The Unreal City



There are traces of Banaras everywhere I go. A certain street has the feel of the Market at Dalmandi. A certain fruits and vegetables market looks like Chandua Sattti. The aroma of the vapour rising from the thirsty stones is the exact replica of the early evening reaction of the water of Gangaji with the sandstone of ghats. Banaras has its own way of rising from the depths of the sub and unconscious minds to the front of conscious one.

In an extreme form of topophilia that is generally seen in exiles (the literature of Sindhis and Bengalis, exiles from Pakistan is full of the yearning for their “home”) the subject lives a dual kind of life: one in the real-physical world and the other in the “unreal” world that only exists in his mind. It’s his mental life and world that are real for him, and his physical existence is more like an intrusion, an unwelcome squatter on the time called his life.

Mostof them compromise. They compromise for various “practical” reasons. Their explanations range from simply structured plain excuses to full fledged, philosophically sound and rhetorically appealing theorem-like solutions that look and sound like a chain of self-evident truths linked with one another in a cause and effect relationship. Q.E.D. To each his own explanation then. What’s the resultant? An alienated being in an alien setting, with a thought in his mind: “What if I had returned?”

In the case of the Sindhi/Bengali (Hindu) diaspora, there never had been any possibility of return. Their home was snatched away. It’s loss was imposed upon them by powers beyond their reach or control. They were cursed to live a painful life in exile. That’s not the case of a Banarsi-in-exile. He could have returned, and can do so too, any time. Why then, does he continue his painful existence away from home? Why indeed?

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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