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"We all are driven either by love or by hatred, enslaved either by fear or by greed. Like we are either empowered with truth or weakened by pain, either enlightened by spirituality or deceived by religion. But what if one loses both? What’s left when only nothing is left?"
Tale of a city - Kolkata; and it's journey along with it's citizens, including a few deserted and wounded souls, through tumultuous socio-political transfiguration into a future of 'Nothing'- a new normal. The dark history and unknown future will challenge the social fabric of the prsent.
Kolkata, previously known as Calcutta, situated along the bank of the Ganges, is the capital of
West Bengal, an Indian state located in the eastern region of the country. The holy river Ganga flows through the state by the name of river Hooghly and merges into the Bay of Bengal. The state is crowned with Darjeeling, a beautiful hill station along the Himalayan foothills, in the north while the Bay of Bengal worships its feet in the south. But this isn’t a geography book.
Calcutta was once the capital of undivided Bengal and the capital of British India for a long time in pre-independent India. Grand architectural marvels of the British era, including iconic Howrah Bridge, reflect the importance the city gained. A land of goddess worshipers where Goddess Durga, Kali, and Saraswathi are celebrated with most grand festivities. Calcutta, also known as ‘The City of Joy,’ has a unique charm of giving a warm feeling of familiarity even to a first-time visitor, as if it has an aura of a charmer. But this is neither a history book nor a travel guide.
Every city has characteristics in its veins, which is much deeper than the outer skin of what it’s famous for. Its ethnic wear, cuisine, or even language may only end up creating a stereotypical image of the city. Characteristics are like genes of that city.
Calcutta, a city that was either the birthplace or the place of endeavors of five Nobel laureates, was the motherland of greats like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Subhas Chandra Bose and many more. A city where both national song & national anthem of its nation were written. Social evils like Sati Daha, child marriage, and the ban on widow remarriage were fought on this very land. Art & culture, freedom fight, spirituality, science & academics, social reforms- you name a field and this land have contributed immensely in that field not only to the nation but also to the world- giving birth to Bengal Renaissance. But neither I am writing non-fiction with facts & figures of this city’s glorious past, nor am I writing a love letter to this city by taking an easy nostalgic trip back to its golden days.
What does a city like Calcutta have in its genes? Progressiveness, liberalism, not brainless guts but the strength to acknowledge and face the truth, a love for education, wisdom, freedom in all aspects and expressing that love through literature & art, above all a fundamental yet rare & valuable human attribute: logical thinking & reasoning ability that enables an individual, a society or the whole mankind to do a necessary yet feared action, which is the backbone of a civilized human society: questioning. Questioning social cultures and its age-old norms, challenging the power, asking deep-rooted bigotry, questioning own self. Questioning, even if it faces protests from the very people or the whole society for which it’s being raised.
It’s said that history repeats itself. Can the gene, the core fabric, of the city be challenged by that reincarnation of dark past camouflaged in new age’s glittering outfits? Can it survive through or will be reconstructed into a new one? Can’t this Kolkata be any other city? Will we be allowed to ask questions? Environment & surroundings can overpower what a person inherits to make a person he ends up being. And a city is nothing but a piece of land without its dwellers; us.
So, what’s this book about? It’s about a city’s journey towards that ‘Nothing.’
Soham, born and brought up in a small town of West Bengal, is professionally an engineer. In his early days of childhood, failing miserably in painting, singing, and playing table, he had realized his happiness in transforming his imagination and thoughts into the inked form on white pages. In college life, he had a fling with short film making. He loved the overall process of visual representation of thoughts— scriptwriting, screenplay, dialogue writing, direction, acting. He wrote scripts, made short films, and won prizes. Over time, thanks to technology, he had become an avid reader, especially of history, geopolitics, and physics. In current international, national, and local circumstances, he felt that many events and social aspects should be documented in literary form. He believes that imagination, observation, and empathy towards self, the surroundings, and society are the primary, essential precursors of writing anything beyond academia.