Bhoy hoy. Sotti khub bhoy hoy. Rate aka berote. Airport theke taxite uthte. Amonki Gariahater more autor jonno darate. Rast sobe dosta. Akhono rastaye lok ache. Kintu ora keu asbe na. Chitkar kore Dakleo na. Ar tarpor sobai ak jot hoye bolbe sajano ghotona. Rate aka dariyechilo. Kharap Meye. Tai bhoy hoy.
Yes I feel scared. An emotion I had never felt in Kolkata when I spent my student life here. Frustration, despair, exasperation maybe. At a lazy, languorous city which stopped to breathe in, to smell the flowers to feel the breeze where the Delhi’s and the Mumbai’s rushed on. Yet the city had an identity, a fiercely rebellious yet surprisingly warm one differentiated by its passionate love for poetry, food, festivals. The city probably lost out on the bottom lines but more than made up with its warmth, its intellect, its cultural capital. And surpassing everything was its compassion. The city never walked past a dying accident victim. Stood up and protested when a girl was hooted at. Hurried to help the old man cross the street. And then suddenly everything changed. The city promised a metamorphosis. Everyone waited with bated breath. They waited to see the lithe butterfly with the colours of tradition and the wings of change. What emerged instead was an ugly mess of screaming inhumanity. That has over the last years destroyed everything the city stood for. Women are raped and then declared as prostitutes while the criminals are pardoned as ‘little boys’. Students are beaten and the unrepentant administration calls it the ‘just desserts’. People lie dying on the roads while the city nonchalantly works by. The city seems to have surgically removed its soul and gifted it to the devil. The devil that Durga promises to kill every year. While the ‘parar chele’ goes about with his extortion in her name. And tugs at the frightened girl’s dupatta as he does. The city merely looks the other way.
Tai bhoy hoy. For a long time, I have been afraid. Afraid of coming back to the city. Afraid of raising my voice. And then when I had given up, a glimmer of hope resolutely broke through. That the city has found its voice. The soulful voice that defined it. Which sings, not abuses in protest. That is why #hokkolorob is resonating with the hearts of millions of people who have loved the city. Who are clinging on to the slogan with the last strands of hope. The city has not sold its soul to the devil, yet.
Picture Credit: Ronny Sen