“Logs flow with the current of the river. A log may be brought to flow together with another. After some time the two may be separated and made to flow separately. The same current may or may not bring them together again and they may or may not get separated after a while.”
- A Sanskrit Shloka
I had had the company of Shree Anant Deb way back half a century ago for less than two years in Silchar, a town in southern Assam. I was then a lecturer in a local college and he, a humble businessman.
He had a magnetic personality. He would sometimes say, “Our generation is singularly unique. We have been through such historical events as partition, freedom, communal riots, and mass migration among others.” In 1947, he was a young student activist of Communist party in Sylhet now transferred to Pakistan. He along with other comrades were encouraged to stay in Pakistan because it was felt that carrying out anti imperialist movement in a theocratic state would be more demanding than in a secular country like India. Hindu comrades would be more valuable.
He was detained by the Pakistani rulers for a period of two years and nine months without trial.
During his detention in Rajshahi jail he faced and got fatally wounded in brutal and indisriminate firing inside the closed barrack of the jail, in which seven of his comrades were killed on the spot. After release his parents moved to Shillong in India because required medical facitlities were not available in East Pakistan. Thereafter he had to undergo spinal grafting in a missionary Hospital in Shillong. He body was caged in a plaster from neck to knees for five years in a stretch. His mother nursed him during this ordeal. He was betrayed and disowned by party office bearers. It is amazing that in spite of all such experiences, he continued to smile and love. He introduced me to Sukanto Bhattachrya’s poetry.
At the time of his detention he had just passed his intermediate examinations. So he was deprived of opportunities of pursuing higher studies. He moved to Silchar with his mother and started a humble business.
The other day while surfing internet, I learnt about the sudden demise of the renowned and popular cultural activist Shree Anant Deb of Silchar. Though he had attained the ripe age of 84 and had told me in his last letter a week ago that he was suffering from Alzhemier’s, I was shocked. I had the privilege of getting his intimate friendship for nearly two years half a century back. After nearly fifty years of my leaving Silchar my son visited Silchar together with his wife. They met Anant Babu and were amazed at his warmth and love. I was able to talk to him. It was such a rare experience. Thus the contact was renewed. He sent some booklets written by him along with his recent photograph. I reciprocated with my memoirs of Silchar and my recent photograph.
Then I received a packet containing his letter, another booklet and a copy of a newspaper. As I leafed through the pages of the newspaper I found that my memoirs were published there along with my photograph. I was again bowled completely. I contacted him on phone; we talked for a good time. Then I sent two books by courier as a token of my gratitude and thanks.
I was waiting to hear about the receipt of the books I had sent to him as my compliment. I was thinking that he would appreciate my selection of the books. All I could learn from the courier service was that the packet of books was delivered to the recipient on the same afternoon.
It is really strange that He was never a favored child of destiny still he did not carry bitterness though having indelible scars because of his having suffered at the hands of foes, friends and circumstances. He built strong cultural and social movements in Silchar and remained a loving person all along. He was able to contribute to efforts to make a better tomorrow.He could leave an indelible bright mark in the annals of Barak Valley.