My Sonamura ( Malgudi ) Days

Biswanath Bhattacharya

"The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Immediately after leaving of my college, I was fully directionless. In college, I drifted to the Naxalite Movement, and used to cry hoarsely “ China’s Chairman Is Our Chairman: China’s Path Is Our Path, Make The 1970’S The Decade Of Liberation” .But I shortly found the hollowness of this) and become completely aloof from any sort of political activity.

I was not being able to concentrate in anything. The high ambition that always fuelled me  all along my student life suddenly become dim and in brief, I was lost and seemed lost forever.

But to while away the time also you need some money in your purse. Since I had almost decided not to enter any 24X 7 job, I started tutoring the students of classes IX to XI and I was an instant success. I used to coach almost 70-75 students in all science subjects.  . My fame spread far and wide, I was offered to start a school at about  10 Kms away from our residence wherein I taught all the subjects of class IX. And in that school, I found one future MLA and future central  Minister. The students were bent on that I teach history, History was my most favourite subject was history and in, particular the history of the second world war. Like , History of Second War by Winston Churchill , Hitler’s War by Heinz Magen Heimer , Albert Sphere , the History of Second World War by Bibekananda Mukhopadhyay , Panzer Leader by General Heinz Guderian  and so many other books .Hitler may be anything, but he galvanised German pride. Germany was forced to accept responsibility of the war damages suffered by the Allies. The treaty required that Germany pay a huge sum of money called reparations. The problem with the treaty is that it left the German economy in ruins. People were starving and the government was in chaos. The humiliating conditions of the treaty rankled Germans for years and in many ways led to the rise of Nazism in Germany. Hitler further used nationalistic propaganda to imbibe hatred in Germans which culminated in the Jews holocaust during the Second World War. The humiliating conditions of the treaty rankled Germans for years and in many ways led to the rise of Nazism in German.

But the best student in that school was one Muslim boy named Moslem. But when I saw him after a decade of chewing Pan, I turned my face in disdain.

After that school was over, I used to teach the eligible widows of Sonamura  Town. I used to be paid by a voluntary association. But whatever I earned went like burning coals through my pockets. Nothing remained for the next day. And I did not repent also. The same habit is continuing till now. I am never financially sound. My wife cautions me, my son also cautions but all their advice is lost in the wilderness. I am leading my life, not theirs.


 My day ended at about 8 PM in  the night and my invariable pastime was to be drawn into a  Adda in the Nehru Club and famous Matri Bhandar, a sweet shop. Amu , Siddique, Mannan, Pradip Sen, Manu ,Jahir, Bhutto da , Badal Ashish, Goswai  were my bosom friends. My most intimate school friends had by this time gone to East Pakistan . I cannot probably do anything for my brothers, but I can surely do anything for my friends. Yes, anything and everything.

The kingdom of heaven is a literal kingdom. Heaven isn’t just an ethereal thought. It will be an actual place, an actual world, and it was Sonamura to me. This is what Emperor Jehangir is reported to have said soulfully about Kashmir -" If there is paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here." So enamoured was the mighty Mughal with Kashmir that he is said to have visited it eight times during his reign. And to me, Sonamura was the heaven on earth.


Agar Firdaus bar roo-e Zameen ast, Hameen ast-o Hameen ast-o Hameen ast. If there is a heaven on earth, it's here, it's here.


Sonamura was my Firdaus and I wanted to go nowhere in the world but to remain in Sonamura only eternally.

In the night after 10 , we used to go to the side of the Sonamura Tank. Here used to reside Sunil Baran Dey , an unexplored genius. He used to play Sitar in Raga Hamir, Durga, and Khamaj or others and his close companion was Debendra Kishore Choudhury( the former Finance Minister )  , and Shanti Guha, a leading businessman and one Police officer . They were all connoisseurs of single malt whisky. Shri Dey used to bring heaven on earth. He  is an enigma to me. If I find time and have the ability, I intend to write on him.

But whatever I did, I used to read profusely up to the wee hours of the morning all sorts of books – particularly classics and history. The students used to arouse me for their classes from my deep sleep.

Today all - Amu , Siddique, Pradip Sen, Manu, Bhutto da , and Badal Ashish are no more.  I am the only custodian of the burning ghat or the burial ground. I am the crazy man Meher Ali, (a mad as narrated in Hungry Stone by Rabindranath), hollering with his enigmatic "that jao, tafat jao; sab jhut hai, sab jhut hai" (Keep away, keep away; all is false, all is false).

Sonamura is also now not that Sonamura, now it has been the den of the smuggler's Mafia, black-marketeers, women, and drug traffickers. This  Sonamura is not the Sonamura, my dreamland for which I wasted considerable time of my youth.

I am trying to find a platform to give vent my pent-up emotions. If I couldn't tell you, my friend. I couldn't tell anyone. If I didn't say it aloud, it wasn't real.

I could not become anything; neither good nor bad; neither a scoundrel nor an honest man; neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something.

I am a fool with a heart but no brains, and you are a fool with brains but no heart; and we’re both unhappy, and we both suffer.