RAZE THE PRISONS TO THE GROUND

RAZE THE PRISONS TO THE GROUND

I am not from Jadavpur University – I am a pure Calcutta University product. Yet my relationship with JU runs deep. My grandfather, who I never knew, was an engineer from JU. Neither my father nor my uncles went to Jadavpur. My brother did, and a lot of my very close friends.

I know JU in general and the student politics as it was in the 1980s like the back of my hand. I want to tell you some of the stories of that time, from the point of view of a sister who lived through those tumultuous days. My brother was an early initiate into student politics – he became a member of the FETSU probably in the first few weeks he joined the university. Between 1979 and 1982, he was first the AGS and then GS of the FETSU. He later became the Vice Chairman of the same union and between 1983 & 1984 was the elected student member to court.

Our home was like an open hostel those days. People came and went, stayed the night, ate the frugal meals my mother prepared. My brother and his comrades (yes, I shall use the word, because it is true) held their study circles in our house. I was mobilized to make tea and serve them snacks while they debated and argued behind closed doors. I was in Presidency College at the time – ruled by the then Chatra Parishad, there was no opposition to speak of. Students steered clear of the ‘Chaap’ members, and that was that. An apolitical student organization raised its timid head, the ‘Steering Committee’ but that was a very token protest…. In short, I was not part of student politics like my brother was. Continue reading

APARAJITA

NA HANYATE
(It does not die)

Last Sunday I came across Marguerite after a very long time. It was a blustery morning; torn clouds chasing across a slate grey sky, a strong wind whistling through the entire city. Rain came down in sudden bursts, drenching the hapless buyers & sellers of our little Sunday market. Marguerite was struggling with the bright pink hood of her anorak that she has been wearing for at least last 10 years. That is what I remember. Maybe she’s had it for even longer. She stood tall and straight behind her flimsy stall, now the hood firmly ties around her strong chin.

I looked at her in amazement – she did not seem to have aged at all. Those cornflower blue eyes were as sharp as ever, taking in everything, giving nothing away, framed by crisscrossing laughter lines. Her figure stout, feet firmly planted to the ground. Her slender hands strong and supple as she arranged eggs & cheese & other wares behind the counter to protect them from the invading wind & rain. Bending down and standing up, pirouetting like a woman one-third her age. As I looked at her, I had to tell myself over & over again that Marguerite was at least 80 years old! Continue reading