Colours of Life
Of Friends and Foes
Keeping in circulation
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
It was during my daily dose of morning news that includes North East News from All India Radio Gangtok phone rang to bring me joy to the rare pensive thoughts I was engrossed in last Saturday. A year was still there for me to go before I retired and did not know what fate had in store for me having successfully convinced the youth as well as the authority for sending a group for training on Paragliding under the newly launched capacity building programme. It was from Nima - Dr. Dorji the retired vet for others. We were together but he and some others left for Darjeeling to complete class ten while the rest passed out in the last batch for the School Final Examination in 1962 from Tashi Namgyal Academy. I remember when we together bunked the class once in 1959 as we both had not done our home-work for the last period. Later in the springtime of 1963 when we (veterinarians Nima Dorji Lama and Punya Prasad Sharma, dentist Jai Narayan Sharma, engineers Dinesh Prasad Pradhan and Hare Ram Sharma* among others – besides Tashi Yangzum and myself selected for medical course but seats never allotted) were here to appear before the Political Officer for the Government of India Post-Matric Merit Scholarship, on the day of our return to our respective colleges in Darjeeling for completing our Pre-University Course in the first batch from the newly established North Bengal University, both of us decided to enjoy watching the Sunday morning 10’O-clock show in the newly opened first ever cinema hall in Sikkim – the Denzong Cinema and the movie was Joy Mukherjee* – Sadhana starrer Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962) that I remember more for the Mohammad Rafi* and Asha Bhonsle haunting duet Main Pyaar kaa Rahi hoon Teri Zulf ke Sayeen mein penned by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan* than for its other hit songs by the maestro O. P.Nayyar* that was, however, not found in the movie itself very much like S. H. Bihari’s lines Deewana hua Badal from the same stable for Kashmir ki Kali (1964), if I am remembering it correctly.
Though we used to keep in touch exchanging letters even during winter holidays which I spent with my parents at Rhenock, we never found time to meet all these years but once. It was during one of my visits to New Delhi when we met at Bagdogra airport that made us keep company for a trip to Bhagirath Market near Chandani Chowk. One of his daughters and Rachna studied together but no visit to each other except when we rarely met in some official meetings. So is the way of life that keeps us alive without keeping in touch even with old acquaintances. It is more uncivil while you are in the civil service professionally we are together but socially aloof. May be the way we turn so keeping more occupied to earn our livelihood and it depends on how best you are positioned in the Government also. It was this friend, when I met during my tenure as the Director of Census Operations, Sikkim in early 1990s, who told me to have turned a na chalne dui aanee or a coin not of use anymore i.e. out of circulation in the local parlance.
We do not know how opportunity comes lurking in unknown when in adversity. Had I succumbed to the ill fate meted out to me in 1998 I would have drowned myself and taken along heavy toll of my family too! It was difficult facing my father and all but an avid news follower he was, I need not had to break the ice courtesy wide ill-publicity (also through satellite and electronic media) - a major achievement for those pliable who made it possible through a ploy of conspiracy! Truth prevails and outlasts everything – Satyamev Jayate! It was the turning point of my life that designed me to be what I am now today - more dedicated furthering the ceaseless efforts that my father started half a century ago for the wonderful works that is possible provided one is prepared motivated enough for living the life you get only once and so is the death. Choice is absolutely yours, indeed. So, I learn from my life past forward and be blessed.
Some people are born that way and these are the rare breed that does not succumb to the circumstances meted out whatever comes. It was the habit of following the national and international events my late father every morning and evening that became my father’s nature. It was more so for listening news and commentaries on AIR and BBC regularly and cricket whenever there that kept him glued to the radio set and he a school head master there. Otherwise his leisure hours were spent when not gardening in reading books we used to get directly under the Gharelu Library Yojana started in 1961 by Hind Pocket Books (Pvt.) Ltd. of Shahdara in Delhi and periodicals like Kanchanjungha, Kadambini, Sarika, Navanit, Sarita, Manorama, etc. we subscribed besides the Pragati, Dharmayug, Hindusthan, Illustrated Weekly of India, etc. that the Information Service of India in the Political Office here used to send regularly to the school libraries. He too did not come to terms with the circumstances that befell upon as a consequence of turn of events that led to the merger of Sikkim opting for democracy. He rather thought it better to call it a day than to continue in the day by day deteriorating social structure/environment when his own politically motivated near and dear one (writing in the language both were familiar to thus) pressurized him for favours (of false certificates) on monitory considerations. The peace thus he brought for himself helped him score the years outnumbering to get the pension for more than he actually served making remarkable contributions for the cause of education in the society at Rhenock. People felicitated him during the Golden Jubilee Celebrations (1995) of the school he reared carefully from its infancy and still remember him fondly as the Head Sir. On his (with wife) Jankwa or Sahasrachandradarshanam, i.e., sighting of a thousand moon attaining the age of 83 years and four months, it was, therefore, a rare opportunity for all of us to seek his blessings as it is believed in our society that the couple thus then reach the status of a god and goddess. Whereas, we the family members remember his innumerable students most of them outshined and excelled in their life. To cite a few names, academically it was Dr. Shanti Chhetri and Dr. Hari Prasad Chhetri, while Ganesh Kumar Pradhan (also my student while teaching there waiting for the board result to introduce/initiate him the hobby of stamp and coin collecting) who all earned a name for themselves in their respective fields. It was this simplicity that made him have a peaceful retired life till he breathed his last on 22nd June 2003. The death was, however, not that peaceful in the hospital bed as it was made out to be so for those in whose hands he had to pass through his last days – similar to his close ones my Thulo Mama and Sanu Mama - all my three mentors met the similar sad end!