It was an old Ambassador car that would do a maximum of 8 km per litre. And I only had 5 litres left in the fuel tank and a couple of hundred bucks in my pocket.
I had already travelled some 150 - 170 km in a 1969 car that would drink fuel like nobody’s business. How ? Trust me, I still don't have a clue. The car was travelling through unknown territories and home was bloody far from here.
The sun was going down behind the winter skyline of rural Bengal. The vast fields lined with coconut trees smelled of fresh rain. Those days, most cars didn't have an AC and I guess that was a blessing.
A fresh and cool breeze blew on my face with droplets of rainwater in it. At a far distance, a train chugged her way to Calcutta through beautiful white cotton fields. And the song that was playing in my car was ‘Cotton Fields’ by CCR.
Except for the song, it looked like the legendary shot by Ray where in Pather Panchali, Apu and Durga are in the mid-ground, surrounded by tall Kaash grass and a train is passing at a far distance with the funnel of the steam engine blowing thick black smoke bursting against the winter sky.
This was the beginning of a series of coincidences in my life. I have always hidden this side but I guess at 53, I don't care anymore!
My paternal family almost believed that the Queen was their 65th cousin and preferred borrowed colonial culture at home. But my aunt and I turned out to be a little different from the rest.
My aunt had walked out of the family to be a part of the Left revolution in India. It's another story that when we lost her, she was disillusioned about all her sacrifices in life; sensing that they had all gone waste. Anyways, the other ‘rebel' was I.
I was always looking for reasons to channelise the natural rebellion that was brewing in me. On one side, I wanted to look and sing like Elvis, act in movies and be swarmed by girls. Own private jets, have roadies and stuff. But on the other side, there lived and still lives another soul in me who has a completely different mission in life.
The key thing that keeps me alive besides food, family, cinema and music is the need to explore and understand Spiritual Sciences. And every time I do so, my trail leads to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Nath community of Naga lineage. I will avoid discussing this and will look for an opportune moment to write about it in a separate blog.
I never believed that Netaji died in a plane crash. Never. There was enough evidence that I had witnessed when an elderly yet extremely strong gentleman came to live in a house in our neighbourhood. A very senior member of Bengal Volunteers who struggled for Indian Independence with stalwarts like Major Satya Gupta was an ardent follower of Netaji and had no family.
Shri. Biswajeet Dutta or 'Meshomoshai' as I called him had spent years in jail and knew secrets of Indian history that were either twisted or re-crafted to suit the convenience of some. And that's what changed the course of my life.
Much later, I had the honour of spending some time with Dr Satish Chadra Maikap. A rebel historian, educator and a Swadeshi (not be misunderstood as any political outfit. They all have their philosophies but this one is not theirs) who had sold his family jewellery to build a government school building where he was the Principal.
He, I knew, was doing detailed research on the disappearance of Netaji. Due to another coincidence, I met his neighbour who had an interest in music. But music flew out of my ears when he unexpectedly shared something that shook the roots in me.
On a designated day, I drove towards Budge Budge, far away from Calcutta, to meet Dr Maikap. I knew that he was once shot in the leg during a protest at Contai or Kathi near Digha which was his hometown. So, I was all excited.
No, the excitement was not ‘only’ because he was shot in the leg as a rebel or that he was doing research on Netaji’s disappearance but the fact that a couple of weeks prior, he was ‘kidnapped’!
Dr Maikap had disappeared around 23rd January for a week. Nobody had any clue about where he was. They tried getting help from the police but all was in vain. Dr Maikap was not to be found at all.
I got to know that the rebel historian was being followed by alternating Naga sadhus for a while which he himself was aware of. Everywhere he’d go, some monk would be on his trail. And then suddenly one day, he just disappeared.
After a meeting over a lovely Bangali meal and some exchange of critical information with Dr Maikap, I immediately decided to drive to a place called Shimultala. Now, this was on the other side of oblivion and the car had only 5 litres of fuel left in the tank. And I’d miles to go before I slept.
I had no address to look for. I just had some basic information and a name. Swami Ananda Bharati.
to be continued.....................
(disclaimer - images have been sourced from the internet. we don't have any claim on them. used as reference)