My memory of the Kanchenjunga is as old as my first memories of my mother. And that, of course, is saying something. Growing up in Siliguri, the Kanchenjunga was punctuation in the way I literally saw the world, both necessary and extravagant, a bit like mother’s love. It was a sibling I had to leave home when I took holidays, and when I returned to it, the reciprocity always came as a surprise – its sudden appearance in a train window, its glorious abhimaan from a plane window, and often, on Saturday afternoons, after waking up from an affectionate siesta, a call for a holiday with it. When my brother and I first learned to ride bicycles, it was to the Kanchenjunga that we wanted to go. Our parents did not stop us. I think of it now as the first lesson that the mountain peak taught us.
In this Tin Trunk on the Kanchenjunga, we have Mayank Chhaya’s cover photo, his Kanchenjunga. Sampurna Chattarji, who went to school in Darjeeling, grew up with the Kanchenjunga. Samraghni Bonnerjee grew up in Siliguri too, and having lived away from it during her university years in a tropical city, she returned to the mountains recently. Ruma Chakravarti writes about Satyajit Ray’s film, Kanchenjunga, and what the mountains do in that film. The Kanchenjunga has inspired Pooja Garg Singh and Jyothsna Phanija to write poems, Parinda Joshi and Anuraag Baruah to write stories, and the good doctor Subrata Ray to look for the mountain’s soul in a photo-essay, as he calls it, during his stint as a medical officer in Darjeeling.