Ankur was so fascinated by the little wooden structures that were sold by the street side. He wished for one, his father obliged the day before the Rath.
A mere 150 rupees hardly made a difference to him. His son wanted that, that was enough for him to stop his car by the side of the street and get him one.
That evening, Ankur went to his mother who was equally tired as his dad, after an entire day’s work in her bank. Hushed away, Ankur made way to his grandmother’s room.
The grandmother looked at Ankur with delight. An uncanny smile lit her face up. She tried to get up from her bed. She held the railing of her bed, stretched her back and held her head up. The smile was still there on her face.
She gestured Ankur to come near her. Ankur jumped up on the bed, made some space beside his grandmother. She planted a kiss on his forehead, and inquired where he got the “Rath” from.
Ankur never knew what that is. He was too afraid to ask his dad.
His eyes glazed. He asked, “Thakuma what is a rath?”
“The Rath is the vehicle by which Lord Jagannath travels to his Mashi’s place”.
The grandmother burst into laughter. “Yes, Lord Jagannatha. He is a form of Lord Vishnu. Umm, Radha Krishna you know?”, pointing her fingers to the small temple by the side of her bed. All possible God’s idols and photographs were stacked there.
“Yes,..” said Ankur.
“Another form of the Lord Krishna”.
“Jaga-nath, the ruler of the world. He rules over all of us.”
“Thakuma, rath ?”
“We decorate the Rath or the chariot with flowers, leaves, ornaments.. and make it like a palace on wheels. Then you put the lord in the middle of it and take him along with Subhadra and Balaram to his mashi’s place. Give your best to decorate it. You will be God’s favourite.”
Ankur was thoughtful for a moment. He shook the lap of his grandmother and asked, “Thakuma will you help me making this? Mum is tired and dad is working.”
“Eto shomoy kar ache bolun toh? Shobai toh ekhon takar pechone chutche !”, said the taxi driver. I held my breath for sometime. Not knowing what to reply, I released it heavily.
“Eto dheerghyo niswash pheleo labh nei dada”. “TROLLED”, I said to myself, and left another heavy breath.
While he was driving his way through Hatibagan, I spotted one tea stall by the side.
It was a busy breakfast time, I sat beside an old man. The old man sipping from his cup of tea, sitting on the tool while the shop waiters served fresh hot “pudi saabji”, merkily smiled… he is hardly left with any teeth.
“How can they even face their children?
They are too engrossed with themselves, their own lives, their own freedom, their own bank balance. Future planning for them means saving more money and spending less time with their children.”
The middle aged man, whom he was talking to, was looking at me rather strangely trying to fathom what I was up to, seemed perturbed.
“What are you looking that side? Many like him are found with their camera in the various by lanes. How many people read Khirer Putul, tell me!”
The other man joined in, “yes, no Feluda! I wish my daughter reads Feluda, Abol tabol… I will read out to her the short stories of Satyajit Ray. He wrote so well.”
The old man interrupted, “They have these.. the camera. The have their entire world.”
I gave up the thought of photographing them. I kept thinking, what went wrong?
— The end —
Share your Rath story, I am trying to build up a story and am planning to share it in this same blog. Adding your story shall be a great idea. Email your story to “[email protected]” with the subject as “My Rath story”.