I took a while coming, but looks like Iím finally here.
This is for real. People are about to write their names all over me, and document me forever. That can only mean one thingóthat I mustíve arrived.
Let me tell you, the journey to Kolkata has been long, and arduous. I almost gave up, but some people didnít. A lady named Leela Gujadhur Sarup didnít, what a lady! Many winters ago she began researching her ancestors, and suddenly discovered their history in the archives of Kolkata. Most ladies would have gone back home content. But this lady was different.
Soaking in nostalgia, she insisted on having a memorial at the very place in Kolkata from where her ancestors set sail to Mauritius, long, long ago, sometime in the 19th century. And I dare think, there and then, an idea of me was conceived.
And then she moved all she could to get things done. She called up officer after officer in Delhi and Kolkata, Indiaís present and former capital cities. And knowing her, Iím sure they had no other way but to respond in double quick time. And so, she set hopeís boat sailing. She drove some crazy, and to some others she took kindlyóin fact one of them she drove to the port area and back in her own car, excitedly, of course, talking about her new found discovery. That was 2006.
And then things went into a deep freezer. Nothing moved, and you know moving the West Bengal Government is not the easiest task in the world. So my future lay in dark, no one quite knew whatíd happen to me.
Then one day, someone shook up a forgotten memorial file at a ministry in Delhi, flew down to Kolkata, and things were fine again. A man called Ashook (wonder why he spells it that way) Ramsaran flew down too, from far away New York in July 2010. His ancestors too had set sail, but they had gone beyond Mauritius, to a land they called Demerara. Remember the brown sugar that you put in your coffee? Now that was far, the Far West if you like. But he too was dripping nostalgia, and they joined forces. Relentlessly he took the message far and wide, and the diaspora rallied behind him.
There was now a new twist in this tale. I learnt that I was to be born, and that my fate would not be similar to that of millions of other noble ideas that are conceived in our country.
Well, it is all happening. Just listen to the stories people have to tell, read their tales, and know that Iím an idea whose time has come.
Long live those ancestors. Long live Garden Reach, my birth place.
óK.M.P. aka Kolkata Memorial Plaque, born 11.1.11