Panchkot and the Past

My friend Biplab sent me a new set of photos the day before yesterday. I had a long conversation with my uncle (the handsome gentleman whose picture with my beautiful aunt I had shared in a post) yesterday. These two random incidents had one thing in common (other than Kasi that is): Panchkot. I have posted material on the Ghat side of the compound in some of my previous posts. I used to go to meet somebody (I don’t remember name or any other detail) with my grandparents. I used to roam around in the temple compound. The temple (don’t remember whose) was to the left, facing it was a huge open air courtyard with Gangaji to its right. The courtyard had a flight of stairs at its left corner and the rest of it was parapeted, with a chabutra running through its whole remaining length. There were trees and freshness in the compound. Although not as big as Koochbehar Kalibari’s compound, Panchkot was spacious enough to fill a child’s life and imagination and to stay in his memory for a long time (nearly ever).

panchkot entr

(Photo: Mr. Biplab Goswami)

My uncle mentioned Panchkot while talking about his past. He is a kindred soul, my uncle, for various reasons. Our talk had started with a celebration: his celebration of India’s Independence Day in Hong Kong with other Indians, and how it was different from that in Singapore.  We were talking about how life makes choices for us (no he was talking, and I was imbibing it all) and he mentioned how he used to enjoy Kasi in his school and University days. I envy my uncle’s being more of a Banarsi than I am. I have never told him so. The same goes for my youngest uncle too, and my mamas. So, my uncle was reminiscing and he told me that I could never understand how much he missed his city and the time he had spent there. He told me how his father, i.e. my grandfather, used to sit with his friends in Panchkot chatting and having good time and how he used to be a witness of that celebration of life, of that adda, so full of joie de vivre! . The place was not very far from my ancestral house. It may not wholly be a coincidence that the house in which my grandfather used to live before shifting to our present house, is at a stone’s throw from Panchkot.

panchkot entrance

(Photo: Mr. Biplab Goswami)

Urballaghologically speaking, the city that he was remembering, the city of my olden days and the city that we have today, are not the same. They can’t be. For change is the only unchangeable law of nature. But change is of two types: good and bad. In his past and mine, the front gate of the compound used to be open, always wide open. Not even once had I seen the gate prohibitively locked, as it is in the image above. The lock at the gate has a symbolic significance too. It symbolizes change whose type that I’ll let the reader decide. It’s similar to the change that has engulfed B. H. U. This change is the same kind as that of the whole Kashi Vishwanath- Gyaan Vaapi compound. At least they waited fro something to happen before slapping change over those places. What reason did these people give before caging the spirit of the place?

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