Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Character Building: Tonmoy Sen

NAME: Tonmoy Sen

AGE: 21; (06.09)

SEX: Male

ETHNICITY: Indian; Bengali; Ghoti.

APPEARANCE: 5ft 8inches; thin (his mother’s perpetually trying to fatten him up); passably-fair; deep-set eyes; aquiline nose; limp, straight, black hair, cut quite short; no moustache or trace of stubble; wears pressed trousers and pin-striped/checked half-sleeved shirts and sandals; wears a black-leather-band, black-dialled Titan watch on left wrist.

LOCATION: 45 B, S.P. Mukherjee Road, a three-bedroom, single-floored house near Ashutosh College.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS: Middle-class-conservative.

EDUCATION: Schooling in Padmapukur Institution; graduated (English, Hons.) from Ashutosh College.

PROFESSION: Has joined as junior sub-editor at India Book House.

PARENTS: Father (Jitendriya Sen) works as a clerk in the Passport office and is nearing retirement; mother (Madhumita Sen nee Bagchi) teaches at Padmapukur Institution.

EXTENDED FAMILY: Has two uncles and an aunt on his father’s, and one aunt on his mother’s side, resulting in a total of five cousins, two of whom are older and three younger than him. Of the older two, the girl (Sharmishttha) is married to an NRI living in Colorado, the man (Hironmoy) is working on his post-doc thesis in physics, of the younger three, one (Deeptesh) is in his second year of medical school, one (Maitreyi) is a commerce student in Class XII, and the youngest (Niladri) is in Class VIII.

ROMANTIC ENTANGLEMENTS: None; he was in a boys’ school, his mother monitored his tuitions; in college, he was one of very few boys in a department full of girls, but was still invariably dismissed as far too geeky and/or not intelligent enough. This, he feels honour-bound to state, does not mean that he is abnormal, by which he means interested in men.

FRIENDS: Shatadru Mallick. Shatadru was as interested in marks as he, but rather more interested in science, a fact which meant Shatadru almost always scored more than he did. Their friendship lasted three years, at which point it dissolved under mutual maternal displeasure. Other, comparatively more mischievous people avoided him because of his mother; his mother made him avoid those she thought would only want his notes or the names of his tutors. In college he was quite as unlucky—his closest compatriot would never have considered being a friend; they were, after all, both vying for top position.

Colour: Light green, like the new peepul leaves.
Books: Gora; Roots.
Films: Paromitar Ekdin; Shatranj ke Khiladi; Fiddler on the Roof.
Song/Poem: Amar Mukti Aloye Aloye; Ode to a Nightingale.
Sport: none, though he does watch a fair bit of cricket.
Actors: Soumitra Chatterjee; Sharmila Tagore.
Food: Chilli Chicken; Chicken Momos (fried).

Feminism/Gender Roles:
He respects women, of course—ask his mother, or his aunt (mashi), or his other aunt (pishi), or even Sharmishttha-di (cousin married to NRI). And of course women are capable, and intelligent. But that doesn’t mean they need to act like men, no, just because western women do? What’s wrong with salwar-kameez, if sarees are ‘constricting’? And it’s a fact that smoking and drinking are worse for women than men—gives off a bad impression.
Democracy/Party Politics: It’s an interesting theory—democracy, that is. But his Political Science tutor in Class XI said that Aristotle said that democracy was mobocracy, and well, Aristotle was right. All political leaders are corrupt.
Globalisation/Affects thereof in the socio-cultural realm: Globalisation nothing. It just means western products in the market and western thoughts in the head. While the former are useful at times, the latter are utterly unnecessary. There’s a reason juvenile crime rates have gone up, and the number of old-age homes have multiplied.
Sex/Sexuality/Marriage: Tonmoy’s a virgin, and not really ashamed of this fact; he’s a bit apathetic about sex, in general, and all his experiences are with his left hand and the recent access to online pornography that’s arrived with the computer he was gifted just after graduation. Alternate sexuality is a concept he’s very vaguely aware of—he stumbled across a gay porn site once—and rather scandalised by. Marriage is for men and women, and it’s terrible that divorce is so prevalent—two of his classmates have divorced parents, his current boss is divorced—there’s a reason for the saat janmo ka bandhan spiel, really, people hardly try enough these days, what with ‘feminism’ and lack of tolerance.
Capital Punishment: No murderer should be left alive; how can you judge the severity of a murder? A person died, no? How is fourteen years enough for some deaths and only death enough for others?

1. Loves Sharatchandra novels, but doesn’t confess this; he’s been told that they are vaguely girly.
2. Believes devoutly in astrology, but not really in horoscopes.
3. Is secretly glad he didn’t have higher marks in the Higher Secondary exams, because he would have had to continue studying science otherwise.
4. Smokes (away from home) because he thinks it’s ‘cool’, but cannot inhale properly.
5. Saw the daughter of the owner of India Book House once and very badly wants to do so again.

1. Hironmoy-da (the cousin studying physics) was the only one who bothered to talk to him on his tenth birthday, once their parents left ‘the kids’ in the same room and left.
2. Nocturnal emissions.
3. Getting back the science answer-scripts for his Class X Tests.
4. Being allowed to study English.
5. Being harassed, first day in college.

BACK-STORY: Tonmoy has two lives—the one his mother thinks (and tells everyone) he lives, and the one he tells nobody, not even himself, when he can help it.
It is easier to describe Tonmoy by what he is not. (All the things he isn’t, are interesting things.)
He is not frivolous, loud, vulgar, incompetent. (He is overly-serious, painfully-quiet, pompous, and a workaholic.)
Tonmoy has always been well above mediocrity, academically. (Hours of slogging, till his head ached and he mumbled formulae in his sleep, bagged him a bare 80% in Class X, and a 65% in the H.S. exams.)
He got along very well with everyone in school. (He would have been bullied openly were it not for his mother, as it is, he was harassed in later classes by boys who made it a point of honour for him to not tattle to her, but ‘take it like a man’.)
He made friends easily in college. (After the initial ragging—which was one of the most traumatic experiences in his life—he was severely ignored by seniors, batch-mates and juniors alike.)
Everybody loves Tonmoy. (His father, another underachiever, truly does; likes him, too. His mother can’t see the real person beyond the construct she’s kept building as he’s kept failing her tests for success. His aunts and uncles feel sorry for his parents, and the only reason they don’t openly pity him is that they’re all scared of his mother. His cousins, save the one getting a physics doctorate, all ignore and/or pity him.)
He is going to flourish at his job. (It hasn’t been long enough to tell, but personal tradition avers otherwise.)
Tonmoy is a good kid from a decent family—bhodro barir bhalo chhele—and has no vices. He’s a lot better than most of the boys in his school; he never talks back, never raises his voice, and never disobeys his parents. (He smokes furtively; eyes women on the street and wishes he had the courage to cop a feel on crowded buses; used to fantasise yelling at his mother and wake up feeling guilty; sabotaged his chemistry practicals in Class XII; feels stifled and can’t say it; is in awe of every science-studying family member, though he knows he would never have managed; feels guilty for no reason because he isn’t what his mother thinks he is, but cannot pinpoint where he has gone wrong.)


phenomenal woman said...

Me likes!!
Can I borrow him and write a story?


RBC said...

Great character sketch. i can just see the fur fly when he gets together with Anway's volcanic snow queen.

Rhea Silvia said...

Glad you like.

Thanks. And she'd eat him raw if she managed to keep him from running away, I fear.

Shayeari said...

this sketch is wow!
you really chewed on this....great!

Rhea Silvia said...

Thank you.