The gully cricket I played in my neighbourhood also had a tournament, where different neighbourhoods of north Kolkata competed. I once played in such a tournament which was being held in the far north of the city, some distance from my own neighbourhood. I don’t now remember the game, but I met there a savvy boy, somewhat older than me, who opened my eyes about Kolkata politics. When he asked me which locality I was from, he stopped me when I started answering with a geographic description. He was really interested in knowing which particular mafia leader my neighbourhood fell under. Finding me rather ignorant, he went on to an elaborate explanation of how the whole city is divided up in different mafia fiefdoms, and their hierarchical network and different specialisation in different income-earning sources, and their nexus with the hierarchy of political leaders as patrons at different levels. After he figured out the coordinates of my locality, he told me which particular mafia don my neighbourhood hoodlums (the local term is mastan) paid allegiance to. I recognised the name; this man’s family had a meat shop in the area.
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First Published: Fri, September 17 2021. 00:05 IST