Monday, October 30, 2006

Deshbandhu, Darjeeling, Lazarus and Ken Starr

Last Sunday on that knee-whacking walk down the Bhutia Bustee road, the house where CR Das took his last breath, Step Aside, was seen under renovation. The house has for long worn the atrophied look of the town. It's white exterior dirty, rotten and in many places broken made it seem like a government office of some long forgotten department, and not a building of historical importance which it actually is. CR Das , the lawyer that saved Aurobindo (another Darjeeling product) from the gallows, who rocked the Congress with his independent views and who also was the first Mayor of the Calcutta Corporation, died in this house in 1925. He was only 55 .
It is good that this place is finally being renovated. There were moves early this year to set up a museum of the hill people - something which we embarrassingly lack until today - at the house. It would be good if the renovation is towards fulfilling that purpose. Apparently, Ghisingh's tube light finally came on after he was briefed about the project - that any society claiming to be civilised needs a museum by way of recording the its progress through time. (He has been too engrossed in drawing a self-portrait of a backward people that he would necessarily reject the idea of progressing through time; his chosen subject would be regression. "The Museum of the Regressed" not a bad idea. Appropriate location, inside a zoo.)
And about Lazarus...remember this was also same house where the Bhowal Sanyasin from Dakha was supposed to have stayed. He was taken down to the cremation ground dead and...12 years later he reappeared and triggered off a sensational court case. Those who believe that Bhowal Sanyasin was indeed Kumar Ramendra Narayan Roy claim several forensic similarities. Both had "a minute mole on the dorsum of the penis." Would the presidential-penile-expert of the last century, Ken Starr, arbitrate?!

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