Well crossing the tolly nala, or chetla bridge could never be the same once you have traced the trail of the old branch of river Hoogly. Once you cross the kabi subhas metro station and continue towards Baruipur you tend to see the widened canal like river which is being killed slowly and bringing a sure death. Or you can go to the relatively higher floors of the alipur campus of the university of calcutta to see the river is waiting with green mangrove vegetation and silt bed for you to discover. Its river near the end, its river before the city- you know who is killing it.
Kaleidoscope used to go to his mother's sister's place in nacktala by crossing a peculiar canal - quite different from the one he usually saw. There were 'A' bridges connecting the Netaji Subhas Bose road and the marginal settlements on thr opposite to it. One could then experience a sudden appearance of rural cosmos after crossing those A shaped bridges. While he was curious, his father explained it was build so as to allow the passage of 'dingi' - the small and country made boats. Kaleidoscope could see the imagined canal little wider than that actually it was. He could fantasize sitting beside the canal watching those dingis making a reappearance. Those imaginations were bulldozed by the metro pillars and eventual destruction of those A shaped bridges locally called as 'sanko' meaning locally constructed often bamboo structured bridges to be used by people on foot. As Kaleidoscope grew up to see people dying he started visiting the local cremation grounds beside the canal. The first to go was his father's dear friend and he went to 'kaoratala' near kalighat.
He knew it was the same river - now the canal. Similarly he found the same practice when he went to Boral cremation ground in garia and visited the tripureswari temple. Elephant's bone, several undated potteries recovered underground while reconstructing the temple indicates people and their long blood affinity with the river which his civilisation has so casually forgotten.
Today his auto to national library met an accident on the top of the chetla bridge and he had to get down and wait unless the dispute was settled. He could only get a few minuits to stand on the cleavage of the river. Yes there are ups and downs in garia so does in chetla as the river left her markings and memories on the land whom she depended for so long. Kaleidoscope looked at the the 'jail', the cremation ground and imagined the temple and the brothel! The whole ditches of civilisation and its attempt to conceal them appeared at once on the bridge. Kaleidoscope felt like being sandwiched in the cleavage- entire loads of the history of civilisation and brutal murder was mounting on. He knew it was the confinement and right there lay the pathway to liberation. The air was thick so does the memories of murders of all the rivers that lay underneath.
|One of the ferry ghats still remaining at Naktala|