On 12th November, 2014, I was at Kaushani. The purpose was pure travelling. I and my family were travelling under a conducted tour operated by a Kolkata based travel agency. We were staying at Hotel Sagar in Kaushani. During afternoon time, the tour manager told us that Gandhi Ashram was on a walking distance from where we were staying.
My mother and grandmother were too tired to visit the place. They took the choice for resting in the hotel. I, along with others, formed a small group. We slowly moved upward along the road to reach the Gandhi Ashram. It was a nice afternoon in the hilly region.
Our small group consisted of Mrs. Sahoo (the tour manager’s wife), two naughty-boy-type-men (named Pipul & Bubai) and a young lady (named Bonnya) along with her mother. Needless to say, I have changed their original names or surnames. I had my camera with me. On reaching the ashram, I was taking the images of flowers. Then Mrs. Sahoo remarked, “You see, Gandhi ji and other freedom fighters have made our country free from British rule. They were honest. But today’s leaders are pathetic! They are stealing our wealth and looting the country.” We all supported her speech. We spent some quality time in the garden. It was the time of sunset and the Nanda devi peak was looking more beautiful than ever. I was also looking at the noble man’s statue.
While returning from the ashram, something mishap happened. Pipul pointed something at Bubai. They went towards a tree. It was an orange tree. I noticed that there was only one orange in that small tree. Pipul looked here and there. There was nobody watching them. Then Bubai picked that orange quickly from that tree and put that into his pocket. Pipul smiled at him and said, “Let’s move out from here.”
Another similar incident made me astonished! Mrs. Sahoo was asking like a baby girl that she wanted oranges from another big orange tree. In front me, Mrs. Sahoo and the two other ladies persuaded one local man to pick 2-4 oranges for them. Perhaps, they bribed him. I was looking here and there and smiling all the time. One ashram’s person finally saw that the man was giving the oranges to the ladies and he called the local guy to scold him. He, however, did not call us for explanation.
Five minutes later, we were in front of our hotel, from where rest of the group members went downwards to explore the local market and I just came back to my hotel room. Somehow, my mood was off. Actually, when something bad happens in a group, first I get fun. But then a sense of repentance stings my heart and I feel very depressed. I went to the bed that night with a heavy heart.
Next morning (on 13th November), I woke up early. I told my mother & grandmother that I was going for a morning walk. First I went towards the local market. But I was not in peace. Something was dragging me towards the Gandhi ashram. So, slowly I started moving upwards and reached there in ten minutes from the local market. The morning was very peaceful. There were three men at a long distance from the Bapuji’s statue. They were not looking at me at all.
I took a deep breath. Then I began talking to the statue, “Bapuji, yesterday, something mishap happened at your garden. My fellow travelers stole oranges from ashram’s garden. No, I did not steal any. But I was present during their misdeed and I did not protest. Those who support the crime directly / indirectly, are also guilty. So, it’s my guilty feeling for which I have come here. Please forgive them. They are too immature to understand what it feels to steal something from a noble soul’s ashram. On behalf of all of them, I apologize. Please forgive us. Please forgive me.
Bapuji, I am not like you. I am more like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. If someone attacks me, I don’t and I can’t use your Ahimsa philosophy. I also attack the guy. But that does not mean that I disrespect you. I am not fully honest. But then no human being is. But I shall try to be like you. Bless me with you power. Whatever barrier comes in my way, I cross all of them and show my supremacy to the society, to the nation through my technical field and literature. Bless me that when I am back in Kolkata, I am blessed with your green energy and no red devil can stop me in achieving my goal. I may not come back here for a third time. So, goodbye. I promise to you that I’ll be different from others. And I’ll be different because my name is Biswajit Ganguly.”
I ended my speech. My eyes were full of tears. It felt like a burden was relieved from my shoulder. I saw the still statue of Bapuji. Beside his statue, there were the statues of three monkeys with these messages : don’t see bad things, don’t hear bad things and don’t speak bad things. Incidentally, just opposite to those statues, four real life monkeys were sitting. They were staring at me. Their ears were naturally open. And two of them were talking between each other.
Actually, when something good happens , everybody loves to listen, watch and speak about it. And like human beings, monkeys can’t be any exception to that. I felt like what I did just then, was good. Yes, that was goooood!
I felt like a new man and slowing moved towards the hotel. Later in that day, I met Mrs. Sahoo. I asked her calmly, “So, how was yesterday’s oranges?”
She replied, “Oh, don’t tell me! Those fruits were sour. We did not like them at all.”
On hearing that, a smile came on my face. And the smile was neither bitter nor “sour”. It was sweet. Really sweet. Was Bapuji’s soul smiling also? I believe so.
This 100% true story could have ended here. But it didn’t. Nearly one month has passed. Something happened on last Sunday (14th December, 2014). On a recent arrest of a minister, Ms. Bonnya has mentioned him as Chor (thief) and made a Facebook post on that. I looked at the post and thought about the irony of the matter. People are good in forgetting their own misdeed and raising fingers at others. Don’t you agree?
[ The above writing has nothing to do with politics. ]