[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 dont 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 dont 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 wont give a single paisa, I said.
But uncle, dont 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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