Khoob Bhalo Theko Bandhu ! খুব ভালো থেকো বন্ধু

Some six decades ago a child was born to  Mrs and Capt.Ghosh of  “Kanta Griha” at Cuttack.I remember him some four years or so after his birth as Tokon or more correctly Tuhin Kanta Ghosh ! Happily some sharp images,numerous trivia,happy,funny and sad anecdotes flash or blink in colours bright,sepia or mostly just black and white.And that is how my memory recalls.Today …

An angular,sharp-cut, thin boy in starched Uniform,well ironed, one size larger, perhaps anticipating quick and uneconomic physical growth,lots of oil in the hair (Maha Bhringaraj ?) that most Bengalis put, if they had active Calcutta connections

The Bong Connection

.A Cycle which was from the “Lost and Missing” list of the” Great Rayman Circus”.This one had a high perch that let your legs dangle like washed trousers of a clothesline on a windy day.The seat was hard solid rock made to ensure celibacy forever.A skilled juggler or a talented circus clown could ride this one and yes, have the entire audience applaud or be in splits.Only Tokon could ride this one,much like those jokers.It was to keep off friends from borrowing that he lent this speciality once in a while.All of them used to get off-balance (and frequently,at that) . The sordid aftermath was a bruised story of spilled blood,painful scars and lots of Tincture-of-Iodine (if that is right).

Suku,shivaram,tuhin with sunil on the terrace of gopi’s house.Dancing away to Dum Maro Dum . a Tape Recorder is somewhere tucked away.

The tiny me, never touched this awful contraption both for its weight and size.I was inversely proportional, just to mention in passing.

He was blessed with a style known as:”Ghosh Riyaaz” which was typical of Kanta Griha.On any given day and any given time of the evening the house was an acoustic “Bose” Special.A busy honeycomb, abuzz  with the flutter and flight of busy bees,fuzzy dragon flies and whining hornets , if you will : from various levels, corners and heights of this very majestically designed house.Curious onlookers used to discover boys and girls of different age groups (the Ghosh’s were a joint family of several brothers and many children) engaged in the esoteric ritual of “mugging”: the art of memorising in different pitches,scales,tonal variations without affecting the concentration and focus of the many  brother, sisters and cousins while quite literally ,rubbing shoulders with each other.Memorex is said to have stolen the original patent from here ! Do not however get the wrong notes here.Even before Wilma Rudolph had become a World champion,the pretty girls of Kanta Griha were setting many a sports field on fire.They were sporty and athletic-the children;and the parents ,distinguished lawyers and policemen among other things.

Tokon ,the proverbial good boy could ill afford not to study.The results were quite another matter.He managed his marks and never was  in deep trouble for that.He kept his head above the water.The delinquents were mistakenly happy to have him as one of their own while he always belonged elsewhere.He sat in the back benches and it was this deceptive quality that stood him in good stead.His effective and practical intelligence made him “a lambi race kaa ghodaa”.Not quite like an Amitabh in Deevar, though.The dreaded Senior Cambridge came and went. Mr.Saunders,the Anglo-Indian English Teacher,not many knew, lived longer and very fortuitously  had a heart attack  less, for not knowing that the ‘chokra boy-Tuhin’ had been graded first in the Sunday English Essay Competitions at the famous “Ali Tuitions” akin to the Rau’s IAS Study Circle of yore! Not many would have known either that he had also begun his career of social activism as Secretary of Naujawan Club(which boasted a membership of 9 only)

from l to r Pappu,tokon.sukumar and gopi

around this time.

From l to R Tuhin with shivram,dula,subuda and gopi

He had the unique distinction of having welcomed and escorted many future politicians on his much abused cycle-carrier !The early musical bands and their talents  like Mohd Habib and  Sangita Mahapatro of Cuttack had treaded gratefully the sacred portals of this unknown club.He had learnt early how to get along with the trendy and famous.

The Arts seem to have disappointed Tokon enough to help him make his first far thinking commercial-career move.A Bengali thinking of money was “Chi-Chi” and doing business was “kelenkari”.He had made his move .An early bird.Was he? Having graduated from Commerce he moved away to  “Calcutta and Mamar Baadi.”He struggled with his Cost Accountancy while adjusting the Books-of- Accounts..The Marwaris,the big financial firms,Simon and Carves,Construction,Real Estate and Infrastructure, remote settlements,god-forsaken locations,cooking for self and colleagues by turn,washing always, far away from friends and family must have taken its toll.The grind was hard but he silently he plodded on.He was his own man always.Things had begun to change.We met him only on occasions and during short leaves.We missed him while he missed us more, perhaps. In any case that is how we thought it was.But,he never spoke.

His heart remained unseen to some friends as it missed many beats.

with his two Jap friends

The arteries of blood supply and oxygen choked.Later and in time,the sick heart  healed with clinical care and Tokon came out singed and chastened.Maybe, a trifle frightened too.Doctors and medicine  became a part of his life, like destiny.Friends had gotten married since and moved on.

L to R is Sunil,Gopi,Sashi,Sukumar and Tuhin

Families grew and shifted while Tokon learnt to live all by himself.Kanta Griha went nuclear.His parents had since passed away.Tushar, his older brother and Boudi Kaberi with their son Abhinandan

from l to R Shivaram,Tushar,Abhinandan,Tuhin with Sudha and Kaberi

were  his immediate and constant company.Surely and steadily he gathered his pieces together with the lonely silences and occasional bonhomies.A birthday of the new born of a long forgotten cousin,or a groupie session in mindless drinking,abusive gossip or aimless travel with friends,marriage feasts or funerals became his staple. He had hit the mid-forties by then. A happy best-man,always.He became the shoulder to  rest your head on when tired and frustrated,the trusting ear to most complaining wives and naughty husbands,the person to go to for errant and disturbed young.He seemed to have begun to enjoy his single status and the freedom of being unfettered.It was a kind of paradoxical rite of passage. Alongside , most had by this time strangely forgotten his bachelorhood.He was just like everyone else.Only sans wife…

At Singapore with Dr.Shivaram

All of this seems to have happened a while ago.Now most of us friends and family are not becoming any the younger.Some of us unforgivably lonely.Some tired of nagging husbands or worrying wives.Some still unhappy with the bank balances, or of children doing worse than themselves.Some still find the selfies not good enough for their wilting alpha-egos and fall victim to flighty fancies of what-could-have-been. In sum –  still to make peace with their own lives.

Tokon,on the contrary meets more people

with Dhoni undergoing Basic Paratrooping Training at Agra

than before,has more girl friends

with friends at a birthday bash

than the number of days in a year, is more sought after and trusted,sees and travels to more places than your nearest Travel Counsellor,

laughs louder than I have heard myself to do ever,looks and wears better and seems good enough for many marriages! And,Yes ! What is even better is that he

At the Crossroads

does enjoy doing his own laundry and is not lonely.He is the renowned doctor without an MBBS managing, a flourishing diagnostic clinic.More importantly,his heart is doing good and is very large when last seen.

All said,I cannot forget,however one lunch day at Kanta Griha when Mashima ( his mother) had said while serving”Tomraa shob keyoo to Bandhur Biyer Khata Bhableynaa? Ekhon to Anek Deri hoye gaychey.”(You all,Never thought about the marriage of your friend? Now it has become very late).When asked now,he chuckles.As for me I do not know why i become sad.Even today….

Khoob BhaloTheko Bandhu ! Janmadiner Preeti aar Subechhaa !

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