Youth Writing from Session Five
Session Five’s journalism assignment was an investigation and interview on different personalities and character of Bow Bazaar. Through our discussion in the session, the youth journalists came up with Goondas (neighbourhood bandits), Neighbourhood Beneficiaries, Heroic Survivors, and Bhashan Baaj (folks who have something to say about everything).
For this assignment, the journalists were put into pairs and were assigned to Neighbourhood personality that they are intrigued, inspired, excited by. The following are their final pieces. All writing has been translated from Bangla to English.
A Kind Hearted Para Benefciary: Monoranjan Das
by Tania and Jyotsna
A man stays in the house next door to Tania, he is very kindhearted. His name is Monoranjan Das. He has helped out many people, and still does so. He has an ayurvedic medicine shop. He is involved in politics and is a member of the Congress party.
He is a devotee of Goddess Kali and performs puja every new moon. He is married. He is very fond of children. He told us that he has had a hard struggle-filled childhood. He is very erudite and people of the para both love and respect him. He gives away blankets in winter time to the poor and needy. He provides medicine from his shop to people when they need it. He does not have any false pride, no jealousy, no greed. His mother, wife, brother, sister in law, daughter and son make up his family. He is very happy living with them. Nobody has any complaints about him. No one fights or picks quarrels with him. He helps out everybody.
A Surviving Woman: Tulshi Mashi
by Supriya and Pinky Lal
In Tulsi mashi’s family, there were five siblings in all, four sisters and a brother. Earlier they used to live in a mud home in the village, now they live in a cement and stone house. There was a lot of poverty in Tulsi mashi’s home. Her mother got all the siblings married off after a lot of hardship, all excepting Tulsi and her sister Chhaya. Chhaya had a love marriage. Tulsi’s parents got her married with a boy from Puruliya residing in the next village. Her son was a good boy; he died of illness.
The younger brother of her husband beat his mother, and the old lady, unable to bear this, consumed poison and died. The good family fell apart. Tulsi being young still, her parents got her married with another guy from Kolkata, called Nimai. Nimai loved his wife very much. But after some time, influenced by his elder brother and sister in law, he beat her. He softened again towards her when she became pregnant. Tulsi gave birth to a daughter, and named her Mongoli. He again started creating disturbances at home. He started beating his wife again. Tulsi thought that instead of dying bit by bit every day, it was better to embrace death all at once. She went to Howrah bridge, thinking whether to throw her daughter into the water of the Ganges first or to jump in herself. Then she reconsidered, thinking that instead of dying and giving up, she ought to make efforts to stand on her own feet. She started begging for rice. She had a very small home at this point of time. Someone called Kanta Prashad had a soft corner for Tulsi’s daughter and left her some property. Tulsi started working as a domestic help in people’s homes. Her husband, who worked in a copper store, began to suspect that there was someone else in Tulsi’s life other than him. Tulsi’s daughter also was growing up and had been put in school. After some time, Tulsi again had a son. When he turned three, Tulsi’s husband started beating her again.
One day she sat down at a crossing of three lanes and began to cry. At this juncture, a lady called Bubumashi came and offered her a job – that of selling alcohol. Subsequently Tulsi, having sold off her old possessions and saved money from her current job, succeeded in building her own cement house. Nowadays her husband does not beat her any more, since there is regular flow of money earned by Tulsi in the household. Her daughter, after studying uptil Secondary standard, was married off to a guy called Tapan living in the neighbourhood. Tulsi masi married her daughter off amid great celebrations. She in turn had a son called Biswajit. Tulsi masi’s son is now preparing for his Secondary examination, she will marry him off in 2008. She has been selling alcohol for the last 15 years.
She thinks only one thing– that there was a time when she had to beg for rice. But now she has been able to stand on her own feet. She has come a long way.
More Writings and Photographs to be Posted Soon….