Chocolate. Yes. What we are basically talking about here is a piece of Cadbury Temptations Rum Raisins. “Inspired by the fine art of chocolate making, Cadbury brings you a chocolate that’s crafted to perfection. It is embedded with exotic ingredients and comes in a variety of detectable flavours. Bon Apetit”. The first element that struck my eyes was a girl of about five years of age clad in a dirty olive green kurti and a torn chrome yellow skirt. She sat on one of the tracks without a mere sweater in that unnerving cold wave. Her dark brown Bengal iris gleamed at the sight of the algae green wrinkle-less wrapper of the Cadbury Temptations Rum Raisins that I offered her. Her eyes turned almost amber at its sight. Her muscular cheeks and rosy nose suddenly flushed red and Beena pulled me into her abode. A Cadbury Temptations Rum Raisins was enough to do away with the antagonism of the place and to create the bond of camaraderie, which Beena immortalized through the ritual of a ‘pinky promise’.
The INR 65.00 product got fervently shared by seven individual watery mouths – her brother Babu and the six other affiliates of that fretful fraternity. Next turn was hers of course…two cubes of perfectly blended sugar, cocoa butter, milk and cocoa solids, emulsifiers and sudden existence of quite a few raisins were now put on her peroxide blond palms. The contrast was obvious. For three long minutes, she savoured the first cube and packed the other one with that crushed gold foil to enjoy it later.
I sauntered about Bagrakot last Equinox and it wasn’t until that time, that I actually began to have a more evenhanded estimation of the place. The fact that it was not just an age-old dust-laden showpiece of zero utility that remains stationary in every other household in utter oblivion and that it was rather a place effervescing with chi dawned upon me only when I got to know its people, through Beena and Babu, to be precise. A Cadbury Temptations Rum Raisins was enough to do away with the antagonism of the place and a handful of candies served the purpose of a handsome inducement so as to reap their robust shatterproof bond of camaraderie, which they immortalized through the ritual of a ‘pinky promise’.
A blind man cannot discern black from white, because all he perceives is a perpetual pigment of darkness. Similarly, a person who has never tasted wretchedness in his life, who has only seen a perpetual pigment of gratification, cannot really discern joy from sorrow. It is said that white appears whiter when positioned against a contrasting shade of black. So, it will not be wrong to point out that it is the ones who live in the pit of agony who can really define delight, who really know the true worth of gratification, who really know to distinguish the exact colour of bliss.
Chamfort had rightly remarked, “Society is composed of two great classes; those who have more dinner than appetite, and those who have more appetite than dinner”. We being a part of the former class should not be the ones to fix yardsticks with which to measure the latter’s morality, ethics and righteousness. The latter class might comprise pickpockets, thieves, and even anti-social activists, but their profession is not the only colour of their life. The hue of warmth and compassion for their family can be well figured out by the desperation with which they indulge in these crimes. I am not supporting crimes and criminals, I am just trying to point out the fact that it is because we are such massive successes that they are such massive failures. It is because we have so much to waste that they have so less to spare. And yet, they do not complain. They keep smiling, and toiling, and suffering, and smiling. For them, happiness is a necessity, and the power to dream is all the luxury that they have.
Surely, Siliguri does not replicate Mumbai, but it sure has another Dharavi to offer to its spectators. The expanse might not be as large, but the essence remains the same. The Bagrakot slum is more than tinned settlements and poor people and occasional epidemics. It’s not a shack under a tin roof. Rather, it is the factory of dreams…of colourful dreams that set off flight to an unresolved nowhere…in search of their most prized possession…the colour of bliss.
And in the end, a smile is all it takes to induce smile in someone else’s face. A smile is all it takes to forget all differences and be one. A smile is all it takes to smile!