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Total Eclipse

by Avishek Gupta
(Kolkata)

It's late evening and the August rain had moistened the asphalt. The trees, with wet leaves, stood in silence and anticipation. As I strode past the dark gloomy corridors of the southern tip of the city, I suddenly felt eerie. It was like walking beside a crowd of zombies. Men, women, children of all ages beat a hasty retreat to evacuate, of what was left of Kolkata. The city had submerged in an abysmal gloom. Downtown a young Chinese man was burnt alive. A 78 year old Armenian had his head chopped off. There was fire in the streets of Rajabajar, Chitpur, and Topsia. Blood flowed in the canals and drains of Watgunj and Khidderpur dock area. Dark shadowy buildings stood berserk in front of my eyes. The only smell lurking was a disturbing mix of corpses and burnt tyres. An eerie wind blew to give cold shivers. Nobody knows why it begun. Some opined the same - communal riot; some managed to find a political color, while some suspected terrorist attacks. Not that I am sure of it. The only thing obvious was it was a riot that had affected the Kolkatans irrespective of their communities, castes, social, and economic background. Kolkata was reduced to nothing but a Necropolis.


********

"In terms of law and order, this city is still an oasis," remarked the Chief Minister of West Bengal.
The torn front page of a leading daily flew in the air and landed on my face. I held it and read the headlines. The paper was weeks old and so were the confident postings. I dumped it in a drain.

Growing tired of following the morbid crowd, I quietly slipped off to a darker lane. I went a few steps and came across a turn. "No, no, please no"--- she yelled as six of them groped her and carried her to a corner. I took the turn hastily and reached the main road crossing. She was still struggling in vain.

Shahrukh Khan smiled down at me from the nearest billboard. "Sorry Dude, this is real life; it isn't a cheap Bollywood flick." As the shrieks grew louder I managed to run, cleverly evading the situation. I ran and ran, sweat all over my body. The salty drops flowed to the open wound on my left chest. I stumbled over something. It was but a corpse. Hey! I knew this man. He was a beggar, a permanent pavement dweller. The riot has not only stolen his belongings but also rewarded him with a macabre end. What else am I left to see now? A beggar been robbed and killed! I was left with no more strength.


********

"Who killed you, Kolkata? Everything before my eyes is but surreal."
The Indian Army Officer recovered a diary from a nearby garbage bin. The once lively city resembled a dustbin in itself. As he opened the last page he read inquisitively -

"I am putting this in letters just to state that I am not a victim of the riot. I'm a man at an utmost loss. In all my senses I state here that I am going to kill myself shortly as I cannot bear the pain anymore. I can't see this city dead, I just can't."

The Officer put the diary in his pocket and rushed hastily to the other side of the road. A lot of things needed to be put in place, a lot indeed!

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Sep 27, 2011
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Dance of Death
by: Radha Bantwal

Ghastly images! Do you suffer from nightmares?

May 05, 2011
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Dear Avishek...
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

What a write! I am still trying to find the right words to describe the feelings that I went through reading this piece. Kudos! Keep it up! And do keep penning and posting! All the best!!!

May 03, 2011
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Thanks
by: Avishek Gupta

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and enriching comments.
@Prasenjit - The whole piece is a figment of my imagination. My darkest fears, you may say. This has not happened in reality, and I pray it does not ever.

May 03, 2011
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Oh Kolkata, my Kolkata!
by: Tanuja Chatterjee

Hi Avishek!
Yes , I do agree with eclipse but not total eclipse'coz anew beginning has dawned on Kolkata already. As Chanakya would say destruction is essential for new creation, I feel, need of the hour is proactive and pragmatic attitude and action without begrudging our lives. Do we have the luxury to be inert! Thought provoking piece and so beautifully portrayed!

May 02, 2011
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Wonderful!
by: Prasenjit

A wonderful piece of writing! Though I cud not relate to these incidents. When did these happen? Nonetheless, a beautiful portrayal.

Apr 26, 2011
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Imagery
by: vimala ramu

Terrific imagery.The poems are a bit depressing though.

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