It is said that the memories of one’s growing years form the deepest impressions. Nothing could be truer. In the mid-1950s I spent my early years in Calcutta when the city’s culture was a blend of the colonial times and the first flush of independence. It was an interesting mix which made Calcutta one of the most livable cities in the country. Optimism and hope mingled with old world charm to offer the denizen the best of both worlds.
As a 10-year old student of the Our Lady Queen of the Mission School referred to in this story, the Anglo-Indians made a big impact on me. Especially the flamboyant sort who rode powerful motorcycles with sexy girls in short skirts riding pillion. As I grew older, this community dwindled in number, as many of them migrated to the UK, Australia, Canada and other places around the world.
This community was born out of the union of British men and women of Indian origin in early colonial times. This union was encouraged by the rulers to expand their presence significantly. It created for them a workforce for top positions in the railways, missionary schools, customs, excise, posts & telegraph and forest departments and elsewhere. Their control was complete and the Anglo-Indians were more British in their ways than the British themselves.
This story is about a married Anglo-Indian who falls in love with an Indian boy young enough to be her son. The story also refers to the deep-rooted scar of the white-skin complex left by the Anglo-Indian community which continues to exist to this day. Though a piece of fiction, the story draws heavily from incidents I was witness to during my growing years.
I hope that I have been successful in my attempt. For this story is my tribute to the city I cherish. A place of which I have the fondest of memories. Strange as it may sound, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit it ever since I left it half-a-century ago. I hope both, the city and I, won’t be separated for much longer anymore.