I was eighteen when I landed in Calcutta. Actually landed is a fancy word. I took an army truck from Kharagpur to Calcutta. Most of my journey was spent sitting on my black trunk with my name stencilled on the side.
I knew no one. Not even the aunt I was supposed to stay with. I had been to Calcutta once before that. For a day, and totally hated it.
I have no idea why I wasn’t scared. Or even worried. I had been thrown out of the house. My sweet loving father was pissed as hell with me, because I refused to go back to architecture college in Bombay.
I had no idea what I was going to do. Or study.
I ended up staying for years. My dad’s family turned out to be mad. And sweet. I met cousins I never even knew existed. They got me admission forms, stood in line with me, showed me the city.
Then I made friends. K and P. One who smoked incessantly, the other who popped painkillers for recreation purposes. Classmates, benchmates. Guides through unfamiliar lanes, languages, dadas, didis, college politics, bus routes.
And then S. Love. College fests. Cards. Band rehearsals. Hanging out. Studying together. Walking around. Smoking up. Love letters.
Then I started working. More friends. Another PG. And then A.
HM Road. Bondel Road. Ballygunge Circular Road. Him and me. Walking. Talking. Drinking. Dancing. And the trips. Lots of them. To the sea. To anywhere.
And before you knew it, the city became mine.
And this time of the year, even if I’m miles away from Cal, I get all excited. Not because it’s Pujas. But because the smells and sounds of the city that gave me so much, will get transported to a little pandal five minutes from my house.
And I’ll stand there. And wonder how, without a clue of where and what I was doing, Calcutta just took my hand and planned my life out for me.
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