Apu crosses the horizon


At Nischindipur, on the Ichamati river,

lived Harihar and Sarbojaya, with daughter Durga, son Apu,

and Indir Thakrun, a distant cousin of Harihar.

Harihar, essentially an artist, was a priest;

Sarbojaya, a strong yet mild woman.

Durga's world was her brother, and, of course, Indir Thakrun.

Apu, born in a cold month, brought warmth in the family.

Optimistic Harihar waited for the fortune to return

so he could write poetry again.

Years pass. Apu starts school.

Small joys keeps Durga happy.

Harihar leaves home, for better times.

Jaya waits for the better times.

Arouses in Durga the sense of family,

and in Apu grows the sense of wonder.

Comes Baisakh, there is Kaalbaisakhi.

Durga is deliriously happy, gets drenched,

catches cold, end comes too soon, in her mother's arms.

Apu is bewildered and lonely.

Shattered, family decide to leave Nischindipur,

in the hope for greener pasture, to Benaras.

Sunsets in through the cloud, for a new beginning.

So lyrical is the story, yet there is no song.


The tale of Apu continues in the environs of holy Ganga.

The wide-eyed wonder Apu is now a curious teenager,

getting intellectual and spiritual moorings.

Springs in individuality. There is poignant conflict.

There is gradual estrangement, from mother.

Harihar dies in the environs of Ganga.

'Birds wheel across the sky'.

Apu awakens, penniless.

Sarbojaya decides to return to the city her uncle lived.

Begins another phase in Apu's journey.

He is unfit in the new life;

not ready to play the role his father played.

He wants to go beyond the village life,

to quench his thirst for knowledge.

Mother doesn’t like her son's going away.

Apu leaves, nevertheless, leaving his mother alone.

Mother's love assails him, but doesn’t drown.

Apu manages to live in moments of transition.

Mother lives a lonely life; all she hopes for is Apu's return.

Without Apu she is a listless shadow, gazing at a pond,

'where fireflies weave their pattern of light.'

'On a night sparkling with dancing fireflies', mother dies.

The son grieves; yet carries on with his new life.


In Calcutta, Apu lives in a rented room, next to a railway yard,

unemployed, yet unfazed.

Then life takes a turn, unexpectedly, a chance occasion.

He gets married, to his friend’s cousin.

Apu seems fulfilled, surrounds by his unaffected,

unlettered chance-wife Aparna, brought up in affluence.

Apu makes intellectual adjustments with poverty.

There is love. There is honesty. There is a tragedy.

Aparna dies in childbirth. The child remains.

Apu’s world shatters. He reproaches his son for causing the death of his wife.

He forsakes the child, to lead a wanderer’s life.

Kajol, the son, in the meanwhile grows wild,

vents frustration, shoots at birds.

Time takes its own time.

Father comes back.

Son overwhelms the father.

Apu is not the father Kajol imagined him to be.

Apu wins over Kajal, after initial hesitation,

becomes the friend of the little boy.

The father leaves, carrying son on his shoulders.

There is hope for a new beginning.


Apu crosses the horizon,

leaving footprints all around.