This is not really a story of how the Hornbill Public Art Festival came to be; but it is a good story. And, like all good stories, there is a lesson to be learnt at the end. Boka (how that name came about to be is another story) was waiting in Sikkim for a very famous artist from Bangladesh. Now, the story does not really start at the Sikkim check post, but we will enter the story from here.
Boka might as well have been waiting for Godot. Mehboob ur Rehman was stuck at the Sikkim border check post because he had been given the wrong visa by the Indian government. Bangladeshis need a special restricted visa to enter Sikkim, and Mehboob had a normal visa. So, he was stuck at the Sikkim border check post for two days, unable to participate in ‘Blooming Sikkim’- the Public Art Festival at Gangtok which Boka was curating.
Boka went to meet Mehboob at the check post and there were no words for their incredulity at the situation, as it became murkier by the hour, entangled in bureaucratic protocol. And, out of these unspoken words, was born a story. A story of borders. The border between India and Bangladesh. And, people whose lives are divided by these borders. Though one side is no different from the other. So, they set out to find the people to whom this story belonged. And, they came across a village in Meghalaya called Ichamati. Whose brothers live on one side and fathers on the other. They decided to share this story with everyone through the medium of art, in the second month of next year. While that story waits to be heard, this one ends.
I know I promised you a moral to the story. But, this is not a Jataka tale where the moral is spelt out for you in caps and bold formatting. It is a post-modern folk tale set in neo-liberal times where the meaning is open ended, deliberately distorted and needs to be construed