There was a time, when you found storytellers at every bend. Over a cup of leebu-cha, in a crowded mini bus, in a perennially late local train, outside schools, offices, parks, plazas, markets, you had them everywhere. Admittedly they didn’t have a face. Ubiquitous, at times with a jhola over their shoulders, at others with an attaché on their lap, in a kurta or a bush shirt, they started off with their tales.

 

They spoke of Marxism and Sourav Ganguly; the rising price of Hilsa and how Siraj was betrayed by Mir-jafar; traffic signals and Jyoti Basu; Hemonto Mukherjee and George Bush; terrorism and Darjeeling tea; with such equivocal ease. Morning walks, office hours, the evening ride home, the after dinner addas, it pervaded all. It was as much about trips you never make, revolutions you never live to see, wars and concerts that have no impact on your lives, as rising prices of oil and inflation, circulation of newspapers and centuries of Sachin. About travelogues and book reviews, about music and manifestoes. A storyteller always had the last word.

 

Today, you don’t see them anywhere. On crowded buses, at parar more on Sunday evenings, coffee shops, book stalls: no, they are not there.

 

Or maybe, just maybe, you stopped listening long back.

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