The Day The State Split Asunder-3
The Day The State Split Asunder-3
Charminar, an iconic symbol of Hyderabad, well-known for its popular and busy local markets, was built in the year 1591 AD by Quli Qutub Shah, the fifth sultan of the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golkonda. He prayed for the end of the deadly plague and vowed to build a mosque if that deadly disease is no longer prevalent in his kingdom.
Three kilometres from this historical monument, in one of the by-lanes that branched out of the main road of the Bhavani Nagar locality, there is an old two floors building owned by a sixty-six-year-old journalist Satyanarayana Goswami and the people in his street affectionately call him 'Swamiji'. He stays in one of the flats on the ground floor along with his servant Raju.
Swamiji was once considered to be one of the renowned investigative journalists in the state of Andhra Pradesh even before digital media started gaining popularity. His forefathers migrated from Maharashtra and settled in the old city of Hyderabad. After completing his bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication from Osmania University, he joined as a news reporter for various local and national newspaper companies. He even served as a visiting faculty for various journalism colleges across Andhra Pradesh and mentored many young journalists. Many of his students are working in leading newspapers and national media and one of his students RadhaKrishna established a Telugu news channel with the name 'HBN -7'.
He has good command over six languages - Telugu, Marathi, Urdu, Hindi, English, and Sanskrit and is also well-versed in RigVeda. The day he stepped into the world of journalism, he swore not to get married and dedicated himself to the service of his profession. As a journalist, he exposed various scams of government officials including a few ministers.
Freshly bathed and dressed in a simple plain white dhoti, he applied the sacred-ash Vibhuti across the forehead in three horizontal lines along with a dot of red vermilion paste in the centre between the eyebrows. He sat on his prayer mat facing east performing a religious ritual Sandhyavandanam.
After having said Good morning to his God's, he put on the Kurta Pyjama and went downwards and out into the street. He is a short man having a neutral skin undertone with a Roman nose and piercing close-set eyes. He loves long walks and despite the old age and wrinkles on his face, he has an elegant grace. The hair on his head has fallen off almost entirely except at the sides above his ears.
The next one hour he would be busy at Imran's Cafe where he has his favourite 'Irani Tea'. Sipping on a hot cup of tea while taking in views of the spectacular Charminar in the background is one of the most wonderful experiences which makes every Hyderabadi's heart say - 'We still want more!'
The amiable owner Imran, a seventy-year-old tea seller, will teach and explain to anyone who asks him about the entire preparation process of 'Irani Tea'. Sometimes, to make it thicker and tastier, he adds chunks of sweet made of milk. One can enjoy the taste along with eighteen varieties of biscuits served at his shop.
Swamiji doesn't take 'Irani tea' prepared from any other except Imran. He enjoys being a part of the morning crowd's discussion at the cafe. After having his tea at Imran's cafe, he would be back home and spend the next hour going through all the newspapers being circulated in the state. His servant Raju prepares his breakfast by nine, which comprises four idlis served along with the special mango pickle Avakaya.
The time was around 10:30 AM when a white OMG X5 car with a logo of HBN-7 sticker on the rear windowpane stopped exactly in front of Swamiji's home. The driver stepped down and opened the door from which emerged a man of medium height, with black Ray-Ban goggles, dressed in a slim-fitting Prussian-blue suit that accentuated his broad shoulders. He glanced briefly at the surroundings and informed his driver to keep it parked in the reverse direction by the time he came down. He opened the gate and stopped exactly at the doorstep.
'Sir, are you there?' The man removed the goggles, shoes and stepped into the home without even waiting for the acknowledgement.
'Radha! Is it you?' Swamiji rose from his chair.
That person in the suit was none other than his student RadhaKrishna and Swamiji affectionately calls him Radha.
Radha kneeled and touched Swamiji's feet. 'May God bless you, Radha!' said Swamiji, lifting him up. 'How is Shanthi? I told you many times to bring her along?'
'She has got a lot of work. That's why she couldn't come,' replied Radha as he sat on the chair.
'Raju, make special elaichi tea for Radha and ginger tea for me. Don't forget the Osmania biscuits,' Swamiji said to Raju.
Shanti is Radha's wife and one of the favourite students of Swamiji. Radhakrishna and Shanthi, both were his students and studied in the same college. They had fallen in love with each other but the parents of Shanthi didn't agree to their marriage. Swamiji mediated and convinced Shanthi's parents to get her married to Radha. After marriage, RadhaKrishna moved to the United Kingdom. He worked there for around ten years at a popular newspaper company in the UK and then returned to India and started a news channel of his own under the name 'HBN-7'.
'Radha!' said Swamiji, 'I cannot tell you how happy I am. I know that you will definitely become successful one day.'
'Without your blessings, it wouldn't be possible for me to start this news channel,' added Radha.
'Can you tell me why you included seven in the channel name?'
'My astrologer suggested including a number in the channel name. He said according to my birth chart odd numbers will be lucky. Three channels have already taken the numbers one, five, and nine. Shanthi picked up the number seven, as it was her lucky number.'
'Splendid! If she has picked, then it will be lucky. Truly, numbers hold immense power in anyone's life. The whole politics revolves around the numbers. The party which has secured large numbers will form the government.'
'My channel is new and I am at the bottom of the list,' said Radha, accenting the last word, 'There's heavy competition out over there!'
'The keener the competition, the greater the honour of success. Journalism is not a bed of roses. Every word becomes the brick in building up the wall of history, every line is quintessential, every fragment of headline reflects the emotions of a common man. Unfortunately, a toxic mix of political and business pressures is leading to a systematic disregard of ethical journalism principles. Although journalists and media insiders know what is going on, they are often reluctant to talk about it openly. I request you not to fall under those pressures.'
'Sir, I am your student. I will never fall into the habit of making a hyperbole that all other media institutions rely upon to beef up their television rating point. I am committed to ethical journalism.'
'Always be like that!'
Swamiji's servant Raju bought two cups of tea along with Osmania biscuits and placed them on the stool between them. Swamiji pushed one cup in Radha's direction while he took the other.
'Sir,' said Radha, dipping a biscuit in his tea. 'I have one small request.'
'Tell me Radha?'
'Will you be the advisor for my news channel?'
'I am sorry, dear,' the old man pronounced without any hesitation. 'There are tons of things pending on my list.'
'Sir, my channel has just fledged. We need people like you who can guide us better.'
'I will join once I settle my account with Dhyaneshwar. The balance sheet is still incomplete.'
'You still haven't forgotten him?' asked Radha anxiously.
'Radha, when you strike the tree with an axe, the axe may forget the strike but the tree remembers the pain. A person who harms another will often forget, but the person who is harmed will always remember.'
'Why don't you forget and live life peacefully?'
'How can you say to let it go Radha!' Swamiji's voice was fierce, rasping, angry, and strong. 'I lost my best friend Raghavendra. Fifteen families have lost their breadwinner.'
'Sir, you once told me that Dhyaneshwar is close to politicians. Why pick up a fight with him?'
'The circle of time will not always be the same for everyone. I am just waiting for the right time. Radha, you know what Qutub Shah has prayed to God while laying the foundation stone of Charminar?'
'What did he pray for?'
'O Lord, Fill this city of mine with people as you have filled the river with fishes. And yes, God fulfilled his request. The city has expanded. When you refer to people, it includes everything, good people and bad people. He should have prayed that 'Fill this city of mine with good people'.'
Radha took his last sip and placed it on the stool while Swamiji didn't even complete drinking half of his cup.
'I think it was already too late.'
'It's never too late Radha! And moreover, what do you think about me? Do you think I am just sitting in my home and not doing anything? I am regularly tracking Dhyaneshwar's movements. You know what? Two years ago Vijay Kumar Gajula, the vice-chairman of Dhyaneshwar's firm resigned from the company and started a company of his own. Vijay was once a big supporter of Dhyaneshwar and now he is a bitter enemy. Time has a unique way of turning the tables around. Today's friend might become tomorrow's enemy.'
'How did you get to know? Do you have any of your secret agents working over there?'
'Sorry Radha! It's top secret. But don't worry, I will tell you soon. So far, I don't have anything favourable on my side to launch a strike.'
'It was nice meeting you, sir. For now, I will make a move. In case you need any help, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.'
'Wish you good luck Radha and next time don't forget to bring Shanthi along with you. If you come alone, then don't even dare to step into my house,' the old man said with a smile.
'Don't worry sir. I will bring her next time.'
'And also I need a little help from you.'
'Sure sir! Tell me?'
'I have a friend called Narasimha. He is my college friend. His only daughter Vineetha recently completed her journalism degree and is now looking for a job. Can you give her a job in your channel as a news reporter?'
'Why not sir? I will give her a direct appointment. How can I say no to you?'
'Thank you so much, Radha!'
'Sir, please don't say that. You can ask her to meet me at the office. Bye sir!'
Radha put on the goggles, shoes, marched down swiftly, and raced towards his luxurious OMG car. The driver held open the door until Radha settled and later moved on to his driving seat.
Swamiji watched the movements of the car from the balcony and within no time, the car disappeared from his screen. Satyanarayana walked back again to his drawing room and sat on the floor and crossed his leg in a meditative position. Whenever he feels intense stress, he usually goes into a meditative posture.
'Lord! When are you going to answer my prayer? For how long do I need to wait?'