Kolkata is not just a city, it’s a feeling … True are these words for the ones who have realized its beauty in its utter simplicity, perfection and its impeccable grandeur.
It was a peaceful cloudy Saturday afternoon and we roommates decided to have some special dinner. After a lot of thought processes whirling our minds, we finalized to have fish fry as the main dish. I, along with one of my roommates, Siddharth, rushed to VIP Road in Kestopur, where some fish mongers have their stalls. This place is located amidst the hustle and bustle of the City of Joy, Kolkata and is just 5.9 km from Netaji Subash Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU). The market is well-known for its variety of fishes of very good quality and off course! It comes at a very low price. One can have a wide range of fishes for just below 100 rupees.
It was roughly 4pm but to our fate, we learnt that the fishes weren’t available until 6pm. We had no other option other than patiently waiting near the point (as our room was very far away from there). It started drizzling and our umbrella’s bloomed in full glory. We managed to find a place under the roof of a shop nearby. Our mouths were shut as we had no words to talk whilst our eyes were enjoying the beauty of the rains and our ears were overwhelmed with the melody of the rain drops. All we could do was patiently wait until the fish mongers could arrive.
The dry dull environment looked even duller and grey due to rains. At around 5pm, the fish mongers arrived along with their huge baskets full of an assortment of fishes. We were now brimming with joy! Finally the wait was over! But, they won’t sell anything until and unless their setup is 100% ready and their prayers are offered. We agreed to wait for some more time (as if we had any other option!)
What happened next is just amazing. The entire setup done by the fish mongers and the procedures followed left us mesmerized. Go through the lines below and explore. Enjoy reading! …
Are You in perfection?
This poem is based on the daily struggling of fish mongers, who do their job relentlessly but at the same time enjoy every bit of their work. It revolves around a dull rainy day in Kolkata which was adorned by the hard work of the fish mongers who loved their jobs so much which really proved the words of the renowned Kannada Saint Shri Basavanna that “Work is worship”. This makes me feel that God is not in places of worship but he resides where the worker loves his work, and the perfection yielding out proves God’s very existence.
After a long time, to fulfil a wish; in drizzling rain we went to buy fish
Growing rain drops and lightning; and finally fishmonger is arriving!
Opened huge box in size; full of Pomfret, Hilsa, Katla and ice
Took out banana leaves, to spread on the container
Squeezed in half, spread the leaf in circular
One by one, did with utter perfection
What’s the source of motivation?
The leaf’s sparkling greenery and untamed glory
Against dull grey wet environment; aroused pleasure for a moment
Bent it and spread to on the basket
One after other, covered whole circle
With a last piece in the middle
Circular basket turned pentagon; heart winning masterpiece was born
The basket was bed; fishes arranged as roses
As if bed of newly married couple
Pebble bringing enchanting ripple
Though dead, they were all alive; like large bees in hive
Twinkling scales not less than diamond
Adorning eyes like tender soaked almond
With lightning speed, took out a huge knife
Cruelty at its peak, but supporter of their life
I guessed what would happen next
The knife be felled on the fish’s chest
No, no I was a bit wrong! Held it gently humming a song
Touched against his forehead with eyes closed; Was he Janus-faced?
Consecrated the lifeless piece of iron, induced life in it
That turned living fish dead with a single hit
Plucked diamonds out of each rose
Chanted something, seemed pious, devotion overdose
Throughout this the humming prevailed;
Left me only wondered
Was it a piece of prayer?
Moving swiftly through the lips of a butcher
But accepted at the doors of the Forgiver
Who hailed not in where I believed
But in abode of perfection, He resided
He is with them, in struggle and pain
No reason to lament until perfection is their strength!
So by now you might have realized how unique the experience was, witnessing the soulful work of the fish mongers. However, words are really meagre to explain that divine experience. The green banana leaves that the fish mongers used were properly cut in regular patterns which covered the baskets leaving no trace of gaps between them. The fishes were laid gently over it and the pattern resembled the ones that we observe usually in Kaleidoscopes. The grey fishes looked glittery silver colored and perhaps the color glowed brilliantly amidst the lustre of the green leaves against the dull grey background.
I referred “Plucking diamonds out of each rose” wherein I refer to the scales of the fish as diamonds and the roses as fish. This is because, whenever a person purchased those fishes, the mongers pulled out the scales which were a bit bigger, so swiftly, that it seemed as if someone is plucking out diamonds growing on a tree. The very act of chopping the fish is laid with lesser stress in the poem as it did not seem to be an act of cruelty, rather it was performed so gracefully that it appeared to be an act of worship.
This really makes me ponder. Does the so called Supreme Being, God, dwell in places where we suppose him to be? If yes, then there would not have been any heinous inhumane acts in the places of worship. Rather, He dwells where a person toils hard in the sun. The sweat of labour is the proof of his existence. The more perfection inherent in the work, the more it is likely that He is present in that work. As rightly said by Shri Basavanna, “Kayakave Kailasa”, which translates to: Work is indeed your Heaven. Our work should be our means of worship. When everyone abides by this on a very serious note, only then this whole world would turn to be a blissful abode and a conducive place to dwell.