What urges me to write after so long? Perhaps it is the presentation I have in 3 hours. I prepared it about two weeks back and happily stored it away to the random junk folder in the computer. Now I open it and am mystified by the bullet points. I am certain I had nothing to do with those.
Perhaps it is a random comment on somebody's Facebook account. (Hatturi Honzo, take a bow). Apparently, if the comments on his status update are to be believed, College Street is getting a new mall. In my three years there, the new mall had always been an inevitability, but not much believed. It was not supposed to appear in the human time frame. Not unlike World War Three.
Perhaps I would like to talk about changes. Not that I have seen many. With my usual habit of closing doors on what is left behind, emotions would not touch me too deeply. Perhaps a wry smile at the though of never seeing the people who made walking to college such a delight. My friends were certain they were all in love with me. I was certain I possibly brought an economic revolution in the booksellers' lives. By the time I do go back, they would be gone, I would be someone else and College Street would be a part of the history of Kolkata. Something I would tell me kids about during a rainy evening.
When I look back, at a time which is actually not as far away as I would like to believe, College Street was dying . We were supposed to live up to its name and traditions, but we ourselves were a dying race, faking rebellion and angst. We had none. College Street was the place where people bought secondhand GRE books and Coffee House was the place where you went for a date because you were tired of the menu at Food Station. The coffee was tasteless, the Kobiraji was oily and the waiters disinterested.
And Presidency? It probably died a few deaths just looking at our lack of intellectual banter. Our discussions would range from gossips read in the last page of Calcutta Times to wondering which band would play in the fest. We have absolutely never discussed politics. I doubt whether those who did even really understood what was going on. We were all on stage, playing roles, donning the personalities of those who have passed by, because that is what we were supposed to do.
Apparently it is still going on there. It is hard to believe sometimes that those little babies, wide eyed and eager to take it all in are now throwing eggs at people. But they are. Keeping Presidency in the news, upholding the name and tradition. And the ex-Presidencians?
Last week I attended a reunion. The Mumbai chapter. I was not only the youngest member there, but the oldest member had graduated before I had been even born. Yet, I realized, I would grow up to be one of them. Businessmen, professors, housewives, bankers. This was my future. Inner rebellions had died and brought forth the motley group surrounding me.
I have never rebelled. I never needed to rebel. I had nothing to prove to myself or the rest of the world and was quietly content with my lot. But College Street is getting a new mall and I am making presentations on the value of land rent and I know something has gone very wrong somewhere. Do I wish I was a part of a rally now, one of the protesters, carrying a red flag in one hand and holding an egg in another? I wonder if I had done that once, if I had not been the mellow, uninterested person I have always been, where would I be today. The mall would probably still be standing though. If my children do hear about the College Street I knew and go back there, they probably would not find it. I never found my mother's childhood, even though I had roamed and roamed around Prince Anwar Shah Road.
There is a part of me which ceased to care a long time back. The world has kept on changing and clinging on to memories cause unrealized frustrations.
But I know I would not go back. Let College Street be the dying old road I knew and loved. Let my old home remain just what it is. Let it remain so in my thoughts. Make changes if you will, do not take away me from them.