Proud to be acknowledged by #HokKolorob Facebook page. Please visit them (us) to show your support.
It was that kind of day when it
rained in Kolkata and it did not in Mumbai. It was also that kind of day when I
was hooked on news channels on television instead of browsing or reading.
|Photo courtesy: Ronny Sen (via Manali Roy). Ronny, if you object, please let me know before suing me. I will take it down.|
You see, along with the skies, Kolkata also poured down in Kolkata. For a cause; for a good cause; and they kept pouring through the day, taking on the rain and the administration: and how!
Let me be honest here: I had been losing faith on the city — the cosiest and homeliest of cities that has ever been — over the past decade. Kolkata still existed, and ruled, over my conscience: but did the people I know as Kolkatans exist anymore?
The city had started moving away from me. Initially I had felt that the problem lay with me, but others agreed. It was not the same city anymore. Roads remained derelict, the sky gray, cars numerous, people faceless; but the city had managed to move away from me. It had lost its compassionate face — the one we were used to grow up to.
Those outside Kolkata yearned to go back to the city, but almost never did. Those in the city were eager to leave. When electricity became surplus, the general consensus was that it was due to the lack of industry.
Then #HokKolorob happened.
The skies had opened to stop them. There were the rulers, who could have landed blows more brutal than they did that night. There were the opposition, who could have lured them to make this a political agenda.
But then, these were Gen-Y Kolkatans. The students of Kolkata: the ones we had dismissed, laughing at their overuse of SMS language and leet, rolling eyes at their IPL fanaticism, feeling frustrated at their seamless acceptance of western consumerism.
What we forgot that they were also the kick-arse generation of Kolkata. Unlike us, they were not going to take things down, just like that. They were going to hit back — in style.
Bathroom singers sang. Strangers held hands. Those who would not brave a walk to Dhakuria braved it. They sat down when they were not allowed to go further, but they refused to budge. They braved weather. They tweeted so vehemently that they made #HokKolorob a trending hashtag.
In other words, they did something we had only dreamed of doing: they got their job done — without resorting to violence — without coming under the wing of any political party — in a day.
They used technology: photographs were clicked, videos were shot, and everything was shared on social media. News of that night from Jadavpur University was all over social media before mainstream media had got a whiff of it.
The kids knew what to do; and did exactly that. They used social media to spread the message; and they went viral; and suddenly people started Googling for “HokKolorob”.
The rally was supposed to start at 2 PM. By 6 the count in the 3-mile long rally had crossed 50,000; the procession took 50 minutes to pass. The protestors sang, held proud (and water-proof) banners, and walked; and walked; and walked. The chant, for once, was not "In-clawb jinda-bawd."
The names of political parties were, I repeat, absent on the banners: if they were present, they were neutral, and were aimed at all parties, showcasing their attitude towards contemporary politicians).
There were others, too. The Jadavpur University alumni; students from other colleges; ex-students from other colleges (even 70-year olds); the ones that could not join protested from their own vantage points (this included Delhi) and promoted their movements on social media.
We, the ones past our mid-lives and in another city and itching to join them, were there, too. We were with them on the biggest city in the world: the internet. There we were, lending out our hands in whatever limited way we could. Re-tweeting and sharing was the least we could, and we did exactly that; #HokKolorob continues to trend.
I repeat, there was no political involvement. Neither did they throw stones or vandalise. There were no reports of ambulances, or any traffic, being held up by the rally. They were, after all, educated people with impeccable civic sense — unlike hired political employees who would come in truckloads to fill up numbers at Brigade for money and free lunch.
A cynic in me died today. I feel like letting the world know that Kolkata can, she still can if she wants to. I feel like yelling (which is not the most intelligent thing to do at midnight, more so given my voice) in elation; instead, I chose to write.
Kolkata is where she was. All she needed was a jolt.
Students are what they always used to be. All they needed was unity.
We can still hold hands to bring about revolutions. Maybe someday we will also bring down Bastille. And from these worst of times, there may arise, almost like a phoenix, the best of times.
#HokKolorob has possibly triggered that. We may not know it now, but we may have probably seen history unfold before our eyes.
I am proud to have witnessed September 20, 2014 unfold before my eyes. I am proud to have seen HokKolorob become a success.
Thank you for making a tired, pessimist, 37-year old cynic cry; and die. Sleep in peace, little veterans of war. It has been a long day. Thank you for letting me sleep in peace as well.