Sunday, October 5, 2014

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Let us be NEW

While sitting on my bench on the platform I find the Sun dipped down below the horizon. The last Sun of 2008 has gone. The year 2008 is past. We are at the threshold of a New year-2009. Is the past important to us anyway? No. It has gone forever from our life leaving us as memories. Has it taught us anything to use it as a light in the virgin and unknown path we have to tread on now? But whom does it show with its light and for what? Are we ourselves are not new now? There is nothing as path as such-a path that has been drawn beforehand for a journey. Actually we travel through ourselves and thereby a path is created. I'm the path and the traveller both and simultaneously. But there is a word –'experience' –one would say and it guides us from its source in the past. But life can not be taught nor can life teach. Life prepares us. Like nature-life grows. The more we grow the more we are near to light-the more we know the more we feel what we need more. We become conscious. An ape can not know what a man needs. The whole past has prepared us, made us as light itself to know, or to discover, a path hitherto unknown to us. We have been carrying a light, an urge for something of which we can only be aware of by becoming continually more –more than what we were in the past. It is Man who wants to be new by finding a way –and constantly is after it. He lives in time and so he is in need of a new beginning. He has been continually becoming a new man in pursuance of an inner future. Let us be fulfilled in mortal time through the immortal newness. "Man is Nature's great term of transition in which she grows conscious of her aim; in him she looks up from the animal with open eyes towards the divine ideal." May we be closer to this divine ideal consciously when a new time knocks at our door!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Identity of a memory

I was sitting on the bench when I heard it-a sound. I should better say that I felt the sound. It was an indefinable sound as I do not know in what way I can be more specific about it. Was it a feeling –amplified? I felt something but I failed to form it. It was something going off leaving in its trail a rumbling referring to an experience I had had in my far off past. I tried to be near to that experience. As I thought of catching it in its body- it became lost altogether in the very next moment! But what was significant and surprising that I was given a feeling of knowing it more than anything that was associated with my life. So I had to dig myself in order to find the root of that experience. It did not refer to any event but it had an essence of a tale.

Did it remind me of something I had forgotten? It was as if I was incapable of reading my own letter I had written to my dearest person. And the tragedy was that I could only remember her face if I could decipher what I had written!

I was falling to my bottom as I went on digging through me. After sometime I got near to a misty zone and had the faint touch of what I had lost. But more I was nearing it the more I got myself dissolved in that mist. I started losing myself and almost lost. At that moment the whole world started vibrating and I woke up by a terrible jerk. The brilliant light of the engine of 2115 UP fell on my face. It was entering the station.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Death of a hero

I had friendship with a person. The man would come to Sitarampur railway station everyday to catch the first train for his destination –Nilganj, a town, thirty miles from Sitarampur. Unlike Sitarampur –it was a developed township. Rajen –my friend worked there in a big grocery shop. His duty hours were from 10 am to 6 pm. It was not much rewarding to work there by commuting everyday so far as payment was concerned. The salary just helped his family to exist. There was very little opportunity to earn in Sitarampur. He would return to Sitarampur at 8 pm. Rajen i.e. Rajendra Kumar Jha lived in Sitarampur with his family. We were friends not because of living in the same place of Sitarampur but for our daily visit to the station though for different purposes. The station was for me a place for relaxation but for Rajen –his struggle for life started from this place. He had to catch the train somehow unless there was no way to reach Nilganj.
Rajen had had an ambition and he told me many times that he liked to be an officer in a merchant bank in Patna or any big city. But he could not continue his studies after passing Matriculation exam for untimely death of his father when the whole responsibility of running the family had fallen on him. So he had to forsake his ambition and had started working in the grocery shop.
That was many years ago. Rajen was accustomed to his fate like everyone of this world. But the mind of Rajen –the man who once had loved of dreaming for an enviable position in life remained the same. But I never heard Rajen grumbling for his unfulfilled ambition and living a humble life in a village where people even were unaware of other modes of life full of comfort, convenience and with enlightened atmosphere. Perhaps Rajen was very practical and a down to earth person who knew it was foolish to remain in unfulfilled dreams. So his aspiring nature meandered through the incidents and happenings of various other lives where he took sides for his favourites and sought fulfilment in their success. He was a supporter of Mohanbagan Football Club and sometime it appeared that meaning of his existence depended on the Club’s winning the league. Rajen was an admirer of the author Sarat Chatterjee like many people. Rajen read Sarat Chatterjee in Hindi translation and bore a strong opinion that the author should have been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He took it personally for this wrong and considered it as an unfortunate reality of his life. Rajen read newspaper regularly. He bought it in Nilganj as the newspapers were not available in Sitarampur in a regular manner. It was considered a luxury to buy newspaper for reading –as nobody with the same financial position as Rajen’s could think of spending the hard-earned money on such fashion as buying newspapers. It was unnecessary for existence –as necessity was defined in Sitarampur. But Rajen did not live merely in his small family and in a rustic township-Sitarampur. He wanted to belong to a different milieu his failure to getting a handsome urban job notwithstanding. Or perhaps more for that?
One day Rajen told me an incident which he read in a newspaper. The incident was hotly discussed in cities all over India and it was an interesting event in legal circle. I knew it from Rajen- that the mica mines once owned by the British were now under the proprietorship of a big industrialist Anil Patel. There were other brothers of Anil Patel in the business. The Patel family had many industries in different states of India owned jointly by the members of Patel family including the eldest Anil Patel. But the mica mines was exclusively owned by Anil and the other brothers had no share in this mica business. After the sudden and untimely death of Anil, the business fell in the hands of Ratnavali Devi –the widow of Anil Patel. Ratnavali was an educated person. She had been graduated from the Cambridge University and very much informed one in all modern matters of the world including the complexities of business administration. She had actively helped her husband in his business. After the death of her husband she became the main shareholder of the Patel industries. But the mica mines fell exclusively under her personal ownership. Jayant Mehta was a chartered accountant and had assisted Anil as his chief secretary. Jayant was a very efficient person and his personal integrity was beyond question. So after the death of Anil –Ratnavali depended much on Jayant in managing her business. Actually Jayant had been considered as one of the family of Anil Patel although officially he was mere a paid secretary. After Anil’s death his involvement in the family grew as Ratnavali gradually inclined to see him as a son. The couple was childless. So perhaps it was natural that Jayant won the motherly affection of Ratnavali after Anil’s death.
Ratnavali managed her portion of the family business efficiently including her own –the mica mines-for which she depended much on Jayant. After a decade of Anil’s death Ratnavali followed her husband at the age of seventy. When the religious rituals associated with death were over-Jayant declared to the shock and surprise of everyone of the Patel family-that Ratnavali had left a will in which she gifted the mica mines to Jayant unconditionally.
Here began the drama that stirred all the business houses and the legal circle. Jayant applied to the court for the probate of the will of Ratnavali. The whole Patel family opposed the will going its easy course in favour of Jayant. The probate application was contested by the other Patels.
Rajen would read in the newspaper the course of this event with keen interest. Everyday when he returned from Nilganj he narrated the recent developments of the court case that he had read in that day’s newspaper. He was visibly happy for the turn of fate of Jayant. As he narrated the proceedings –he became exited. Even he became well-informed in the intricacies of legal matters-of which he had had the least knowledge two months ago. Jayant appeared to be his own client and so he felt restless on the dates of hearings of this case. He got so tensed that if he were the judge he would have given the judgement in a month’s time –and definitely in favour of Jayant! On a day when he got down from the train in Sitarampur I asked him “What happened –you look so disgusted?” He told me “The court will hear the case after summer holidays. The court-people in India should not enjoy holidays like the school teachers when thousands of cases are pending for years. The Patel-Jayant case will be heard when the court opens in July.” I felt for him. It was as if Rajen who fought the Patels in the court! One day I asked –“Who do you think have the chance of winning the case?” He instantly retorted “Jayant has every moral and legal reason in favour of him by virtue of the will of Ratnavali. Patels have money power to influence the course in their favour. Jayant is a small fry-compared to them. It all depends on the witnesses in the will now. Patels may try to purchase them. But let us see the will of the God.”
Jayant won a major battle when the court rejected in July - the objection of the Patels against registering the will for probate hearing. Rajen –burst with a winning glee while breaking the news in the evening. The date of the next hearing was fixed after fifteen days. He told “The major battle is over. Now it will be a cake-walk for Jayant. All the vakils of the Nilganj court are of the opinion that Jayant has overcome the major ditch.” I have never seen Rajen so happy in the past. He offered me a cigarette. I was surprised as he was not a smoker. “Have you started smoking?” I asked. “No, no –I have bought the two only. Let us celebrate! It’s your brand,-have it. It’s really an occasion-isn’t it? Think of Jayant-he will be a millionaire-which he could not think of in his wildest dream! Fate of a man can never be sealed forever!”
After five days when I went to the station in the evening I found Rajen sitting on the platform bench. I was surprised to see him at that time. “When have you come?” I asked. “In the noon-I took leave from the shop. Jayant died in the last night after a massive heart attack. Oh! He should not have gone! I was waiting for his final victory. But he has not given me the opportunity. He has gone! Life is fun-the battle has comes to its end-without a solution.” He looked dejected. “But –the wife and sons of Jayant are there to continue the case” I said to Rajen. He remained silent for a moment and then said “What’s the use? The fate of Jayant has gone with him unchanged. I have no concern for his family.”
The 2115 UP arrived and was gone meanwhile. In the dim light of the platform I looked at Rajen-a man –none has tasted defeat like him in this world. He got the opportunity of waging a battle against a fait accompli through Jayant –but he lost it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

None to return

It is advised to read the earlier post "Home" before reading this.

Ramprasad was transferred to a station near to his home. He did not expect that his application for transfer to his desired station would get the approval of the authority so soon. But hopes are sometimes fulfilled in this world which seems always to stand against individual preferences only to make fun with its own woldly norms. So one day he packed up his bag and left Sitarampur. The transfer order came all on a sudden only fifteen days after Mallika and her brother had left for their home.

It was a unique situation for me as I always was sympathetic for Ramprasad –who had become a close friend-for his lonely life here in Sitarampur leaving his wife, child and parents in a far away home. So I congratulated him for his good luck. But at the same time I was to lose someone who was perhaps more than a family member in my so called ‘home’. I knew that it was a permanent parting of ways for us as Ramprasad would never come back to this small rural railway station in future.

During Mallika’s brief stay here-the air of Sitarampur had been filled with fragrance and she had induced a seeking in me for a permanence. I had not exactly realised this so far unaccustomed element in my psychology. But I had lost that cosiness of living in one’s preferred place after she had left. The coming and going of the trains had turned the platform and the cosiest bench on it as something abandoned. Mallika had put me in embarrassment for not inviting her just at the last moment she had been leaving me. On sitting over the bench of the platform I had many times –in my silent uttering-told Mallika that Sitarampur had been a lesser world for me after she had left. In the impermanence air of the platform –the inarticulate invitation meant a vague hollowness.

But we mortals live in extended time. So I hoped that next time when Ramaprasad would go to his home I would send my invitation to Mallika through him. I had asked Ramprasad several times about his next visit to his home. A sad smile appeared on his face every time I asked him of it. He did not know that I was sadder than him for his not having the opportunity to visit his home so soon! I always carried a sense of hurriedness like that person who was a bit late and so was hurried in his steps of walking to catch the last train. I would have to mend my lapse by inviting Mallika. But however impermanent the world might be it was certain to me that sooner or later Ramprasad would have his leave application approved by his authority. But sometime our fate gives more than what we want. So Ramprasad’s original application for transfer was approved in an unusual swiftness.

The relieving station master had already taken charges and we all like so many similar occasions in different times and with different persons were waiting for the 2115 UP on the platform. Ramprasad like a good friend became sad for leaving me –as both of us knew that we would never meet again. The 2115 UP arrived and Ramprasad boarded the train.

The train left with Ramprasad in a few minutes. This time I had been robbed of my opportunity to invite Mallika. Mallika was forever lost in the impermanence air of the railway platform.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


The present station master was a very amiable person. So he was a good friend to many persons. But here in Sitarampur station he was a waste thanks to those who had transferred him to this station which served only a small township. Mr.Ramprasad Jha –the station master, was an educated person. He had an M.A. degree in history from Patna University. But I liked him because he had an educated mind and was interested in many things of this world and he formed or made opinions depending on his own understanding in the secluded enlightenment of his mind’s inner chamber in stead of being influenced by others. But all his qualities were superfluous and useless to his authorities who needed only a dutiful station master who would never worry his mind thinking about the future of the world or poverty. So Ramprasad felt himself lonely in Sitarampur. Even newspapers were not available. One would have to go to the bazaar to get a
two-day stale newspaper.

Naturally we two became friends. We used to discuss many things in the evening in his room in the station. Sometimes we also sat on my favourite bench and discussed perhaps all things under the sun. As a few trains ran through Sitarampur Ramprasad had enough time to think of other things than the job of a station master would have involved him in other not so insignificant stations. He lived in his quarters attached to the station. But except for lunch and sleep in the night he usually stayed in the station. He spent most of his leisure in reading books sitting in the station master’s room on the platform. But when I went to the station he kept aside his books and diary and welcomed me with a smile. It was a pleasure for both of us to meet each other.
Ramprasad was a married person. But there were many problems for which it was not possible for him to keep his young wife and his two year old child with him in Sitarampur. He was not well paid to run two families –as he had to support his parents and brothers at his home place. It had not been possible for him to get a better job elsewhere –in spite of his educational qualification. It was difficult in India. So Ramprasad visited his family only when his leave was approved and the authority could manage a person to work here temporarily for his leave period.
One day Ramprasad told me that his brother in law and his sister in law would soon come here in Sitarampur for a few days. They were brother and sister. They loved Ramprasad and so at the first opportunity they felt to make a pleasant trip to Ramprasad’s place. Ramprasad’s wife would not come as she had to look after her aging in-laws. Ramprasad appeared to be very happy at this information and soon became busy preparing his households for the two guests. I also helped him buying this or that thing as would be felt required by the guests.
So one day Nitish and Mallika got down from 2116 DN. Ramprasad received them with great enthusiasm. They were quite young. Nitish was in his mid twenties and Mallika appeared to have just crossed her teens. Ramprasad was a little busy as the train was yet to leave the station and so I accompanied them and brought them to the station master’s room. Both of them were handsome and jovial as was evident in our casual exchanges in the room of the station master. Keshav the tea man had come to know that they were close relatives of the Masterjee (station master) and so he brought biscuits and tea for us. Mallika told me “Our journey seem to have not yet ended” and turning to her brother said “as if we are resting in a waiting room in the platform!”
I said to Mallika, “But it’s also the real home to Ramprasad and for me it has the warmth of a home and more comfortable a place-psychologically”
“Is it? A railway platform can not be a living place.” –Mallika said in reply. “But why?”- I asked. “It is because the place is not a stable place at all. You can not make a station your address. It exists in transition. One does not come here. When one wants to leave a place-he uses it as a diving board.”-Mallika replied with a smile and continued “Where do you like to dive into to feel comfortable?” “Into my mind.” I said also with a smile. Nitish –so far had not sppken –but shared the conversation with a silent smile now burst into laughter for my statement. Ramprasad entered the room and told them with an apologetic quick tone “Let us go to home. Oh! You are so tired!” The three rose up and went for Ramaprasad’s quarters. After walking a distance Mallika looked back and told “We’ll visit you in your home here again.” I replied with a loud voice “You are heartily welcome.”
They came here the next evening and we three were joined together and sat on my favourite bench. Ramprasad was busy in his room. Nitish told that they had been busy in setting Ramprasad’s household which was in a mess. Mallika cooked, especially for Ramprasad, who –she thought, should relish his favourite dishes at least for a few days they would stay here. At this point I said to Mallika “Can you cook well?”
She retorted “How can I tell it? The taste of a food is proved in its eating” and quickly asked “What are your favourite dishes?”
“There are too many”, I continued “and you’ll need many days to exhaust the menu”.
Mallika smiled and said “Why have you not married yet? A food-lover should not remain a bachelor” At this point Nitish told us that he was going to see the surroundings of the railway station. After he left I said “Mallika, you are right perhaps ” I continued “ but whether there is anyone in this world who will agree to sharing a life with a person who is a vagabond like me –and loves spending more time in the station than in his house?”
“May be a woman could have made a home for you elsewhere.” Mallika replied thoughtfully looking to where the rails blurred in the distant far.
Nitish returned and came to us followed by Ramprasad and Keshav. So we all sat on the bench and keshav entertained us with his hot tea. He told that this tea was special. He refused to take money this time and requested us to have it as the two were also his invitees.
I told Mallika “See! The platform has become a home now!”
All burst into laughter.
They next day I had an urgent work and so I could not visit the station and my new found friends. I had asked their permission telling “Sorry for not seeing you tomorrow-I have an urgent preoccupation. I’m sad to leave you here.”
Mallika had retorted “You are leaving us in your home! Don’t be sad!”
I had returned in the night. So in the morning I went straight to Ramprasad’s quarters. Mallika seemed to be very happy as she has found me in a home now. She prepared tea for me and told me with her typical naughty smile “It is not as good as Keshav’s! But what else can I do?”
Nitish and Ramprasad laughed loudly at her remark.
In the evening Mallika and Nitish came to the station as their sojourn in Sitarampur ended. Ramprasad was also with them. I was there from before an hour of their reaching the station.
Nitish was talking with Ramprasad about his transfer from Sitarampur. Perhaps they were not happy to see the way Ramprasad lived here. It was really bad to live in so far a place leaving one’s wife, child and parents. At this time the bell-man rang the bell. The passengers became alerted. In a minute the face of 2115 UP appeared in the far.
“Good bye!”-Mallika told. The train stopped at the platform. Ramprasad looked sad.
We all boarded the train and helped Mallika and Nitish to sit comfortably.
Nitish again thanked me for my enjoyable accompaniment for these days. The whistle blew and Ramaprasad and I got down from the train. The 2115 UP moved nonchalantly. Mallika, looking through the window threw her words to me, “You have not invited me to come again, have you?” The train passed without caring to pause to allow me to say anything. Mallika had told me on the first day that the station was not a place to go or come to. One goes there in order to leave for somewhere.
For the first time in my life I was robbed of my home in that somber evening.
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