[First posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2006]
Who would have thought that restoring a 3-tonne bronze angel atop Victoria Memorial, one of the finest monuments of Kolkata, to its former glory would need a court reprimand? Yet, such was the apathy that until the court intervened (thanks to Subhas Datta of Howrah Democratic Citizen’s Forum), no one held any hope for early restoration.
If not for Subhas Datta, who filed a petition in the court, many of present generation and those of recent past would never have known that the angel, situated on a complicated mechanism of ball-bearings, used to rotate in tandem with strong breeze till only a couple of decades back.
When the angel stopped swirling in 1980 presumably because of malfunctioning of bearings, there was some effort to correct the fault. Unfortunately however, not much later, the angel altogether stopped moving. Kolkattans being dreary keepers of the city’s past, there was less of a lament for the loss, virtually no tears to shed. Life moved on, sans a glory that was all ours.
Thus when Subhas Datta took up crusade for restoration, it was time to sit up and applaud his efforts. A vigorous campaign is now on, and the honorable High Court has also lent its hand for the cause. Surprisingly, Victoria Memorial authorities, whose job it is to oversee the restoration work, has been lukewarm in putting out best efforts.
Not one to wait idly, Subhas Datta, inferring quickly that rectifying the fault may probably be beyond local engineers, has sent out an appeal to British Prime Minister, Tony Blair for help. It’s hoped suitable assistance may soon be on the way.
For many oldtimers like my septuagenarian uncle, it’s a wait with bated breath. Let’s pray the angel swirls, and soon.