I had spent my childhood in various Indian cities and reached Kolkata to settle at the late teen years. As a Prabashi Bengali kid, I grew up around non-Bengali schoolmates. College was difficult for me because I was the cultural alien. But I was trying to gel, at least as much as I could. I had no political inclination or ideology. I was a complete politics illiterate.
In one such day, I met this girl, let’s call her Bongolina. She was a total communist. I had no idea what communism or capitalism was. I just wanted friends and so I made friends with her.
Bongolina was a khandani communist. Her father and uncles had held the red flag high during the 70s. They were prominent figures during the Naxalite movement in Kolkata. Someone told me that her elder uncle was even taken to jail, but was soon released. The family gradually moved out from the movement and established their own little but prosperous business. But the inner comrade was alive. I heard, that her father was also a member of the communist political party.
Through from a Brahmin family, Bongolina claimed that she didn’t believe in the caste-system. During college days, she was busy romancing another lal-selamist; let’s call him Laaltu Das. The stairs of metro-stations, Nandan, Dhakuria Lake stand testimonies to their RED-HOT romance.
Busy doing party work in student days, Laaltu Dass studies had gone for a toss. He had barely graduated but couldn’t keep the Honors in Political Science, his favourite subject. Bongolina went on to pursue Masters in Literature, but Laaltu Das was not eligible for that.
Bengal, stripped of industrialization couldn’t afford Laaltu any job. They say he reached out to the who’s who within the party to get him a job, but all attempts failed. He sat for the SSC a couple of times, but couldn’t clear it either.
Within two years of graduation, the RED hot romance died its natural death. Or was it natural?
Bongolina’s “bilpobi” father had found her an America-based Brahmin groom he got to learn of from his business acquaintances. No force, no imposition. The now dead Orkut stood tall as a witness to Bongolina’s rocking courtship with the handsome find. All smiles, the two stood as the Victoria Memorial glowed at the backdrop.
They tied the knot in a year and took off to the land of a Capitalists’ dream, the United States of America. After securing the highly coveted Green Card, Bongolina now works at the Target. She really doesn’t need to work as her husband has a secured and burgeoning career in a leading Bank. But the empty apartment chases her, and hence, to keep herself occupied she chose the Target.
It’s been 10 years now. Laaltu Das is still unemployed. Single. Drinks heavily. Spends his evenings in some dingy dimly lit club smoking and playing carom with other erstwhile Comrades.
As the sun cones down, they recite in chorus… “Punjibaad nipat jak…”
In another end of the world, Bongolina casts a lovely smile, “71 Dollars, sir,” she says.
MANDATORY DISCLAMER: The story, characters, and incidents portrayed in this story are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.