There we were inching (milli-metering, more likely) towards Mallickpur through incredibly congested, narrow roads in the HUMID HEAT. Adding to the general misery were raucous announcements from loudspeakers on lamp posts about a "Swecha Rakta Dan Shibir" - blood donation camp organised by a political party.
But apparently things weren't going too well. The announcer kept asking shop owners to come and donate blood or send an assistant (if they were too busy), targetting some shops repeatedly by taking their names and interspersing the name taking with guilt inducing stories:
How so and so had come all the way from Jhargram and donated quite a few pints; some one else from far off Jaggadal (if one were to believe with the sole purpose of donating blood here, in this camp in a bylane at one extreme end of Kolkata) etc. The best story of them all was that of an elderly lady which the announcer relayed, his voice choked with emotion:
- She said to me ...will u take my blood? Will you? - Why not ma? Why not indeed? If you can come all this way, we will be honored to take your blood, (unlike the blood sucking leaches who prefer hiding behind their counters making money and not bothering about their social responsibility). And so on...
It was another life time ago that Netaji inspired countless through his soul stirring "Give me your blood...". But that was an extra ordinary situation and time with extra ordinary men and women.
Even so, one could hardly ever imagine that those same lines would one day be used on Sharma Stores, Mitra Bhandar, Pintu Pharmacy, Bannerjee Bedding etc in a cringe inducing, guilt rousing, cajoling, coaxing way....making the Swechcha Rakta Daan Shibir not quite so voluntary. Hope the blood donation camp was a successful one. His histrionics made us forgot our irritation at the traffic and just as we were getting quite fond of the loud disembodied voice at the mike, the snarl - unsnarled, and we moved on and if truth be told, a wee bit sorry that we couln't hear him anymore.