The whole of last week I was angry, but not in a belligerent kind of way.
Even now something in me is simmering - an impotent rage almost, screaming at the top of its voice as if and yet stealthily silent, staring at me with bloodshot eyes.
The truth is I am tired... dead tired of Kolkata... and for once my raging ire isn't directed so much at what has been happening in the city of my birth, but is happening to it.
I don't know why I am so pissed. After all, I've moved home more than a decade ago. Delhi is now officially my home - or at least a place I prefer to hang my hat.
That in itself should've been enough... except in this case it isn't.
Maybe that's the problem of being a Kolkatan; you're never really going to stop carrying the weight of the city on your bare back - even when the baggage is no staler than dead fish.
What adds to my growing inner turbulence is actually my mother's stoic calm... Recently, I remember her cackling laughter as she watched ABP Ananda, a popular regional news channel.
Surrounded by our Bengali maids, imported like us from Kolkata, she'd clap her hands loudly every time a familiar face popped up on screen. "Rituparnaaaaaaaaaaaa," "Jeeeeeeeeet," "Bhumiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii," they all took turns to periodically shriek, their hands in mid air, their faces jubilant as if a great war had been waged and won.
Perhaps, it is true then I conjectured watching them from a distance, maybe we are a state at war.
So, just what is it that we've been fighting against? Maoists, Leftists? Bandhs? Babus? Bus strikes? Cholche vs Cholbe Na? Manush vs Mati? Nano-ization? Cartoon strips? Load shedding? Lock outs?
"Didi, look it's Shah Rukh, he's dancing to Dhitang, Dhitang Bole," my cook cries out obliterating my questions.
Before I can reply or react, she enthusiastically adds, "Didi is dancing too... ki moja, what fun!"
"Didi" I shudder. Wasn't me, my insides scream out loud.
And yet I voted for her.
Even flying down to Kolkata and then bragging about my ink stained left finger on Facebook.
A lot of people I recall even 'Liked' my status back then. Were they just people like me? I wander gazing at the television that looks like it may explode any minute with the impending, albeit colorful commotion - of the Bengal chief minister Miss Mamata and her glittering popular entourage - politicians, policemen, singers, actors, dancers, cricketing officials, commoners crowding a makeshift stage, cutting a giant sandesh cake - the 'bhai-bon' brigade of Bengal.
"Don't you wish you were in Kolkata today?" a friend soon texts.
I know what's coming next, so I refrain from answering.
Minutes later, another message jostles for space, "You Bongs just need any excuse not to work man! After all that dancing and prancing, now a lathi charge! What was that sentence you'd keep telling me, 'Shokter bhakta,' or something! Lol."
It's from the same number.
"It's shokhter bhokto," I correct the pronunciation of the innuendo.
"Same difference, you Bongs like things raaaph and taaaph," pat comes the reprise.
This time, I don't bother making track changes.
Perhaps it's still the anger inside. Or maybe it's the feeling that everyone else seems to be laughing today... everyone except me that is.
I take to Facebook again. This time with a vengeance.
I bitch out Kolkata, calling her a city that has 'not much else to celebrate,' other than join hands with a flagging, middle-aged Bollywood badshah and an IPL team of extravagantly paid cricketers. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy KKR won. I'm just sadder (if there is such a word at all) that Kolkata lost. In the bargain.
Needless to say, I attract a lot of FB flak.
I'm told off by an upwardly mobile, ex journalist who now operates a PR outfit that, 'finally we have a lot to celebrate, but it's the King size that dwarfs others. I'm sure when Delhi wins nothing will happen in the Capital. For individual pride is much greater than common camaraderie. And if being engaged in celebration stops the Government machinery then you need to go to Barcelona, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Rio, Manhattan, Auckland, London (read football, football, football, football, baseball, rugby, football)!"
What adds fuel to fire isn't some didi-worshipper's copious rants, but the next comment, coming nano seconds after the first. "Good most of the dislikes are coming from people who have not lived in Kolkata for most of their lives and have not seen poriborton in the real sense!"
Suddenly, I'm the socio-cultural outcast, someone who left, perhaps before their time... someone who shouldn't have in a way.
The anger makes way for grief - a sadness not so much about losing my democratic right to be a commentator, but to be suddenly annulled of my right to care.... my birth right... about a city that I was born in, a city that I still call home. A city that stares out of my soul... a city that I wear like a name tag in a concentration camp... daily... it's not just where I am from, it's who I will be.
Take it or leave it!
By evening, I'm dead beat; my posts are fatigued just like me, the arguments fuzzy in a way, most of them now wearing a deserted look. They sound the part even.
"Kolkata is a wasted paradise, with zilch work culture and people suffering from an identity crisis. With most of its population and youngsters migrating to greener pastures...no wonder we're left clinging on to dadas, didis, Rabindranath, Nazrul etc, totally incapable of resurrecting any new age idols... I too have moved on in a way. Today it's just nostalgia and idealism. When I think practically I know I can never live there and days like today just add to this cynicism," I scribble, watching TLC instead.
There's a documentary on the Windsors - sepia portraits of erstwhile royalty intermeshed with bright posters of Generation Next.
Safer hiding place, I suppose, I tell myself as I stare at pictures of the William-Kat wedding.
Another type of commotion. Better looking if not anything else!
As night falls, and friends and family call to dissect the day's proceedings in faraway Kolkata, it's a mixed bag of emotions all over again.
Some call the felicitation a mere tamasha which saw "SRK sapping the pride out of KKR's well fought victory..."
A school friend from my school in Kolkata is less polite.
"The whole day at Kolkata was a waste of time, energy, money and it's been proved to the world yet again that Bengalis of West Bengal have all the time in the world to be a part of a circus led by the ring mistress, Mamatadi. Mamatadi get a life. You have lots of work to do... apart from the circus that was staged today. I'm sure the Reds were laughing their a...... off," she cries out loud.
I liked the sound of her voice.
Bitterness always has a way of forcing borders out I guess.
The battle lines are drawn. And it's abundantly clear that we stand on the other side. Maybe there is only that side. Akin to a bunch of islands... islands in isolation.
And just when I presume the flood waters have receded, another storm brews... closer home
A storm in a tea cup, maybe... but a storm nonetheless.
"Our Honorable CM wants to felicitate Viswanathan Anand at Netaji Indoor. Invitation has been sent to Anand. I wonder now what people would say?" a detractor messages a couple of days later on my FB wall.
I liked her idealism. Her never-say-die, joie de vivre.
It's what makes us Bengalis undefeatable, indestructible despite being cast for thirty plus years in a Communist cauldron.
It's what makes us dream of change, in the hope that one day we can resurrect our State to a place of glory.
It's also what makes us so loyal to the commitment of change, chasing it like a line of fireflies on a hazy day... when the Sun plays hide and seek.
On a day when there is no light, except a flicker of faith.
Faith in ourselves and in an adage made popular by the recent triumphant cricketing squad - 'korbo, lorbo, jeetbo.'
We will win. We have to. We must.
Defeat doesn't scare us. Not anymore. Not after what we have braved... in parts and in consummate wholes.
The truth is it's the only way we know how to live.
It's the only way there is. The only way we've been taught to believe. The only reason we brave the lathi charge... every time... every decade.
It's also why some of us, like me, left. In case, just in case you're wondering why I'm still so angry... weeks later... despite being at an arm's length.