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DrGoutam Bhattacharyya

Drama Tragedy Inspirational


4  

DrGoutam Bhattacharyya

Drama Tragedy Inspirational


Magic of Hide and Seek

Magic of Hide and Seek

17 mins 321 17 mins 321

   For the last couple of days, they could not contact, Banesingh. Thrice, the ring-tone from his mobile, was quite clearly audible. But, every time, it continued till its end, and none picked up. They presumed, he must have been on the move. Often, he had to accompany, other fellow-colleagues, travelling with the military convoy. It was pretty usual sort of activity, in his job. Back home, they, his parents, sister, wife and his little daughter too, knew very well about his work. Whenever he would visit home, it was only for some days.

The last-time, when they could contact him, they came to know that he would be moving to some undisclosed secrete location somewhere in the Eastern Himalayas. During that conversation, he farther said, “I may not get ample time and opportunity to contact you people. I’ll remain very busy with our convoy of vehicles. Moreover I’m not sure about the availability of mobile-network also. But, you don’t worry. I’m fine. Convey my love & good-wishes to my little daughter Jyotsna.”

It was Sumanprit, his sister, tried to contact him the fourth time. There was no ringtone but soon after a few beeps a prerecorded female voice apprised her that either the mobile was switched off or it was out of the network-coverage area.

She knew very well that there were several places, which were still not within the coverage of cell-phone networks. “Advertisements are just mere tall-claims.” She soliloquized smilingly revealing dimples on her cheeks.

Once one of her high-school friends informed her, “You know, in my village there is a tall and grand-old tamarind tree. That tree used to be the most preferred landmark for those people who used to move with their mobile-phones in hand and looking for the coveted ‘network-coverage’ area. Villagers somehow managed to place a makeshift-staircase made out of bamboos, recycled ropes and wooden pieces. It’s quite a rustic structure indeed. But it helped them reaching at higher level from the ground to get the much-needed mobile-network in that remote village.”


On the way the convoy was about to approach an awesomely attractive Himalayan pass and a breathtakingly beautiful serene valley below. The driver of the vehicle, in which Banesingh was travelling, noticed something wrong. Soon, he carefully parked the vehicle on the side of the serpentine road where he found some extra space available. All three personnel alighted to see the exact problem. And they discovered that one of the fore-wheels was punctured. Thus, very soon that tyre would turn flat. Two of them immediately started doing the necessary actions to change the wheel as early as possible.

Army-men of the other vehicles of that convoy waved their hands and asked, “Should we wait for you, major?”

Although none of the three personnel in Banesingh’s vehicle was in the rank of a ‘major’ but that’s the most popular way of calling the fellow personnel. They liked to call out ‘major’ to address fellow colleagues with profound adoration.

Banesingh’s threesome team waved their hand in anticipation and replied, “It’s OK major, not to worry. We’ll change this wheel in no time and soon join you in the next stopover. You please proceed.”

The punctured wheel was exchanged with the stepnney within a few minutes. Albeit they kept stones behind the wheels for safety but as the vehicle was ignited for the start the driver could presume very well that one of the hind-wheels skidded alarmingly because the ground below was a bit loose. The break was applied and simultaneously the accelerator was pressed to drag the vehicle forward but that part of the road was almost like a ramp. The brake didn’t work quite well. No sooner the vehicle turned towards the gorge than all three of them jumped out of it. By sheer luck the driver found himself entangled on a thickly branched massive tree. Besides some bruises, he was quite safe. The vehicle overturned and rested on a cliff upside down supported by vertically growing sturdy trees.  

Having carefully freed himself the driver came up to the road holding branches of several trees. For him it was like ‘getting up on the wrong side of the bed’. Soon he thought of contacting other fellow personnel of that convoy. He had to walk a few kilometers to find a small hamlet.

No sooner they got the news, some army-men immediately rushed towards that site along with paramilitary persons. They searched for Banesingh and the other fellow. But no trace of these two persons was found.


By the time the search operation started, much before that, a sage, a true Good Samaritan, chanced upon two of them. Their bodies were found entangled within some sturdy branchlets of a large oak tree. They were unconscious and had serious injuries all over. He carried them inside the only shelter available out there, the cave nearby. He tried his best using his knowledge of herbal medicines. He spread hides, which he collected out of animal carcasses. Banesingh’s body responded his treatments very well. But the other person succumbed to his injuries the next day.

After a few days Banesingh recovered to some extent. It was a sort of coming back to life out of a sheer state of thoughtlessness, a far-flung un-describable emptiness. For Banesingh it was like a ‘second life’ indeed.

One morning as he was awake, the sage asked him, “How do you feel my son?”

He replied, “I am quite well. May I know who you are? And how do I reach here?”

The sage narrated the accident episode. Initially he couldn’t recollect clearly anything about his own life and his near and dear ones. The sage not only nourished him but also shared with him varied stories, which children would love to listen with rapt attention. Some adults, however, may prefer to call those as ‘cock and bull story’. Such stories and their conversations helped him to adjust in his newfound surroundings.

One evening as the full-moon appeared out of the silhouette of the hills and the pristine vegetation, the ambience was immediately flooded with the golden glow of the moonlight. The sage told him, “Hurry up, my son, come outside and see how nice the surrounding is! Moon-god’s daughter is playing now all around here. See the golden glow of the beautiful ‘Jyotsna’.”

His words triggered Banesingh’s inoperative mind out of the blue. Soon, he recollected the ‘name’ of his daughter, ‘Jyotsna’. Immediately Banesingh told him, “I’ve a little daughter, baba. Yes, she is Jyotsna. She is there at home in my village. But where is my home? Where’s that? I can’t remember all these baba.”

He continued, “Yes, you know Baba, she is the apple of my eye. She loves moving around, literally every nook cranny of the house and listen the tinkle of her anklets. Who gave her those anklets? Who gave her those? I can’t remember Baba. No I can’t. But yes I do remember if anyone wants to catch her she would simply slip away with her dancing movements. In full-moon nights we would gather in our farm-yard. On the thrashing floor we would gather to eat our favourite food. And whenever she likes something, she would give a ‘High Five’ gesture.”

The sage smiled and soliloquize, “Dear son, thank the almighty, you’re again coming back to the lap of Maha-maya.”


By that time-span the people in Banesingh’s home received an official fax message about the accident and the disappearance of two personnel from that site. In that message it was also mentioned with a humble request; ‘in case Banesingh returns home they should inform his platoon-headquarter immediately without fail’.

The news shattered them.

All cried out of grief except little Jyotsna. She confidently said, “My papa is playing ‘hide-and-seek’ the magic game with his playmates. He told me several times that they learn this game so that enemy soldiers cannot trace them. Don’t worry, he’ll come back home and get a prize from his teachers for his winning performance. I’m sure he is on his way back home.” All others thought that it was nothing but a child’s ‘mumbo jumbo’. 


There in that shelter of the sage, Banesingh slowly regained his strength and stamina to some extent. He could remember certain things albeit inconspicuous while certain things remained completely vague. As if he was trying to locate things looking through turbid water. He failed to recollect all about the job he was doing, his recent posting etc.

One evening while talking to each other sitting on a big chunk of rock right under that majestic Oak tree that magically saved his life, the sage said, “See my son, to live a decent life you got to develop some life-skills, isn’t it.”

“Yes baba.” He sedately replied.

“See, my son, this secluded life-of-a-saint is not for you.” The sage opined.

“I do understand baba.” He calmly replied.

“Albeit, it’s the matter of a single person, still you need to ‘keep body and soul together’ in a decent way. Let that be modest but an elegant life. What will you do my son? ‘Finding your feet’ is essential. Isn’t it?” the sage asked him.

“In the last couple of days I pondered over this same matter, baba and I have come to this conclusion that I’ll work in a hospital to give my bit of service to save the life of others.” He replied.

“OK my son I’ll be helping you to recognize the life-saving herbal medicines and tell you about their best uses.” The sage assured him.

“I’ve already learned about a few of these. I think it would be very useful for my life ahead.” He said in a gaily gesture.

With the help of the sage he picked up the necessary tips to recognize those plants and he meticulously learned how to use those herbal medicines. After a fortnight he reached the nearest town. The route was of course given to him. In addition to the oral instructions baba had drawn a sort of map on a piece of a thin-bark, which was almost like rolled rice-paper. Before biding adieu, Banesingh touched the feet of the sage to receive his blessings.


Reaching there in that small town he found that the people out there know Hindi very little. Somehow, he came across a hospital managed by a community-trust. They offered him a job. Within a month’s time the authorities recognized his commendable knowledge about some life-saving herbal medicines. He would treat injuries very effectively. And he was always ready to serve the patients ‘at the drop of a hat’. 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words. People out there started calling him the ‘miraculous medicine-man’. 

While working there every evening he would religiously visit a public library for reading newspapers and magazines. He developed a good rapport with the librarian. On Sundays too he would visit and help him rearranging books and magazines on the designated shelves. After a few months, one Sunday evening, while helping the librarian he came across an article in an old Hindi magazine about the news of that accident, which he and his two companions met with. Immediately he noted down the address and the email-ID of the editor of that magazine.

On that night itself he drafted a letter to the editor of that magazine, requesting the details of the personnel travelling in that vehicle on that fateful day. After a fortnight he received a letter from that magazine. The editor conveyed, “After that accident the driver only survived and two army personnel died but their bodies were found missing from that spot. Since it’s related to the defense-personnel it would take some time to retrieve those details you asked for from the concerned authorities but you’re requested to forward your valid ID documents without which it would not be possible to get the details you requested us.”


Back home in Banesingh’s village life continued. Oblivious to the fact that Banesingh was alive; his family members accepted the hard-reality of his absence. 

Two complete years had rolled by. Much water had already flowed through the river Beas flowing a few kilometers away from his village. Banesingh’s parents turned very much older within the last couple of years.

Through their well-wishers they received a marriage proposal from the house of Banesingh’s one of the distant cousins. The elder brother of that family, an industrious farmer, lost his wife while delivering their only son. The younger one runs a business of automobile spare-parts. Pretty well to do family, just two sons having considerably enough arable land. Banesingh’s parents ‘okayed’ the proposal.

It was unanimously agreed upon that the younger son, Taransingh, would marry Sumanprit while the elder one, Saransingh, would marry Banesingh’s widow Tara following their age-old custom of ‘chunni’ ceremony. And he would look after the old parents of Banesingh.

After a brief span the disheartened household of Banesingh once again got resounded and came alive with the shouts and claps of two children, a daughter and a son.


From that trust-run community hospital Banesingh’s name slowly spread in that area far and wide. After another couple of months Banesingh once again pondered over the content of that letter he received from the editor of that magazine and then finally he decided to tell the grand-old trustee of that hospital, the senior-most person whom he trusted next to none but the sage in his second innings of life. He narrated him about the accident he and his two companions met with. Hoping that the old-man may be able to help him, he showed the letter, which he received from the editor of that magazine, in which a small article was published about the same accident. 

He pledged the old-man, “Please sir send them a request along with your valid ID documents and ask them to send us the details of those two personnel who died in that accident.”

After another fortnight the old-man received a reply, which stated, “After that accident only the driver of that vehicle survived and two army-personnel died but their bodies were found missing from that spot. Soon the address of those two personnel will be sent to you.”


After obtaining the details procured by the help of the old-man, Banesingh first decided to go one of the two addresses. And incidentally he came to visit the ancestral village of his companion who died in that accident. It was also a small village somewhere in northern Rajasthan. The river was found missing. And he noticed that the language of the locals was quite unknown to him.

“No, I never spoke this weird language, it’s all Greek to me.” he soliloquized. He understood that he had to start from scratch. 

Thereafter, he was preparing to visit the next address. He was ‘on pins and needles’. He came to visit his own ancestral village. The river was very much there. It was an October evening, the crop-residues were burned on the crop-fields everywhere. There was sooty smoke all over. While approaching near some crop-fields he noticed a large Banyan tree, which he presumed as if the tree was somewhat known to him. He could vaguely recognize their house and the farmyard.

On the field there was Saransingh and his son. Through the smoky slightly humid air he could make out the silhouettes of two human figures one man and a baby boy. He thought, “Who are they? I don’t know them.”

Exhausted and heartbroken, he returned to that hospital again back to square one. His aspirations of meeting his near and dear ones were simply shattered. He broke into tears in front of the senior-most trustee whom he adored very much.

The old-man consoled him, “My son, every cloud has a silver lining. We all out here, all the people of our trust, aren’t we your relatives right now? Don’t you consider me as good as your uncle? Your work is so noble. People respect you so much. The almighty had predestined all these for you. My son, don’t lose heart, through your work find solace. Since time immemorial we believe that all the happenings in an individual’s life-time are already ordained in the cradle. My son, there is time yet and many small moments to savour. Always remember that you’re not living in oblivion, we’re always with you.”


Not just years but decades rolled by. By then, Jyotsna was married to an army officer, Karanjeet. He was posted somewhere in the North-East. One jawan of his platoon was badly wounded. His wounds were not healing properly. Through the intelligence personnel Karanjeet was informed about the trust-run hospital in which Banesingh was working. 

Banesingh was no longer known by his own name. Locals called him ‘Dwro-Miyu’, the ‘medicine-man’.

Karanjeet took his fellow army-jawan to that hospital. He never hesitated to ‘go the extra mile’ when it comes to the health of his fellow jawans. Banesingh was quite well-known among the people of that area as the miraculous medicine-man. One evening Karanjeet came along with that jawan to meet him. Jyotsna was pregnant then, thus, she was told to sit inside the vehicle. Banesingh was attending one patient who needed urgent attention. The two army personnel had to wait for some time.

As he started treating the jawan, Karanjeet received a mobile call. It was his wife’s call. Out of boredom she called him. Holding his mobile Karanjeet moved towards the door intending not to disturb the concentration of the medicine-man. He picked up the call and said, “Jyotsna, please have patience his treatment has just started. There were other patients too...” Hearing the name ‘Jyotsna’ Banesingh reacted immediately. He lifted his head up suddenly to see Karanjeet talking in his cell-phone. The jawan noticed the unusual reaction of that medicine man, which he shared with his officer. Later, from the authorities Karanjeet came to know about all the details of Banesingh, the miraculous wound-healer.  

The wounds of that jawan were slowly cured. While discussing with that aged trustee he presumed that the medicine-man could be the lost Banesingh, Jyotsna’s father. But he wanted to become doubly sure. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Therefore, by the help of one of his officer friends, an army doctor, he collected blood samples of Jyotsna. She was told that it was necessary for her medical assistance etc.

Along with the army doctor Karanjeet requested the authorities of that hospital for arranging blood samples of Banesingh, the medicine-man but it should be kept totally confidential.

Hospital authorities kept their promise.  


It was a winter afternoon Jyotsna delivered twin healthy babies, a boy and a girl, in a well-equipped cozy army-hospital room. Karanjeet’s parents were there to look after them.

After some days Karanjeet joined his duty. And by the end of a couple of months one fine morning he received a call from his friend, the army doctor. With a lot of joyfulness in his voice, he said, “Mr. Karanjeet. Your wife’s DNA and the DNA of the medicine-man of that hospital very closely matched.”

Excited Karanjeet asked then-and-there, “Are you sure? How close is this matching?”

He replied, “Biologically speaking, it is as close as ‘parent and child’ or ‘two siblings of same parents’ and no other possibilities.”

 “I’ll be forwarding the reports through email.” The army doctor further added.

“Oh my god, I can’t believe, after all we really found him.” Karanjeet remarked.

After thanking the doctor Karanjeet started browsing his android set to check that particular mail in his e-mail inbox.

And then he disclosed the news to his wife through a phone call. He said, “Jyotsna often you told me that none could find your father for he is the master in ‘hide-and-seek’ play. But my dear you’ll be surprised to know that I really found him.”

“Are you sure?” she shot back immediately.

“Yes I am. To make sure I’ve confirmed it through DNA tests too. Do you remember your blood samples were collected?” Karanjeet calmly replied.

“I can’t wait. I’d like to meet him right now.” Jyotsna said with a lot of excitation.

“You please wait for the next morning. We’ll meet him there in that hospital.” Karanjeet tried to convince her.

“Is he the miraculous medicine-man? I’m going to meet him.” Saying this she disconnected the line. At that instant she called a driver. She instructed one of the servants to keep the pram inside the dickey of the car. She requested the nanny to come along with her.

Karanjeet knew pretty well that she wouldn’t wait for the next morning. It is aptly said, ‘Blood is thicker than water.’ Thus, he dialed in his mobile to call the octogenarian trustee of that hospital and requested him, “Sir, please note that my wife has come to know that she is the real daughter of the medicine-man, working in your hospital. Because we received the reports of DNA tests, recently through an email. My wife is going to meet him soon. It’s my ardent request, kindly cooperate.”


Banesingh was called in the chamber of the senior-most trustee. With a composed voice he told Banesingh, “Please sit down my son. The hide-and-seek is finally over. Cross your fingers. You will be very happy to know that finally after all these years they found your whereabouts and now your daughter, Jyotsna, is coming to meet you.” 

Immediately after hearing the name ‘Jyotsna’ he shouted with joy, “Jyotsna, are you sure uncle, my daughter Jyotsna is coming…”

Pushing the handle of the special perambulator in which there were her twins, a baby-boy and a baby-girl. While entering through the main gate she could clearly hear her father’s voice.

Yes, that was the voice; her ears have been waiting for years for that sound of the voice of her dear papa.

She too shouted, tears of joy was steadily rolling down the cheeks, “Yes papa, I’m coming, I’m your Jyotsna. And see papa who else have come with me to receive you…” 

*******


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