Arduous journey back home

Posted By Author on May 2, 2011

28/8/1967

Got up early. The flood was receding. Shyamlal Pradhan came.  He brought only fifty rupees and told that he tried to pawn his gold but in vain. When I came finishing bath our servant boys Rajender and Inder came for work.  The bridge was to be repaired.  One of the servants was sent to Mitranand and Dhasmana at Guptakashi with a letter of request to handover thirty rupees on credit.  He returned empty handed, as none of them could be traced.

Baba himself got busy in delicately removing plants and wrapping them in mudpack for me to carry home. Yellow, white and purple dahlias, rose knight, chrysanthemums both snow ball and floribunda type, marigold, etc were packed by him.  What a loving and caring different Baba!  I packed my things and to be handy left big holdall in hut only. Shyamlal and I took food in Baba’s kitchen.  As I predicted Baba could not close him-self but saw that I enjoyed the parting delicious food.  Two servants were sent in advance with my basket of plants and a suitcase. I was ready to leave. I went inside to pay parting obeisance to Baba.  He said, “Not now.  It is only 10.30 A.M. If you hurry I shall cancel your going.  He made me sit near him.  From almanac he fixed timing of 11 A.M. to leave and explained that before that it was inauspicious time.  After a brief chat he gave the following dictation:

11 A.M.

“Wherein the difficulty of most of you all, more or less, lies?”

“The most of you do not really become attentive and introspective enough to understand and to realize what I say about you in general and in particular and with that understanding and realization you do not really endeavour to constantly remake yourselves.  If this trait is forthcoming all other difficulties will be of little consequence and will melt away like withered leaves in the rains. A few lines from the bases of development keep always in the forefront of your mind.

‘Remaking yourself depends upon your ability to retain the pouring Grace.’

(Baba’s booklet published by Shaulmari Ashram: Bases of Development)

And you should note that receiving is not all enough.  This time you receive and the next moment by your folly you lose it.  You can expect no advance with this sort of painful penelopising.”

Then Baba talked about racial riots and Martin Luther King.  He then said to me, “Always remember these two lines of Voltaire:

‘You may disapprove what I say

But I shall fight to death to

Preserve your right to say so’

Baba commented on this, “Of course with this condition that in your disapproval you do not indulge in aggressive vulgarities.  That is what Voltaire also must have meant.”

It was 11 A.M. I bade him ‘Pronam’.  He raised his hand to bless me and said, “Send telegram after you reach.  Between 15th and 20th Sept. You may expect my final call. This time when I call be sure two and half crore has come.  Wire will come if leave not granted resign. 25th and 26th are good days for Chinu’s ‘Anna Prashan’ (first morsel of food intake by newly born baby).  It is certain that before ‘Pooja’ we have to go to Ashram.”  With heavy heart I left. I knew the new date for D Day would prove fiasco as usual.

Ramanidada, Gita with Chinu and Dipali came to the bank of the river to see me off.  Baba came out and was watching me from distance. Gita’s eyes became moist. I too broke and suppressed sob.  Repentance was pinching my mind that without taking them all to Ashram I was leaving. I was reminded of pathetic episode of Rishi Kanwa giving send off to ShakuntalaI to go to king Dushyant I came on the road with Shyamlalji.  Servants were waiting.  I walked to Kunda.  My feet were full of blisters.  Owing to non-use and moist weather the leather of boots was hard like iron. I changed it.  There were no buses.  It was 11.30 A.M. I had only sixty-two rupees in pocket. We walked nonstop to village Sondhi a distance of eleven miles.  Reached there at 3 P.M. On way at many places debris of scree and talus due to landslides heaped on the road.  Buses were stuck up at many places.  At Sondhi gave food to servants in a hotel and quarter rupee tip to each. They went back.

Luckily I got a bus and reached Agasti Muni.  One Rajastani pilgrims’ bickering with driver on way wasted half an hour’s precious time.  At last the bus started and by the time we covered one mile, a large landslide blocked the road.  We crossed knee-deep mud.  On the other end there was an empty truck. Our driver managed and arranged lift in it.  We were fortunate that landslide took place before our eyes. We escaped death by seconds.  The convoy ahead of us was lucky to go ahead.

In the truck all were Rajastani Marwaris except me.  They were singing ‘Bhajan’ in chorus and I was amused and engrossed.  First they sang ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishahna’ then it was followed by devotional song in Rajastani language rendered in English as below:

Mharo Krishna Kuwnro Radha sadan ke manwa chalore |

Krishna Kuwnrore mharo kai saro Gokul rakhwarore ||

The rhyme and rhythm was enchanting. The meaning is ‘My Krishna is moving as a bachelor, his mind goes to the dwelling of Radha. My bachelor Krishna protects the entire Gokul’

The truck halted outside Rudraprayag and I had to walk one mile with heavy luggage. I reached Rudraprayag panting and puffing. Met Mr. Bhat and requested him to continue daily newspaper for Baba. Stayed at hotel tourist and being Shastri day, no food was served. Managed bread and vegetable. With difficulty procured ticket for Shrinagar. After reading slept.

29/8/1967:

At 4 A.M. got up and boarded the bus.  On the eleventh milestone, buses ahead escaped and a landslide obstructed us before, our naked eyes.  What a providential second escape.  We cleaned the scree and the driver dared and crossed the remaining heap of scree.  One Bhaskar Buwa of Yawal tahsil of Khandesh became friend and after many days I had opportunity to talk in Marathi.

Reached Shrinagar at 9.30 A.M. Roads to Tehri, Pauri and Deoprayag were blocked due to landslides.  I consulted and with the help of police engaged a porter in six rupees.  Immediately I began my march to Pauri.  By steep short cut crossed a mountain climbing a distance of five miles.  Then came down nine miles by short cut otherwise by road it was seventeen miles.  There the convoy of Pauri arrived and got stuck up due to blockade.  One bus turned back and I caught it.  That saved further walk of ten miles.  Gave four rupees to porter.  I was ashamed.  What hard labour they put in for pittance. The pile of baggage on his back was two feet above head and bottom one foot above ground.

Reached safely to Pauri at midday.  Ate an apple and continued further journey in the same bus.  Converted my seat from lower to upper class.  I was by the side of the driver.  He told me a story of demon of Kedarnath. (Jim Corbett has described similar story of demon of Trishul.) The driver was so engrossed in telling the story that at one place we narrowly escaped an accident.  The accidents in the Himalayas are always fatal.  Anyway it was a fun.  The road here was surrounded by beautiful scenery.  By passing Landsdown we reached Kotadwar at 6 P.M. By a taxi without light reached Najibabad at 11 P.M. Dined and caught Dun Express. Through bribe secured a berth in two-tier coach.  Slept.

30/8/1967

Got down at Lucknow railway station at 9 A.M. There was no provision of public trunk call.  Fought and got complaint book scribbled protest.  Then went to General Post Office.  At 10.30 A.M. talked with Ramprasadji at Kanpur on phone.  His son was ill and he promised to come to see me in two and half hours.  It was decided that I would wait for him near enquiry office of the station.  Came back to station and took meal.  Only three rupees were left in pocket.  The situation was grave.  From 11 A.M. to 3 P.M. waited for Ramprasadji.  Patience exhausted.  No money.  What to do?  Ultimately I walked to meter gauge railway station.  There was nobody from Kanpur. Took a risk to find out Ramprasad’s brother-in -law’s house, a manufacturer of readymade garments. Luck favoured and I traced Mr. Tandon.  He offered Jalpan viz. snacks and informed that none turned from Kanpur.  Therefore I went to bus stand and purchased ticket for two rupees twenty paisa for Kanpur.  No money in pocket.  It was raining.  Just before departure Gopal, son of Ramprasadji met. Gopal was idiot to while away time and came late.  He gave two hundred rupees and a letter from his father.  I left the bus and got down telling Gopal that I would be going to Nagpur.  It seemed a ray of wisdom had dawn upon Ramprasadji as he gave only two hundred bucks.  After all experience is the best teacher.  I missed the Lucknow- Delhi flight as it was at 4.30 P.M. The Ganges was in full flood.  I reached Kanpur in the evening and by Rikshaw headed towards Ramprasadji.  He met midway.  He was coming to receive me. We reached at his place.  He had a big shop of hosiery with lot of servants. He had a big business.  He had taken impression of Baba’s feet on blank paper, framed it and hung it above the door of his office. He took me in privacy and expressed his inability to send five thousand rupees to Baba.  He offered rupees fifteen hundred which I refused.  He forced me from heart.  He asked a way out.  Ultimately I told him there was only one escape route.  He should give me personal loan and I would send the amount from my place in my name.  At proper time I would inform Baba about the mischief played.  It appealed to him.

Ramprasadji left to see his ailing uncle and I took bath and settled down for lunch.  Ramprasad’s sister’s son ‘Om’ came and I requested him to take lunch.  He began to take food from my plate only. It was my odd maiden experience. However, It is the custom in the north.  The car was out and hence Om saw me off at the station by rickshaw.  It seemed Ramprasadji’s behaviour was semi-good but something was pinching his mind. He seemed to be accustomed to Baba’s letters written in Hindi personally in his own handwriting.

At 10 P.M. train came and illegally I entered three-tier bogie.  Occupied luggage carriage. Above me was one Ramesh Agrawal, a petromax shop owner of Urai. I could not get time to send telegram to Baba.

31/8/1967:

Got up at Zansi. By railway post sent a telegram to Baba.  By bribe of a rupee secured a seat in Pathankot Express. The whole day travelled and reached Bhusawal at 9 P.M. I finished dinner. Gave full dinner to a beggar. It was amusing to watch the happiness on his face.  Howrah Express arrived shockingly at right time. First I thought it might be yesterday’s one reaching late.

1/9/1967:

Reached home at 5 A.M. Parents and brother were very happy.

Sent telegram to Ramanidada of safe arrival.  Sent T.M.O. of Rs.200 to Rajat Bhadra at Shaulmari, Rs.250 to Gobind Shah at Calcutta, Rs.75 to Gyanbabu at Asansol, and Rs.300 to Ramanidada, i.e., Baba.

In spite of most hazardous and hectic journey I was able to maintain the time schedule.  When joined the college, everyone was curious and inquisitive about my vanishing trick.

About the author

Author

Comments

Comments are closed.