Posted By Author on September 17, 2011
Up early. Took wash and bath. From refreshment room brought refection for all. A full plate of fresh cream with sugar was for only half rupee. All of us took two plates each. I never saw milk products so cheap in my life. Haribandhu arrived with luggage. He informed that Shri Baba was coming in a jeep. I took Haribandhu to hotel. There we saw the jeep. Hurriedly we returned. The jeep stopped at the entrance gate of the station. Balisingh was the driver. I requested Shri Baba to come on the reverse side where he could rest in a field under a tree. He agreed. We selected the spot in a rice field under an arboreal tree on the boundary of the cultivated land. Then I came back to the station and requested Gitamasi with Chinu to accompany me. Dejectedly she said that she would not go to the Shaulmari Ashram then. I left both of them with Shri Baba and returned. I stood meals for the driver in a hotel.
All of us assembled around Shri Baba. Oranges were brought and distributed to us. Shri Baba’s infuriated demeanour changed into calm and peaceful one. It was decided that Shri Baba, Ramanidada, and Chinu would go into jeep to Bilaspur railway station and rest of us would follow by train. Then Shri Baba said Haribandhu would walk three miles along the road to Calcutta and meet Shri Baba out of the town. From there they would go to Puri (Jagannathpuri) in Orissa all afoot. (Netaji on page 167 of his autobiography,” I feel like going to Puri.”) Again Baba changed the plan and told that the jeep with him would reach the Bilaspur railway station.
While parting off Shri Baba took Pilu with him, fondled her and told her to forget his wrath. It was a heart-rending scene. Ramanidada wept and told me to take care of Pilu and Baudi (his wife). They left by jeep at 2.30 P.M.
We packed things and awaited the arrival of train. I purchased two tickets of second class and rest third class but as the train was almost empty all of us occupied seats in the third class. Chat. We reached Bilaspur at 7 P.M.
We took a round outside but the jeep was not there. Accidentally I met Dr. Sumant, a senior Government physician attached to my college. He was a bachelor. By then the jeep arrived. I introduced Dr. Sumant to Shri Baba. Doctor then left.
I urged Shri Baba to go by car to Puri. He flatly refused. As per his wish I purchased parched grams and baked bread for Dada. Calcutta bound mail arrived. Nityadada managed reservations in three tiers. With my wife and Gita we went to see off Pilu and Nityadada. To my astonishment I met Dr.S.M. Mukherjee, my Principal, perched on the upper berth. The surprise was mutual. He was a bit shy to be caught travelling in third class. I brought him out and introduced to Shri Baba. With a brief talk in Bengali I took him back to his seat. The train moved a bit late. Gitamasi and Pilu wept a lot while parting off.
From Pendra road station two sleuths of Intelligence department were shadowing us. I realized it. At Bilaspur railway platform they were following me. When the train moved I climbed the compartment and confirmed that they too entered the next bogie. I immediately got down from the other side. When train left I crossed the track and climbed up the platform. Ladies were bewildered.
My marriage was hardly a month old. We came out and I was relieved with the idea that my wife and I were free to move to home. Shri Baba directed me to leave by 3.30 A.M. train instead of 7.30 P.M. one.
Shri Baba made a sudden change in his programme. He told me to manage a car for Raipur. I went to a fruit merchant and enquired about a taxi to be hired. He told that there were no taxis in Bilaspur. I returned. A few cars were parked at the station. I contacted all drivers requesting to drive us up to Raipur, a distance of hundred miles. Only one agreed for Rupees hundred plus fuel. The Ambassador car belonged to Railway Dept. and the driver had dropped his boss, an officer and his wife at the station. By night the driver would return with a bonus in his pocket. The officer went on tour and hence driver was least worried to be caught red handed. After seeing off his boss he came with the car at our disposal. He took his friend as a companion for long journey. Since the driver was indulging in a clandestine deal, secrecy was of prime importance and that was our need also. Just then I already dodged two sleuths.
The driver, his friend and Haribandhu occupied the front seat. Shri Dada, Gitamasi, Chinu and Shri Baba accommodated the back seat. Before pushing off Shri Baba tipped me that they would meet me along the National Highway No.6 outside the Raipur town. There was no road leading to Calcutta or Puri directly from Bilaspur and hence destination Raipur was compulsory. The car left. My wife and I went to the second-class waiting room for rest.
Money makes the mare go. Faithful to bribe, the watchman awoke us at 3 A.M. We entered in second-class compartment of the express. Arrived at Raipur at 6 A.M. Straight we headed to my elder brother, Umeshchandra’s house adjoining Ayurvedic College in Dangania. After wash, breakfast and bath on brother’s motorcycle we reached motor stand. Made an enquiry about taxi. The fare was too costly i.e. one and half rupees per kilometer. Then we went to our ancestral house in Budhapara. My cousin Sachit was not at home. Met aunt Mai and left. With the introduction from brother I hired a bicycle and left alone towards the Highway No.6 to find out our rendezvous. On way purchased some utensils, vegetables, rice, flour, etc. I pedalled about three miles. Crossed the big bridge. Haribandhu had walked down and was resting and sipping tea in a roadside shanty near the bridge. He detected me and shouted to attract my attention. We met. Then double seat we pedalled three miles further. Shri Baba met us on way. He was walking down in search of us. All of us went to our temporary destination.
We came to a well-built pucca farmhouse on the left side of the highway. It belonged to some Munnalal or Chunnalal, a mill owner of Raipur. Shri Baba’s entourage was to stay there for the night. The luggage was heaped near the gate. Shri Baba gave Haribandhu and me oranges to eat. He Himself got busy in cooking ‘khichari’. Shri Baba told me to arrange a taxi to go to a secluded place along the Puri road about twenty miles or so away from Raipur.
Haribandhu and myself began our ride on bicycle at 11.30 A.M. The distance being long and the climb being stiff I sat on the rear carrier and both of us jointly pedalled the bicycle. Reached my brother’s house at 1 P.M. Finished our lunch. My cousin Sachitanand was waiting for me. I told him to manage cash of rupees two hundred and fifty, some grocery and a taxi. He agreed. I dropped the hired bicycle and washed off the bill. In rickshaw three of us went to the motor stand. Bargain was finalized with one young Sikh named Darshan Singh. For his Ambassador car NO.MPR 411 he agreed to charge a rupee per mile both ways. We got into taxi, purchased grocery of eighty-four rupees, fruits, vegetables, etc. We reached the destination at 5 P.M., a bit late than promised. Shri Baba was in a very good mood. I introduced my cousin. Shri Baba talked with him while Haribandhu and I packed luggage in the taxi. I told Sachit to send a telegram to Ramesh Saxena at Etawah and gave him money for that. Sachit managed to go home alone and we set on our journey along the National Highway No.6 towards Sambhalpur. I already left my wife at my brother.
We made a brief halt and with Shri Baba went to examine a campsite along the river Mahanadi near the bifurcation road to township of Mahasamunda. Shri Baba rejected the spot because the river remained far off and the road was bad. We collected some firewood and were off on further journey. We reached about forty miles from Raipur at ‘Khallari temple’. It was adjoining the highway surrounded by dense forest and with a well for water. Shri Baba decided to spend night there and retained the taxi for the night.
Shri Baba himself cooked meals in the forest. I was tense and exhausted. Gitamasi came to my rescue and she surreptitiously managed a couple of packets from Shri Baba’s stock. We dined fried vegetable and chapatis at 11.30 in the night. The priest of the temple was very helpful. I was surprised to find that he was a Maharashtrian from Nasik. He told that tigers and bisons were profuse in that forest. We lit a fire for Shri Baba and ourselves. Haribandhu and I slept inside the temple while Shri Baba, Dada, Gitamasi and Chinu occupied a lean-to of the temple where fire was lit.
Got up early in the morning. Finished bath and got ready. Shri Baba decided to proceed onward. The driver proposed Shirpur and all of us headed towards that.
We reached Shirpur, which is fifty-two miles from Raipur and eleven miles off the National Highway. Made a halt at the Dak Bungalow. With Shri Baba we walked down on reconnaissance mission. On way did some shopping. Shri Baba selected a spot under a gnarled and stunted ‘Bel ‘ tree on the bank of the Mahanadi. It was about a furlong south of the D.B.
Shri Baba told us to return to D.B. and he joined us later on. Cooking was done in the premises of the D.B. Took slight rest and then went to the village to obtain labourers to erect huts. Thrice I failed to get anyone. The village was very small with many temples surrounded by forest. The antique remnants were abundant. The Archaeology department’s excavation work was on. It was probably a city of the Buddhist era (B.C.400).
Dejected I made a report. At 4 P.M. Shri Baba took me to the village in search of labourers. We contacted one Mr. Pandit Zadu and Mr. Diwan. Both of them managed four labourers. Land was cleaned of grass and bushes. The luggage from the D.B. was shifted to the site. Pandit and Diwan were paid rupees two each and the labourers one rupee each. All left but Pandit stayed.
Shri Baba Himself cooked the food. Fried vegetable and to my astonishment Shri Baba prepared ‘chapatis’ on hand and without any pan and fried them on embers. Then he taught me the skill.
By ten P.M. we took our food. Pandit too joined. In the river trawlers of fishermen were ferrying with petromax lights to attract fishes. Shri Baba was very much upset with the disturbance. He made a query with Pandit as to when the fishermen would leave and return.
Shri Baba was in ‘dhyan’ (meditation) sitting alone. Pandit came to us. We were a little distance away from Shri Baba. Ramanidada eagerly enquired with Pandit about the fish market, types and prices and told him that both Shri Baba and he liked fishes. Pandit left. When Shri Baba came to know about it, poor Ramanidada was flabbergasted to receive severe flak from Him.
Shri Baba declared that we should leave the place. He expressed doubt that people might take us as the Chinese or Pakistani agents or spies. They would be perplexed and ask questions as to how a ‘Sanyasi ‘ could eat fish. His lambasting continued for a pretty long time. Basically I knew He did not like the place. At last we left Him and slept in the open forest around fire.
17/11/1968. Up early. Wash. Ablutions. Bath. I was to bid good-bye. Shri Baba changed His mind to leave the place and assured me that He would stay there and hasten the work i.e. coming out. He guaranteed that after fifteen days He would send a telegram to me. Then I would hasten and take them to Amarkantak for final stroke. Moreover on my way back to Amravati I should tell my cousin Sachit to avail grocery up to fifty rupees. I agreed. Then Shri Baba prepared ‘Alubhaja and parathas’ especially for me. I partook it and bade final obeisance to Him. The departure time of my bus was 9 A.M. and that was the only bus-time available in the whole day. Haribandhu and I rushed to the bus-stand. I occupied my seat and was chatting with Hari from the window. The bus took a start and the driver put it in reverse to turn. Shri Baba hurriedly reached my window and expressed that He would not stay there, as the people did not keep their promise and only two labourers turned up in the morning. In fact promise was received to get ten labourers. I told the driver to stop the bus and with luggage I was about to get down. I requested the driver to wait for a few minutes and leaving my things in the bus got down.
Shri Baba took me aside and hurriedly asked me whether I would be able to provide them all a lonely place near Amravati and manage everything for twenty five days. I did not consider pros and cons. I instinctively and instantly said yes. Shri Baba ordered Haribandhu to embark the bus and jointly we proceeded to Mahasamunda to obtain a taxi.
Within three minutes the whole course changed. I repented the decision. I was ruminating as to how I would manage money, loans, place etc. Haribandhu realized the situation and expressed that I shouldered a great risk. True it was.
Since yesterday Shri Baba was disturbed and he did not like the place that I knew very well. His mind was wavering. First he planned to drop all at Raipur and he alone would go to Puri. Then he proposed that the rest would travel by third class by train to Puri and stay in the Dharmshala and he would send provisions.
My worries killed the time well. We reached Mahasamunda and immediately got another bus for Raipur. We arrived at Raipur at midday and within minutes contacted Darshan Singh, the taxi driver who gave the lift day before yesterday. I told him to get ready and he went for lunch. Haribandhu and myself also had a bite in a hotel. At 1.30 P.M. Darshan Singh accompanied by Haribandhu left for Shirpur.
I purchased fruits and reached brother’s home at 2 P.M. I was in time to join them at special lunch in honour of first visit of the newly married couple. Took rest. Photographs of children and family were snapped.
Our rendezvous was the front gate of the Ayurvedic College. I told my brother that Shri Baba was coming home. I explained to brother that Shri Baba was none else but Subhash Chandra Bose in recluse. He was dumbfounded. All got busy in cleaning and arranging the place.
From 5.30 to 7 P.M., I waited in front of the gate. Then my brother joined. We spotted the car. I sent brother ahead. The taxi came to halt. I requested Shri Baba to come to home, a stone’s throwaway distance. He agreed.
All preparations for reception were already done. We arrived at my brother’s house. Everybody bowed before him. Then he saw brother’s workshop of electronics. He was curious to know certain things and had a dialogue with brother. He posed before brother certain problems and brother immediately solved them. Shri Baba was impressed by his intelligence and inventions. He was so impressed that he whispered to me “Umesh has inventive brain”. (By then he had seven patents to his credit including the emergency light and inverters that we see today all over the country).
Fruits were offered to Shri Baba. As per His wish he was entertained with a cup of hot tea. Gitamasi, Chinu and Haribandhu went inside the house and had ‘puranpoli’, a typical Maharashtrian sweet delicacy. Gitamasi saw big portraits of Shivaji and Rana Pratap in drawing room and later mentioned it to Baba who told me that Umesh had rich ideals. Then Shri Baba assembled all and gave a banana to each of us as ‘prasad’.
Between Baba and me it was decided that they would meet me tomorrow at 6.30 P.M. three miles outside Amravati near octroi post on the Highway coming from Nagpur. Then the taxi left.
We had hectic time. I hurriedly finished dinner. I thought the train was at 11.30 but it proved to be at 10.30 P.M. Sachit was already with us and he had a talk with Baba. He managed rickshaw. Brother and sister-in-law came to the gate of the Ayurvedic College to see us off.
The rickshaw puller was slow and I was worried that we would miss the train. Consequently I got down and made a double seat ride on Sachit’s bicycle. No sooner did we reach the station than the passenger train arrived. My wife too reached in time and we entered the then second-class compartment. There was enough room to sleep. Bade good-bye to Sachit and off we pushed.
My newly married wife was annoyed. In disgruntled mood she grumbled that I treated her as a colorless, odorless, tasteless useless commodity and dumped her at my brother and vanished in thin air. I tried to assuage her with no dividend.