There are some who will bring a smile to your face the moment their thought crosses your mind, there are some whom you would not even remember after a brush in an evening while there are some who would earn your respect by the sheer weight of their personality but there would always be one who would change the way you think leaving an indelible imprint on your mind, on your life.
I don't know whether Saumyajit has changed my life. Now is not the time to be the judge of that. Maybe, 20 years later, when I start doing a post mortem on my life. But surely the association which started about 15 years back has transformed my thoughts, recalibrated my principles, allowed me to break the greatest barrier known to man - to unshackle the mind and allow it to be free.
I was batting in an absolutely trivial match in my locality where it was a question of life and death to win or lose when I saw this book with a white cover with a rose on top which said "Love Story". At 17, when your life is pretty much on a diet dished out by parents based on the foundations of their moral and ethical fabric, the word 'love' was meant to be uttered in hushed tones, the word 'kiss' used only while cuddling babies and 'sex' meant only checking boxes in forms where you had to specify gender. So, on looking at that book with wide eyed wonder, my exclamation caught him off-guard and he straight away shoved it in my hand. A bit hesitant, I enquired the likely reaction of my parents if they were to catch me reading such a book, to which his nonchalant reply was to first ask them to read that!
That was the book. I had not read anything like that before. It was an appetizer to a sumptuous never-ending meal. After that, at periodic intervals, I would ask him what to read and would have some of the best times of my life poring over his recommendations. And then discuss them with him. His method, or an agenda, I doubt if there was one, was to just throw up a question and let me be with that. In one discussion I remember having being critical of people indulging in sex with reckless abandon, only in pursuit of physical pleasure. His response was "what is wrong with that?" To this day, I do not have an answer to that and possibly this question was the genesis to me thinking about everything and questioning all till I found an answer which would either have a rational backing or an emotional one.
And then came the movies. An ardent follower and admirer of Hollywood, this was a dessert which I had not had an exposure to. That words have power, that melodrama may not be the only method of expression that grief and love has a refined intensity which is much more endearing and intoxicating is something which the movies of the 50s and 60s have made me realize.
What this exposure has inadvertently done is to make me a trfile snooty and utterly dismissive of people who do not read or watch stuff which you wont even remember a moment of barely a minute after you have finished it. I seem to have lost some of my humility in the process but what I have gained in the process is many times more gratifying.
So here is to Saumyajit. May all of the 'spidermans', wherever they are, always have a Saumyajit at some point of time in their life - maybe not to change them, maybe not to do anything but just maybe to make them realize that the liberation of the mind is the greatest instrument of experiencing the divine taste of freedom.