You know even after not knowing the culture you can talk with so much of depth you are good to go. What is important is how you approach things. Culture to some extent teaches you that. You chose your fight and your teachings are weapons to it. Your pen is your religion, my friend. At least after talking to you for a while, I can say that.
It was 12 am, I was smoking the last puff of my advanced sitting in the varanda of my room at an IIT-K hostel when I heard a knock on my door. I opened the door thinking that it will be Shivi, however, to my surprise there were two guys whom I haven’t met. One of them looked like an idiot and another one a gentleman.
Before I ask them anything, the idiot asked me, “Hey, I am Vivaswat and the batchmate of your roommate Chirag. Chirag told me that you smoke, do you have an extra cigarette?”
Vivaswat came to the room and jumped on Chirag like a monkey. No wonder he looked like one of their breeds. Nevertheless, there was something about the other guy. He was calm, had a smile on his face and looking at him the only thing I could make out was he was a Bengali. I gave them the remaining two advanced telling him that I will see you at the conference the other day. But I kept thinking about the other guy as it seemed that he is an artist. He had a different kind of aura — the one like the stillness of the mountains and the depths of the ocean.
The next day at the conference I came to know they were from UPES and were no different from me. When I say no different it means that we knew nothing about Nuclear neither did we care about the Nuclear Security lectures. I bonded well with all of them, however, there was still the air of mystery about him until the time we decided to party together in Shivi’s room.
It is said that alcohol and cigarettes build the best bond and I think it was the same in my case. I was sitting outside in the verandah sitting with my beer and advanced and Aryamadev Das joined me. His name was Aryamadev Das and he was a Bengali. I greeted him with a smile and in response, he did the same. His smile had that warmth and a feeling of knowing each other since years.
He casually said, “Your cigarettes were the savior in this conference.”
Having a sip of my magnum I replied, “Cigarettes have always been my savior. Be it for running away from my problems or for giving me the strength to face them. By the way, why did you opt for Nuclear Engineering?”
Das: “Well, I always had a soft corner of physics and so the course happened. I worked in an industry for a year and then thought of doing a PG. What about you?”
Me: “I never wished to take this course, I am a writer and wished to study philosophy after my mechanical engineering. However, parents didn’t allow me to and in the back of my mind, I made a decision to not to study mechanical again. Maybe, that is why nuclear happened. Moreover, I don’t see any scope for us in the near future.”
Das: “WOW, Vyombhai you are a writer. You have no idea how glad I am to meet someone like you after so long. I write poetry and Tagoredada is my ideal. Also, I do sing at times and a lot more into the culture. I do not where Nuclear field will lead us but I am glad IIT-K happened to me as I have met you.”
The way Aryamadev talks made me feel like I wish to listen to him just way I use to listen to my grandma’s stories. He has the quality to hypnotize you with his sweetness. He was a philosophical man with an individual approach towards leading his life.
Before, I could talk more, as usual Vivaswat came and snatched the cigarette from his hand getting angry for having more than one. When I asked why that time Das told me that doctor has refused him to smoke after the infection on lungs. I felt a little bad but I did not mind him having the other one as the way we were talking I wished that it continues for the entire night.
It was Janmasthmi the next day and IIT-K celebrates the festival in it’s truest essence that is what I have heard. It was 11:55 pm and I asked if anyone wants to join me to witness the birth of Lord Krishna. He was the first one to say yes. Also Vivaswat, Deepankar and Sai joined later.
I was walking with Das ahead and then I asked him, “What makes you write? I would love to read your poems. Though I do not know how to read Bengali.”
Das very humbly replied, “Vyombo, I would translate them to hindi for you. Also, my culture makes me write. I took part in theatre and my family at every step made me realise the beauty of our culture. I have spent my childhood listening to the Panchatantra stories and poems of Tagore. Literature runs in my blood now. If today I stop writing or maybe even try to stay away from my culture, I know it will follow me as my soul is madly in love with it”
Me: “I wish I could say that. I am the one who hardly knows about my culture. I grew sitting with my study books and nothing else. Maybe, that is why a part of me seems to be missing.”
Das: “You know even after not knowing the culture you can talk with so much of depth you are good to go. What is important is how you approach things. Culture to some extent teaches you that. You chose your fight and your teachings are weapons to it. Your pen is your religion, my friend. At least after talking to you for a while, I can say that.”
He could directly see right through me at that time. At that time, I felt I was honest with someone after so long. We enjoyed the Janmashtami celebrations together and when in the line to take the prasad. He took two bowls of the sweet. I could not resist saying that no wonder you will loving sweets. He asked me what do I like to which I said anything except Rasgulla. Also, I haven’t tried the fish yet. He promised to treat me with a Pomphret fish and rice whenever I come to Kolkatta. His love and stories of Durgo Pujo intrigued to read more about Bengali culture. One thing I will have on my bucket list will be to attend a Pujo once in my life. The love for Durgo Pujo clearly showed Das’s attachment to his motherland and culture.
While returning he asked me, “Writers destroyed themselves in love. Have you been in love.”
I took a pause and answered with a smile, “I crave for one but somewhere trampled in order to see her happy.”
He didn’t ask me any further and said we share the same story and then shown me his engagement ring. It took a lot but you know wait for the right time, things will fall into place is what he said.
After reaching to the hostel I told him goodbye and went to my room with a smile. It was the smile of satisfaction. It was a smile of finding someone who fits into my theory of an ideal man. The man with typical Bengali eyes, with the complexion of Lord Krishna and the smile of kid, lives on the principles that he defines. It felt as if I know him from years.
Today, he is in France but we still exchange letters and talk about life in the most unexpected way and always there when we need each other.