Friday, August 14, 2009

In Quest For Freedom

There was darkness all over. The wind whispered through the whining willows and the trembling eucalyptus trees. The road lay empty, barren and unpromising like a widow. The moon opened her moisture laden eyes, batted an eyelid and a drop of the ethereal spirit fell on the grass.

My story dates back to a night in the pre-independence era, in the remote Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. Dr Makhan Lal Chaudhury, my maternal great grand father was unable to sleep. In just another few hours, as the morning sun paved its way slicing through the anesthesia of the night, death of another innocent would stealthily creep into the jail quarters. Another brave heart nipped in the bud, another wailing mother, another young girl widowed, another infant orphaned, another spirited patriot to be hanged till death! What disturbed Dr Chaudhury was not the death alone, but the fact that he, a devoted Indian himself was a part of this ruthless killing of innocence and party to a sin, no less heinous than a crime. Dr Chaudhury was the jail doctor. It was his responsibility to see that the prisoner was medically fit for execution. In nights like these, he felt like a traitor!

A soft spoken man himself whose heart bled for others, his job seemed to him akin to a butcher’s! This was not a part of the Hippocratic Oath that he had taken, while graduating from the Medical College in Patna. He had pledged like all others, to save man and serve humanity to the best of his abilities. But now his job, under the colonial rule, demanded that he played this undesired role.Dr Chaudhury’s thoughts wandered from his own experiences with the young prisoners. Some of them were just boys. And none of them were wrong!

This knowledge and its realization perhaps hurt him most. He thought of their names, which he had personally taken an interest to find out, beyond their identities as numbers! A few of them had told him about their homes, their families and even their dreams; some of which would remain unfulfilled after their deaths. Suddenly, he felt guilty of knowing a dying man’s last wish and ashamed of his inability to fulfill it. During the routine medical inspections, he had tried his best to provide the best of services possible under those conditions. He had even made tireless efforts to ensure that the living environment in the cells were more hygienic.Now, he felt happy that he could make life a bit more comfortable for the boys who were facing trial and imprisonment and even death.

An alarm cracked in through the silence of the night! It was time to be up. He left his bed silently walking like a man in a stupor, tightened his jaws and wore his khaki uniform. Quietly, he tiptoed into the Puja Room and said a silent prayer! The jeep was in his driveway and the Gorkha driver in khaki shorts saluted him. No one said a word. Without even exchanging a glance, they drove into the high walled jail quarters.

It was thirty minutes past four when the prisoners were brought for their final medical check up. They were four in all and were in their early twenties. The pundit was reciting lines from the Bhagwat Gita. His deep throated voice echoed in the stillness of the dawn. He was chanting out lines from the divine message of Lord Krishna, and saying that the body of a man was akin to a piece of clothing. When one wore off, the soul tailored itself into another and lived on!

To Dr Chaudhury, it sounded more like a slow, planned and deliberate preparation for death.As the four young boys marched to face the final sentence, they walked like warriors, with their heads held high and their faces gleaming with a strange glow. The radiance on their countenance began to make Dr. Chaudhury nervous. So young, yet so brave! Just as the first rays of dawn sieved in through the dingy cells, Time stopped for a moment! He closed his eyes and said a last prayer, hoping that the souls rested in peace.

With an iron heart and a heavy conscience, Dr Chaudhury trot back to his dreary office chamber. He had another work to finish. The four death certificates had to be signed and sealed with the government stamp. The memory of the four boys came back to him. Their radiant faces that shone like victors even as they faced the dreaded last sentence haunted his mind leaving him with a pang of guilt. It overwhelmed his soul and a numb-ness overcame his body. And at that instant, Dr Chaudhury made a decision!He took out another white sheet of paper and wrote his letter of resignation.

Dr Chaudhury decided to walk back to his bungalow. He left the walled jail campus with a free and happy conscience. The sun was out in its full glory, streaking a crimson luminescent halo against an azure blue eastern sky over the Satpura Ranges, paving way for a new day and a new beginning.

To my great grand father and to the true patriot in his heart,
Yours in pride,
Ananya

31 comments:

  1. Great job as always. Best wishes........

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  2. "Quietly, he tiptoed into the Puja Room and said a silent prayer!" .... I could actually feel the same helplessness as that of Dr. Chaudhury.
    I did not drop a tear though while reading this piece, my heart was feeling a deep pain of helplessness.

    I am speechless.

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  3. I went thru.......awesome...amar dadu bhai o ek freedom fighter chilen.....jano to??...n he was d food minister aftr indepndc.....tomar baba ke jiggesh korbe...chinben nishchoi.....DASHARATHI TAH

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  4. Shalini Benedict (Tina)August 14, 2009 at 11:39 PM

    Will two thumbs up guarantee more such write ups in future??? If yes, then thumbs up from me.

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  5. Read your post "in quest for freedom" with a heavy heart,Ananya. I was always very very intrigued about the people who served British during the pre independence era.Your article has somewhat given me an insight to my queries.Thanks,Jhimly

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  6. It was a true tribute to whatever little contribution our forefathers had made to our nation's freedom struggle. As they say every drop of water helps to build up the rain clouds, likewise the freedom of the nation would not have been achieved only by the people whose names are mentioned in the pages of history!!!!!!!!

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  7. After a long long waiting.....and trust me, it was worth every moment of awaitment! Truly touching, simply beautiful...truly Ananya! Happy Independence Day!

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  8. Mindblowing as usual

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  9. very nice....and very touching ....keep up the good work !!!

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  10. osadharon....as usual, loved it :-)

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  11. The writing is beautiful like u (as always) and yes lil biased(may be) ....tomar shob kichuii shundor

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  12. Fabulous...as usual.................and who said patriotism is only about blazing guns and dripping swords?..............

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  13. very nice,truly touches the heart..bhishon bhalo likhechis!!

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  14. Brought tears to my eyes, the sacrifices of those who bled, the pain of those who silently protested...each brought freedom to us in the own ways! what a beautiful heart touching tribute to those who gave us our independence! Think you are a very good writer. Will login again to chk your next post.

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  15. Darun hoyechhey.....I could visualise every moment right infront of me.

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  16. Read the blog. Amazing lekha Ananya...JUST AMAZING..aar kicchu bolte paarbo na. And yes, Salute to the patriots!!

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  17. Awesome post... so when are you getting published?

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  18. just read the blog post...awesome as usual. are u considering writing a book? you should:)

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  19. Very nice post. Loved it.

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  20. wonderful another solid state! its really great to see such patriotic posts
    yu'r writings are very inspiring!
    well i would also like to request yu for writting, somethn about the heroes, who get to have just few momentary lines on the pages of indian history books, even though their contributions are mammoth.. n internationally huge with great air strikes and ground military freedom movements at those times making ally countries etc..
    am talkin about "Rashbihary bose" M.N Roy.. etc
    yu'r posts are loved by many...
    yu can really raise a voice for us to hold it..

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  21. The story flowed wonderfully and I wanted to read it till the end. Good execution again, Ananya,you should submit it to magazines or anthologies!
    -Anindita.

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  22. tomar lekha protyekbar khub bhabay... lekha pore bhalo to lagloi shonge nijeke jiggesh korlam amar poribar-eo hoyto erokom itihash ache, ja ami ekhono janina.... kintu jante chai... want to find my roots to find myself... tomar lekhar jonyoi to mone hochhe erokom... thank you bar bar...
    - Suvra.

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  23. Patriotism is not all about being hanged or being shot dead....etao ekta form of patriotism..nice piece on the eve of Independence day...

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  24. Another masterpiece from you!

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  25. I wonder why he had not done that(resignation from the job) before. It's a very common story; atleast I have read 3-4 like this. But thanks for remembering our young brave hearts on the eve of the Independence day.

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  26. What a beautiful piece! U always make magic with your pen.

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  27. Amazing story specially when you know that it is all true. I wonder if you could dwell a little deeper into his life and bring about more of his thoughts, intrigues and deeds that may have contributed, in their own subtle ways to make whatever changes that were possible. You can still give it a thought......it is never too late.

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