Tales amidst the heat and dust
Ranjita Biswas | @twfindia | 01 Jun 2019
Tales amidst the heat and dust
Now that all the heat in the air around the five-year-end verdict is set to subside, not yet reflected in the mercury though, common people puzzled by the unprecedented gaali-galaaz from all across the political spectrum would perhaps breathe a sigh of relief . At last, the strain is over. Now, they could hope that with things settling down, those in power would have more time to concentrate on governance and could give attention to those who have put their trust on them expecting better days.

In a completely different  note, when the political storm was raging on, there were still some bits of  news that made for a welcome diversion from the cacophony of campaigns.


A news item in the inside page of a daily from Kolkata  talked about a courageous man – or can he be called an ‘idealist’, an almost defunct word today? He is Suryakanta Barik, 30, an English language teacher in a private school in Sonarpur in West Bengal, not far from the city. 


He recently got married and insisted on ‘no dowry’, thank you!  If people wanted to felicitate him and his bride Priyanka Bej they were welcome to give books as presents. Both of them like reading.


Oh, when did I last hear about books given as presents at weddings? Rarely. It immediately took me back to my childhood days. At that age, weddings meant dressing up in one of the limited number of frocks I had and going along with my parents for the reception.


The menu was simple; in Assamese weddings it meant high tea with a vegetarian fare, unlike today with a multi-course dinner for all invitees. What I envied about the bride was not the beautiful dress and ornaments but , the number of books the couple received as gifts. 


So for me becoming a bride meant, after the function was over, happily sitting in a room with books all around which I would devour without anyone disturbing. So I went on pestering my mother, ‘When am I getting married?’ to everyone’s amusement. Ah, innocence!


So while reading about Suryakanta Barik and Priyanka Bej- she is from a village in East Midnapore, and their love of reading which must have also helped to form their own opinion on a social menace like dowry, I felt my heart swell with pride and reminiscence. And hope. There are still people like the young couple  in this vast country , after all . 


These are real life stories, more interesting and more elevating than ‘who said what’ kind of  debate that have been bombarding us for the last one and a half months.


There is a twist to the tale, though. Because the groom refused to take dowry, the bride’s family bought books worth one lakh rupees from boi-para, i.e. book hub College Street in Kolkata, and piled them up to greet  the groom on his arrival. 


Would detractors declare that it’s dowry, after all. Well, if money kept aside expecting a dowry-demand (who says dowry is dead in this part of the country?) is spent on books, why not? The gift consisted of full volumes of Rabindranath Tagore’s works, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya , Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya, etc. and even a few Harry Potter volumes.


The couple now plans to start a library in their area. What can be a better idea!