“Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight?
I am mightily abused. I should e’en die with pity,
To see another thus. I know not what to say.
I will not swear these are my hands: let’s see;
I feel this pin prick. Would I were assured
Of my condition!”

After a long hiatus, Kalyan Dasgupta was re-reading King Lear; he suddenly remembered, quite out of context though, how horridly he had to struggle with his colleagues off and on.

‘What? Don’t be so desperate Kalyan! You are Dasgupta and you are saying you are a Brahmin! For Bongs, only Mukherjees, Bannerjees, Chatterjees are the main Brahmins, there are some others, but certainly not Dasgupta’, snapped Satish Bhardwaj. He was supported by Imran Zaidi who said Dasguptas were vaishyas. Was Imran trying to insult him by saying Vaishyas because according to the structure, Vaishyas came much lower than the Brahmins; do people still think in this way… even today? Why should he take it as an insult… prosperity thrives thanks to the Vaishyas for God’s sake! Kalyan kept simmering from inside…at their ignorance, he wanted to tell them they were Saraswat Brahmins, one of the most erudite of sects among the Brahmins; they belonged to the Vaidya (doctor) clan. As the legends go, they decided to dissect the corpse of humans many years ago in order to do an in-depth study of the human anatomy. They were obviously criticized as this was against the religion; Brahmins couldn’t touch dead bodies, let alone work with them! Therefore, they were disallowed. However, the ‘main brahimins’ said if Vaidyas were willing to lose their Brahmin status and became Shudras, they could. Since Vaidyas were determined and committed to their work, they agreed under the condition of re-elevating as Brahmins once the research was over. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to become Brahmins again. Vaidyas and Brahmins went into a battle for several years. Ultimately, truth triumphed and the Vaidyas got back their brahmanatya, and this time around they were considered even a notch higher than the mainstream Brahmins.

Taciturn that he was, Kalyan couldn’t argue with his colleagues, Satish and Imran. Satish was a hardcore Brahmin from Kerala Palakkad and Imran, a high class Muslim. Kalyan was not desperate proving himself as a Brahmin, but he was very dejected because no one was interested listening to his version. If you cannot make your point, you pay a heavy price; with him there were many such incidences.

The other day, there was this Loveleen who told Kalyan that she saw Tagore’s Devdas, and never liked it. Kalyan couldn’t even suggest that she read Devdas, instead of watching it; he couldn’t even say that  Devdas was written by Sarat Chandra, not by Tagore because Loveleen, a gold medalist in English Literature was not interested to enter into any dialogue. There was also this TV Ramesh who told Kalyan he never liked Tagore because according to him Tagore was not a patriot. Kalyan was sufficiently well read to cut him down, but he couldn’t; the same colleague also said he never liked A R Rahman because he changed his religion; even then Kalyan couldn’t say a word. After all, how does it matter to Tagore and AR Rahman!

Are these relevant anymore, he thought. They seemed so trivial to him now. But he wished there was some kind of a dialogue. He felt sad for all his colleagues who made it a point to pounce on him for no reason at all. Or could there be a reason why they chose him as garbage until he disappeared from their sight for good?

How does it even matter now, but he was worried of other Kalyans suffocating inside muscled monologues of their colleagues as opposed to their meek monologues.

It seemed to him fighting as a child with friends for a stolen eraser. He found solace in reading, he sat around enjoying the lines of Lear:

“Pray, do not mock me:
I am a very foolish fond old man,
Fourscore and upward, not an hour more nor less;
And, to deal plainly,
I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
Methinks I should know you, and know this man;
Yet I am doubtful for I am mainly ignorant
What place this is; and all the skill I have
Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
For, as I am a man, I think this lady
To be my child Cordelia.
Pray, do not mock me.
I am a very foolish fond old man”

He stopped at Act IV with Kent’s exit:

“My point and period will be thoroughly wrought,
Or well or ill, as this day’s battle’s fought.”

He blessed all his colleagues from the bottom of his heart. He will read the last act another day. Perhaps.

© supratik 2023
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