Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Hoisting National Flag

Every year I unfurl the National Flag twice and every single time I feel the goose bumps. I feel proud to belong to this country, to be a part of it. I know, it was not me who decided to be born here, it could have been any place in the world. But I have grown my roots here, I draw my sustenance from this soil, I owe to this land.

Tricolured flag is the symbol of this land to which I am grateful to bring me up. When I unfurl the flag, I feel that warm flush flow down my spine, eyes moisten, chest swell. I have a spring below the feet. I feel good. I feel as if the ‘I’ has transformed into ‘we’. I see myself as part of the multitude of people around me, as part of the sea, the rivers, the hill , the forests, the green paddy field stretching till the horizon, the sand dunes of the desert, the speck of the dust hanging over open coal fields.

Exit the Grand Old Cartoonist of Bengal

Chandi Lahiri, often referred as the Grand Old man of Indian cartooning breathed his last in Kolkata on 19 January 2018 after a brief illness. He was 86.

Born on March 13, 1931, in Nabadwip, West Bengal,  Lahiri was one of foremost cartoonists of Bengal. He was the pioneer of ‘pocket’ cartoons in Bengal. His success in this sphere led others to follow in his steps. His cartoons have an easy charm, although they could be at times severely pungent.

Like his flowing cartoons, his life was also full to turns and twists. He got involved in active politics at a very tender age of 13. In 1952 he started work as a journalist with the Dainik Lok Sevak but it wasn’t until 1961 that he started drawing cartoons and writing humourous and satirical pieces.

He started contributing pocket cartoons to the Hindustan Standard, the English daily from the Ananda Bazaar Patrika Group. His pocket cartoons immediately became a huge hit with the readers. Subsequently, he joined the ABP group as a cartoonist in 1961. Chandi Lahiri was one of the youngest avant garde cartoonists when he started drawing his ‘Third Eye View’ for the Hindustan Standard. Later on, he started contributing pocket cartoons in the Bengali daily Ananda Bazar Patrika, under the title Tirjok (angular).  His cartoons covered a wide field- social, political, sports, civil life, etc. Some of his political cartoons created uproar in Parliament and the State Legislature.

Lahiri has written several books on cartoon and cartoonists in Bengali and English both for children and for adults. He has extensively drawn comics for children. He has created two unforgettable characters: Michke and Nengti.  Generations of Bengali kids grew up adoring these two lovable characters.

An anthology of his cartoons has been published titled Chandi looks around, Visit India with Chandi. He has also contributed to several foreign journals and drawn illustrations for many books.

He has also written and compiled serious research-based books on cartoons and cartoonists:  ‘Since Freedom: A History in Cartoons 1947-1993’, Cartooner Itibrita, Gaganendranather Cartoon O Sketch and Bangalir Ranga Byanga Charcha. He documented cartoons and cartoonists of Bengal like no other researcher did.

Chandi Lahiri has always been ‘young at heart’, never shying away from the application of new technology to enhance the visual appeal of his art.  He has made several animation films including ‘Under the Blue Sky’. He made a popular television serial (Chandipath). In an interview with Mumbai Mirror he said, “Chandipath is a frontrunner in terms of creating a new format of a comic show on television and awaits the day when national television will replicate its style to make the country laugh at its follies and foibles”

Lahiri was a symbol of grit and determination. Quite early in his life, he had lost his arm in a tram accident. But he overcame that hurdle with his immense inner strength.

He was married to the batik artist Tapati Lahiri. They had a daughter, Trina Lahiri, who was a mass communication teacher and a paper filigree artist. Despite his advancing age, Lahiri was very active in drawing cartoons and was engaged in various social activities till his death.

With his death Bengal lost its Grand Old Cartoonist.

Water

Grandfather saw it in River.

Father saw it in Well

I see it in the Tap

Our children will see it in Bottle.

Where will our grandchildren see it?

In Capsule!

If we still neglect, it will only be seen in Tears.

(Courtesy: Social Media)

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The columnist, a journalist turned media academician lives in Central Odisha town of Dhenkanal. He writes fiction and plays. English translation of his Odia novel Yamraj Number 5003 is shortly being published.

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