I was floated in leisure of a ten minutes’ voyage. Gentle rays of sun had smoothened ripples on river Ganges into some sparkled stripes and I found myself seated alone on one of those passengers’ benches. It was not a time for daily commuters and I could only count three more heads sparsely distributed over at as much distant as they could be comfortably settled. Nevertheless, I could locate two more sitting on the floor of the standing area. I must have crossed them while coming to that passengers’ bench, but somehow did not notice. It was lunchtime in Kolkata; street-side stalls would have already been crowded and people, in comfort, might be savouring over favourite dishes, but on a stretched makeshift dining parlour upon that dancing boat I could see one little girl and her brother enjoy freedom in munching Muri (baked rice) from a single paper packet. Sunshine and wintry breeze together kept on playing with their uncombed hairs in a wanton manner. The girl had been wearing a gauchely tailored attire that seemed to have some decorations with feathers, but could retain only a few. Her younger brother did not although have any such special dress but had been adorned with ink-drawn moustache and several marks on his uncovered parts of hands and legs. They were half-leant over the floor. Drawn against the dazzling sunny noon, I could see a silhouette of my primitive past. I could interpret some reflections on those tiny faces that would expose its utter nonchalance in attempting to explain its own existence. I failed to fathom out what had been hidden under a maze of complex texture. I could only see those tender buds whose unfurled soft petals had yet to experience the pleasure of its blooming. Still I could visualise amusing moods of daily commuters while those two little children might be toiling to entertain them the best in displaying what a few tricks of Eagle-Cat game they might have learnt.
I stood up and got near towards them. The boat was sailing smoothly in the mid-river. I could clearly see the reality extracting its dividend out of sweet lives of two innocent kids.
I asked not what they had been there for and where did they hail from. I knew of it from within me. I could only ask, “What’s your name, baby?”
Those innocuous eyes sparkled in astonishment and she replied, after a neat pause for a while, “I don’t have a name. Do I need one?”
I was dumbfounded. I never knew before anyone living in this world sans a name to be called by. I said, “I don’t know whether you need it or not. But, I would call you ‘Durga’”
Before I could complete I could hear her sweet words rummaging my soul, “What’s about my brother? He also doesn’t have any!”
With all pains inside I could only smilingly add, “I would call him ‘Apu’”
She smiled, and her brother too grinned. I too smiled. But, neither I nor could they realize why we all did so.
In the meantime, the vessel had already reached the other side and started cajoling with the quay; maybe, they were engaged in a quick embrace before it would be the time soon of parting again. I had just ten more minutes left.
Smilingly we parted, silently too.
I boarded in the train. It started moving; slowly—then taking speed—then running fast and fast with landscapes flying away outside.
Only a few words kept on spiralling through the alleys of my mind, my soul, my conscience—“Do I need a name?” I could not decide, I could not think more and I could not answer myself if I really needed a name. I remained besotted with an unrequited question—“Do I really need one?”
I am yet to get an answer!!