Our Glorious Days
Our Glorious Days15 mins 245 15 mins 245
It was month of July in 1989. Monsoon has just arrived after prolonged radiation of heat wave. Scorching summer stopped burning the earth and the coolness pervaded everywhere at the arrival of the wet through pouring incessant rain and blowing gusty wind. We were passing through our rainy days waiting for the good time to smile on in our life. Though we spent our time sensing frustration but never did we lose our hope. During that gruesome period of joblessness the lakhs of the aspirants were trying for the government jobs which were disproportionately available in hundreds. Some Students who were in the top of bracket managed to get employment through merit and others through money.
But the plight of everage students hailing from lower middle class background was quite miserable. So our experiences taught us to tolerate the things coming on our way and to reconcile to the situation determined by the current of time. in which we had been trapped into. Bijaya after getting a double degree from local university came to stay with us in the same village where we lived after the completion of our higher education. As good luck would have it he stood first division in both examinations regardless of his depth in the subjects he studied in the university level. He joined the fray into which we had already been put. The lack of knowledge in reality made him too much arrogant and egoistic in dealing with persons he came in contact with.
Aside from his traits his untimely association with political people wasted his valuable time and ruined his precious humility. In course of time he became an irksome and quarrelsome youth with malice towards everyone even also to his nearer and dearer ones He took it granted that the charismatic political leaders would provide him with a lucrative job of his choice for his loyalty he showed to the leaders by eulogizing them and advertising the party manifesto through loudspeaker in an itinerate four wheeler employed for misleading the voters. He took pride in associating with them and began to undermine others like anything thinking himself the most efficient and powerful among the unemployed circle. He had never been the kind of boy to mince words without hurting the sentiment of others.
The so called political leaders took advantage of his simplicity and immaturity and harnessed him in organising the party by giving false assurance of profit to the political workers. Bijaya was no exception to it. He blindly followed the party line with a hope to get himself employed in any officer's post through the blessings of the party supremo. As he was incapable of seeing the things- the intricacies of the political behaviour of the politicians through his inner eyes he was easily gullible by them for their political and personal promotion. Although he was a student of history he failed to understand the attitudes of rulers accurately.
He had no idea about the unethical ethics of politicians they adhered to for their peace and progress. They believed in manipulating the truth to mislead the innocent and ignorant for their own benefit. Never did they allow others to rise above in order to see them always hanging in the bottom line. So those who followed them ever remained as follower for life long. Moreover the politicians have habit of swallowing their own spits after ejecting them down between their lips . But Bijaya had been conditioned to think that only politicians could solve our problems. His thinking was quite erroneous Instead of acting as the disaster manager they have been proved to be the sole creator of problems in the society where they lived. But Bijaya didn't want to assess the negative characteristics of the politicians which would hurt his own sentiments by assassinating them in his inner recess of mind. He was so intoxicated by their ideas and ideals that he willfully avoided to expose them before him and others. Whatever the case might be, he maintained a good rapport with them thinking that they would place him at the top of position when time would come.
In the mean time recruitment for the post of the Tourist Officers came out in the English and Oriya dailies seeking applications from the qualified and desirous candidates. The State Public Service Commission was assigned the duty of selecting the eligible candidates after conducting the written and vis-a-voce examinations going to be held for that purpose. After seeing the advertisement in the newspaper column Bijaya's joy knew no bounds. He felt as if he became tourist officer the moment he noticed the advertisement in the newspaper. His speculation was high but not baseless.
He possessed the required qualification and experience that was necessary to become an officer in state tourism department.. Earlier he achieved an academic degree in Indian Monument And Tourism along with his master's degree in History. Apart from his qualification he accumulated a lot of experiences in guiding the national and international tourists coming from the different areas across the Globe showing them the historical places of importance in Odisha. Besides, qualification and experience the role of x Factor was very much crucial in determining the destiny of the unemployed youth. So he was ready to use his political influence as a Trump card which he had earned through his blind loyalty to his beloved leader. As an early bird catches worm,so he began the process of applying early to catch his much dreamt post of Tourist Officer. He went to the xerox centre for photo copy of his certificates and marksheet beginning from matriculation to post-graduation and other original documents required to be enclosed along with the duly filled application form. He had taken his passport size photographs at Ranjan studio.
But all xerox copies and photographs were required to be attested by a bonafide gazetted officer for their authenticity. As it was a block head quaters the gazetted officers appointed and served there were few in numbers. Out of them the block development officer was always busy with tour service inspecting different programmes undertaken by the state government. The veterinary surgeon went on study leave leaving the fate of the hospital in the hands of the subordinate staff headed by a livestock inspector. But how could he manage to make ready his documents without the signature of a gazetted officer within few days when everybody was absent at the time of his requirement? One of his friend suggested him to see the lady doctor of the government health centre who was not residing in the head quarters but coming irregularly and occassionally from nearby town although she was the only doctor in that hospital. As the seniormost doctor she was incharge of hospital for which she rendered her service.
Next day he woke up early to meet the doctor at her office. He had arrived the office earlier but the lady doctor didn't turn out. Next day he once again attempted to see her at the same time. He saw her getting down from the bus in front of the hospital but straightly retired into the operation theatre to attend an emergency case. She was totally unconcerned about the patients and the visitors waiting for her Bijaya was waiting for the doctor for long time but couldn't trace her out. He stood up from the seat where he sat and advanced to a nurse passing through the veranda. He said to her, "Excuse me sister! Can you tell me where the doctor is at present" " I am not sure where she is now but I guess she must be holding a meeting with the staff now. " She replied and went on her way.
Still Bijaya was waiting for the doctor in the main entrance of the office. After the end of the meeting she directly proceeded to bus stop to catch the bus destined for Bhanja Nagar where she was residing and making to and fro to attend her work place located thirty kilo meter away from her habitation. For the following consecutive days he was anticipating her presence in the office along with others who were eagerly waiting for her for their health check-up.To the utter dismay of the patients they had to depand on the help of the pharmacists and the medical attendants who provided health service to them in the absence of bonafide and qualified doctor. But how can Bijaya make his copies attested without the signature of a gazetted officer? He returned home with anger and desperation.
He spent a sleepless night thinking over the unwanted and unwarranted attitudes of the doctors who had been employed by the government to serve the people. He was also taken back by the callousness of the public who showed no sense of reaction to the action of the officer getting their handsome salary from the public exchequer. So in the state of moral degradation the society needs someone who can see how things can be improved turning their visions into a reality for a pristine and corruption free society. Next day while the doctor was in her office and was engaged in diagnosing diseases and prescribing the medicines for the sick Bijaya rushed to her room without seeking prior appointment from the authority concerned. The manner he showed to the doctor ultimately not only irked her but also diverted her concentration of mind. Instantly she pressed the calling bell inviting the peon to appear before her. Within no time, the peon presented himself before the boss.
The doctor shouted him angrily, " Why do you allow to enter the unruly and undisciplined persons into my office without my permission? "" The peon replied humbly, " Excuse me Madam! I had barred his way but he didn't obey me and entered the office forcefully inspite of my polite denial".The lady doctor turned her attention towards Bijaya who was standing in the corner holding a file in his hand. "What can I do for you? What do you want? The doctor wanted to know from the young man. He replied, "I have been waiting for you for last fifteen days but I found you were absent from your duty without official permission. As I am going to apply for the post of a tourist officer so I urgently need your attestation on my testimonials. Only few days left for the last date." The words of Bijaya hurt the sentiment and prestige of the lady doctor. She immediately reacted and said. "Who said you I remained unauthorised absent? I was on official tour to the cholera affected area by the order of my department. Moreover who are you to enquire about my sincerity. Are you my superior authority? I am not here to attest your certificates I am here to look after my patients. See other gazetted officers in the town who can help you. Quit the place and go away from my sight to enable me to do my normal duty". Hearing the insulting words from the officer Bijaya retreated to the village with shame and humiliation.
The words of the medical officer kept echoing in the mind of Bijay. He couldn't digest the insult the lady doctor inflicted upon him. Never had in his life he been grossed out in such a manner. He took her insult to his heart. Though the affront between them was quite personal Bijaya tried to twist the situation into a public issue. He went from door to door of his friends to muster their moral supports to demoralise her image before the public. His actions were aimed at inciting the feelings of the public against the despotic attitudes of doctor Who neglected her primary duty. He highlighted the deplorable condition of the patients in the absence of the posting of required doctors in the health centre. Though there had been the provision of the appointment of three doctors in the hospital, the dispensary was managed by a single doctor who was regularly irregular in attending the duty. Moreover the sanitary condition of the hospital was very poor.
The entire medical building had become the shelter place for stray dogs, cats and cows who polluted the environment by discharging their stool and urine. Due to lack of proper medical treatment and unhygienic condition people died like insects day by day. In this situation he was harping on a plan how to take revenge on her through exposing the irregularities and corruption she meted out to the people. After yelling the incident with his friends he came to village with his mouth full of the breaking news of the whole day It was afternoon. It was raining outside like spitting. Subash and I were reading newspaper sitting on the step of our village temple. He came nearer to us and narrated the incident that had already taken place between him and the doctor. As I was well aware of his nature I questioned him, " Did you approach her politely to get the attestation of your certificates. You must have used your political voice to get your work done. It is not fair at all. After all she a lady and a gazetted officer. You shouldn't have misbehaved her as an educated guy. " Believe me or not. I had been very much sincere in showing respect to her. I haven't uttered a single word disrespecting her. But she became wild when I pointed about her absence from duty. The matter is not about my personal problem. We should take it seriously as for the interest of the public is concerned. They are suffering a lot for her insincerity." Bijaya replied to my query in sullen voice.
Next morning we went to the hospital with like-minded friends to know the matter of fact that led to the bone of contention. We felt that the institution failed to deliver healthcare service to meet the health needs of the target population of the block. It was thirty bedded hospital with the provision of the appointment of three doctors.The hospital had filled to it's capacity without availability of adequate doctors. The number of the patients admitted in the hospital was always very high. This state of affairs continued not for days but for years together. People were not able to afford to go out for treatment as they were financially poor. In course of time the hospital turned into the death bed of the patients without adequate doctors, without adequate staff and without adequate medicines supplied by the government. It had been neglected by the department in every aspect as it was situated in the extreme end of the district. As conscious and elite citizens of the country we tried to direct our efforts towards putting an end to the miseries of the people they had been suffering from. We had to do something to sort out it for the welfare of the people.
On short notice our friends assembled in large number to think over the possible solution of the existing problem. Mahesh, Pradipta, pradeep, Jaya, Deena, Birendra, Subash and myself attended the meeting. All of us were highly qualified. We prefered to deal the situation in judicious way. The problem was being prudently mooted over in different angels. At last a conclusion reached out to go on for protestation against the system in non - violent and democratic manner without affecting the normal life of people. I was chosen the president of the association to lead the movement . The organisation was named as Regional Youth Student's Association (Anchalika Yuva Chhatra Sansad) to look after the interests of the region. Next day I began to draft a petition against the system that had become sick due to blatant negligence of the departmental acton. The petition contained the eye catching sentences like" The hospital is like kingdom without crown, In stead of doctors the dogs have been attending to the patients" The concluding line of the petition ended with a threating note like this, "If the proper action deemed to fit will not be taken within seven days we shall be constrained to go on for hunger strike in front of the hospital till our demands are conceded. "
After getting it typed by Santosh we sent the copies of the application to the chief minister, principal secretary, health minister, chief district medical officer and other concerned for information and necessary action by registered post We hadn't forgotten to send a copy of petition to the officer in-charge-of the local police out post. It had already past the deadline. The authority didn't pay heed to our demands. As scheduled earlier we decided to go on hunger strike for indefinite period after completion of time limit. As the decision of the standing meeting held for the purpose we decided to stage a protest without eating anything in front of the hospital. We started relay hunger strike for seven days having three shifts in a day. Each shift carried eight hours. In the first day of the first shift I with my executive body members sat under the tent house putting a mark of vermilion on our foreheads and garland of flowers around our necks. Everyday a large number of guys from the surrounding villages joined the strike voluntarily to carry on the mission towards a successful goal. In day time politicians from the opposition parties tried to get benefit from the situation by hitting the government fair and square sitting on our shoulders. But we didn't give chance to them to play a foul game for their selfish end. At night the copulating dogs appeared around our camp in pairs to tantalise us reminding our position in which we had been put into.
We felt that they were in communion with insincere and undisciplined medical staff who sheltered them in the hospital to support them at the time of adversity. They emerged from their shelter place to disrupt the strike diverting our attention from our noble endeavour. They had failed to remember the sin they had committed in displacing the foot wear of the Pandava brother engaged with Draupadi. They are paying for their past sin. Shame on them! They are enjoying the curse of Draupadi for their past act of omissions.. That is why they cum in open. Flies on their face! The relay hunger strike ended without any result. But we didn't lose our patience We all took a full fledged hunger strike unto death without taking a drop of water. It was the day of the final judgement Our health condition deteriorated remarkably causing our blood pressure level to lowering down. Most of us began to faint out of starvation. People persuaded us to eat but we stuck to our conviction.
Meanwhile the sound of a vehicle stopping was heard from distant. Five persons were pacing towards our camp after getting down from the vehicle on government duty. There was a sign of conspicuous fear and horror on their faces. They attempted to extinguish our anger coming from within like spark of fire with showing their sense of forbearance. They desperately tried to be at ease with us for the delay caused by them in fulfilling our demands. They supplied everything we demanded on the spot. They provided the rabies vaccine for dog bite and anti-venom serum for snake bite. A couple of doctor was posted instantly who came with the Chief District Medical Officer. At the same time the district officer empowered our association to monitor the day to day presence of the hospital staff and to supervise the environment of the institution to make it wholesome and worth living. After the success smiled on our endeavour the strike was called off amidst hue and cry. People began to realise the good qualities in us and applauded every member of the association with love and respect.
In the same evening the people of Jagannath Pur Sasan organised a meeting to felicitate the members of association for their good work. The meeting became the brain child of present college where the idea of establishing a college was mooted out. To encourage us, the then trustee Sri Kishore Chandra Mishra declared the donation of the required land for the construction of building and play ground...