Tuesday, September 14
The unbiased coin.
20th August , 2008. 5: 30 Pm.
The sky above the port was the colour of television ,tuned to a dead channel. I hadn’t finished my cup of tea and it had already gone cold. My daughter had returned , victorious over death, clinging to that last piece of rock undisplaced , when everyone inside the bus had died in that cliff . 2 long years later, she had come back to me, when the world presumed Dr. Sen was lost, or dead. She had found me ,in this other part of the world ,on this long deserted island , just when my experiment was in a state of completion. I had so much to disclose to her.
“ Titli, have you heard about the second law of thermodynamics ? that entropy cant be reversed ?”
“ya,when I was young ,you often quoted that universe is the single most accomplished conspirator.”
“Exactly, it always tries to keep things in symmetry ,in a stable state.Nature hates Chaos . Now what if the theory of Probability is nothing but nature`s craft to eliminate chaos ?”
“ Biased coin ?”
“No, what if a heads falls because a tails would tamper with entropy of the system, the universe ?”
“let`s take an example ,I flip the coin ,heads, I send this email containing my life`s work to the world,and tails I go for a walk with you .”
“You better send that email,dad,why wait ?”
I flipped the coin. TAILS. “Hmm…lets go for a walk.”
7: 30 Pm.
Twilight in this island was dangerous. I should have waited for the moon,but what I cared about was some time with my daughter.
“Do you believe in spirits Dad ?”
“ Scientists have discovered that when a person dies, his weight is decreased by a weight of the order 10 ^(-6)gms. Applying E=mc^2 , that pure energy from a soul would be humongous.Now imagine so many deaths could trigger so much energy in the universe. Chaos.Unstability.”
“Then what happens to that soul ?”
“ I believe that it conjures itself to some form of dark energy or precisely negative energy which conspires against the symmetry, the stability.”
“exactly, evil ,as the name goes,tries to disrupt the balance… .So where are we going now ,back to the camp ,or to the waterfall?Hmm.. let fate decide. Heads,we go to the waterfall.”
I flipped the coin.
We were walking beside the waterfall.
“ Dad, how can you exert that the universe selects which side of the coin is going to fall without biasing it ?”
“Symmetry. Let me illustrate to you. In your probability classes you symbolized heads as H and tails as T. If A corresponds to 1 ,B to 2 then H=08 and T=20.”
“Then why isn’t heads preferred ? for T has a higher value, thus greater entropy or chaos ?”
“not always,What does 20:00 oclock signify ?”
“8:00, indeed! This will change the course of the world. Maybe someday, someone would delve into your logic and find out a way to change the future.”
“That’s what I fear Titli. Am I interrupting nature`s course of stability? When I needed your opinion the most,here you are with me.”
“Go ahead with your work”.
“ Lets see the choice of the coin. Heads , I send that email”
I flipped the coin.
“ You rely on your coin too much. Send that email dad.”
“Lets get back to my camp.we ll go via the other way crossing the bridge across the falls. Maybe I should listen to what you say.”
“Dad, what bridge ? there`s nothing in front of us except the cliff giving away to the falls , are you hallucinating?”
I could see the bridge whose lime bricks were shining in the moonlight. I took a step forward .
“Dad, please, lets go back the way we came here.”
Wasn’t she seeing what I was ? A fear originated in my heart.
“I haven’t asked you Titli ,how did you know I was in this island ?I was cut-off from the world ?”
“Lets go back and I will tell you everything”
“ Heads, that rock to which you were clinged on, gave away two years ago”
I flipped the coin.
But with a quick glance at the watch , i knew which side of the coin I would see.
4 times, I had flipped the coin today. T-H-T-H. 20/08/20-08 , 20:08 o`clock. I looked at her face. She knew that I had solved the riddle. The puzzle that this universe had conspired for me. I knew it ended with the end of my life.
“I came back to save you Dad, so that you would be famous someday,theres no bridge across the falls”
I smiled. “No one intervenes nature`s course Titli. Lets leave it to someone else to prove me right”
I reached for her hands. And I took a step…forward.
Sunday, September 5
Atanu and me.
That night seems to linger in my memory like a rain-stained window pane. Abstruse in interpreting what are the absolute delineations on the other side , but clear enough to form a hazed impression on a juvenile mind. All I reconstruct are just slivers, those effigies of Ma Kali and Loknath baba being packed along with those newspaper-folded boxes of spices. That large green box where mother had packed all bed-sheets and pillows together, doing the cumbrous task alone with a little bit of help from me. It was a dry night of 1995 , and my five year short life-span had never encountered a night long insomnia and a journey at the back of a truck. Almost all other trifles of that night has passed in evanescence. The night when my grandfather ,after a month of contemplation, made a self-gratifying decision of moving back to Siuri, the place he had fallen in love with when he was handsome.
I don’t think my grandfather could have figured out then, what a scrumptious but also dichotomous life he had conceived for me. Where Durgapur and the village called Parsimulia had entwined with each other to weave a world of reality vis-a-vis fantasy for me . A world where on one side existed those paunchy history and geography books , but on the other side was fire-flies, load-sheddings, rather mela, jilipis, khelna gaari and Atanu.
His real name is Manu. Atanu was the name gifted by my mother. He was born on the same year , I had seen Siuri for the first time ie 1995. My mother often enquires whether I remember Atanu sleeping peacefully in his grandmothers lap, that black koshti-pathor coloured infant. I politely say that I was just five, and when you are five , the only impressions that are immuted in your memories are of objects that are humungous , like a truck , a bridge or objects that are contrastingly out of place like a Romeo-juliet paperback in a stack of India-today magazines.A dark –tanned child is too dimunitive and commonplace . A platitude. I remember his face since he was five . The only efficacy in his silhouette type body was his eyes . The reason why I have loved reading “The kite runner”. I can never imagine how a person in the other quarter of the world had so perfectly described , the acquaintance I shared with Atanu. Or maybe a good book always stirs your imagination and sketches few things , that were just languid connections , so brightly that you are confounded by the astounding resemblance with the book.
The tree beside that pond where a thousand fireflies used to gather. Peeking through its branches those tiny lights of Tilpara barrage could be seen. That sand house made on the river bed of Mayurakshi, that mango tree which broke my leg while climbing, Atanu has been there in every incident . He was never a friend,this, my society had taught me. Cause there was so much sartorial, monetary and caste contrast. A Brahmin and a bairagi were never the same. This idea had been sown when I was born and had sprouted into a fully grown tree with its source too deep-routed to throw away. I remember once , mocking him for the way bairagis were cremated . In a standing-posture. I laughed aloud at the way he squatted on the paddy fields for clearing his bowels.
My day in siuri started with his satiric laugh beside my bedside. Mine started at 10 and he went to work in the paddy fields at 5 . He could never figure out the laziness and the munificence of my mother in letting me sleep. Hence the laugh. “Dodo kaka” when will you wake up ? We will have to enact the last day of Mahabharat today.
Religion had changed just one thing in the village. Oblivious of maths and science, the only thing that a village boy learns by heart is those two epics , whose authenticity is often questioned. Atanu had an edge over this strand of history, whenever a conscending situation came. He knew `who was who` in Ramayana more than anyone else. He never disagreed when it came to the endowment of roles. Hanuman , my best friend had the priority job of finding Sita , killing Ravana was a job to be thought of later. He had made me a bow and arrow, whose arrows were often hurled at him when I was angry , and he was satisfied with the gada . I still remembered the frequency of my unending laughter when I figured out that the smeared poster which his grandmother worshipped as Ram-Sita , was that of Arun Govil and his co-actress whose name I cant recall. Ignorance is bliss.
I still remember the day he first got a sip of Coca-cola. The way he punched his head to stop that fizziness in his stomache had been an item of humour in our family whenever we needed a light environment.
I last met Atanu 3 years ago , the day his sister died.She had been burnt-to-death by her husband. He had fled from the village.I still remember Manu`s misty eyes as he promised me ,he would grow up to be a policeman so that he could catch that scoundrel alive. A quicksilver conversation between two immature and impractical boys. But that small incident has silted all my thoughts revolving Manu with guilt. Guilt that I wasn’t just a toy of entertainment to him as he was to me , an escape from books ,from studies. I was his mentor ,that was what he thought. Maybe his brother.
I didn’t realize the trauma and helplessness that flowed under his statement for a long time. I have heard he is studying in class 11 and is flourishing in his studies. Maybe siuri in parallel with Atanu is the only reason that I have that slight knoll of literature and fantasizing in me amidst that unending plain land of Crap-studies.God help him.