[Assam] Death of a dream

Pradip Kumar Datta pradip200 at yahoo.com
Sat May 26 23:10:54 PDT 2007

 Death of a dream
— Wg Cdr G Baruah (retd)I dreamt of a house where I could sit on a  veranda. Open space. A green manicured lawn in front. A lot of shrubs,  calendulas; flox; chrysanthemums; xanthiums and of course a lot of  roses.

Would you believe that I had built a house like that. A huge Assam  type house with five bedrooms overlooking a hillock with a spring flowing by the  side.

In the meantime my tenure at Guwahati was over. I employed a  caretaker, left the property in his hand and went away to Delhi. From Delhi I  moved to Nagpur, from Nagpur to Nashik. In between I used to come on flying  visits to Guwahati. I used to get out of my aircraft proceed to my house and  spend a few hours of solace. I would talk to the growing trees; pat at the rose  petals, sit at the bank of the pond and feed the fish with the fish feed. I  always used to leave my house with a heavy heart. Then came my time of  superannuation. I approached the authorities to post me to Guwahati again so  that I could retire from my hometown to help me rehabilitate. My request was  conceded and I landed up with my bag and baggage at Guwahati.

Hence I  took up official residence but made it a point to spend the whole of Saturdays,  Sundays and holidays in my house. I posittioned a mini cooking range, a few cane  chairs and a cot in my house. 

Belive me it was like Heaven. The whole  area had a look of freshness. The grapes had started bearing fruits. The oranges  also started fruiting. These were very sour. Yet I relished, because these were  from my garden. But the dream was broken. The dream was broken in a peculiar  way. Call me an escapist, call me a coward, but I gave in.

It was a  Sunday. As usual I was at my house at about 10 O’ clock in my sports rig. I had  a glass of beer and had a reel cast on the pond.. A huge mrigal took the bait. I  dragged it to the shore very slowly, stroked its head fondly and removed the  hook gently and let it go. It was a huge guy weighing about 3 kgs. I was ready  to put the reel in water again when a young man of about 22-23 years approached  me from nowhere. He was wearing a loose shirt and a baggy trouser. He addressed  me as uncle and told me that he wanted to talk to me.

“Shoot”, I  said.

“I mean, he hesitated; “I would like to say  somehing”.

“Shoot young man”, I said, “What is the matter?”

He  said in chaste Assamese, “It is very personal; hope you don’t mind”.

“Go  ahead”, I said.

And he said whatever he had to say. He knew that I had an  account in SBI, Nagpur, he knew the account number and the amount of money I  had. He also rattled out the account number of my wife in SBI, Nagpur with the  available balance. He also told me that my wife and I had separate accounts in  the Airport branch of SBI, Guwahati in addition to running two RD accounts. He  also said that my Engineer son was doing MBA and would get a good job and that  my daughter was doing her MA final and with her records in academics she will  get a job very easily.

I was almost irritated. I asked “young man what is  your problem?”

“No problem uncle”, he said. “You are retiring on June 30  and will get about Rs 20 lakh”.

“I say!, I could not take it any more.  “What is your bloody problem?”

“No problem uncle, I have been sent to ask  as to how much are you giving us?”

“Who the hell sent you to me?”, I  yelled “And why should I give anything to anybody?”

“Uncle please don’t  shout”, the boy told me very slowly, “I have been sent here with a mandate and  have to report the outcome”.

“Tell whosoever sent you that I won’t give a  single paisa”, I said.

“But uncle, don’t you think you should contribute  to the cause of freeing Assam from the occupational forces?” He asked me very  calmly.

“No, I repeat a big ‘No’” is my answer and please tell your  bosses accordingly, I said.

“Uncle you will be killed”.

I said “by  killing me if you can have an independent Assam please go ahead, but I shall not  pay; that is final”, I said. While saying so I noticed a bulge on his trouser  pocket in the right leg and so I asked “you have come with a weapon is  it?”

“Yes I have one”, he said and took out a sleek Chinese  pistol.

“Can I have a look at it?”, I asked.

He handed over the  pistol to me without any hesitation. It was not loaded. I asked him, “Do you  know how to use it?”

The boy said that he had been trained at Kachin for  3 months. I told him “Next time you come please come with two weapons. I have  been trained to kill throughout my life with the Armed Forces. Give me one, we  will shoot at each other and whosoever kills wins. And now just get lost before  I break your neck”.

The boy went away giving me a pensive look. He took  his pistol while going.

Seven days after the incident the boy was killed  by the unified command personnel in an encounter. This was confirmed to me by  the Gaonburha whom I confided.

And that was the time I killed my  dream.

Whatever I said to the young man was said because I had a pair of  uniform with me. Come June 30, I hang my uniforms and I would be left open to  the wolves. Even a small boy could threaten me with ransom. What happens to the  valour and the Izzat that I have grown up with?

Call me an escapist, call  me a coward, and call me timid.

I sold off my dream house for a song and  am currently living in a rented house. I have a property at Nagpur. Planning to  move out to Nagpur. I think I am not fit to live here. Assam Tribune 27.05.07

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