The city municipality had appointed me to beautify the Bindusagar lake, near Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar. My ride was a noisy government vehicle driven by blabbermouth driver Shambhu.
I started by surveying the eastern stone wall of the lake. “Bublu’s corner”,read a rough inscription.I was examining it when I heard Shambhu ramble. “This place goes back hundred years and tells thousands of stories. This one is Bublu’s story.
I tried to ignore him. I had no time for folklore.
But Shambhu was persistent. “It goes back 25 years. Prafulla and his wife Sumati, ran a flower shop here. Their five year old boy Bublu iked to draw sir… and draw he could!While his parents sold flowers, he drew pictures. Of men and women, of the temple,the lake, the sun and the moon,and everything else. He would draw on the walls and the floor with chalk. He was blessed sir !”
“Once a gentleman was purchasing flowers when he saw the drawings of the child and was mesmerized. ”
“So the boy impressed one person”,hoping my sarcasm thew him off the narrative.
“This person was special, sir. He was a professor in Germany. Each winter he would come to Bhubaneswar to spend a month with his mother. He decided to nourish Bublu’s talent. So, the following day, he returned with chart paper, pencils, crayons and colours.”
“So did boy wonder upgrade”?,I asked.
“Yes sir… and people started purchasing his paper drawings. He sold them at 2 rupees each. Extra income for flower shop sir. It was professor sahib who engraved ‘Bublu’s corner’here.
“Defacing a protected monument”,I was annoyed vandalism being glorified.
Shambhu continued unfazed, “and Bublu kept drawing till that fateful day. ”
“What day? “,I gave in. Shambhu has captured my attention now.
“That cruel day, when the red lorry ran over Bublu’s parents on the road, and took everything away from him, their flowers soaked in their blood”,the story teller looked away for dramatic effect.
“What happened to Bublu? “,I asked intrigued.
“His uncle, sir.He took the poor chap to the village, to work in the fields. “,Shambhu shook his head sympathetically.
“Did Bublu ever draw again? “,I asked in a resigned tone, fearing the worst.
“That winter, the professor returned. Having learnt of Bublu’s misery, he went to meet the uncle. “Let me take him”,the professor offered uncle.
“Some money was also involved, sir.”,whispered Shambhu, letting me on the secret.
“Bubbly went with him to Germany. He makes millions now – very big artist, sir”.Shambhu’s papan stained teeth shone at the abrupt happy ending.
Sceptical about the fairy tale ending, I wished to validate the story.
“What was the professor’s name”,I enquired.
“Where does he live in Germany? “,I probed further.
“He taught in,hummmm Kalasur college”,Shambhu offered.
“Karlsruhe university”, I verified.
“Yes, sir, Kalasur,, he confirmed.
That evening, Google would guide me to the truth about Shambhu’s story.
It’s a fictional story
Karlsruhe name told by a friend.
Paan is betel leaf, loved by Odias