Baba calls me back

Posted By Author on April 16, 2011

11/8/1967:

Received Ramani Ranjan Das’s telegram posted yesterday informing me to start immediately for Gangtoli and if possible carry sixteen hundred rupees for their expenses.  The latter was beyond my capacity.  Impossible.

12/8/1967:

Secured seven day’s casual leave from Principal Mukherjee.  Withdraw Rs. Two hundred and had balance of rupees four hundred left for emergency.  Obeisance to parents and in Mukund Ketakar’s car hurried to Badnera where Mukund Dange and Chandrashekhar Dandge also came to see me off. The express was already there and by luck got into old Second Class at 10.35 A.M. Reached Nagpur. The southern express was late by five hours and the Janata express made up three hours late timing.  Paid bribe and got berth in the Janata Express. On way purchased Anniversary issues of 15th August of Current and Blitz for Baba.

13/8/1967:

Reached Delhi at 7 P.M. on 13th Aug. 67 and got in Deharadun express.

14/8/1967:

I reached Haridwar at 6.30 A.M. By taxi reached Rishikesh. The bus was to start at 8 A.M.  So purchased fruits, vegetables etc. worth twenty-three rupees.  Luckily I caught bus on road and reached Deoprayag at 11 A.M.  Reached Shrinagar at 2 P.M. Our convoy was of seventeen vehicles. Before eight miles from Rudraprayag first bus passed and remaining got stuck up due to landslide. Two persons were slightly injured.  Lucky.  My bus was No.11.  All passengers including me worked heavily to remove debris of scree from the road and then onward journey resumed.  Reached Rudraprayag.  Purchased carton of Capstan cigarettes for Baba.  Reached Kunda Chatti in evening.  It started raining therefore left luggage at Sohansingh’s tea kiosk and told coolie to bring my luggage at the camp in the morning. It was twilight and I walked briskly with things brought for Baba. I sweated.  Got down the forest and took path of flourmill.  It was pitch dark.  The dry channel of the island was full of gushing water. There was temporary the bridge.  The habitat was in stygian pitch darkness.  No torch. Traced the bridge by groping like a blind person.  Crossed it with trembling legs.  Reached a small island of boulders. Took wrong path and fell waist deep in the water.  I was completely wet and had no extra clothing. Got the right end and crossed the second part of the bridge which was horribly creaking.  Luckily landed on the main island in one piece and that too alive.

I groped towards Baba’s hut.  Gitamasi came, and she was simply ebullient with ecstasy to see me.  She rushed in to inform her father.  Ramanidada came.  He dejectedly told that Baba sent Gobind back to his home as his two sons were ill and since fourth August he was alone. My T.M.O. of 5th August was received yesterday only. Accused in Shaulmari case were punished with a nominal fine of rupees two hundred each.  Other talk followed.  Baba then called me in.

I reached in his hut with my mat. With reverence I bent before him.  The whole roof was leaking and floor was damp. As usual he raised his hand to bless me.  Our talk began. He enquired about welfare of my house.  I informed him that my father had high blood-pressure attack.  He then enquired about Prabhakar and Chandrashekhar.  I told him how I saw Anantlal Dammani haranguing striking employees of Punjab National Bank.  Baba remarked that he was a roadside speaker, a demagogue. He said, Suresh you have not heard me speaking!” I only read his rotund and inspiring well-prepared speeches in ‘On to Delhi’ His eloquence is par excellence.

Baba woefully said to me, “Suresh, I am cut off from the world since one month.  No news.  You tell me important items in short.”  I enquired as to why newspaper was stopped and he grieved that it was for want of payment. I was pained to see his predicament. Newspapers to him were as indispensable as food.

In a nut shell I related major flashes of news about Vietnam, internal conflict in China, China wiped out Russian Cavalry Division, standstill on Israel, Y.B.Chavan and fifty M.P’s defection, Privy purses issue, etc.  Baba enquired as to how was Kamraj. I told I did not hear about him.  He remarked. “If he does not become President of the Congress, Nanda may contest.”

Baba then made his observation about Vijaya Raje Scindia (Shinde), “She seems active.  She is not like Jaipur’s Gayatri Devi.  When during my sojourn through the country I was passing through Gwalior I heard good opinion about the Royal family.  Some remarked that State Raj was better than Swaraj.”

I then apprised him that I was on a week’s casual leave and if I did not join in time I would be treated defaulter and granted leave without pay.  In lieu of that it would be better to return so that I would be able to send much needed money. Baba blasted, “No. Suresh you will not go. Let them do anything.  You apply for leave.  I am going on fast from 18th, the Thursday.  You cannot leave during my fast.  How much money you have brought?”  I told about rupees two hundred and he said O.K.  He dictated the budget of our bare necessities. The amount totaled to rupees four hundred and seventy. Then he revised the expenses, which figured rupees three hundred and forty. As a last resort he directed to cut thirty percent from each item.  I laughed and said as per need we would manage.  He did condescend. I again requested that if I returned I would be able to send rupees five hundred instead of forfeiting pay.  He vehemently stressed, “No. I do not want you to go. Now I cannot tolerate. It is enough. I must strike finally. At the most if you feel, you may send a telegram to Chandrashekhar and get a T.M.O.”  I had to submit.  Baba then gave Chinu in my lap.  We then talked about court cases and he said to Ramanidada that anyhow he should pull on for twenty to twenty-five days. They discussed. Baba gladly told me that he made many grafts of roses and dahlias.  He then told me to go for dinner and instructed to bring next morning nine liters milk. Everything was beyond the capacity of my imagination.

Ramanidada and I came to his hut and dined chapatis and vegetable of self-grown pumpkin. The food would not slide down the throat. I asked Gita whether that was the type of food and she emitted spontaneously a touching sarcastic laugh, which explained trivilisation of misery.  I then enquired about Shomu, Lala and Rajat. I returned to my hut to snooze.  Ramanidada advised to tie Bholu in the hut as a safety.  Ramanidada accompanied me and showed torchlight.  There was only one dry patch about five feet in width.  I opened Salil’s bed as my holdall was left at Kunda chatti. Dada left.  The stench in the hut was unbearable.  Cotton rug was damp.  There was no door to opening. Wind blew straight inside.  Moreover, leaves on the walls dried and fell making it full of ventilation.  I was awfully exhausted.  It was raining.  In spite of marauding tiny insects I fell into sound sleep.

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