God Takes Away The Best First.
It was month of June. Schools and colleges have just reopened after scorching summer holiday. Sadananda, a high school going lad of our village was eagerly waiting for the rain to fall as a thirsty skylark desperately longing for the rainy water to quench it’s thirst. The monsoon was delayed at the distant hill causing disappointment to Sada. Yes…. Finally it arrived late fulfilling everybody’s expectations.
However It was better late than never. He breathed a sigh of relief looking up to the cloudy sky that brought coolness to the earth. Monsoon has taken over the village with the sweet smell of wet earth and the smooth sound of pitter-pattering of water droplets falling from the cloudy sky.
The dry and empty ponds and wells began to fill up with rain water. Seeing this sight the heart of Sada was filled to brim with excitement. His eyes looked like an ocean where his dreams were reflected on, visualising many a pleasant tomorrows ahead . They revealed his passion for going on frolicking with the children at the river side witnessing the flood and swimming across the river to reach other side for getting wild pleasure. He didn’t understand why his attitude changes at the sight of rainy day. Why does he run wild in wet? Why he wants to be drenched in the shower? The answer to his self-inquiry is his nature. The nature of monsoon is to fall and the nature of Sada is to feel at home with the bounty the monsoon brings with it.
It was Sunday. Throughout the day it was raining cats and dog tirelessly.. The flowing stream of rain water tempted him to float paper boats in the rain water. It is a memorable experience of childhood days. Haunted by it’s nostalgia Sada wanted to go back to the past for his present pleasure to see the paper boats dancing down in the running stream for a few yards until it is totally soaked and destroyed by the rain water. While fancying to float the paper boat his eyes fell on Deva sitting alone on his verandah. It seemed that he was thinking about something serious Sada could sense the theme of his thought from a short distance. Deva must be thinking about his failure in the last examination. It is the most painful and embarrassing moment of a student in his or her career. He had already suffered a lot for this. He had tasted the bitterness of failures for four times. Twice in the standard five and twice in the standard seven. For this reason four batches of students junior than him in age became his class mates eventually. Thus he was looking odd and old among his class mates reading with him at present. To divert his attention from depression he went near him half soaked in the rain. “Why are you looking sad Deva? What are you thinking about? ” Sada wanted to know it from Deva but Deva didn’t reply anything and remained silent. ” Are you coming with me to see Pradhan sir tomorrow? He had committed to do the needful for you. He had agreed to make you pass the examination.” Breaking his silence Deva replied. “It would be futile to meet Pradhan sir tomorrow. Last night my mother went to the Head Master’s house and approached him for his help but he responded negatively and passed adverse remarks on me. In this situation I have already decided to discontinue my study and try my fortune somewhere else. I have made of my mind to follow the ancestor’s profession for my future.”
Sada has always had an unflinching faith in Pradhan sir. He was confidant that he would help Deva by hook or by crooks. He had capacity to twist and turn every situation relating to school administration. It was an easy task for him to manipulate the result of Deva in his favour as the examination was not conducted by the board. It was conducted by the school itself. Everything was at his hand. He had proved himself helpful to the desperate students at the time of their need. At the same time Sada proved himself to be the most obedient to him by discharging the selfless service to his favourite teacher. Although he was regularly irregular in attending the classes he has shown sincerity in visiting to his beloved teachers houses everyday afternoons after the school was over to help them in their household matters. Whenever he pays visit to them he brings with him a bag full of fruits and vegetables for them as a token of love and gratitude. He hadn’t bought them in the market but plucked them from the trees grown in their harvest yard in the absence of his grandfather who lived there. He was equally helpful to every teachers living around the school. As he was credulous boy to a great degree some bachelor teachers harnessed his service to bring them cigarettes clandestinely when they needed. He had great love and respect for Pradhan sir in his heart. Pradhan sir also loved him very much like his son. So Sada was optimistic about the outcome of their tomorrow’s meeting. Sada was bosom friend of Dev who spoke the same language They were like birds of the same feather flocking together. They read together, ate together, swam together, jumped together, hopped together, climbed together, slept together and spent the time together in making merry and amusement. There was striking similarity between them which brought them closer to each other sharing the same attitude and mentality and values in their life. They were like minded friends only differing in degree but not of kind. Sada was courageous and reckless by nature. He was a naive young man often so trusting of others around him that his natural innocence results in him getting cheated or hurt by others. He lacked worldly knowledge and wisdom as he failed to judge anybody accurately. He would believe her mother if she said him the moon is made of cheeses. Deva was to some extent more clever and calculative than Sada. Sada had soft corner in his heart towards Deva that he was fatherless who deserved the help and sympathy of others.
Sadananda had woken up very early from his bed before his mother got up for doing morning household chores. He was waiting for the daybreak to rejoice in amidst the happy company of his friends. He aroused everyone from sleep along with Deva beforehand to go to school. His interest was not for learning lessons but he was passionate about how to help passersby cross”Bhusandanala”, a Perennial tributary flowing from the foothill of the mountain Lankagada towards river Boda usually feeding to increase the volume of its water in rainy season. The length of Bhusandanala from its origin to the point of confluence with Boda river is a mile distance But when it rains upstream the water flows violently causing damage to dry areas eroding the earth from the both sides of the tributary. During his childhood days the tributary used to run fast and furious with the slightest rain fall in the upper region of the stream near the origin of the flow. However turbulent the nature of Ihe water it had a habit of turning calm in a couple of hour after playing havoc with the lives of man and animals.
A myth runs about the origin of the stream. The story dates back to the age of the Ramayan. The tributary was an outcome of a battle that took place between Sri Ram- the God incarnate and a demon king Bhusandasur. The demon king Bhusanda was benevolent to his subjects belonging to his own community but malevolent to saints and brahmins living in neighbouring kingdoms. He was notorious for his vices lacking sympathy and kindness to others. His sole mission was how to get sadistic pleasure by inflicting pain on good souls. His vice created panic and terror among the sage world as the demon attempted to disrupt their ceremonial worship aimed at welfare of the mankind, power to country and peace on earth.. He was destructive in all aspects. Sages were no match for demons in terms of physical power as they were superior to humans in strength. Moreover the demons had power to take any form through their supernatural abilities. As saints were peacemaker, they tried to avoid encountering demons. They fought shy of confronting devils who lacked good sense. So finding no other way out they submitted themselves to the will of God. They waited the emergence of a Saviour who could rescue them from their predicament to the state of eternal peace by teaching a lesson to the devils. In the long run the cries of the saints were heard in heaven and the Lord Vishnu sent Sriram in guise of a human being to help them at the time of their distress. Lord Sriram came to their rescue when he was returning to Ayodhya with his wife Sita and younger brother Laxman escorted by his armies comprised of monkeys and bears. They were retiring from Lanka after defeating Ravan in the great mythological battle. The proof is still evident from the foot prints of Sriram and arrow marks on the rock lying outskirts of our neighbouring village Jirabadi, popularly known as “Ramapada”. The sages could perceive the presence of the divine soul when Ramachandra was passing through the jungle. They emerged from caves and assembled together to apprise the Lord of the suffering they endured at the hands of demons. They laid themselves prostrated on the ground with great reverence and prayed him to blot out the devils on their way who hindered the rule of law and order in the society essential for peaceful coexistence. At the outset Lord Ram tried to mediate to establish peace but his advice was unheard by the obstinate devil so he had to resort to violence to mitigate the violence meted out to the sages. A fierce battle ensued between Ram and Bhusanda. The battle was fought in a plain land between the two hills. Both parties used bows and arrows, , iron bludgeons, discs, spears, clubs, maces and swords to combat with each other. There was a heavy casuality on both sides. Every time Sriram ripped off the body parts of demons with his weapons they would reappear once again with new organs. The monkeys and bears of Sriram’s armies fought tooth and nail with demons throwing over them the uprooted trees and mountain tops. But they caused no serious injuries on their bodies. Instead they felt like someone was throwing lotus stalk and flowers on them. The war lingered for some days without any result. But Lord Sriram put an end to it by applying his heavenly weapons against the demons. It brought destruction to the rival army with immediate effect culminating in the great victory of good over evils. The giant and gigantic bodies of demons were lying motionless after bleeding heavily in forming a blood pool near Lankagada hill. And the blood of demons from the pool began to flow in a stream down the valley towards river Boda. On the other side near the bear hill(Bhalu Mundia) another pool was formed not with blood but with sweat. It was sweat of monkeys and bears they shed at the time of their physical exertion they experienced while throwing trees and stones targeted at the enemies. Simultaneously two pools of liquid one blood other sweat – one red in colour other white- were formed and flowed parallel to each other towards a larger stream. But on the mid way the sweat stream cutting it’s way mingled with the blood stream making the flow more violent as they carried with them the attitudes of belligerence against each other from the beginning. The water rolled, rotated, swirled, swiveled, turned and twisted in helter skelter movement creating pandemonium in the rainy season. .
Sada loved to take risk in his life while helping others. He helped his friends to swim across the stream always putting his life at stake.The friends who didn’t know how to swim in the tumultuous flow had to depend on Sada. He had no hesitation to allow them to sit on his shoulder with their legs dangling over his chest to reach the other side of the stream. The entire wet season witnessed Sada engaged in this mission as a disaster manager. Deva was having the same attitude as Sada bore in him. But he was not as adept as Sada in the art of swimming. Both arrived at school as sheduled. While passing the class room verandah their eyes fell on the notice board. They read the notice pasted on the wall. As per the content of notice Deva had been declared promoted to the next higher class along with other nine students who failed in the last promotion test. Their joys knew no bounds after getting this positive information. Deva remained grateful to Sada for his help. Both went to the class and sat on the first bench in the first time in their student career. After classes were over they both met with Pradhan Sir to show him the gratitude for the favour he had shown to Deva.
Sada was entwined with rare qualities of courage and humility.. He inherited the attribute of courage from his grandfather who was quite affectionate to him. His grandfather was carrying a lion’s strength when he was a young. He earned the credit of saving a buffalo from starvation by dragging her up through a rope, as she had fallen in a deep pit. At the same time Sada had imitated the ways of life and etiquette from his father who was known for his humbleness. His father loved his spiritual mentor more than his life. He had great faith and devotion towards him. His revered teacher was a great worshipper of Godess, a renowned astrologer-the foreseer of the future who was able to predict the happenings of life most accurately. Sada’s beloved father learnt a little from his sagacity but served him wholeheartedly as and when he needed his service at his door step. Instead of expecting any tuition fees for the teaching he imparted he wanted to give away something in return for the service he rendered to him. As he was well aware of the fact that his beloved disciple had no other income source except for carrying on the humble profession of priesthood he wanted to help to raise the income of family by employing Sada in a government job. As his son was one of the administrative officers under state goverment, so he could provide him with a menial job in the revenue department. The appointment letter came like a gift from the heaven. He resumed the service in the Tahsil Office in the undivided Koraput district. Soon after joining into the post a quarter was alloted in his name to live with his family. The quarter was located at beautiful place surrounded by fruits and flowers plants. The place provided all the ingredients of his village he left behind him. Within no time he became familiar to the new environment. In the mean time his father started looking for a daughter-in-law for his son from his community. The candidate was selected and the marriage date was fixed after studying the horoscopes of the both bride and bride groom. On the scheduled day the marriage was solemnised by the priest as per Hindu traditional rituals. After marriage the newly wed wife went with Sada to live with him as his life partner. They were blessed with two children whom they loved very dearly. But at the same time Sada didn’t forget his parents who were living at village. In regular interval he visits to them and sends money every month to meet the family expenses. He was happy at his work place. He rises early in the morning to pluck flowers from the office garden and distributes them among the shopkeepers and vehicle owners to be used for worship of deities. After distributing flowers he returns to his quarter and takes bath in the fountain flowing back side of his house. After finishing puja he climbs up the trees bearing ripe fruits to eat till to his heart’s content sitting on the branch as monkeys. After breakfast he paces towards the officer’s bunglow to cook for him who is living alone without his family. However he attends the office in time to discharge his official duty assigned to him sincerely. After office hour most of time he is engaged himself in serving the local people maybe official or nonofficial by nature. So he became most popular in the locality where he lived.
It was summer season. The college was closed due to summer vacation. We were sheltering in the temple verandah to avoid the effect of high temperature in the environment . At that moment the sound of jeep was heard from distance. We thought that it might be mobile party coming for collection of crop loan lent by the Cooperative Society. Whatever the case may be the vehicle stopped at the middle of our street. It halted in front of Sada’s house. Two children and a woman got down from the jeep crying in a helpless condition. What happened? What is the matter? Who are they crying? What for? The questions began to crop up in our mind. To know the matter we advanced towards the jeep and discovered that it was an ambulance that carried the dead body of someone. Who is he? We found Sada was lying inside the ambulance. He is no more. He had already left this world for his heavenly abode. The news spread like a wild fire. His parents, sisters and brother came out of home to see his dead body’s face in grief stricken condition. His father wrapped his arms around his knee and began to cry. His mother who was never seen in the public in her life time began to beat her head against the ground in deep sorrow. That was a heart wrenching sight which remained as an unforgettable memory in my life. I became quite sceptical about the justice of God. I thought there is no poetic justice in the kingdom of God. God lifts those first whom He loves most like plucking beautiful flowers first from the garden. I pondered over the justification of His act but couldn’t understand anything.
By Dr. Santanu Kumar Dash,
Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India