Sumallya Mukhopadhyay is a former student of Department of English, Presidency University, Kolkata. Other than reading and writing, Sumallya is an Oral Historian in 1947 Partition Archive. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once”
- Futility, Wilfred Owen
When one is in class IX, one cannot distinguish one day from the other. For it is a routine life which is centred on your classes, cycle rides to school, playing football after school gets over and you return home, dressed in familiarity that carries itself forward the next day. I was no exception in this regard. My days were ordinary, subsumed in simplicity that was reflected, as soon as I was back home from school, in the smiles and questions of Ma and Didi whose lasting impression defined family for me! And all these usually happened in the dining room. It has always been the most comfortable place in our house. Retracing our steps from various paths of individual lives, it is in this dining room that Baba, Ma, Didi and I bonded over simple conversations which otherwise would have remained unspoken and forgotten in some unexplored realms of our mind.
14th March, 2007- That day was unassumingly different. As I stepped into the room, I found there an ambience of distress and agony. Turning my attention to the television, which my family was intently watching, I understood the gravity of the situation. Police opened fire on agitators at Nandigram. There flashed an image of a woman who passively sat hunched over the body of a boy. Within seconds few darting disoriented feet dragged the boy before the camera highlighting the helplessness that was presiding over the entire situation. The woman receded into the background yet carefully held the boy’s hand. Her eyes spoke to us and Ma held my hand as I decided not to eat anymore.
Later in the day, Biman Basu empathically stated, “This is a dawning of a new day at Nandigram! The sun has risen there.” The day’s dawning would not inject life in that boy. The woman’s fixated eyes, cascading the clamour around, clarified how none can claim with certainty the number of people injured and killed. It was left to popular imagination. But one class IX student understood that Statist propaganda is devoid of any empathy for fellow human beings. Statist politics ruthlessly defies the bond of humanity which connects unknown faces in everyday buses and autos and trains where little stories are created and shared which otherwise will never be recorded as literature. All night long, the headlines of innumerable news channels dramatically declared that the Haldi river that flows by Nandigram, has turned red. My family decided not to concentrate on the details. It disrupted the normalcy of the family ambience. So I turned down the volume of the television. But I refused to switch it off.