Sleep like I have no sense of time, sleep until I feel heavy…till I can close my eyes no more: it had been the most demanding day in a long while, I was on my way back, and this was all I could think about. Forget the assignments, the projects, the reviews, the essays, I just wanted to dissolve into my bed. The air was sultry and congested. The sun shone bright, as if ordering everyone to stay inside. I entered the lane to my house and found the rickshaw-walas already lost in their dreams, even the shops had their shutters down. Not one taxi was there on the road, and not a single kid was out to play. Life was silent on a forever busy street.
Well, what else do you need after a lifeless summer day? A heavy lunch, and a tank of sleep. I spent the first half hour in shifting my paper dump from my bed to the table, removing my laptop, putting the clothes and, finally I made space for myself on my bed. I shut the windows and bolted them tight, as I pulled the curtains a book fell off the sill. Only it’s corner was visible to me, but that was enough to muster the mysterious thoughts, to shape an imaginary world, to build dungeons, it was enough for me to tell what lay beneath the high mountains.
After ages perhaps I had found this book— Satyajit Ray's 'Sonar Kella’, the Golden Fort. It has been an icon, an era, a breath of imagination in the childhood of every Bengali for years now. Like a long lost addict who had found his fix again, I sat down with the book and started flipping through the pages…feeling their softness, re-reading my favourite episodes of Lalmohan Babu's curiosity over Aravalli ke daaku, shrewdness of Mandar Bose, the two Dr. Hazras, Mukul & his 'Sonar Kella', Feluda, Topshe, Jaisalmer…
I was on the brink of my deepest sleep...my head felt heavy. My room was dark; it was completely dark. I sensed something alien in there, something that felt not my own. All of a sudden I saw an orange-red spot moving towards me, it was creating a circle…a hypnotic circle. I heard a familiar voice...I knew that voice...my mother. I heard her speaking in another room, there was just a faint sound. As the red spot drew closer...her voice dropped in volume and her words in distinction. The voice now was husky, it was rather rough. My body started feeling heavier I couldn't turn my head, or shift my gaze. Two words rang distinctly in my ears…“Mukul…Sonar Kella”.
I was running; it felt like I was running…along the lanes of Jaisalmer. I knew that world from childhood. I have known it forever. I stumbled. I fell. I was alone, with no one to pick me up. No friends. No family. Not a single person in this world. The Castle of Gold stood right in front of me. I got up, walked to it and pushed in. The doors pulled me in like the arms of an old friend. It had everything that I love...or used to, things I used to do, things I used to be…my drawings, my poems, my favourite photos. I beamed with the eyes of wonder as the castle drew me deeper into it’s stomach. It had every happiness, every addiction, every preference I had lived off; it was the perfect world I had dreamt of, away from the competition and the race. Sonar Kella, this golden fortress, the castle of desire, treasures and dreams, I saw them all, lived them all again.
Suddenly, I was running again, away from all of it. I was still following the red spot, it was leading me down an abyss, a place where everyone was. I heard a familiar voice close by; my mother's voice, it was audible, distinct and real…
Did I ever really escape from the fort? Did I ever escape the red circle? Can I? Have you succeeded in escaping your lost desires? All of them. Or are they buried in a golden fortress waiting to be called and touched again?