From my own turf
Re-connecting back home
Closer to Rhenock
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
I was trying re-connect with near and dear ones by calling them on phone that I had to visit Rhenock within days of arrival. We were with Dr. Hitler Pradhan getting Ranjana’s eyes checked up that I received a call from Bidhan Mama informing that Binod Daju was in the hospital. We rush to the place but find him taken to the Central Referral Hospital as the condition deteriorated to critically bad. We go to M. G. Marg for replenishing our stock of medicines, checking my bank accounts, and go to Lal Bazar/Kanchanjungha Shopping complex walking down the Thado Line/Lal Market Road with badly done, find the Denzong Cinema road being carpeted, finish our greens shopping quickly and get into the taxi to return home. Soon we get the sad news that Binod Daju was no more. He had come here to Gangtok to get his wife necessary medical attention some days back as Bijoy had also informed me about them coming to Gangtok when he had visited back the other day in Rhenock to find Binod Daju not home out for some errand. I had last spoke to him during Dashain like to all my family members and so sad that turned to be the last. We rush to CRH/Manipal and was surprised to see Dinesh, his eldest son, already there arrived previous day from Nepal when informed of mother’s health. Baba @ Prakash was sharing with us when he visited his ailing sister Meena at her daughter Yogita’s place, how Binod Daju was active in opening the ventilation of the room fast when he told them it was getting somewhat stuffy due to heater used. Family members had gathered there in the hospital to condole the sudden demise of our dear Binod Daju, more popularly known as Jetha Babu back home, and console the bereaved children. Soon the family left with the mortal remains to their home for the last rites next day.
We reach Rhenock for the funeral but meet on the way - the procession people attending Binod Daju’s last journey few kilometres from his home. A vehicle stops finding me looking for one to go down to ghat at Rorathang and it was our neighbor Damber Singh Gurung’s youngest son Robin. He and his friends in the car talk that even the funerals these days have turned to be on caste lines and people from one community seldom attending other’s as their presence had been the indicator of this trend fast growing in the village. I tell them that to collect Malami (mourners) for our own, we should attend as far as possible though people go only to those who have come to his place earlier checking from the list of all those who came and paid condolence. Otherwise also it was such an occasion when people reach to mourn the death and offer khada without waiting for any invitation simply on hearing about. This trend had remarkably been noted even by the people in places outside that Sikkim was famous for. We reach the bank of Rorathang River that was not the usual old place for such burning ghat near the bridge but for picnic like we had also gone once with our family. The other side was a quarry where heavy vehicles ply to and fro carrying sand and stones. Slow flow of water is enjoyable but not for performing the last rites. It was allotted by certain company who are now the owners of the place and poor bereaved family turned beggars for such a place once denied for many years but public pressure perhaps they have turned generous so much as to provide basic amenities for such purpose in due course of time perhaps. Otherwise, a local teashop in front of the factory gate was the venue to offer tea and refreshment to those who reached the ghat. They had earlier been served mineral water bottles and juice in tetra-packs.
Funeral pyre was ready and Dipesh, the youngest son, also reaches after a hectic journey from Doti in Nepal with a vehicle break down somewhere on the way and somehow reached Bagdogra to catch helicopter flight to land on Mining Ground on special request made it possible for him to see his father’s face once for the last time sad having lost so suddenly. They had all met last in Gangtok attending a marriage in the family few months back.
While people rush immediately after the pyre was lit by the mourning sons as most have to catch with rest of the day for whatever works they had waiting but the family members were there till the end. Relatives coming from Gangtok and other places reach the mourning home to offer their sympathies to the bereaved family. Next day Meena Bhauju was taken to a Siliguri Nursing Home with her health improved after getting necessary medical treatment. She came back home on Sunday two days before the Antyeshti Kriya on 23rd February.
We were in Rhenock last time on a similar occasion attended to offer condolences on the Antyeshti Kriya day to two neighbouring families in the bazar. R. K. Pradhan was of the view that only occasion like this brings people closer home and we should visit often to keep in touch with them all. We were overwhelmed by the love and affection they showed for us. This time too it was meeting them all in the Ghat and later visiting bereaved family that gave us opportunity to meet and revive our cordial relationship once again. Rather it was reconnecting with them after all these months away to make another story altogether to share about in my next!
This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names, quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org