Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury
- Birth – January 18, 1955
- Education – MBBS (IMS/BHU)
- Publications – 4 books (2 in Hindi, 1 each in English and Bengali) and two are yet to come.
- Translations – Books and articles are translated in English, Odiya, Marathi and Gujarati.
- Awards – CBT awarded stories and novel, “Kamaleshwar Smriti Katha Award (2013, 2017 and 2019)” by Kathabimb.
- Honour – “Hindi Sevi Samman” by Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Wardha (December 2016).
☆ Juvenile Fiction ☆ The Tide of will – Part-16 ☆ Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury ☆
On the Threshold.
The date for the inter college tournament was announced. Everybody was quite excited about it. In the stadium, Kumaran was taking special care for Gayatri, ‘Do it, do that. Don’t over burden yourself. Stay as fresh as a spring breeze.’
And in the home Lalithambika would get a flower, offered to the deity, every day from the prayer room and touch it to Gayatri’s forehead and whisper, ‘O deva, she has been struggling so hard for months. You must have seen it. Don’t do injustice to my kuchumol, Krishna!’
For Ananthi, it was a matter of silent prayer, daily for her makale, the daughter, whenever she would get a time for herself.
Little Rajan had already become a school going child. One day he returned home with marks of bruise and cut on his face and hand. Ananthi stood aghast at the sight of her son, ‘What happened to your face mone (my dear son)?’
‘Oh, it’s but nothing.’ Rajan spoke like a soldier posted at battle front.
‘But who did this to you? And why?’
‘Don’t worry amme. He just hit me with his scale, and I was not prepared for it.’
‘Who? Who hit you? And why?’ Ananthi stretched her arms and pulled him towards her.
The grandma too came out asking, ‘What’s going on? Oh my deva! How he is hurt so badly?’
‘Why don’t you say everything? Otherwise I’ll report tomorrow to the headmistress.’
‘Oh, it was Krish who hit me.’
‘But why on earth he would hit you?’
‘He started it first. When I said in the class that my sister will be participating in the swimming competition at Trivandrum and she is going to be a winner, he said, ‘Don’t talk nonsense. There will so many better swimmers. She can’t get an earthen medal even.’ I was so enraged that I threw his lunch box on the floor. His dosa was spoiled. He became furious and hit on my face with his scale. That’s all.’ He reported the incident with such an indifference and bravery as if he was the great grandson of Sardar Bhagat Singh, the great martyr of our freedom struggle.
By that time Gayatri too was home. ‘Oh, what happened to him, amme?’ She got alarmed and quickly brought some ice cubes from the refrigerator and put them on Rajan’s wounds. When the cause of this incident came to her knowledge she said affectionately, ‘Let them say whatever they like. Why do you take all this to your heart? Why do you protest?’
‘Why should I tolerate? You can’t understand chey-chi. After all you’re a girl.’
‘And you? Oh, of course you’re a man, with a big moustache, ha, ha.’ A smile hovering on her lips the elder sister caressed the hairs of her little brother lovingly.
Kumaran started three days earlier for Trivandrum. He had to take other participants like tennis players, hockey players and gymnasts etc. with him to the venue of the competition. He would settle them first at their respective hostels. Narayanan and Gayatri would start later. Kumaran had already explained the road map and all that to his old teacher.
Thiru – Anantha – Puram means the city of the holy snake Ananta naga that is Thiruvananthapuram. Two years after independence the ancient states of Travancore or Tribankur and Cochin were joined to form the new state of Kerala. After seven years of this amalgamation Malabar too was joined with them. Such is the story of the land of coconuts. The God’s Own Country.
When the grandfather and his granddaughter had settled themselves on their seats in the train, the engine honked its horn repeatedly to announce, ‘Fellow passengers, I must start now.’ The persons roaming on the platform in a carefree style till then, suddenly became quite anxious. They started running and peeping from this to that compartment. The chaiwala and other hawkers on the platform started their final bid of advertisement in a chorus, ‘Coffee, Special Muannar tea!’ The whole length of the train gave a sudden jerk and it was ready to depart. Just at that very moment an old man got into the train with his wife. He was breathless because of his exertion and tension. They came and occupied the seats in front of Narayanan.
‘Oh Hasankutti! How come you two are here?’ Narayanan recognized them, ‘Going to Thiruvananthapuram?’ They too were from Haripadam.
‘Yes masterji, salaam!’ Hasankutti gave a toothless grin.
‘And Kunjapattumma, how is your life? And your business?’
‘By mercy of Allah, everything is going on smoothly. But there may be some trouble in days to come. So we’re going to offer a chador to the mausoleum of Saiyad Habibullah there.’
Narayanan looked at them questioningly.
Hasankutti explained, ‘The catch from the sea is not sufficient nowadays. We the fishermen folks just live from hand to mouth. Moreover, many of the shanties of our men were washed away by the recent cyclone. Let’s see if our prayer is conveyed to Allah by Habib, the friend of people.’
Gayatri was sitting quietly beside. Narayanan smiled and started telling her the story of the confluence of different religions in Kerala, ‘Do you know the beautiful history of Kerala? Fifty two years after the death of Jesus Christ his disciple the Apostle Saint Thomas landed on the shore of Cranganore. He was the first to preach Christianity here. The first church of Asia was built by him here only. And a preacher of Islam, Malik Ibn Dinar, came here in Cranganore first. The first mosque, Cheraman Juma Masjid, was built on the land donated by the Jamorin Kings in Cranganore. And when the Jews came to this land of ours it was the king of Kochi, Raja Ravi Verma, who donated the land near Mattancherry, adjacent to Cochin, to them for their settlement. Some say that even long before that they had come to this land from Jerusalem.’
When all the four got down from the train, Hasankutti and Kunjapatumma bade them farewell and went ahead with a big green cloth in their hands for offering. They joined a group of people all of whom were carrying similar offerings. Narayanan looked at them and thought, ‘By this only the restless souls of the poor try to find some hope in their lives.’
The very next morning Gayatri was standing near the swimming pool of the Thiruvananthapuram stadium. The intercollegiate swimming competition was started soon. Kumaran was anxiously waiting for this day and Narayanan was seated in the pavilion. He was watching everything keenly. His whole attention was centred on Gayatri and her performance.
As the day progressed the fruits of Gayatri’s labour were there for everyone to see.
Kumaran was very much happy. He was a real well-wisher of the girl. He worked selflessly for her. Whenever she was tired after the strenuous work out and practice, he would sit beside the pool and massage her legs with his own hands. Today his dreams had got their wings. And they were flying high.
For Narayanan it was a remarkable feat at this age. His heart was filled with a pleasing sense of achievement. He murmured to himself, ‘Yes, all my hard work three to four days a week, all these years, has been rewarded by my kuchumol.’
Gyatri stood first in both the hundred and two hundred metre races. Kumaran was not quite sure about the result of diving. Still she held the second position in that event. No one gets a gold or silver or bronze in these competitions. Only steel cups and medals are handed over to the achievers. Nevertheless, Gayatri always dreamt of getting a gold someday. But for that dream come true she would have to participate in the interstate competitions. And for them, in South India, these interstate tournaments were truly a sort of Olympic game.
And Kumaran had already started seeing a rainbow of seven colours in the sky of his mind. As the guru Dronacharya was elated when he witnessed the success of his disciple Arjun, Kumaran’s face was illuminated like a fully grown paddy field in an autumn morning. When all the events were finished and the prizes were distributed, he came to them and patted Gayatri on her back with a hearty laughter, ‘Now just tell me how you are feeling? You fool, how could you have accepted the defeat even before the race was begun? Now what’s there in your mind? Happy? And see, you can do everything. I’ve a great faith on your capability.’
Gayatri bent her head and touched his feet. She didn’t look up but she was all smiles today.
‘Now go and first touch your appupan’s feet. I must salute the energy and enthusiasm of our headmaster sir. And tell him he must give us a treat. There is a superb sweet shop in front of the Ganapati temple at Pazhawangadi. We’ll buy the sweets from the shop and savour them sitting on the stairs of the Padmatirtham Lake. Ha, ha.’
When their little party was over and they were coming out from the temple premises Kumaran rubbed his hands out of excitement and said, ‘Now our next destination is Inter State Championship! After that our ultimate goal won’t be far away, sir.’
At last the sun was sinking in the Arabian Sea. It was the time to bid goodbye to Kumaran and the city of Anant Naga, Thiruvananthapuram. Traffic on the road was quite dense and erratic. Everybody was in a hurry to reach home. In the chaos of the city life two unknown soldiers of the sports world were marching to the station hurriedly.
© Dr. Amitabh Shanker Roy Choudhury
C0ntact: Care Dr. Alok Kumar Mukherjee, 104/93, Vijay Path, Mansarovar, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302020
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≈ Editor – Shri Hemant Bawankar/Editor (English) – Captain Pravin Raghuvanshi, NM ≈