Swapan Kumar

He was a detective story writer who used to write in Bengali, which is my mother tongue. When I was a student of class seven, I started reading detective stories written by him. I was told by someone that he used to write at least one story every month, which was printed on the poorest quality newsprint and the cost of any of his book was never more than half a rupee, an amount good enough to buy a quarter liter of milk during those days. Like a daily newspaper, the cover pages of his books had almost the same thickness as the rest of the pages. The books used to be thin and were all of the same size, stapled instead of stitched and they fitted inside any open text book in such a way that nobody, neither my father nor my mother could ever realize that instead of doing our homework we were reading detective stories.

The name of the detective of his books was Mr. Deepak Chatterjee and his assistant was Mr. Ratan Lal. There was also another character in his books, the police inspector Mr. Gupta. On the cover page there used to be a poster type colored photo of the detective who was a sharp looking, medium built gentleman, wearing a black hat, having a thoughtful look and smoking from a pipe; his assistant who was strong and muscular, shooting at the villain from his pistol; the pistol, a ring of smoke, the bullet and the villain all coexisted in the cover photo and the bottom right corner of the front page was reserved for Mr. Gupta, wearing a khaki police uniform. The titles of few of his books were “Bite of the King Cobra”, “Disappearance of the Beautiful Actress” &C.

He had written many books but I read only few, not more than fifteen. Every single book that I had read, its ending was similar, almost the same. The detective and his assistant were overpowered by the criminals, they were brought inside a small room, hands tied with ropes from behind, mouths fastened tightly with clothes, and they were again tied together with a single rope, back to back; the room was locked from outside and it was gradually getting filled with water because the villain had opened a water tap immediately before locking the room from outside. When the water level had almost touched their chins, that too after they had kept their chins raised with their utmost efforts, Mr. Gupta, the police inspector kicked opened the door. Every single time I felt so relieved when Mr. Gupta had arrived before it was too late, that I had never asked myself how Mr. Gupta was not washed away by the huge volume of water that would be suddenly released when he would kick open the door, or from where he got so much of strength that he could open a door by a kick in spite of the presence of a large column of water behind the door, which should exert huge amount of pressure on it. By the time the two were rescued by Mr. Gupta only half a page would be left for the story to end and the villain would be caught, hand cuffed; the detective, his assistant and the police inspector would appreciate and thank each other for their good work and intelligence and the detective would lit his pipe for the last time.

I loved those stories very much and I read every single book written by him almost holding my breath. One of my big brothers liked it even more; he even decided to become a detective story writer. He wrote one detective story, which definitely had some resemblance with the stories written by this writer. Since that was his first literary work he read it in front of us, his brothers expecting to hear at least few good comments. We all started making fun of him even few of our neighbor boys had also joined us and started making fun of him. It is very difficult for a writer to write for the second time when his or her first work faces so much of criticism and he or she is ridiculed so brutally. My brother never wrote anything again. His desire to become a writer was nipped in the bud by his siblings and friends who expected nothing but the best starting from the very first work.

 

Author: Mintu Ghoshal.

Follow him on facebook: mintu.ghoshal.9

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