By Srirupa Dhar
This is not my story. I am a small part of it, though. Sorry, if I am giving you the creeps when I say that I befriended a spider! I know this sounds more than surprising. Outrageous or disgusting, perhaps? But yes, this yellow sac is one of the best things that has happened to my eleven-year-old life.
My room looks out to several old buildings in Central Kolkata. Every morning I would have liked to wake up to a bright sun promising me a happy day. Instead, I smell the musty air with a dank feel all around. I live in a cramped neighborhood where the houses belong to my immediate and extended families. Many generations ago, these were all parts of one big, rich mansion. They still boast a fusion of European and Indian architecture. The French verandahs and latticed windows meld with the marble floors, high ceilings, gothic furniture, and Victorian opal chandeliers. Ever since the concept of joint families succumbed to the not quite but somewhat more nuclear-based ones, there has been rewiring of space and wealth among the family members. I sometimes wonder if my folks have ever gone beyond this tucked-in comfort zone of theirs. The world is fighting wars of all kinds: biological, racial, religious. But this crowded locality of Bowbazaar in Central Kolkata remains untouched by the revolting onslaughts harassing the rest of the world. Could ignorance be a bliss?
The houses in my neighborhood almost lean against each other. They look like some crabbed handwriting, illegible, yet sticking together. As if each letter is scared to let go of the other. May be, I see too many metaphors everywhere. Thanks to my passion for reading and writing! I think, partners for life, these houses? Sometimes I wonder if their life-long bonding has turned them into parasites living off each other, sucking pleasure out of every secret, every teardrop, every rivalry. And what about happy times? These houses may have shared generations of small and big joys together. But I don’t feel in-tune with them. I confess that I prefer to be on my own. I can spend hours reading mysteries and playing with my Legos. Each block of Lego, each mini figure leads to some story I build into them. I forget my clammy skin and the suffocating restraints of our antique home once my mind engineers itself with these story-building skills. It was on one such imaginative journey last month when I found my Sherlock.
I had been eagerly waiting for the Lego Ninjago movie to be released in September. And I was dying to get a Ninjago movie Lego set. My aunt got me one for my birthday this July. It was right after mid-July when I started maneuvering with the Lego pieces of my newly bought set. I was deeply engrossed in planning the toilet route escape of my hero, Zane from the maze of the Kryptarium prison. Among the whites and reds and blacks of the Lego pieces, I saw a flicker of something else squeezing into the crevices of the tiny blocks. Such a sight of squashing-in is a familiar sight to me. Often, on lazy afternoons, I see pigeons wedging on the eaves and gables of roofs, inadvertently intruding into the peaceful siestas of babies and housewives. Just a moment’s flicker and then I see a pale yellow creature resting on to a Lego piece. The creature seemed to be unsure of its sudden landing. It was trying to hide the tip of its dark brown legs. “Ah, a spider, it is!” I said to myself and was on the verge of shoving it away. Right then, I heard the spider say: “Please, please don’t chase me away. I will not harm you. Let me stay here, please!” I looked around my room. “A spider can talk?” I gasped.
The spider spoke: “I have been watching you for the last four months. I lived in your oldest paternal uncle’s garage first and later moved to your father’s paternal aunt’s. I loved the garage because, you know, I have a fetish for gasoline smells. Anyway, no one in this Bowbazaar area ever liked me. Not that before anyone liked having me around. I saw you at the Bengali New Year’s celebration and other social gatherings in Niharika’s house. I have to say that Niharika, your father’s eighty year old widowed aunt, is still quite sharp! She handles her own life in a way many of your young cousins, uncles, and aunts can’t. Niharika watches the news on T.V., eats her meals without any assistance. She just needs a little help from her attending nurse doing her washroom rituals. Shobha, the nurse grumbles: ‘Why do I have to clean your shit when you have three healthy sons, daughters-in-law, six grandchildren all living under the same roof? See how much they care for you? They are only waiting for you to die so that the daughters-in-law inherit all your gold jewelry. Thank god, you don’t have a daughter. Otherwise, she would have added more spice to the fight amongst your heartless sons and their greedy wives!’ Niharika would snap at Shobha: ‘Shut up! You are paid to clean my shit. And that’s what you will do without saying one more word!’ Niharika…,” the yellow spider was about to say more.
I barged in: “Now, why have you come to tell me this? I know all that goes on.”
I didn’t notice at that point that I had stopped playing with my Legos. There was something in the spider’s voice that drew my attention.
“No, you don’t know all that goes on,” responded the spider, this time his voice betraying much concern and slight annoyance at my assertiveness.
The spider, I noticed, is what they call a yellow sac. “How is it that you can talk?” I asked.
“I am a special kind of a spider just as you have gifted kids in your school. I know you are gifted too with your precocious literary skills. You think of the world around you in terms of metaphors. Sorry, if I sound boastful! But I do have powers that my kind does not. I can squeeze my body and almost shrink it to a minuscule size to be where I want to be. That is how I shielded myself from my mate when she was about to eat me up. I can run with mercurial speed and that’s what saves my life every time I sense danger. With all my gifts, I am lonely because there is no other yellow sac like me. And so not only humans, even spiders don’t understand me. I had to plan such a quick escape from that predatory mate of mine that I could not spend time with my kids. The little ones will soon be out in the world making their own destinies, never knowing who their father is.” His fruity voice got brittle as he spoke of his kids.
I thought that this was not only a speaking spider, but one with quite a sophisticated vocabulary. And the fluxion in his voice loaded itself with myriad emotive moods. I wasn’t dreaming, for sure. Because here I was wide awake conversing with an arthropod that was literally talking to me with confidence and honesty.
“I thought the females only among black widows practice cannibalism,” I said trying to get my knowledge on spiders right. For here, before me, was the most authentic living source.
“Yes, but there are others too like the black widows.”
“I see. By the way, how many kids do you have?” I asked.
“Well, at least two hundred.”
“What? And after you had been living with your wife, ah…, I mean, mate for so long, she wants to eat you?”
“You don’t understand, Soham. I mated her only once, knew her for only a few hours. She has five egg sacs each producing at least forty eggs. And it is common among female spiders to eat their mates.”
“Wow! That’s something!” I said. “But how do you know my name?”
“I saw everyone call you by that name at the Bengali New Year’s party. And I also heard Niharika’s son, Shubhashish talk about you. In fact… that is why, I’m here. I want to save you.” Desperate seconds passed. I had to know what this yellow sac was saying.
“What do you mean?” I was almost scowling.
“Shubhashish is plotting with his wife to… trick you…actually, to wrongly accuse you.”
“Is this a joke?”
“No, no! Please believe me! I heard all what they said. Your Shubho Uncle (Shubhashish) has an evil mind. A twisted evil mind. He is greedy for the family wealth and does not want to let go of the pen that is your family’s treasure.”
“You mean the Panthere that belonged to my paternal great-grandfather?”
“Yes, that’s the one Shubhashish is after.”
“I remember Grandma Nihari telling me that she would give that priceless pen to me because I am the only promising writer in the family. She inherited it from her father, that is, my paternal great-grandfather. She was one of the few educated members of the Sen family at that time. All her brothers (that is, my great-uncles) and sisters (my great-aunts) lagged behind in school. Nihari’s male siblings went after the booming family jewelry business, lavishing their lives with vices of loose money. Her brothers proved that drinking and visiting prostitutes were synonymous with the family name. But it was only Grandma Nihari who had a healthy goal, a solid mind of her own. She completed her undergraduate studies, quite a remarkable feat in those days for women and, especially, women in non-progressive families like ours. Mahendra, my great-grandfather, then gifted his precious pen to his daughter, Nihari. Mahendra himself was an outstanding student in his time, who had graduated as a barrister from London and received this pen from his British teacher, a teacher who saw in his student the greatest potential ever. It was Mahendra’s deepest regret in life that none of his sons were interested in the profession of law. Mahendra felt even more betrayed when none of his sons graduated high school. The successful London-returned lawyer was let down to see that his sons took to the dark side of the Sen family. He thought that only his daughter, Nihari, deserved to own the Panthere and do justice to its majestic worth. Nihari knew that her brothers and their wives were aggressively lured by this sterling silver fountain pen that was studded with precious stones and glowed in its black palladium finish. She knew that no one in her family would hesitate to trade this proud possession for money. No one except her son, Shubhashish, whom she blindly trusts. Her love for her oldest son beats her chary skepticism. Ever since she grew physically fragile, Nihari entrusted Shubhashish with the responsibility of protecting the pen until she found the Panthere’s rightful heir. When Nihari saw the budding writer in me, she decided to hand it over to me. Grandma Nihari could not see what was going on in Uncle Shubho’s mind, though. Now I know, why Uncle Shubho looks down upon me, insults me for no reason. The other day, he asked me: “So, what are you writing these days? Crappy love letters on behalf of friends who don’t know their ABCs? He cannot accept parting with the fountain pen that could make him a king!”
“Yes, yes! You are absolutely right, Soham! He will never let you have the pen. He and his wife, Aparna, are hatching a dirty plot to implicate you so that you never get the Panthere.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Yes”, replied the tiny creature. “Shubho and Aparna are planning to have you spend the coming Sunday at their house. They plan to personally come over to your place to invite you and visit your room. They are conspiring to bring the pen with them and put it in the cubby hole where you keep your old Legos. They are thinking of hiding the Panthere behind one of those old Lego sets that you have already built. Soon after that, Aparna and Shubho will announce that the family treasure is missing. Naturally there would be a thorough search, not sparing anyone, not even the extended family. And then to their “voila”, the pen would be found in your room. Quite a family row would follow after that. They want to prove before the entire family that at this young age you are full of devious cunning and dirty greed. The Panthere would never be yours. Instead Niharika, shocked at your wily ways, would finally choose Shubho to be the pen’s inheritor. Because Niharika would only see what her son wants her to see.”
These words were not sinking into my system. So, my uncle and aunt want to frame me, prove me a thief! Should I believe this groveling creature? I thought. “Can you prove what you are saying?” I asked him.
“So, you don’t trust me, eh?” Just wait until they drop by to invite you.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted the yellow sac proved right or Shubho’s plan turn out to be a hoax. This whole conspiracy, if at all true, was too complicated. More complicated than the intricate design on the Kashmiri rug in our living room. The floral designs of the rug notoriously clung to each other. You cannot distinguish one from the other. Scribblier than these ancestral houses we live in. I was feeling claustrophobic. Needed some air. I wanted to just fly away somewhere out of these choking talons. Talons of anarchic evil.
I had a feeling that the spider was not lying. His voice sounded earnest right from the start. He meant well, I thought. So what was I to do now? As I was lost in these thoughts, the yellow sac said: “Are you thinking what you should do? Well, this much I can say that I don’t want anyone to harm you. We need to act quickly. Today is Wednesday. The Sunday invitation might come anytime. Let’s just play boomerang!”
“What do you mean”? I asked, amazed at this arachnid, a mastermind.
The luster in the yellow sac’s voice came through. It was reassuring. He said: “After Shubho and Aparna come to your room, you need to catch them red handed. They will be looking for an opportunity to be left alone in your room. You give them the opportunity, but bring your parents and enter the room right at the point when they will try hiding the pen amongst your Legos. At that moment, if possible, let as many members of the family be present in your room. Let the staff from your domestic help be there too. Everyone needs to see their faces caught off guard. That way, their own ruse will rebound on them.
“But what if something goes wrong?”
“If I don’t enter at the right moment or they come to my room with a change in their plan? What if…”
“Now, listen. There is no need to speculate so much. You sound scared and tense. Just be yourself and go with the flow.”
“Okay,” I said. My heart started beating fast. Will I be able to keep my calm and do as he is saying? I had all these thoughts plaguing me.
“Don’t think so hard. Things will fall into place. Let’s talk about something else now. Like… say, okay, do you know my name?”
“You are a spider that talks and also has a name? I thought you just go by yellow sac.”
“That’s like a generic name. I am called…Actually I don’t have a name.”
I felt such a smart spider ought to have a name, a special identity. “I can give you a name. I can call you by the name of mmm…Sherlock.”
“That’s flattering! But why don’t you call me My Sherlock? That way I will still be Sherlock and not be Sherlock at the same time.”
“Makes sense, I said. ‘Okay, you are My Sherlock! By the way, how do you know who Sherlock is?’” The more I spoke to this spider, the more I felt my jaw dropping! A creature that spins webs knows Sherlock Holmes! I know I wasn’t dreaming. I was in my own room among my books, my bed, my Legos, and the wooden windows. My eyes explored my room to be conscious of the reality surrounding me. Yes, I was in a sane world and a spider just spelt out his knowledge of Conan Doyle’s globally known detective.
“I know you are surprised, shocked, perhaps! But yes, I have watched that Cumberbatch guy on television. Shubho’s oldest son, Mithu loves the BBC show.”
I thought to myself: Well, you might one day surpass Cumberbatch in your power to enter human minds and figure out what’s going on there.
“Let’s get back to business. We need to make those bastards know that they are bastards.”
My Sherlock knew about taboo language too. “Sorry,” he said in almost a parenthetical tone. “I can’t find any other word to describe your uncle and his wife, both with diabolical minds.”
I couldn’t agree less. My Sherlock might actually be my alter ego, I thought.
“Okay. So let’s wait for them to come over,” I said.
“They will, soon. Unless of course the couple has maneuvered some other scheme,” the blatant Sherlock said.
Ignorance might indeed be a bliss, after all! Lack of knowledge of some impending evil makes life so much easier, I thought. Had I not known about this trap I was to fall in, I wouldn’t have grown fidgety like I have been the last couple of days. It is Friday already and the plotters have not come yet. I lost my sleep. My parents observed my lack of appetite and absent mindedness. They thought I was talking to myself too much these days (a habit I had from my early childhood). They concluded that I was getting more and more into my literary ‘self’ and happily practicing my old habit of dialoguing between characters I read in fiction. But I knew I was worrying them to some extent. I could not bring myself to tell them the truth, though. The truth that I enjoyed some epiphanic moments with a creature that shoots a silk web to pounce on its prey and also talks to me about my own family trying to incriminate me. I would be rushed to a psychiatric ward! I just waited. Waited with vague apprehension.
I was in my room on Friday evening when around eight, Shubho and Aparna did come to our place. I broke out in cold sweat the moment I heard their voices in the living room. My mother told me to come and say ‘hello’ to Uncle and Aunt. This casual greeting seemed quite a task to me at that moment. I came out of my room feeling butterflies in my stomach, unsure as to what exactly I should say to these accomplices of crime. Before I left my room My Sherlock told me to be relaxed. I couldn’t, though. I sat opposite the rogues on the pale chocolaty mahogany antique chair. The brown and the maroon of the furniture in this room with high ceilings, the swishing of the ceiling fan desperately trying to defend itself against the muggy July heat, all seemed to fade and lose themselves in the masked faces of Shubho and his wife. They were chatting with my parents asking them how I was doing. They seemed extra interested in me that evening. My mother, so proud of her eleven-year-old aspiring writer, said: “You have to just come and see what Soham does in his room. He is the absent-minded writer who just sits in his room and writes and talks to his loved characters from books and the ones that are his own creations. I don’t know if I am to worry or simply be proud of mothering such an intellectual boy. He hardly eats anything and sometimes he does not answer my questions.”
My mother cleared the way too easily for our iniquitous visitors. Aparna said enthusiastically: “Soham, then why don’t you take us to your room and let us see your treasures: your own compositions. Reena, you shouldn’t worry at all. Instead, you should be proud of your son. So much intellectual strength in such a frail lanky body!” My mother was meant to be flattered, but like all moms, she was a little upset at the unwarranted reference to my wiry, undernourished, nerdy look. But she was flattered, nevertheless! The villains were doing their jobs, I muttered under my breath.
I could see that our visitors were feeding their appetites for deception with a calm that was almost admirable. Machiavelli would have been embarrassed! Shubho and Aparna entered my room with frothing energy inside. I was still not sure if I would like them to be innocent because if so, I would lose my trust and belief in My Sherlock. I just waited for the story to unfold itself, without a clue as to how it will end. My uncle and aunt looked around my room telling me how they admired my creative interests. They cursorily explored my collections of Bengali and English literature. And they moved towards the oak shelves that house my Legos. I could see My Sherlock cozying in there between the endless pieces that had stories woven into them. My metaphoric mind could not resist conceiving the visitors in my room to be invasive enemies, grossly furtive within, scheming to soil the sanctity of my creations. “So these are your Legos that you always like to spend your time with,” said Uncle Shubho, fake in his avuncular tone. “Yes, but I don’t just spend time with them. I actually love them,” I replied. Aunt Aparna caught the annoyance in my tone and immediately snapped at her husband: “Why do you say Soham spends time with these Legos? Playing with Legs is way beyond a hobby for Soham. He works very hard to make his Legos come alive.” She looked at me. “Won’t you show us what you have built recently, Soham?” I was about to show them my Ninjago blocks when Shubho said that he was extremely thirsty and needed water. “Soham, can you please get me a glass of water, dear?” he said in almost an imploring voice. I knew this was the moment.
I went out of the room. Instead of getting the glass of water, I stood next to the door of my room. With bated breath. The door had gaps between each wooden bar through which I could see my intruders. I saw them take out something from the tote they brought with them. This must be the Panthere, I thought. And yes, it was! Shubho moved towards my Lego set of “The Hobbit” and was about to place the pen behind the Shire when I entered the room. Just then Shubho gave out a cry, shy of a scream. I knew he was in double jeopardy. He was caught off guard doing what he had come to do and also got bit by My Sherlock. I felt emboldened when I knew that my yellow sac was my honest friend who was present there to protect me in every sense of the term. I shouted out: “Why are you sticking that pen in there, Uncle Shubho? Isn’t that Grandma Niharika’s Panthere? Aren’t you supposed to keep it safe? Why have you brought it here and why is it hanging in there with my Legos?” I couldn’t believe the forthrightness in my tone. Was I not the reticent, introverted preteen anymore?
Shubho’s face turned white. He wasn’t prepared for this. At all! Aparna was desperate to camouflage the tangled aberrations of their wicked minds. She tried hard to sound bold and confident but her words came out almost syncopated: “Tha… was nothi…” Shubho’s reflex cry at the spider’s bite and my raised voice obviously didn’t escape my parents’ and the servants’ ears. At that moment, I silently thanked the cramped spaces within the house. At least this time the narrow spaces came in handy. My parents and the cleaning and cooking staff all came rushing to my room. And before Aparna could say anything else, I blurted out the naked truth. The ugly truth before everyone, my parents and our domestic help. “You had come here purposely to frame me of a theft I would never commit. You thought you would keep the Panthere nicely hidden behind my Legos and then declare that the pen can’t be found anywhere. There would naturally be a search and I would be the accused one. I know that is why you came here and especially wanted to visit my room. When did you ever have any interest in me? Why this sudden burst of curiosity in me?”
As I was spilling over my accumulated anger, I saw the most bizarre sight possible. There was Shubho standing helpless and catatonic, wrapped up by a gigantic web. I could see he was in a state of shock and his face turned from dusky brown to ruby to crimson red in just a few seconds. The Panthere flew off his hands and landed on the floor. Aparna threw herself into an unrelenting swivet and cried out loud for help. I was, like everyone else in the room, befuddled, almost in a stupor. But I soon realized that something had to be done to redeem the situation. Should I now be accused of devising the death of my uncle using my spider-friend as my accomplice? Shubho and Aparna had come to hurl me into a darkness so that I could bear the burden of an unforgiving name and deed. And now they were caught literally and metaphorically in a web of shame and impotence. So, this was the recoil my arachnid friend conspired against the conspirators? Not that I did not feel gratified! But I knew I had to do something. These evil mongers were after all, my kin! I was discovering new things about myself. Even though I deny the myths of blood relations, I have to say that the grit of familial ties has its own credentials. We are humans and we never fail our families. That makes me human, I guess! And not a just robotic kid trying to pen down thoughts.
I didn’t know if I should start talking to My Sherlock in everyone’s presence. Perhaps that would be another shock for them to swallow in one session! As these thoughts were marauding me, I saw the web slowly unwind itself from Shubho’s body. The redness on his face was still there but he was released from the world of the gossamer. Aparna quickly came towards her husband and wanted to hug him. The gooey silk of the web still stuck in some places on his body and he looked like a man bearded white in the most offbeat places. The slimy feel of the web remains made him start spitting all over himself. He wanted to speak but the spider’s gift came in the way every time he opened his mouth. Finally, he brought himself to say ‘Sorry’ with his eyes looking at me, flummoxed and tearful. Aparna too was apologetic. Neither of them could deny the touché at this point. Aparna remained silent. But you could easily make out that life had depicted itself, strange and relentless, to her in the last few minutes. She was no longer in a mood to negotiate with her evil conscience. She felt much more than obligated to formally apologize. She was genuinely sorry. Her hands were clasped tight; her eyes were cast down with shame.
I helped Shubho sit on my bed. He was wobbly with the shock of disbelief brooding over him. And I had to literally pull him out of his stupor. My father and Dilip, our domestic help, tried hard to schlep him until we made it to my bed. As we sat him on the bed, I turned my eyes toward the Lego shelf to see if the little avenger was sitting there. Yes, there he was, all so sedate and silent, with not a care in the world! I decided to talk things over with him in private.
Dilip brought two glasses of water for our embarrassed visitors. My parents were yet to fathom the imbroglio in its entirety. I knew that I would have to spill the beans and let them know of the yellow sac, sheltered in my room, who in turn shelters me against danger. But I will think of dealing with that later. Dilip and Gopal ogled Shubho and Aparna with a wry smile. They had always been dismissed off as “servants” by the couple, now so guilty and penitential. Dilip and Gopal couldn’t be more grateful at this divine intervention. They believed that the gods must have spun the web, a web to trap the cruel rich and bring justice to the helpless poor. Blind faith had its own sweet delights to offer. The rest of the domestic help in our relatives’ homes would soon be fed with a spicy narrative of this fiasco. A foiled effort at dethroning the heir was not uncommon in history, though. Thankfully, ours went without bloodshed.
Shubho and Aparna took at least a half hour to recover from their failed venture. We were all busy tending to them, assuring them that they needn’t worry. In all the chaos we had forgotten the Panthere that brought out the evil lurking within the human consciousness. It probably feels good to transfer the blame to an inanimate object though we know that it is both unfair and groundless to do so. The pen itself became the clincher to all the deadening evil that gyred it. Shubho picked it up from the floor and gave it to me. He said: “This rightly belongs to you. After my mother, you are the one who deserves to own this precious heritage. Your hands will do justice to it.” He burst into tears saying this. His hands held mine, with the Panthere, in its metallic shine, making new bonding and retelling the story of generational and human change. Our guilt-stricken relatives wanted to go home after having heard ‘It’s okay. Don’t worry’ from me and my parents.
My parents never run this episode before anyone, neither friends nor family. Which means, I take you as my sole confidante. I have forgiven my apologetic relatives. After all, we are all humans and we are fallible. My parents were full of questions about the enormous web shot by the spider. I evaded all their queries, leaving them puzzled. I simply had to act as if I couldn’t believe in the fantastical vision myself! As for my arachnid friend, I thanked him after every one had left my room that evening. I said that I was grateful for all he did for me. But I was upset with him for having shot his web such that the Panthere fell to the ground. “It could have been damaged for good!” I said in an accusing tone.
“Some things are indestructible. That is why they outlast generations. They outlive time itself,” replied my friend. “But I sure did have a lot of fun wrapping Shubho with my web. I haven’t spun for quite a while. It gave me a sense of release. Did you notice the fineness of the sheer material, the soft silk? We all need to get back to our elements once in a while. Or else, we feel lost. Don’t you think so?”
I agreed with what he said. But I couldn’t help laughing at the arrogance of the yellow sac. Well, he is living up to his name! He is Sherlock after all. Alert, aware, prompt, and ingenious in his ways of trapping the dark side of life. I shouldn’t give myself the bother of analyzing his game plans.
Time means change. For all you know, this family pen that was the source of so much avarice may one day become an obsolete tool. With the pixels taking over human life, this Panthere may simply remain locked in some old iron safe belonging to us, the Sens. One family heritage caught in another, both locked in space and time. But I will weave many more stories with this spider’s new findings. I have no qualms in eddying with and being the Watson to a small, almost unsubstantial body that holds a capacious brain. “I am craving for some fuel. Let’s go to some automobile place,” the sleuth said. “Ah! New stories to tell,” I thought, feeling smug and happy. These warped spaces can restrict me no more. I will be out there, free and bohemian to ease with the light of the world. This time I am hungry for more. Not just solving a knotty problem. But unravelling the puzzles posed by the problem itself. Here I come, My Sherlock!
 Zane is the Ice Ninja in the Ninjago story/movie where teenagers (each a ninja) fights evil. Kryptarium prison is where he is locked by the villains.
 Benedict Cumberbatch is a British actor who plays Sherlock Holmes in the new detective series called “Sherlock”.
 The Shire was the Utopian homeland of the hobbits residing in middle Earth in J. R.R. Tolkein’s novel, The Hobbit.
Srirupa Dhar is Indian by birth and has been living in the United States since 1998. She completed her M.A. and M.Phil. in English Literature at the University of Kolkata, India. She obtained another Master’s degree in English with Technical Writing Certification from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, U.S.A. Srirupa taught as a Lecturer in the Department of English at Bethune College, Kolkata. She has also been a Middle School English teacher in Columbus, Ohio. She is a voracious reader and takes an avid delight in all genres of art. Occasionally, she acts in plays in Columbus, where she is part of an amateur dramatic society.
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, based in New York City, USA. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
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