“Can you help me locate somebody from Durgapur?” asked Surojit – my friend from Atlanta.
This was about 3 years or so back.
“Who is it?”
“Well, his name is Bappi.”
“How do you know him?”
“He used to play the keyboards with us when we sang.”
A few minutes later, I had sorted it out. Surojit and his (now) wife Apala went to RE College (now NIT) Durgapur. Both of them were into music. Apala sang. So did Surojit – and played the tabla. And they still do. Bappi was somebody who lived in REC campus and was an excellent keyboard player. Bappi’s father was a REC staff member. Bappi himself is my age – which means much older to Surojit and Apala.
“He was a great player and an even greater person. But I have lost all contacts with him. I thought since you are from Durgapur and know so many people, you might be able to track him down”.
“Well, I will try”
My initial attempts came a cropper. And then in one of my India trips, I met Indranil Sengupta. And discussed this hitherto unknown person to me – Bappi. By the time I was on my flight back, I had a phone number from Indranil.
I did not pass it on to Surojit immediately. I needed to make sure I had the right person.
So, from a transit airport (I forget which one it was), I called up that number.
“Are you Bappi?”
“Who is this?”
“You will not know me. I am a friend of an old friend of yours – Surojit”
“Which Surojit?”. That is an understandable question since Surojit is not an exactly uncommon name in Bengal.
“Well, this is going to be tricky. But let me try. You play the keyboards, right?”
“Well, you played with Surojit and Apala. They used to study in REC.”
“Oh! Apala-Surojit? Where are they?”
“Where are you?”
“Are you calling from Atlanta?”
“No, I am on my way back from India. But I will pass on your number to Surojit – so he can call you directly.”
And that is how I was able to put the two (well, three) old friends together.
And started a new friendship myself. I kept up with Bappi from that day. He went thru a fairly lean time during Covid – work wise and health wise – and we stayed in touch. I always promised to make some time for him during my trips and finally, I was able to do so this time.
It was great to know about his life history. His successes, his rough patches and then his bounce backs.
But the greatest surprise was yet to come. I was talking about his family and then the topic of his wife came up…
“Is your wife from Durgapur too?”
“No. Monimala is from Burdwan.”
“Where in Burdwan?”
“Oh! Not Burdwan city. Burdwan District.”
“ I do not know how to exactly locate it”
“Can I talk to your wife?”
“Monimala? This is Rajib”
“Oh! Bappi has told me about you”
“Are you from Debipur?”
“Wait, Kundu bari? Where is that?”
“Near Buro Shib tala”
That took me a few moments to remember exactly where that was.
“Hmmm, that is near the school, right?”
“Do you know the Panjas?”
“Yes. And Tarapada?”
“He is my grandmother’s brother”
“Yes. Do you know Pnachu Roy’s house?”
“Yes. They are in the other para”
“Yes. Do you know the two huts next to his house?”
“That was our house. One hut was my uncle’s and the other one my dad’s. I was born in the smaller hut myself”
You can only imagine the excitement! I am fairly sure – given the age group – I must have seen Monimala in one of the two Durga Pujas in the village when we visited every year. There were not too many places for young kids to hang around in a small village. Just never knew that I would be talking to her some 40-50 years later.
It did not end there.
“So, how did you come to Durgapur? Thru marriage?”
“No, my dad moved us to Durgapur”. That sounded just like what had happened to me.
“Where did you live?”
“Where in Rahimpath?”
“Quarter number 10/10”
“Hmm… two streets over, my uncle used to live. I used to go there 3–4 times a week. It was 14/28”
“What was his name?”
“Dola Pan’s dad?”
“YES!! Dola is my cousin”
“And she was my classmate. We went to school together. I used to go to her house too!! “
Wow! What is the chance of that? Looks like I must have met her in Durgapur too!!
That is one great sequence of intersection points. And it all started with somebody looking to create his own intersection point!!!
Next time, I have to meet Bappi’s whole family. I am sure there are some great stories from Debipur and Rahimpath we can go over.