By Rimli Bhattacharya
It was a cold winter evening. I said to my mother, “My friends have watched show and I want to, else I will go on a strike. I won’t touch my books.” That threat was enough for my mother to get two tickets for the magic show.
It was “Indrajaal” – the magic show of legendary PC Sorcar Jr. The curtains went up with a bang on the drums, and then I saw the magician with his first stunt, “Water of India”. I was sixteen at the time, just two years away from being declared a full grown adult with my democratic rights. It was a three hour show. I was captivated how brilliantly he performed. The most fascinating was the blindfold game, where Sorcar could write without even seeing what the audience wrote on a board. It is said that Tagore wrote the song, “Chokher Aloy Dekhechilem, Chokher Bahire” (I can see the world around with the gleam of my covered eyes), after watching PC Sorcar Jr’s father, the late PC Sorcar Sr, perform this show in front of him. This is something I learnt from my mother, who was a professor of Philosophy and knew a lot of history on Tagore. It was during the show (the game is actually called X Ray of eyes), a lady from the magic team too explained to me that Tagore was so captivated by this particular game that he felt inspired to write this song. PC Sorcar Jr was equally adept at the game as was his father. As the tunes played, I wrote on the board: “Cos2theta + Sine2theta”. Blindfolded, he wrote, “ =1”. I instantly fell in love with him. It was quite natural at my age; who wouldn’t? The last punch was when an audience drew a line and he made a sketch of a female and declared, “My wife”.
The show ended at nine in the evening. We lived in a small scary town infamous for crimes. However, that didn’t deter me from threatening and nagging my mother again, “Please let us go backstage. I want to meet him. One autograph and that’s all. I promise, I will go home and finish all the Trigonometry sums.” Left with no choice, she had to use her contacts and after 1800 seconds of waiting, we were called backstage. There I met him. He was smiling at me with his wife, Jayashree, by his side. I was too shy to smile back and just asked for an autograph. “Will you marry me?” he asked, now breaking into a wide smile. Giving a nervous look at his wife, who too was smiling at me, I replied, “Ye, ya, naw, ne, ee, well yes, ah yes and yes, yes, yes for sure.” “Well, to qualify, you need to learn magic and magic is nothing but science. I know you are good in science.” How did he know it? Ah, quite natural, he is a magician and a magician knows everything. So now that I found my groom, I returned happily. All the while, my mother kept howling, “Look, we are late and you didn’t even complete your lessons.” That night I didn’t sleep; I studied till four in the morning. I had to learn science or else I would lose him.
Several years later, I met him again at age twenty eight. It was his daughter Maneka Sorcar’s show. Given their glorious family traditions, she too followed her father’s footsteps and was no less in her skill in magic. This time I didn’t have to go backstage for an autograph. He was out in the lobby of Mahajati Sadan, CR Avenue, Kolkata. He had aged a little but didn’t lose the charm, the gleam in his eyes, and the ever charismatic smile. He instantly recognized me, “So how are you? What are you doing now?” He couldn’t recall my name, though. I tattled, “I am an engineer and I have graduated in first class.” “Did you learn the magic?” he asked. “No, I kept it for you,” I said. “So we cannot marry then,” he broke out in a hearty laugh.
So now that my marriage with him is permanently broken, I return home with a joy which I still carry in my heart whenever I recall the “Indrajaal”.
PC Sorcar Jr once said, “Magic is science. You may call us visual scientists. Indrajaal, is not hocus pocus but is all science. I can’t reveal the secret; let the mystery remain. Don’t trust your eyes, sometimes eyes lie.” The way he solved the calculus while blindfolded, equations only a student of science (maths) can do, it was more a work of a scientist. He explained to me that magic cannot be learnt and his father never taught him. He learnt it himself with the help of science.
Rimli Bhattacharya completed Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology. She obtained an MBA in supply chain management and is engaged in the corporate sector. Her essay on mental health was published in the anthology, A Book of Light, edited by Jerry Pinto (for Speaking Tiger Books, 2016). She has written for several magazines and newspapers – Times of India, Engineering Journals, and other blogs. Rimli has been awarded as a Star Blogger by team Bonobology for her essay, “Running a solo Marathon”. She is a trained Indian classical dancer, based out of Mumbai, India.
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