Supurna Datta, 72, was a victim of the darkness at the Book Fair on Saturday. The wife of (late) Dipendra Nath Datta, the mother of writer Priyadarshi and the sister of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, narrates her experience.
As a mother, Saturday evenings programme at the Book Fair was of vital importance to me. It was the launch of my sons book, Priyadarshis Bishwa-Darshan (World-View).
He being away in America, it was entirely my responsibility to ensure the proper launch of the book. What unfolded, at the ill-managed Book Fair, was ridiculous at one level, heart-wrenching at another.
My ordeal began at the entrance to the fair, with no clear signage about where Gate No. 2 was, no route map on display, no policeman who knew what was happening and no organiser or volunteer to guide the aged and the not-so-mobile.
I finally did manage to hobble across the undulating surface and reach the UBI Pavilion.
Suddenly, the pavilion and the rest of the fair plunged into darkness. There were no emergency lights around and so we could do nothing but wait.
Thankfully, the lights soon came back on and we started our programme.
But even before the introductions about the author, my son, could be finished, the lights went out and the mikes died.
We were in the dark, again.
With no sign of power supply being restored, and everyone getting restive, it was decided that the book would be unveiled anyway.
Please shine the light of your cellphones, was the plea, as Nabaneeta Dev Sen got ready to do the honours.
So, in what must be a first in the world, my sons book was launched by the light of cellphones!
Did the inventors of the ubiquitous cellphone ever imagine that it would one day come to the aid of a mother as she despaired about launching her sons book in the darkness of the largest and most prestigious book fair in eastern India? Probably not.
The launch was barely done but the rest of the programme had to be aborted. So, my sons book on how the battle against AIDS and discrimination must be fought and won got lost in the bewildering darkness of the Calcutta Book Fair.
Who is to blame? The answer, too, seems shrouded in darkness.