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  • Anupam Sen Gupta

The Tantrik

I was never a typical ‘good boy’. In those days, good boys would be the ones who scored above 60 per cent and would complain about the ‘bad boys’ like us to the class teacher.

While talking about percentages and scores, anybody with 60 % and above was considered an intelligent student who understood all the stuff in the books. Their parents would distribute sweets and throw parties to celebrate. Once in a while, if I managed 60 and above in a certain subject, I would myself take sweets and visit neighbours; especially ones with girls my age.

Anyways, after going to high school i.e. from grade 6th onward, I began to behave very differently than other boys of my age. Blues Rock music and Hippie aesthetic sound had entered my system. I knew everything that I was doing wasn’t going well with my family and the neighbourhood. But who cared!

For me, life had suddenly changed from dreams of 4 stripes on the bridge of a cargo liner to bylanes of Calcutta to find good Mary Jane which came from Kerela or Manipur those days.

I was living or maybe trying to live the life of ‘Flower Power’. The life at Woodstock ‘69.

So every year, I would get promoted with a warning or parental undertaking. By the time I was in grade 7th for the first time, I’d started experimenting with chemical drugs like Mandrax. Actually, most of our locality boys had started popping in pills by the early 80s.

Suddenly, the ‘blue-eyed boy’ became the boy whom South Calcutta mothers detested me. They would go to all extents to protect their kids from a guy like me who played Jimi Hendrix, heard CCR and smoked Led Zep. Even before that, songs like, “I’m Your Captain’ had rocked the hell out of me. All that I was doing was sacrilege !

I really don’t know what I was rebelling against but I was liking the freedom. Relatives soon began to discard the ‘scion’ of the family. So while at the height of complaints and threats of throwing me out of school, some relatives were making sure that my cousins stayed away from me.

During this time, an extended family member forced my mother to take me to a Tantrik. Now in the land, I come from, people run to Tantriks even if they fail to get an erection. Besides, trying all sorts of black magic (Tantra is no black magic please!) for all sorts of problems was very common.

So, one day I found myself being forcefully taken to a Tantrik in the neighbourhood. The extended family member was certain that the Tantrik could change my fortune and make sure that I scored over 60 % in my annual exams.
Well well. I entered this man’s room which had an idol of Tara and the walls were filled with photos of ‘Gods’. The place smelt of flowers and incense sticks. Thankfully when the Tantrik asked me why my eyes were red. I had the excuse of diverting attention from my Mary Jane habit and blamed it on the incense sticks.

After a long process of what I couldn’t understand, he gave me two small parcels wrapped in white cloth and tied with white thread. Both were smeared with Sindoor (vermillion). First, it felt spooky but then he’d promised that I’d come 1st in the class. So I kept one in my pencil box and one inside one of the pockets of my school bag when I returned home.

My mother was angry with the extended family members but I guess it was too late.

Soon, I rode to my school on my bicycle. It was the first day of my annual exams. Midway, a double-decker bus lightly touched my cycle. A light touch of a double-decker bus was like a Patton tank blowing your head off.

I fell down. My cycle got a little damaged. And out fell one of the Sindoor smeared packets. But by the time, I could pick it up, an old Standard Herald drove over it.

Fixing up my cycle, I reached school pretty much in time to write my exams. Every day, I made sure not to forget the packets given by the Tantrik when writing my exams.

After the exams got over, my curiosity became uncontrollable. I needed to know what was inside the parcels. I opened both the parcels that the Tantrik had given me. From both came out a scroll rolled up and covered with dry leaves.

I opened the scrolls. It read, “ If you open it, you’ll fail your exams!” was written in microscopic Bangla. Scared, I never told anybody that I’d taken out the scroll.

The extended family member was sure that I’ll score the highest and break the illusion people had about me. The illusion of being a ‘Bad Boy’.

A month later, my reports were out and not much to my mother’s surprise, I had flunked.

Angry, disappointed and feeling cheated, I went to the Tantrik with a couple of grown-up boys to bash the hell out of him.

By the time we reached, there was a huge ruckus in front of his house. Neighbours had gathered and it looked like trouble. On enquiring, we figured out that the Tantrik’s son too had failed in his pre-board exams despite magic parcels given to him by his father.

The boy, Monu, had even called the cops and was wanting to file a First Information Report against his father for cheating.

It took neighbours to calm Monu down. When we asked him about the parcels that his father had given him, he said that he too had opened them to find, “ If you open it, you’ll fail your exams!”


(disclaimer - images have been sourced from the internet. we don't have any claim on them. used as reference)


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