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Phenomenology of Non-Factual Intersubjective Practice
Translation of an excerpt from Abanindranath Tagore's Apan Katha (Self-Story)
by Debashish Banerji
At That Time, Re-membering the Third Floor House, An Excerpt from 'Cyclone'
This I know then - there is day, there is night, and the two don't come together to our third floor. This also I have known - breeze, one is cold, one is hot, but neither has a palm leaf umbrella in his hand. Sun burns, rain wets their bodies. This also I have learnt that sometimes a crowd of sunshine entering from outside at once lays each a mat by the window and sits to bask in the sun. Once in a while a someone sunshine suddenly arrives through the open window at the crack of dawn. At a corner of the bed he/she sits waiting for us to leave then quickly rolls about on the pillow, the cotton mat, the coverlet. Then, swiftly, in fear of getting caught, leaving the bed it climbs up to the rafters. Close to the rooftop in a an alcove live two blue pigeons I know, as soon as it is light they start their memorizations - paak-pakaam mejdi sejdi. Little finger says khabo, ring finger says kothay pabo, middle finger says dhaar koro ge, another finger, its name I don't know, but it says I know, sudhbo kise. Thumb says lobodonka. Whatever that is, looks like a chili and tastes hot or sweet I'm unsure, but to shout the word is fun. Finding the smallest crack in the closed shutter I know night comes, on some days, a drop of light like a white butterfly with its wings folded, on my pillow it sleeps. On covering with the hand it rises from below the palm and walks about on the hand surface. So swift so small it is, that even a pillow cannot hold it down, quickly it climbs to the top of the pillow. If I lie on my back upon it, I see boring through my neck it is seated on top of my nose; only when I climb face down on it is it in trouble - it is absolutely trapped, this I have learnt with certainty.
Before learning to read, before learning even to see hear walk talk, there were no books then to teach children about stars, earth, animals, sky, trees, countries. No authors even perhaps, so a little I know by myself, a little by watching, a little through hard experience, a little by listening, some by thought.
Knowing comes this way to me today too - of all things - they arrive of their own to disclose themselves and offer themselves to the grasp. They arrive as if to play - I do not seek them out - of their own volition they come and catch my eye, show themselves in self-chosen forms and disappear like players at the end of the game. At that time, fifty years ago, it was the same. Not seeking I, all showing themselves to me, and in this manner my knowing of them intimately. Sunlight, wind, room, house, flower, leaf, bird was their experience a deception, or hiding their appearance did they come in enchanting forms to introduce themselves truly to me, who can set me right on this?
The house had made known to me then that it is third floor. That below the third floor there is another floor, which is called second floor and below that even there is a floor known as first floor, this the house had not then given me to know. But that it floats in water or air this deception the house had not asserted to me either. The house had told me no lie. Some portion of itself the house had kept concealed, some portion it had brought to my knowledge. But through concealment and disclosure it had brought itself to me as such a wonder to relate to, that no viewing of a picture of the entire house or engineer's plan or as in today's practice a walk-through of the property could have at all made possible. To the thirst for factual knowledge the house as a self-sufficient house stands always complete and knowable in all its parts which truly is not how it had shown itself to me. But that erstwhile second-floor-first-floor-less third floor house remains still a reality to me....