Where have all the circus clowns gone?
In our childhood, no circus would be complete without painted clowns, those dwarf figures, we always laughed at and they made all efforts to make us roll down in laughter. Those not-so-ordinary men,who either tried stuffing themselves into too-small cars or hitting each other over the head with rubber chickens!But where are they now? With hardly any circus tents gracing the city this year, have all these men who looked like gnomes from the pages of a fairy-tale lost in time?
Circus clowns have entertained generations with their pranks and gimmicks, yet many of them led lonely lives. They too have families, they are also humans with emotions. A circus on the outskirts of Kolkata happens to be Kohinoor Circus. A small set up, and most of the performers can hardly meet ends. Yet, they haven’t forgotten to entertain people. And just outside the tent stands Deepak, straight from the pages of Gulliver’s Travels and the Land of Lilliputs. His acrobatic moves in the circus arena always keep the audience hooked to the show. It is from this audience he gained his wife, Anjana Chantui.
Anjana had to fight her family to marry this ‘dwarf.’ However, for Anjana it was love at first sight and they tied the knot three years ago at a Basanti temple in Sonarpur. They are like gypsies, today, with a rootless existence, moving from district to district with the circus company. But they are happy. They also have a daughter and proudly confirm the daughter is normal and doesn’t harbor the father’s dwarf genes. Deepak, now 37 years old,has lofty plans for his daughter. He wants to provide her the best education so that one day, she can confidently find her place in the world.
Anjana, however, feels a bit angry when she finds the audience laughing at her husband every day. It pains her when stray remarks are hurled at him by mean and callous youngsters. She hopes to save some money and start a business jointly. Deepak, however, has not given any thought to changing his profession yet. He is defensive because he claims he does not have the education nor the expertise to take a shot at business. He gets a monthly salary of Rs 10,000 from the company, plus free food and lodging for the family. But he is aware of the flip side of circus. Nine hours of rigorous, back-breaking duty takes its toll on health. Tough physical fitness is required for trapeze acts and he feels breathless and tired at the end of the day.
Yet, it is the circus that provided him home, a family and his daily bread. He hails from Assam, but landed in Kolkata in search of a job. For his dwarfism, he got a job only at the circus. He plans to go back to Tinsukia, sell off part of his ancestral plot and procure funds to start a business in future. Till then, Anjana’s daily ritual begins withsmearing her husband’s face with vermillion, coconut oil and zinc oxide. Once done, Deepak is ready for the day. After all, the show must go on.