A sudden friendship, a sudden discovery of similar interests created my bond with Paulami Duttagupta, compiler of the book Marijuana Diaries. I liked being with her, I liked hanging out with her, which prospered my love for her. It was reciprocated with equal zeal and we thought of working together, write a book perhaps. When we met around June 2014, Paulami didi, as I lovingly call her, told me of making an anthology, a dream she has conceived for long. In her unique panache, she declared the name of the book: Marijuana Diaries and wanted me to be a part of it.
“It’s on addiction”, said Paulamididi and then the theme of Marijuana Diaries was created.
Sipping iced tea and strolling on the lush green Jadavpur University campus, we talked, catching up with each other. As we chatted, I narrated how I was excited about the FIFA World Cup 2014 and how badly I wanted Argentina to win.
“Football”, Paulamididi exclaimed. “Why don’t you work on football as an addiction, kiddo, since you are so into the game?”
Football!! Ah yes, apart from writing, football is one of my passions. But I really never thought of combining the both, perhaps never got the guts to. But Paulamididi insisted I should and she literally pushed me into it.
Soon after the world cup, I went to USA to visit dada ( my elder brother) and my pregnant didi ( because I don’t believe in the social bond of sis-in-law; she is my elder sister !! Period !!) Born and brought up in a family of football lovers, with dada, jyatha and baba literally worshipping and celebrating the game, I have been an Argentine fan and a crazy Barca and Mohun Bagan supporter since my childhood. So is my didi. When I told them about Marijuana Diaries, they, too like Paulamididi encouraged me to go with the story.
Writing a short story is quite a difficult task, at least to me, for I am a novice in the field. So many emotions, loud and subtle had to be tweaked in a few pages. It demanded time, it demanded dedication, it demanded research. Dada, in spite of his busy teaching schedule at Wichita State University, and didi with her complicated advanced pregnancy gave me time, they read and re-read as I kept on editing. And finally, I submitted my story: All for a Game.
Submitting the story was just a part of the journey. I got connected to my co-authors, some of whom became close to me, especially Rubinadi, Ahanadi and Nivedita. There are a few others like Janaki (also my fellow The Book Club member ) , Tahmina and others whom I am knowing.
As I write this piece, the images of two persons flash before my mind, whose presence I miss. My lachrymose words breathe in their void. Football and literature would not have been complete without jyatha (my uncle) , Late Souren Dutta ( pseudo name : Sri Partha ) who was a writer and a translator. I miss you, jyatha. The other wise old man is my grandfather, Late Sushil Mukhopadhyay (founder member and first president of The Book Sellers’ and Publisher’s Guild, Kolkata). You have been my inspiration, my guiding stars.
Marijuana Diaries is my debut as a football writer and the support and appreciation I received encouraged me to write for the popular football blog, GOALden Times. Every day is a new experience for me.
And now comes the acknowledgement part. Well, I know ‘ thanks’ is just a silly thing to say when I try to express how much your presence and help mean to me and keep me going; so here is “this means a lot list”:
Jyatha: I don’t know where you are, I don’t know if you can see me , it’s just that I miss you, I wish I could run into your arms with the book and I knew I would have been a better writer had you been there with me. I miss you jyatha . 😦
Dadabhai (my grandfather): I don’t know if I am your worthy successor. All I can say is that I am trying. You are an inspiration and I wish you could have at least lived a few years to see your grandchild choosing the path you have strove through.
Dada (Atri Dutta): You are my best friend, my inspiration and an amazing man. From football to literature, you inspired me at every turn. You supported me when nobody else in the family supported my choosing of arts and my writing. You are my hero and yes, Baakyo is very lucky to have you as his father because I have gone through similar stage and I owe all my happy childhood memories to you. Thank you for tolerating all the bad I have. I love you.
Didi ( Lipilekha Mukherjee Dutta): I don’t care what the society says. I only care about what the heart says. You are the angel who showed me how to love, who molded me, who gave me a shelter when I was lost. You show me how to struggle, you guide me with your wisdom, you pamper me like a sister and love me like a mother. I can’t imagine my life without you. Love you.
Baakyo( Ahon Dutta) : You, my little prince, are the joy of my life. You heralded a new eon for me. Love you sweetie pie.
Paulami Duttagupta : Paulamididi, it has been an honor to become a part of your team. Hope I haven’t disappointed you. You are one of the very few I met in the writing world, and became close to. Love you.
Ma, mummum and baba: Thank you for finally giving up on me and letting me follow my heart.
Rubina Ramesh and Ahana Mukherjee: You two are darlings, Rubinadi and Ahanadi. Friendship comes with ‘age-no-bar’. Such wonderful darlings you are!! 🙂
Janaki and Nivedita: I am slowly getting to know you and you two are extremely nice. Honored to share the space with you.
Sudipto Das: You are an amazing writer and a wonderful friend, Sudiptoda. I have rarely seen someone who works diligently for a novel. You have been an inspiration to me, always. Thank you 🙂
Ankan : The ‘bestie’ bond comes with ‘no-thanks tag’. You are one of my big critics and I love you for that. I am very happy for the success of your film, SLUT. All the best, Director Sahab.
Chiquita : I won’t say anything because of I-know-the- reasons. Whatever it is , seriously, means a lot. *hugs* 😉 😛
Aniesha : Thank you so much for the appreciation. This really means a lot because you are a wonderful writer yourself too. 🙂 Good luck with Guitar Girl.
Sobhan : Younger than me, you are a lot wiser, a diligent and wonderful writer. Thanks for inspiring me 🙂
Srabani, Rini, Sumana , Mimidi, Shayak Ganguly , Rweetodarshi Sarkar, Tilak Dutta, Kanad Basu, Debraj Moulick, Samayita ,Varsha Das: Thank you everyone for the support.
I am also indebted to my team of GOALden Times , Debojyoti Chakraborty( DC), Indranathda ( boss), Anweshanda, Saumyajitda, Priyadarshinidi, Srinwantuda, Sauravda,Subhashis sir Debopamda and others for helping me learn the tricks of writing football literature and making me a part of GOALden Times.
Marijuana Diaries has been a wonderful journey with bitter-sweet experiences. Thank you all for being there.