Tracing the footsteps of Poe

During a visit to Boston, USA, Neebiir Kamaal looks for the house of his favourite author

TracingWhen I had landed in Boston, last winter, I didn’t really know what to expect. As I got off the bus at South Station Bus Terminal in Boston, I could still feel the lure of New York, for it seemed that my romance with the city that never sleeps was still not over (it will never be). However, over the next few days, a number of remarkable things had transpired, but one particular afternoon stood out indeed.
Whether it was during the day or late into the night, I loved strolling through Boston; a city that is smaller compared to NYC, but loaded with charming architecture. One particular afternoon, as I was reflecting that I had mostly covered everything that was there to see in Boston, it struck me! Boston is the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe! For an ardent fan of Poe like me, who knows many of his stanzas by heart, and considers him to be one of the greatest poets that ever lived, it was an absolute joy that I had chanced to be in the same city where the master of macabre was born. ‘I must pay a visit to his birthplace, sit there all day and soak it all in’ – I thought to myself and disregarding the particularly frosty wind of that afternoon, set out.
However, what I had expected to be a simple task of consulting maps using the GPS of my phone went completely south. Poe was born in 1809 at 62 Carver Street. That street no longer existed! Neither did his birthplace! Not even the road on which the house was located! As the city of Boston had undergone heavy remodelling, they wiped that entire street out. Outraged at the imbecility of Boston city administration, I resolved that even though that street or the house was ‘nevermore’, I would have to go as close to that spot as possible.
Tracing2I started digging up old maps of Boston on my phone and researched extensively online for clues, coordinates and what not as to where the exact site might have been. Nothing that I found online could pinpoint the location. One obvious clue however was the Edgar Allan Poe Square, located very close to his actual birthplace at the intersection of Boylston and Charles streets (both streets were renamed after the remodelling project).
Upon reaching the square, I found a remarkable life-size sculpture of Poe. Stefanie Rocknak, the sculptor, had recreated the moment when Poe had returned to Boston after his expeditions. In the Rocknak sculpture, Poe is seen with a suitcase so overpacked that a number of manuscripts, along with a human heart, are spilling out.
Tracing3I asked around. But no one in the vicinity, not even the shopkeepers right at the square knew where his actual home was located. One guy, who had observed me scouring the land for quite some time came up to me and asked if I was looking for something. But he didn’t even know who Poe was! After probing for two more hours, I had found ‘Poe Condominium’ on a quiet street, an apartment building dedicated to Poe by its residents. Buzzing a couple of apartments there was of no avail, possibly because they were at work, that day being a weekday. It was then that it dawned on me. The description of the sculpture, engraved on a wall by it, said it portrayed Poe walking south towards 62 Carver Street, away from the frog pond as he had just come off the train station. So the direction of Poe’s stride in the sculpture actually pointed towards 62 Carver Street! Sure that I had reached the place at last, I saw that where the street used to be was barricaded by high fences, and there stood a large power station.
I sat in the area for a while to soak it all in.

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