Charge of the wife brigade

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 15.04.12

When the road around CAP Camp Island in Salt Lake was blocked on the evening of April 5, people thought it was an extension of the auto agitation. But as passengers got off their vehicles and started walking, they were in for a bizarre sight: the road was being held to ransom by women and children! Residents of Calcutta Armed Police residential campus were protesting water shortage.

“Police-er boura poth aborodh korechhey! (Wives of cops are blocking the road)” laughed a vendor in the vicinity, as his friend retorted in jest: “Haatey belun na jhata (Armed with rolling pins or brooms)?” Neither actually. The women had sticks and branches in their hands. They had dragged concrete slabs to the middle of the road and sat on them. The children looked delighted. Perhaps skipping tuitions that evening, they sat chatting and waving and grinning at television cameras that had come to film them. Some youngsters wrote “We want water” and “No entry”with chalk on the road while one tween was seen scribbling a newly learnt expletive. One boy showed up in an Argentina jersey and played football in the cordoned-off area.

While buses, cars and autos were inconvenienced trying to reverse and take another route, a rickshaw had almost slipped past the agitators. But the women tucked their anchals into their waists and ran to stop it. The older teenagers joined in and the younger ones took out their cellphones to capture videos of the action.

The agitators stated they would not move till they got water. There was no way the earthly authorities could have obliged soon, but up up and up went their prayer, and down came a heavy shower. Within 10 minutes of making the assertion, they were nowhere to be seen on the road. This was not the water they were looking for.

Playwright’s bust

It is widely known that Kshirode Prasad Vidya Binode (picture below) had written the popular play Alibaba. But perhaps it is not a well known fact that the thespian Sisir Kumar Bhaduri began his professional career with Kshirode Prasad’s play Alamgir.

The playwright was born in Khardah on April 12, 1863, in the Bhattacharya family. He had joined Khardah Banga Vidyalaya and passed his upper primary examination in 1874 when his name was Kshirode Chandra Bhattacahrya. But he fell ill and after his recovery joined the Barrackpore Government School when he was renamed Kshirode Prasad Bhattacharya. He passed his entrance examination in 1881 and joined General Assemblies, which subsequently was named Scottish Church College. After postgraduation he joined Chandernagore Dupleix College as its chemistry teacher, and General Assemblies thereafter.

Apart from stories, novels and poetry, he had written the plays Banger Pratap Aditya, Palashir Prayashchitta, Nabanarayan and Dada Didi. The British government had banned Palashir Prayashchitta and Dada Didi because of its alleged seditious contents. Kshirode Prasad had joined the movement protesting the partition of Bengal in 1905. He also edited the journal Aloukik Rahasya. He lived in Bagbazar and died on July 4, 1927 in Bankura. Kshirode Prasad’s bust was installed on the premises of Sri Guru Granthalaya on the initiative of this library in Khardah, the Khardah municipality and Sutanuti Boimela Committee on April 12. The playwright’s descendants were present at the function.

Theatre fest

A seven-day theatre fest has been organised in the city for a cause. Banga Natya Samhati, founded in 1992, is a welfare body for theatre artistes and technicians in need. From April 20 to 26, the Samhati will stage seven major plays at Madhusudan Mancha to augment its funds. To be inaugurated by Soumitra Chatterjee and Sunil Gangopadhyay on April 20 at 5.30pm, the festival will present Anya Theatre’s Hamlet on the opening night followed by Shohan’s Helmet. On April 22, Swapna Suchana will present Kanyadan, directed by Bratya Basu, while Natyaranga will stage Sri Sambhu Mitra on April 23. Nandipat’s Srinawntu Comrades by Bibhas Chakraborty will be followed by Sayak’s Pinki Buli. Manoj Mitra’s new play Aschourjo Funtosee is on April 26.

(Contributed by Brinda Sarkar, Soumitra Das and Sebanti Sarkar)