Have you ever got tired of living in you? I have. I, no longer wish to live in me. It’s like multiple 7 year hitches. It’s like not wanting to wear the same dress every single day.
It often amazes me when people say … We must meet new people! Why? Is it because they are so tired of meeting themselves every single day of their lives that they feel the need to reach out to others who are equally bored of themselves. I am bored of myself and I am bored of meeting other people. It’s about no longer wanting to be who you are. Popli suffers from the same sense of self loathing … But … Popli decided to be Alisa, Marie and Sophie … Only to find herself desperate to go back to being Popli.
Popli. What a Name? She often wondered why on earth did her parents choose the worst possible name for her. Her resentment, literally, begins with the name. Anything could have been better. Even a more commonplace Neha or Pooja would have been acceptable so long as it did not make her sound like a spoilt brat of four. She isn’t four. She is fourteen and she can’t wait to turn eighteen. Eighteen, that magical number which will certainly make her the master of her own life. When she will be able to decide the whats, whens, whos and hows of her life. When a Man and not Maths will touch her. Popli wants to escape Kolkatta for her dreams go beyond Kolkatta.
In the staid straits of Kolkatta, where music, culture, impending revolutions, bandhs and mishti doi are as much a part of existence as food, clothing and shelter, lives Popli Gangopadhayay! It’s the story of her complex relationship with her own self. A die hard Urmila Mantodkar fan, Popli wants to call herself something exotic … Look beautiful and dance to the tunes of Rangeela! She has big dreams. Dreams of a bigger and a better life in which she is called Anamika which literally and in her case figuratively refers to a nameless woman.
Her titivating ways, fluttering eyelashes, provocative dressing before a full length mirror makes her abhor her present dusky, 14, school going self. Being an only child born to a middle aged couple, she feels like a prisoner to their age and the greatness of West Bengal. She can’t wait to un-Bengali herself. The Sridevi calender hanging from the white chipping walls of her house is full of crosses. Popli patiently crosses yesterday in the hope that today shall pave way for the tomorrow she dreams of.
Popli with her slim yet full figure, mass of black wavy hair cascading down her shoulders, liquid brown eyes, considers herself attractive. She, however, knows that she isn’t an enchantress waiting to be discovered so that one day she is taken on the celluloid to dance around the trees. She knows that she has to “run and reach” the trees she wants to dance next to. She knows that the city of joy will have to be relinquished in the favour of the city of dreams.
Her first experiment with truth “of hormones” was conducted in the laboratory of her tutelage. Arindam Bagchi. A man who was as Bengali as a Bengali can get. Music, culture, impending revolution, bandhs and mishti doi! Arindam comes from New Jalpaiguri, a 100th satellite town of the 100th satellite town of Kolkatta. Born in the birthplace of Naxalism, usually “high” on Marx, Marijuana and Machchli, Arindam wants to go back in history at a time when West Bengal was the Presidency of Calcutta and every single household in Calcutta could be a potential breeding ground of revolution.
Apart from Maths, Popli and Arindam shared little until love happened. Popli hates Kolkatta and loves Mumbai. Arindam loves Kolkatta and hates every other place on earth. But when has cupid ever bothered about such trivialities.
It is a story about Popli and Arindam. It is a story about changing identities to have an identity; of running away from yourself; and of giving up everything which is so you.
My next few blog posts will unravel different layers of Popli. You shall travel with her and even though you might want to give up on her, you wouldn’t be able to because there is a Popli in each one of us and she is waiting (and desperately wanting) to “pop” out.
Much love … Sugarsatchet!