom I can’t hate, no matter how hard I try to focus on their flaws. I have been searching for something to hate in her. Her hair is long and shiny. It is usually tied into a scruffy, untidy pony, and absolutely un-hateable. Her face is amiable, with an odd pimple here and there.