October 6, 2005

TJ1: The Bee

Tridib was standing there, his side-bag, as the thing is called, a black cloth sack with long handles made of cloth, full of intricate embroidery, a bag that he prefers to look like that, continuing to prefer it for the last two decades or more, always searching for a look-alike when the old one is worn out, why preferring it that way? It is his identity? When a bag like that hangs down his side, whenever his glance fleets past his body, his self, it seems: yes it is me?

Tridib was standing there exactly that way that day too, exactly like every other day, he is returning from the college, exactly the same tired and worn out for exactly the same lack of reason. The laptop within the bag pulling it hard on his obese shoulders, maybe not that obese really, this is going to be one hell of self-conscious prose full of a lot of self-defense. And then, while staring glumly towards everything around, the light-accessories, the loudspeakers, the window, the fan, the people, and nothing in particular, he saw it. The bee. Tridib knows, his wife knows, everyone that knows Tridib knows it that he is afraid of insects, and so, maybe to continue the continuity, who the hell wants to break continuities, this time too, Tridib got afraid.

There, within the metro, blanketed by the infernal noise, not even a cacophony, shouldn’t a cacophony have a life or voice or character of its own, a carnal Dionysian life-force playing it up? The metro is just hard dry noise, and Tridib was standing amid his pensive gloom that is always there in and around him. Before discovering the bee, all this time, getting aboard the metro from Shobhabazar, Tridib stood in the corner, just beside the vestibule door. As Tridib always does, in metros, meetings and life, a lone and tired voyeur everywhere.

Tridib was standing there with some care that the hard heavy corner of the laptop within the side-bad does not brush against anyone. And a young guy was sitting there, prim decorated and dumb, the usual stuff. Handling his cell-phone exactly the same way as he does with his phallus in private, this one in public. And he was sitting cross-legged. This manner of sitting cross-legged people are learning fast, pretty fast, mainly from advertisements, depicting and thus glorifying a Westernized lifestyle, but the poor hapless Eastern third world life is not changing, and hence at every moment the society and life are getting richer by another self-important stupid-ass sales-person: youth.

This youth was sitting crosslegged like that, without a care towards if his shoe is brushing against someone else in so intense a crowd, but fight-apprehensive Tridib did not say a thing. Once or twice before he has tried speaking out, but that always finally leads to fights, and a lot of violence. Once, that led to a very stupid thing, Tridib with his slap broke the some-foreign-brand sunglass of a young man and made his cheek bleed just by the shock of falling within the young man’s teeth and Tridib’s slap. But, what can be more stupid than these stupid violence? Violence: the thing that goes on lingering the feeling of dirt within the one that got violent even many many days after the incidence. These days Tridib is always under a persistent apprehension, no, never, he is not going into another fight. These people are spared the stick in their childhood by their parents, and Tridib is not the chosen one to bring them into light. With all this apprehensiveness and the ambiance of the college still persisting in his head like a pungent throw up after getting overfed, he was standing there, when he saw the bee.

First he was afraid. Is it going to fly? Is it going to sting? These were not the issues actually. He was just afraid of the bee. A bee? Here? Here, on the inside of the glass pane of a metro window? How come it could get in here?

Then he went on eyeing it. Usually, standing in the metro, or, in the local trains of the Bongaon section, trains that he has to catch when the metro ride is over, trains even more, unthinkably more, crowded than this metro, he stands somewhere and goes on doing Pranayam, breathing in with three consecutive Oum, pronounced mentally, and breathing out with five. This is a very nice thing. It helps him go beyond all the continuous pushes and pulls from different parts of different bodies from and towards every direction, go beyond all the occasional bad words going to fro between some of them, go beyond all the bad smells, 3.3 million years of human civilization has not still made them prepared about basic hygiene and all, and maybe go beyond himself, all the flows and pressures and eddies of thought running within his head, whenever he is not doing anything in particular. He was just starting to do his Pranayam, when he saw it. And now all the concentration focused in on the bee. Why? Why anything happens the way it happens?

He went on seeing it. The bee. Tridib.

The wings of the bee folded together in a semi-triangular formation on the back of the bee. How intricate are the lacy veins on the wings. Are they veins at all? Does an insect have veins? Tridib cannot see them fully well. Maybe his mind does see it, from prior experiences. The veins, the lacy lanes and by-lanes creating a curious and intricate labyrinth, like a princely arabesque from the chamber windows of an Arabian Nights princess, lighted from within. Tridib was getting lost within the labyrinth. How many millions of years he was roaming around these streets and lanes and pathways?

It was then that it occurred to Tridib. The sitting posture of the bee was not exactly one of symmetry. It was sitting South-West to North-East, its head towards the upper right hand corner of the window pane like a supply curve from the garbage of a class that he poured out just some time back, but that was not the point. Sitting like that, it was a bit skewed towards its own right. Making all the limbs on the right side look smaller and more folded than usual, while all the legs on the left look longer and taut. Why, for the God of the bees, why?

And The Still Life with a Metropolitan Bee was as it is and remained like that for all these moments Tridib was looking at it. A bee frozen in time? It dawned on him at last: the bee was dead: its weight hanging on the left limbs, somehow they have got stuck on the glass. Maybe some death-time organic glue that exudes from the chitin joints of the arthropod body of the bee? Like the death song of the Cheyenne tribe of the American Indians, White Americans were killing them, each and every single one of them, like the White Americans, some time back, killed all the white buffaloes of the Red Indian valleys, in Tridib’s teen age the novel Last Frontier by Howard Fast always threw him into a whirlwind of affects, the image of a Red Indian girl singing on and on and on, till she dies, they always start singing when they understand that death has arrived. Deathsong. Song of Death. Death singing.

The bee was just stuck there, hanging by its left limbs, and kept in its fixed vicinity of the glass by the set of right limbs. It was dangling, actually, the angular argument of the dangle being very very small. Can Tridib see the dangle? Now that he knows it, it seemed as if it had a mild tremor, particularly when the metro train was passing over some curve or joint. The tremor, now it felt, was more horrible than the apparent freeze. The train is moving, as if the tremor was making the bee more a part of the body of the train, the walls, the wheels, the glass pane, everything. As if its death made it another accessory of the body of the trains. Some art-piece like the stupid pictures that hung on the walls of some metro compartments.

The bee. It sat there when it was alive. Gradually, it died. Not by some accident. Not that some other insect or something killed it. It died its slow gradual natural death. Did some image run past its head? Did it dream? Does an insect have those faculties. Tridib was looking at it and feeling its slow gradual natural death. Did it feel pain? Is death a pain?

All of a sudden, as if to break his stupor, as if to draw in some big gust of air into his breathless lungs, Tridib looked aside, over his shoulder. There was a baby boy sleeping, secure, cool on the shoulder of his mother. His father leaning towards him standing beside. They will get down at Belgachia, the last but one stop. Tridib, before he could really think what he was doing, moved towards that boy, went very near to him. Some comfort. The sleeping face. Some smooth comfortable living air was flowing here. Tridib went so near to the boy that at first the protective father thought maybe Tridib was getting down too at Belgachia, and so, moved his own body a bit, to allow Tridib the passage towards the door. And when he understood that Tridib was just going towards the boy, the father went a bit back, having a full view of Tridib, giving a closer scrutiny. A look of suspect towards some unknown came into the father’s eyes. Or, maybe Tridib was making it up. As it happens in a situation like this, Tridib gave a dumb grin, devoid of any meaning. The protective father did not respond.

Filed under: ব্যক্তিগত — dd @ 5:18 pm

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