One evening Surya was engaged in a cheerful conversation with Protima on the lawns of Presidency college. They loved each other immensely. Both were brilliant student in their final year and studied Physics.

"Surya, Surya," a familiar voice disrupted their discussion. They saw Gautam approaching them hurriedly. "Surya, go home quickly," Gautam said, "your brother Bipin is badly hurt."

Panic-stricken, Surya got up and started running leaving Protima behind. He took a bus and reached his residence at Bagbazar soon. He found a crowd outside. Sight of some elderly women wailing greeted him.

Soon he came to know what has transpired. His elder brother, Bipin, who was a Naxalite has been gunned down by the Police in an encounter.

He helped his family complete the rites of his deceased brother.

Days passed. Surya stopped going to college. Protima used to come to meet and console him.

"How long are you going to live this way?," she used to ask looking at his bedraggled appearance.

Surya was adamant. He had decided that he would quit studies. Gradually a crack appeared in the relationship between Surya and Protima.

Years passed. Rumors began to surface that Surya has got involved in underground activities. His acumen would help in foiling the ploys of the police to nab him with evidence.

"How come he always gets wind of our plans to catch him?" the police would say.

Surya became a dreaded name in the police department. They claim that he has exterminated at least half a dozen of their tribe in the last five years.

On the other hand, he was loved by the poor people. In a Robinhood style, he and his accomplices went about eliminating dozens of wicked businessman extorting huge money from them and distributed their loot among the poor people.

A few years fleeted by thusly. Some of Surya's friends got caught. A few of them were hanged, others were put behind bars. Their movement appeared to have lost steam.

Disillusioned with the present state of revolutionary activities, and dearth of capable hands needed for their struggle, Surya decided to call it a day.

"I am fed up with this life, I want a more decent and respectful life," he told his band of outlaws.

He said he would start life afresh, on a new note, and so he left for a distant town.

There he started a Hotel business. With passage of time, he became a respected person in the town. Again his keen intellect and vast knowledge won him many admirers, and many people came to him to seek advice on diverse matters. Years drifted by.

Surya is now in his early forties. This particular year witnessed unusual floods. One thousand people perished in his town. There was huge damage to standing cattle and crops amounting to crores of rupees. Surya did yeoman's service for the distressed people on the occasion. He must have saved at least two dozen poor villagers in the vicinity. He brought them to his Hotel and provided them free food and lodging during the crisis from the stock he had kept aside for an emergency situation. Most of the refugees were sheltered in the upper storeys of the Hotel.

"Surya, did you hear that Govt. have sent a special team to assess the damage and fix the relief assistance to be provided. They will relax in your hotel for a few hours before the inspection," the local MLA said.

"O.k," said Surya.

The central team did arrive to inspect the grimness of the flood situation and determine the amount of Relief Loan to be sanctioned for the flood victims.

One day, the central team consisting of four persons arrived. Surya went to greet and receive them with a smile. The team which had come to survey the conditions of the affected people of the district didn't seem at all interested in knowing the plight of the marooned people.

"Is this a place fit enough for a person to stay?," they complained when they were shown their rooms in the hotel. Moreover, they fussed about as to why a red carpet has not been rolled out for them in the hotel.

"Hell, why are the air-conditioners not functioning properly?," "Hey mister, order some kababs for us".

Surya was simmering. But he reined himself in. He was simply filled with loathe at this bunch of scoundrels who were Govt. representatives.

The team was in the town for just two hours. Then they left for the Airport. They didn't bother to make a tour of the affected site.

They didn't reach the Airport. They were found dead lying in a pool of blood in their car, shot through their head, somewhere along the way leading to the Airport. Later a big investigation was conducted by the Govt. to nab the killer(s) but they were without a clue. The file had to be kept in abeyance.

Surya's renewal with violence marked his second innings. The decaying standards of society bothered him.

"What's the world coming to?," he said. "Corruption, greed, hatred, killings and exploitation seems to be omnipresent."

"I will have to do something," he said. After a lot of musing he decided he would train some educated youths in the use of arms and ammunition so that they can revolt against the exploitative rules and laws of the present corrupt Govt.

By daylight, he remained a successful hotelier. Years passed in this manner. As Surya grew older, he also felt tired of the violence and regular killings surrounding him. Deep inside, he felt he has performed his duty towards society.

He is nearly sixty. One day he came to hear that his lady-love of yesteryears, Protima, is now married to a lawyer and she has a happy family somewhere in Kolkata.

In one of his visits to Pondicherry he paid a visit to Sree Aurobindo's ashram. Aurobindo's philosophy of life appealed to him greatly.

Like Surya, Aurobindo had participated in the freedom struggle of his motherland and later drifted towards spirituality to seek the 'Divine Truth.'

Surya spend the last remaining years of his life working for the teeming under-privileged people of the country. He remained unmarried till his last days. His end came at the ripe age of eighty-four years.


More by :  Subhajit Ghosh

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