Maganlal Magicwallah

Drawing by Argha Bagchi

And then one day Maganlal Magicwallah disappeared himself. He simply melted away as it were, like “a cake of ice on a hot July day”. Since nature preordains all humans to melt into nothingness sooner or later, Maganlal’s disappearance probably didn’t deserve the status of an event at all. Yet, an event of sorts it was, an event in fact that bore the semblance of a tragedy. And the tragedy lay in the fact that few who had known him during the days of his visibility cared to notice that he was no longer so.

Not that he had too much claim to visibility. Amongst other things, he had never been visited by material success, even if he was no run of the mill poor man either. There was a painful irony indeed that surrounded his poverty. He was a street juggler by profession, one who carried a shoulder bag full of illusions wherever he went, illusions of riches that could be produced out of thin air. The bag itself was no more than a sheet of black cloth whose four corners were tied together into a large knot and inside which, one suspected from the bulge of the bag, Maganlal carried not only the implements of his trade but the minimal necessities for his daily subsistence too. A bedspread of sorts perhaps, a clothing or two, simple cooking implements and other indispensable artefacts for a poor man’s nomadic existence.

***

This at least is the way the person has survived in the storehouse of my memories, memories surviving from a period of my life that has lost much of its sharpness, things having mellowed with the passage of time. I was a growing school boy, less than fifteen I suppose, during the days he was a regular visitor to the locality my family inhabited. It was not a posh neighbourhood and large scale entertainment was a luxury beyond the financial reach of the people who inhabited that part of the town. But our imaginations knew no bounds and compensated adequately for the amenities that more fortunate city dwellers were accustomed to.  

Whenever Maganlal showed up, my heart began to thump in rhythm with the beat he struck up on his hour glass shaped small pellet drum. He grasped it firmly by its waist in his left hand and deftly twisted it back and forth to produce a variety of sharp pitched percussive extravaganza, di-di-dum, dum-dum, di-di-dum, di-dum, di-dum … It was an unmistakable signal for his fans that the dream maker had arrived. At the same time, his right hand held on to an awe inspiring magic wand, made of an animal bone, with which he drew luscious arabesques in the air, conducting as it were the overture for his magic show.

He also delivered his pet abracadabra phrases, with great aplomb, to attract the crowd that would soon encircle him on the roadside, waiting in impatience for the show to begin. He was clearly not a Bengali and spoke mostly in what I supposed to be Hindi. Even the gobbledygook he started off his show with had an unfamiliar north Indian flavour to it. Or so the growing teenager that I was thought, not having been exposed till then to any language other than my mother tongue, which is Bengali. However, to my great delight, he did sometimes break into his version of pigeon Bengali too. His funny accent tickled my friends and me to no end and we giggled merrily as he smiled back in sportive response.

***

He was a tall man with a dark sunburnt face, sunken cheeks and penetrating eyes, separated by a prominent nose jutting out of his face above a long, twirling moustache. And his magician’s costume consisted of a once white turban, a long, loose brownish kurta under a black semi-velvety vest, studded with shiny trinkets. Afghani style salwars and a pair of nagras, both of undecipherable colour completed the attire.

He would begin his show by producing a carpet slightly larger than a doormat from inside a secret recess of his charmed bag and spreading it on the pavement under the open sky. Maganlal sat cross-legged before this once colourful carpet, frayed at the edges and bearing telltale evidence of the ravages of time. It was from this same carpet that Maganlal collected the means of his daily survival, coins (and notes on special occasions) contributed by those who could afford. Most of the people who watched Maganlal’s show were free riders though, I having been one of them too, a hazard of trade that all street performers must necessarily endure.

He entertained us mostly in a sitting posture and his repertoire, even though it rarely failed to hold me under a spell, lacked variety. It was more or less the same sequence of items every time. A few card tricks to start with, followed by a flowering plant growing within seconds of the planting of the seed, a dice disappearing from under the closed confines of an inverted cup, only to reappear inside the nose or the ear of some idler or the other, standing close to the spot Maganlal occupied. These, and a few other routine tricks were what he offered us on a regular basis. The repetitive nature of his performance notwithstanding, each of his numbers was greeted with an enthusiastic clapping by the audience and the aforementioned coins. One suspects that quite apart from his regular clients, he managed to attract a handful of newcomers as well during each of his appearances. 

***

He waited till the finale, however, to actually lay his hands on the meagre reward that lay scattered on the mat. And it was only in the fitness of things that he did so, for the last amongst his tricks belonged to a category that stood totally apart from the rest of his programme. Quite clearly, he himself treated it as the most striking amongst his numbers and I was so awestruck by it that on many an occasion, I would arrive late for school just to ensure that I didn’t miss that magnificent climax.

From the viewpoint of audience participation at least, what distinguished the last item from the others was that while claps and coins greeted the magician at the conclusion of each of his tricks, the last one made people react in horror and anguish, dodging their heads in reflex action and rushing for cover in panic, like chickens encountering a cat prowling about on a foraging mission.

It was sheer ballistophobia, i.e. a fear of being struck by a missile, that made Maganlal’s viewers behave this way. The entire trick was quite short lived, from beginning that is till end. Without caring to prepare the audience for an approaching cataclysm, Maganlal would fish out a solid wooden sphere from his bag, slightly smaller in size than a cricket ball, and throw it with full force at the people directly facing him, taking them by total disbelief. While he did so, his face turned fierce, emulating as it were the grimace of a yet to arrive Malcolm Marshall delivering one of his vicious bests. Simultaneously, he would yell out in alarm himself at the lethal potential of his own weapon, with his left index finger drawing the attention of the crowd towards the path being traversed by the missile.

The audience clearly saw the ball spring out of Maganlal’s hand, but then, to their stupefaction, it would disappear into thin air! It took a few seconds of course for realization to dawn, but once it did, everyone present sighed in relief. The same people that had felt physically threatened moments earlier arrived back to the congregation in small groups, wearing their lives’ silliest smiles on their faces. People standing closer to Maganlal would invariably burst out into laughter at the discomfiture of those who had been made fools of by the magician, and Maganlal himself laughed the most.

The show being over now, Maganlal collected his money, packed his stuff inside the make shift bag and went about his way. The audience too dispersed one by one, some smiling and some shaking their heads incredulously.

***

I had witnessed the show several times in the past and, after being deceived every time, I ensured that I positioned myself, as far as possible, behind Maganlal the next time I witnessed him. I was primarily motivated by a desire for self-preservation I have to admit, but, interestingly enough, it was from this vantage position that I finally managed to unravel the mystery of the disappearing ball trick.

As it happened, after watching his show one day, I concluded that it was too late for arriving in school even by my questionable standards of discipline. There was a reasonable possibility that my class teacher would send me back home with a strong note of admonition to be attended to by my parents. I would of course have to explain my absence from school the following day, but when one is young, tomorrows lie an eternity away. There was no way I could have arrived back home at that odd hour either. I decided therefore to follow Maganlal from a safe distance, as any free rider would, waiting for an opportunity to watch him perform at his next destination.

***

I was lucky, as lucky in fact as Maganlal himself. A few streets and around half an hour later, a little child ran out of her house and called out to Maganlal. “Come to our house Magic-wallah,” she cried out in excitement, “my mother wants you to come over.” Clearly, this was an invitation for a call show, so a fee would be negotiated, thereby guaranteeing a floor to Maganlal’s earning for that day. Soon he was there. It was a large old house opening into a portico. The lady of the house didn’t haggle too much in the interest of her obviously pampered child and Maganlal began the show. This was not exactly an open air show, since he sat under a shade this time. But the area was large enough and the kind lady didn’t mind idle passersby to gather around Maganlal to watch the show. The little girl and her mother of course stood at the top of the stairs leading into the house, maintaining a safe distance from the common folk, including their house servants and a semi-school dropout boy who had little use for the book filled satchel he carried on his back.

I watched the man totally engrossed as on other occasions, but there was a difference this time. Somewhere deep inside my subconscious, a desire had reared its head. The desire to become a magician! I was overpowered by a sense of commitment that I had never known in the past. A desperate need to master the art of wizardry took possession of my soul and I already saw myself attired and looking every bit like Maganlal, not excluding the twirling moustache. A saw him perform for the first time, not in my role as an involved member of the audience, but as a potential student of black art. My perspective had undergone total metamorphosis and I think this was the first time I became aware of a truth, even if with a touch of uncertainly. The only chasm that separates a learner from learning is the desire to learn. There is absolutely nothing on earth that is unachievable if one seeks it with total devotion. Many years later my half digested realization received a confirmation of sorts when I came across an engraving on the walls of the Dakshineshwar Temple in Calcutta that said: “Oh Wise Rama! There is absolutely nothing in the universe that cannot be attained by means of tension free commitment.”

***

On this particular day of course, I don’t believe I thought all that clearly. I was just a young boy who had vowed to find out where the flying ball  disappeared. A piece of wisdom had dawned on me, however. If I wanted to pick up the secret underlying Maganlal’s trick, the first thing that was essential for me to do was to force myself not to look towards anything he wished to draw my attention to. But this was not an easy task at all. I had to completely abstract myself from the words he spoke and keep track of what the rest of him was doing.

I found no success, unfortunately, with the tricks that preceded the last one and stood crestfallen by the time he produced the wooden ball from bag. Even before he began to talk, I knew that his left hand would soon point straight ahead towards empty space, a direction towards which the ball will certainly not travel.

I gritted my teeth and told myself, “No, no, no, don’t let his left hand distract you. Watch what he doesn’t want you to watch at all. His RIGHT HAND! His right hand alone, the one that will fling the ball towards the unsuspecting audience.” And this was possibly the first examination that I managed to pass. I daresay, I had possibly passed this test with flying colours.

I stared with rapt attention at his right hand therefore and was rewarded by a truly wondrous sight. Maganlal was a supremely skilful athlete, one who could make many a sports person turn green with jealousy. Not for once did he look at the right hand that held the ball. He looked straight ahead and made a violent show of throwing the ball. Despite the circular motion of his arm though, he didn’t throw the ball at anybody at all. Instead, with unimaginable dexterity, he threw the ball vertically upwards only a foot or so above his head. As he did so, the palm of his right hand remained open to catch it back during its descent. He took a perfect catch without once taking his eyes away from the audience. His left hand kept gesticulating all the while that his right hand remained rock still waiting for the ball to descend with clockwork precision.

Things happened with lightning speed. The ball retrieved, the right hand descended with practised accuracy and pushed the ball through the open end of his sack which he must have kept ready for the purpose when he produced the ball for the first time! All this while everyone else was staring where his left hand pointed. But, as intended by the magician, there was nothing to be found there at all!

***

I smiled with the others once the show was over, but not stupidly anymore. I smiled wisely. For once I had not flunked an exam. I was a success in Maganlal’s school. I did not commit the mistake of screaming to the crowd of course that I had seen him through. Instead, my heart was full of admiration for the skill he demonstrated.

An athlete as well as an actor he was. All the noise he made and the attraction he drew with his left hand was intended to make people look the wrong way. But the athlete, by ensuring that each and every person actually saw the ball leave his hand, lent support to the actor’s empty harangue. 

For many a week that followed, I tried to practise Maganlal’s trick with a rubber ball and might have even achieved a semblance of success. My worried parents, needless to say, had little appreciation for whatever absurd exercise I was engaged in with the ball, especially since I was not playing with the ball outside home. Instead, I was sitting all the time on the bed in front of a mirror and throwing the ball up and catching it back without taking my eyes off the mirror.

Soon enough the nonsense was put a stop to. A severe spanking followed in fact when one day my mother discovered that I was trying to solve a sum holding the pencil between the big toe and the second of my right foot. Maganlal had given me ideas I guess. But my mother wouldn’t be convinced about the merits of working out sums with my right foot when my right hand was not missing.

“Come and behold,” she said to the rest of the household with unconcealed sarcasm, “he can’t pass his tests with a pencil in his hand. So he is trying out his foot!”

When I think of her comment today, I can’t help smiling at the poor woman’s feeling of utter helplessness at her son’s refusal to fall in line with social norms. She was desperate and employed the only trick that came in handy. A thorough beating!

***

I have no more than a vague recollection of how long I kept following Maganlal. But follow I did, though I hardly know if he ever noticed me. My Maganlal chase did reap some sort of a harvest of course. I picked up many of his other tricks too by following the basic theory I had propounded for myself. Sometimes I managed to entertain my friends with these tricks, though I never tried out a public show of the vanishing ball trick. That needed a lot more practice than I could afford in my hideouts.

***

Times change irretrievably. Interests alter at a wild pace at that impressionable age. Magic, followed by soccer, cricket, a brief tryst with the stage and then the most absorbing of all hobbies, chasing girls, kept me busy through my adolescence. For a good part of this time, I am sure Maganlal and his tribe were performing in the streets of Calcutta. They could have wild admirers too, but quite unknown to me, I had ceased to be a member of the crowd.

This was surely unfortunate. Even though I had cracked Maganlal’s disappearing wooden ball trick with considerable success, I had failed hopelessly to figure out what he did to make himself disappear the way he did, i.e. lock, stock and barrel. And, to tell you the truth, I suspect that very few who had loved watching his shows had found the time to be present for his swan song.

And it is precisely the uneventfulness of it in the eyes of  the very same people whom he had entertained during his visible days that lends to his disappearance the semblance of an event shrouded in gloom, even if one cannot be entirely sure if the world at large would subscribe to this viewpoint.

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Comments

  • Utteeyo Dasgupta  On June 17, 2010 at 3:03 am

    Wah wah! Wonderful….I enjoyed it the way I used to enjoy Shirsendu Mukhopadhyay’s stories. I have realized over time, that there is a certain kind of beginnings that I am very fond of! The opening line in this story was just that!

    • dipankardasgupta  On June 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

      Well if I remind you of Shirshendu, then I should begin to pat myself on the back!!

      I had spent a great deal of time on the “beginning” and I got it the way I wanted. However, I am not yet totally satisfied with the end. I will be working on it from time to time to bring out the tragedy as well as unavoidability of economic progress. More sharpening needed. The way it stands now, I have just been able to complete the circle, bringing the reader back to where I began. But I need to be more subtle.

      Love.

  • knot2share  On June 17, 2010 at 5:24 am

    Dear OJ da

    That was one great post. It made me travel through time in the reverse direction and be part of the crowd that was being entertained by Maganlal Magicwallah. Very detailed and I am amazed that you still remember the events so vividly. My memory is such a blur already that even if I try hard, I will not be able to recollect incidents from back in time. I too smiled at your mother’s comments. That was so sweet. I felt bad when the post was removed initially because I never got to read it. But then I knew that it would get operated-on again by your skillful hands(?) and I will then get to see the revised post at the “recovery ward”.. :-).

    Enjoyed it. This reminds me of a blog that was sent to me on an email by a friend. It was called “Chegappu Rani”, meaning Queen in Red/Red Queen. The blog was on a street puppet wallah and how his puppet Chegappu Rani used to entertain the kids on the street everyday. Like you said, the same sequence of dance or whatever, but the joy it brought on the faces of those innocent kids, knew no bounds. I think that was the beauty of those days. We needed nothing extravagant to entertain ourselves. As kids we really enjoyed those simple pleasures. I don’t think we see those magicwallahs anymore on our streets.

    Kudos to that little boy Dipankar, who managed to de-code the deadly final trick of Maganlal. It is time that you put your heart and mind and your hands to that trick once again OJ da. You have a few little friends who keep visiting your study every now and then isn’t it?? I remember one little angel who had once visited your room, looking curiously at the things spread all around and wondering whether to fiddle with them or not. She was dressed in that red and white saree on one special occassion and you had told her something in your broken hindi, which she did not approve of :-). I think she asked you if she could take something from your table and you said to her ” Woh nahi pata, magar main tumhe zaroor le jaoonga ” (I am not sure of that, but I will surely take you away) or something along those lines……. So please get on with perfecting the trick!

    I can’t finish without mentioning that the illustration by Argha Bagchi is great. Possibly this was the reason behind the “operation”!!?

    PS: Oh I just re-read my comment and only now I realised that it has become way to lengthy. So sorry about that OJ da! I hope this does not disappear like my previous one :-).

    • dipankardasgupta  On June 17, 2010 at 11:16 am

      Dear k2s:

      I am thrilled to read your comment. You definitely grasped the spirit of it. I don’t think you missed any of the nuances, including the fact that you don’t see these magicwallahs or puppetwallahs anymore. However, I feel that as far as this last bit is concerned, my composition calls for sharpening. The end of the story tried to capture this aspect, but I don’t think I did it too well. Need to work more on it.

      Simple pleasures have disappeared with the march of market society and Maganlals have little space in today’s world. This is a paradox of course. You can’t hold back economic growth and markets to keep simple simplicity alive. There is a trade off and I am myself not sure which way to look. It’s a hard puzzle to solve. In the world today, you need a new toy everyday. You lose interest in things that you bought only a day ago. Yet, do you have a better alternative? I am never too sure.

      You remember the little girl in the red saree? It feels great to know that anyone reads me with so much interest. I had sent an email jointly to a few of the people at IL whom I consider to be friends. So far at least, no one arrived here. I respect their commitment to IL and do not hold against them their possible refusal to visit me here. I respect IL too and that is why I will keep on writing comments for people who post there.

      Never mind the length of the comment. My own comments at IL used to be very long, perhaps irritating the authors themselves.

      Best wishes.

      oj-da

  • knot2share  On June 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Please do not worry about the IL friends to whom you had sent an email. I am sure they will come. And I am also from IL remember? But seriously, everybody has commitments OJ da. They will come when they find their time. Blogs are something to be enjoyed when one is not preoccupied.

    Now coming to your start of the blog. I read it as AND THEN ONE DAY MAGANLAL MAGICWALLAH HIMSELF DISAPPEARED and not AND THEN ONE DAY MAGANLAL MAGICWALLAH DISAPPEARED HIMSELF. I just realised that they are two different things! I certainly did not imply this one to be the final trick that you should perfect. It was the ball disappearing in mid air wala trick. I hope I had made myself clear earlier.

    NO ONE CARING TO NOTICE THAT MAGICWALLAH IS NO MORE VISIBLE – I think this is the situation with most of us in real life. We don’t need tricks for that OJ da. It just happens anyway, unless somebody has really made a life changing impact on you. We lose interest in not just toys but on people too. Well thats my take anyway.

  • dipankardasgupta  On June 17, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Dear k2s:

    I am not sure if I have followed you clearly about “himself disappeared” and “disappeared himself”. Normally I wouldn’t choose the first alternative, though I can’t recall what I did in the post. I don’t have it open before me right now. From my point of view, the second one is a better use of the English language than the first. However, you seem to say that they mean different things. This is a matter I need to think over. And of course I didn’t misunderstand what you meant when you wanted me to perfect the trick. The other trick is not in our hands, is it?

    Yes, you are right that this is the situation with most of us. However, what I had in mind was not natural laws. I was thinking more along the lines of man made laws and social changes. Being an economist, I was primarily motivated by economic transformations that render the Maganlals of this world quite irrelevant. I think the natural part came out clearly. Where I failed was the social part. This is what I need to think about. I don’t want to write more than a single sentence on this of course.

    Regarding the arrival of others from IL to read me, frankly I have stopped bothering. I was happy to see that you had arrived. I will not be unhappy if the others don’t. The thing is I now have my own site where I can do pretty much what I like, edit, delete, reorganize, list and so on. They keep me so busy along with the software codes I need to understand that I am happy the way things are. Besides, I have plenty of other commitments too. If someone comes, it’s fine. If not, that too is fine. The best thing about doing what I am doing now is that my posts don’t get mixed up with a million other posts. This MY space, I am not forced to sit in a crowded platform to hear someone say “hi” to me.

    Love.

    oj-da

  • kamal  On June 17, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Dear OJ,

    You are as masterful as Maganlal.What a touching story, written from the heart, of a young boy and his fascination for his idol, the magic wallah.

    Yes , so sad that money did not smile on this fellow, and yes how ironical that those who enjoyed his magic, did not give much thought, unlike u, to where he disappeared, and his well being and whereabouts.

    that is life, and u have portrayed it so well, as only u can.

    the work of a genius i must say, OJ, hats off.

    Regards

    kamal

    • dipankardasgupta  On June 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm

      Dear Kamal,

      I knew you would see the point, I mean the tragedy that I wanted to emphasize without making things sound melodramatic. I had to be very careful with the way the story ended, because I was obviously drawing attention to the helplessness of simple folks faced with “economic progress of the world that surrounds them”.

      Incidentally, I found a few typos, such as “nto” where you meant “not” and so on. I corrected them without changing any word or sentence in your comment at all. I hope you don’t mind.

      Best wishes.

      oj

  • kerman  On June 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Dear Kaku…
    I had given my comments on your blog when you had posted it in IL … I’m sure you read that so am not going to repeat myself….
    The disappearance of entertainers like magicwalas / street singer/ street acrobat artist is really the loss for our present generation whose main form of entertainment is the electronic media…. Your blog makes me wonder if economic progress is justified with loss of a complete art form??? do you think these artist would’ve gained at all in life or is it that with new forms of entertainment available and no more takers for their show they have been reduced to poverty and turned away from their art form?? Isn’t this another form of injustice?? I really wonder what we term as “progress / development” is applicable universally across all strata of society??
    Kerman

    The relevant part of the earlier comment is copied below:

    magicwala is a forgotten profession … infact even monkeywala and acrobatwala are no longer seen on the street… you reminded me of the holidays we used to have in Mahableshwar (near pune) in my childhood days when these magicwalas used to come and show their magic and all the kids would try and imitate them… we would call them again & again so that we could guess their secret ways….

  • dipankardasgupta  On June 18, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Dear Kerman:

    Economics teaches us that there is a price you need to pay for anything you like. And one such price is obsolescence. With new technology arriving old technologies and art forms slowly take their leave. And the worst sufferers are the practitioners of the old art forms. In the fast food world we live in, haven’t some of the delicacies of the old world disappeared? I remember some of the delicious Bengali sweets from my childhood days. They are no longer to be seen. The people who used to make them have been weeded out as well. That’s the tragedy. The price of economic progress is the disappearance of progress achieved in the past. In the terminology of economics, this is called creative destruction. Economic theorists have worked a great deal on this.

    By the way, I have appended your earlier comment to the new comment. Hope you do not mind.

    • kerman  On June 21, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      By the way, I have appended your earlier comment to the new comment. Hope you do not mind.

      No Problems its for you after all!!!
      kerman

  • Shobha  On June 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Dear Mindi:

    I am appending below the comment you made on this post earlier.

    Best wishes,

    Dipankar-da

    dear oj da,

    that was just fantastic! A narration par excellence.

    hahaha i truly enjoyed maganlals grand finale.And I must say you were smart to find out or rather unveil his magic.But as a little boy ,I would have expected you to show off to the others that you had mastered the most difficult magic.? I do think it shows rare maturity for that age.

    Both me and hubby are avid watchers of AXN’s “magicians code unveiled” and ohhh, my observatory skills are so poor. you are absolutely right.the trick is always to focus on the right hand if the left hand is the magical hand.

    • dipankardasgupta  On June 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm

      Dear Mindi:

      Thanks for liking the post. As a child I wanted to become a magician and I guess I observed more closely than most other people. This does not mean that I am an observant person in most other things. But this one I managed to watch and even figure out. I am still to figure out a trick most magicians entertain the audience with. In their parlance, it is called the organ pipe trick. They use two cylinders, open at both ends. They start by holding them up for the audience to see that they are empty. And then the produce a whole world full of things from them. I know secret for one version of this trick, but I couldn’t crack P.C. Sorcar’s version. However, I do feel that if I think deeply enough, I should come out with some sort of an answer.

      Dipankar-da

  • Amitava Bose  On June 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    This is possibly the best piece of its kind written by you that I have read.
    Amitava

  • Sujatha Umakanthan  On July 23, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Dear OJ,

    Not only did Maganlal disappear, your post too did from IL :)) But thanks to K2S, I was able to track you down here. Your style of narration is impressive. I dont know why, but I was reminded of the story “Kabuliwallah” that I read when I was in grade 7 or so. A lovely short story by Tagore, he weaves this wonderful narrative involving this fruit-wallah that his daughter befriends. I love stories that involves little kids – especially narrations done by them….somehow seeing things through their eyes sure adds an entirely new dimension to even the most mundane things. So you can guess what my favourite book would be…..yep, “To kill a mockingbird”. Your story was delightful that way, seeing the character through the child’s eyes !!!

    I am glad I made the trip here and down the memory lane as well !!!

    Sujatha

    • dipankardasgupta  On July 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks Sujatha. Thanks for the trouble you took to track this story.

      I too am very fond of writing for children and seeing things through their eyes. I enjoy writing rhymes in Bengali and I got into this habit when my son was a small child. I would write something for him on every book I presented him. I think he still has them all. I started to write a story for children but have not finished it yet. One thing or the other forces me to postpone. Besides I need to get into the right mood. However, whatever I wrote, I did put up in a website. If you feel interested, you can find it as it stands with all the illustrations here. This is a site that I built from scratch when, in a moment of excitement, I decided to learn xhtml programming and Javascript. Later on, I shifted over to the present site because it has greater visibility.

      I vanished indeed from IL. The fault is entirely mine of course. But I did face a problem of sorts at that site. I think my interests as far as writing went did not match interests of the majority of bloggers. Not that a whole lot of people visit me here either, but I have the advantage of listing my compositions and organizing them the way I have done them here. At IL, your contributions get lost. In general though, I think IL is a collection of exceedingly nice people and many of them should be congratulated for being patient with me.

      Regarding “To Kill a Mockingbird”. You touched a tender chord. I really don’t know if this is the only book that Harper Lee wrote, but it is certainly one of my favourites. It is also one of those rare books for which the movie version was at least as good as the book. At least in my opinion.

      Kabuliwala is another matter of course. There was a movie version by Tapan Sinha, but I did not like the film. Nonetheless, the man who played Kabuliwala did a GREAT job. And that, I guess, was the film’s only attraction. Incidentally, the little girl was played by Tinku Thakur (Tagore). Tinku is Sharmila Tagore’s younger sister and she made it to the film world before Sharmila herself. But that was her only film. Kabuliwala is a moving tale indeed, though I am not so sure that it was written for children alone. It’s one of those classics that can be enjoyed by people belonging to all age groups.

      Thank you once more for the visit(s).

      oj-da

  • Sujatha Umakanthan  On July 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Dear OJ-da,

    I am sorry for the delayed reply. Started a new job this week and hence struggling to find time to fit in my cyber forays 🙂

    I cannot believe you wrote the exact words I felt after I finished “To Kill a Mockingbird”. When I usually find an author that I like, I try to finish most of their books around the same time and so I was really disappointed to find that she did not write other books 😦 A loss to ardent readers like us for sure !!! And yeah the movie was real good – somehow Gregory Peck made Atticus come real to life for me :))

    I too get disappointed with IL at times – it would be nice for the posts to get the accolade it deserves at times, but then it would be nice for all our dreams to come true as well, right 🙂 Sadly, my blog as well like my posts at IL does not attract the attention I want it to obtain. I have a software programming background but being a slacko, I chose to have an “out of the box” blogger site which provides rather limited site visibility despite their claims.

    I would be delighted to read your other posts and also to find out more about the books you read and your movie interests as well 🙂

    Great to have made your acquaintance, dear OJ-da.

    Cheers,
    Sujatha

    • dipankardasgupta  On July 31, 2010 at 10:11 am

      Dear Sujatha:

      To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic. I think Lee was a bit like Arundhati Roy. Something lurked inside and they had to get it out. They were both translating their memoirs into literature. In my opinion, both did a splendid job. It’s possible that neither wished to be a writer, professionally speaking. There are few people like them, few who write a classic in the first attempt and, more importantly, they resist the temptation to write a second one.

      I admire them both.

      All the best.

      oj-da

  • Sujata Kumar  On August 7, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Dear Oj-da,

    Ever since I read the title Maganlal Magicwallah on IL and ever since you deleted it soon after, I have been wanting to read it. It was only today that I could fulfill that wish of mine and it was worth the wait!

    Not just the name, even the blog was totally exotic. Need I even mention the wonderful illustration by your gifted artist? Simply magical!

    The narration was delightful! If it is really from your childhood experience and not a figment of your imagination, I am impressed with all the details you so vividly remember. Maganlal must have spun some real magic and put you under his spell. The scenes of the young boy following the magician in stealth and then practising some tricks to the woe of his mother is all too poignant too indeed.

    The way he just faded away from sight and memory like the melting ice cream tinges the story with a vague melancholy.

    Now I gather some insight into your skills of spinning magic with your words and capturing our imagination!
    You do that really well and I am still under the spell of both Maganlal and our own magicwallah!

    Once again you did the disappearing trick…this time with your latest Haiku! Old set ways never change I guess?:))

    L, Sujata (Kamla)

    • dipankardasgupta  On August 7, 2010 at 7:50 am

      Dear Sujata (Kamla):

      I am delighted to read your comment. You are right. A good part of it lay hidden in my childhood past. It is only when I began to write that I realised how vividly I remembered it all. I suppose this is natural. As you age, you lose short term memories, but long term memories grow stronger. However, I did have to manufacture some of the details to fill out gaps in my memory.

      I am deeply moved that you took the trouble of reading this story. True that I removed it from IL partly because few had the patience to read a long piece. But I revised things too to achieve the right effect, at least for my sake.

      Unfortunately, the haiku I removed is still to meet with my approval. I have gone through 19 versions so far. But it’s misbehaving. It’s possible that it will never see the light of day.

      I am trying desperately to add final touches to my book project. If all goes well, it should be out by September/October. Once it is out of my way, I shall feel more free to write my stories and poems.

      Thank you again.

      Oj-da

      Sent from BlackBerry® on Airtel

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