Kaleidoscope had this flashback moment when a familiar voice called his childhood name on his way to the nearby park with his son! Who was it calling? Thought Kaleidoscope. A smiling unfamiliar face appeared from a machine van (popularly called the vano) - a not too old addition to the contaminated diesel run good carrying vehicle which is infamous for its unregulated movement and pollution causing behaviour. Such a machine van is most frequently seen in the rural counterpart of the state in which Kaleido lives. He had to travel on them while he was on fieldtrips or in his former work place in Haldia.
Who was it? The smile seemed to be known, and the bright eyes are familiar too, but what happened to his cheek - its all grown beard! Oh! the person smiled, you cant recognise me because of this? He was pointing towards the salt-and-pepper hairs that grew on his chin and lower cheeks! Kaleidoscope could readily recognise the person - ah! Bablu Kaku na! - isnt it Bablu uncle? He smiled!
Yes, its me! and I have a different look... and a different occupation too!
Yes, I remember Bablu Kaku, we used to have long conversations during his afternoon work sessions as a helper to the Masonry work when my father was trying to build a house bit by bit! Bablu kaku was a clean shaved gentleman. He used to talk to the then 11 year old Kaleidoscope about their childhood days. It was not much different from the one Kaleidoscope was experienceing, so instead of being amazed or mesmerised, Kaleidoscope used to learn practical skills of climbing trees, or eating particular form of wild berries without being affected by its sour juice! Bablu kaku was Bablu Kaku not a Muslim Bablu kaku or a Hindu Bablu kaku! Except for the
But with an ideal Muslim looking beard, Kaleidoscope could readily see Bablu kaku looks no longer the Bablu kaku he knew for years, or the image of the person that was stored inside his mind for a considerable period of time!
So what happened to Bablu Kaku?
Kaleidoscope didn't ask! He is no longer a 11 year old kid who could promptly ask things that comes to his mind! He needs to be cautious about asking things without hurting! Or perhaps without grabbing attention of the public sphere which surrounds Kaleidoscope! When he could not ask anyting at all, Bablu Kaku could read his mind! With his penetrating eyes, he mentioned,
I had to grow beard, you know its us - the Muslims! I have to look like one!
Kaleidoscope could see the active construction of Ideal prototypes of Sacchha Mussalman, a counterpart of what he sees everyday in his country in the name of Hinduism - the Hinduttva!
Bablu kaku left the place carrying his characteristics smile and the bright eyes which has not changed with his looks, thought Kaleidoscope!
The practice of such ideal prototype constructions as Kaleidoscope has been exploring at different places in West Bengal (roughly parallel to what is happening in his rest of the country) is a known fact to Kaleidoscope. However, seeing his childhood memories altered radically is a completely different experience. No matter how short lived the meeting has been, no matter how hopeful and happy Kaleidoscope is to see the smile and eyes remain the same - Kaleidoscope knew for sure, his world is changing, perhaps irrevocably!
(see also Manufacturing polarisation in contemporary India, in International Journal of Conflict and Violence)