The city of Kalmegh welcomes you, much in the same way Kalahari, Antarctica or your local Jurassic tar pit would. You know you can survive in there because you haven’t died yet, but that perception is subject to further observation. There are schools within the city, run both by the state and the central governments. Towering blocks of drab steel and concrete, wedged between whatever equally towering blocks would part far enough to accommodate them. They had at some point been colored in hues suitable to the activation of creative zones within infant brains, but the city begs to differ. A uniform coat of dust and smoke-stains lay over the skylines like a shroud. The windowless school buildings are internally decorated with pastel and watercolor products of juvenile imagination, if for no other reason than to keep the staff sane. Despite the texts speaking of skies that are blue, trees that are definitely a thing and earth that is green, no illustration could be found to reinforce the words. The disbelief such discrepancies trigger are displayed succinctly in the art that furnish the soft-boards and walls of every classroom. Imagination cannot survive sheer suspension of disbelief uninterrupted by flashes of reinforcing redemption, especially if you are young enough to retain most of your milk-teeth.
The paintings explore a great variety of pigments, no mistake. It is just that they all happen to belong to the broad categories of brown, ash, gray and red, as we lay people call them. A number of them also indicate the spatio-temporal awareness of the students (offering reasonable scope for celebration to their respective teachers) through depictions of the latest dust-storm to have struck Kalmegh and its neighboring suburbs. It was the first time in months when the sky had turned dark, or a darker shade of sickly brown at least.
Let us zoom out a little, taking in our stride the unrivaled (unless we are talking any other city, at all, really. In which case it is pretty much the same) view of the bustling city of Kalmegh. It is next to impossible, figuring out where Kalmegh ends and its neighboring cities Durg, Chitra and Barak begin. The suburbs sprawl throughout whatever space is left in between the skyscraping concrete blocks that define the city-hearts. All except on the North-West, where increasing chunks of the landscape have incrementally been claimed by a post-colliery cave-in. The seams of coal underneath the city have been mined by coal-smugglers ages ago.