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A Surprising Gift



****


By Hiranya Borah






Copyright 2018 Hiranya Borah


Smashwords Edition






Smashwords Edition, License Notes



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Preface



It is a fictitious story of a surprising return gift from a young lady of an underground outfit to a senior officer after an abduction attempt. Is it so?

The story is based on insurgency and untold discrimination towards a group of people from a particular part of the country. Since the ethnic discrimination and insurgency are two very sensitive issues, instead of mentioning the actual names of the states, I gave the names of the states as A and B, though I have indicated without any ambiguity that the states are situated in the North East part of India.

To make the story enjoyable and realistic, service profile of the protagonist, Kanak is made similar to that of mine. But I am again reiterating that the story is far from reality. If any similarity is found with the characters of the story it may be a pure coincidence only.

Thanks to my readers and friends and above all, my family for their constant support to write something usual and unusual. I love them all.

Thanks to Smashwords for publishing this story as an eBook along with my other eBooks.


Author

Chapter I: A Field Visit


You may be aware that Government of India under the leadership of the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched Swachh Bharat Mission on 2nd October, 2014, to achieve the vision of “Swachh Bharat” by 2nd October 2019, the 150th Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Father of the Nation’. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has been made the nodal Ministry for Implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin).

By Nodal Ministry, what we actually mean? As the Nodal Ministry, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation provides financial and technical assistance to the States to help achieving the vision of Swachh Bharat. For this all the stakeholders have to come together to make the entire country open defecation free and clean. This requires immense behaviour change and also creation of sanitation infrastructures like toilets and solid and liquid waste management systems. Luckily, the mission is no more a mission only for the Government, but it becomes a mission of the people of India. That is why, this is one of the most successful programmes of India in the last seventy odd years.

From the last two years, Kanak has been posted in that Ministry as a senior officer associated in implementation of the scheme. Though there was no fixed allocation of duties for Kanak, as he belongs to North Eastern Part of the country, he has been assigned the duty to monitor the progress of the scheme at field level in those seven states.

Earlier Kanak had been posted in the field operations division of NSSO for around 11 long years. His second posting of his service career was in the state, B before he was posted to the state A. He was working in the state A for almost 10 years with different capacities and in different offices. During that period he had the opportunity to visit all the states extensively and earned a reputation of a friendly officer for all the states.

Recently, to monitor the progress of the two states A and B, Kanak was sent by his boss to these states in one go to save time and Government money. Accordingly to see the progress of the scheme at field level, Kanak proposed to visit as many as seven districts in these two states. But to visit seven districts in one go was not an easy task. Except one district none of the proposed districts has air connectivity. Even the district connected by Air India has only one flight that too from Kolkata at 5-55 AM. Therefore, Kanak decided to travel to Kolkata one day before his proposed visit to states A and B.

As planned he took an evening flight to Kolkata on Monday and stayed overnight at a nearby hotel already booked through Makemy trip. At the hotel counter Kanak met a beautiful girl of early twenties who welcomed him with a genuine voice. She promised Kanak to give a wake-up call at 4 AM on the next morning. Kanak knew very well, the wake-up call would not be given by that beautiful girl, but by a rough male voice. He was correct, a male voice gave the wake up call only after Kanak was already ready to leave the hotel for the airport.

As scheduled, Kanak reached Mohonbari (if you have geographical knowledge of NE you will able to know the district name and as a corollary to that, you will be able to identify the state A) airport to visit his first district. He made one field visit by 10 AM and then he met the district administration before he proceeded to the second district. In the second district also he made few field visits before meeting the district administration. These were routine visits and subsequent routine discussions on progress of the scheme, quality of construction of toilets etc. Therefore, I am avoiding detailed boring descriptions of those field visits and his discussions with the district administrations of both the districts.

However, I must describe the grandeur of the suit which was provided to Kanak by the state government for his night stay. His suit was as big as his Type V quarter where Kanak has been staying for the last few years. There was a beautiful sofa set at the drawing room. In the living room another sofa set and one dining set were neatly kept. The bed was as big as two table tennis boards combined, with beautiful bed covers. Bath room was fitted with all the good sanitary-wares. In a sense it is a real royal accommodation for lesser mortal like Kanak. It will not be a complete description of the guest house without mentioning the quality of food that was provided to Kanak by the employees of the guest house. Kanak had only one regret that he was not accompanied by his family in this tour.

On the next day morning, Kanak proceeded to the next district of the State A on his way to the state B. The road was not good as the driver opted a short cut road instead of the National Highway. For a distance of 70 KM, the SUV took little more than two hours.

At that time Kanak was thinking, road condition was very bad in the state A.

Chapter II: Horrible Road Condition


Many of the officers of the adjoining district of the State A, were waiting for Kanak at the district circuit house to give Kanak a grand farewell from their state. As Kanak got inside the circuit house, he was glad to see the arrangement of a good breakfast. In the meantime, he was told that the escorting officer from the State B also reached the circuit house and was waiting for Kanak.

As they were taking breakfast one of the officers of State A commented in Assamese, ‘Sir apuni ei baysoto bhal ghurib pare dei. (Sir, it is commendable that at this age also you are able to travel so much)’. Kamal could not understand whether they were praising him or ridiculing his old age.

Anyway, Kanak started his journey again with a different vehicle, this time by a sturdy Bolero provided by the Government of the state B, from the adjoining district HQ of the state A to the District M of the State B.

The town, M that Kanak was visiting was only 38 KM from the state border of the state A. Kanak was told by his escorting officer that they might reach town M by 12 Noon. Kanak looked at his watch, it was only five minutes passed 9 AM. He was surprised to hear the estimated time to reach his destination and anticipated an extremely bad road ahead of him.

Their car was moving in a snail’s pace as road was really bad from the border town of State A to the District HQs of the district M. Now Kanak realized that his early morning journey within the state A was far better than that of the journey from State A to the district HQs of district M of the state B.

At that time, Kanak was not anticipating that many more surprises were waiting for him in the next 24 hours.

Chapter III: VVIP Guest House


Kanak was accommodated in the VVIP guest house located very near to the official residence of the Deputy Commissioner of the district M. As already indicated in the earlier chapter, many surprises were stored for Kanak in that VVIP guest house.

First surprise was, being the VVIP guest house, Kanak was not expecting electricity would be extremely irregular in the guest house. Second surprise was, though there was a generator as backup for electricity, the supply of diesel was not regular and therefore, during Kanak’s stay in the guest house, initially it was not put into action by the care taker. However, after intervention of the young DM, the generator started working for some time. As a result of that, Kanak got uninterrupted electricity till 2 AM and however, after that there was no electricity till the morning of the next day.

So far, lunch provided was horrible may be a soft word to describe the quality of the food, that was also a surprise for Kanak in a VVIP guest house. However, again after intervention of the escort officer, dinner provided in the guest house was extremely good. Incidentally, Kanak had invited the Tata Preraks (they are paid by Tata Trust and work for Government of India and help the state governments in implementing Swachh Bharat Mission at the ground level) for the dinner on that evening.

After dinner, Kanak started reading the Bible placed on his table by some NGOs with the caveat that it should not be removed from the room.

Though, he was extremely tired due to his more than three hour travel on an extremely bad road and subsequent field visits by another road with worse condition than the earlier one, he could not sleep immediately after hitting the bed.

He recalled his earlier posting in the state capital of the state B as a young officer to open one regional office of NSSO exactly thirty years ago. His wife had an indifferent health during the entire period of one and a half years due to the humid climatic condition of the place and due to her failing health before and after birth of their son. But now he enjoys recalling the memories of those days. However, now a days, he finds satisfaction in remembering that he was able to appoint some local boys and girls in that office who are still working in that office in different capacities.

Chapter IV: Attempt To Abduct

As there was no electricity after 2 AM, it was pitched dark inside the room. But thanks to the ever illuminating residence of the DM, outside the room, visibility was little bit better than inside the room. To borrow some light from outside, Kanak removed the curtains of the windows. Then he tried to sleep as the temperature in the room was not intolerable without a fan as compared to an extremely hot summer night in Delhi. But before he could go to sleep, a mild knock at the door caught his attention.

‘Is there anybody at the door?’ Kanak asked.

‘Yeah, some of your new friends.’ Reply came from the other side of the door.

Kanak understood, they were not his friends, either they were some petty thugs or they were from some underground organizations.

‘Should I open the door or not?’ Kanak thought for a moment, then he decided to open the door as otherwise also they could come inside breaking the weak door separating the ultras and him.

Three gun totting young boys were standing at the door. The look of the boys was not at all menacing but one of them said with a solid voice, ‘we are from an underground organisation and we are coming here to take you along with us.’

‘Why? For a ransom or for some other deals?’ Kanak asked keeping his voice as normal as possible.

‘May be for both. Will you be scared to go with us?’ One of them asked with an intriguing smile.

‘Not at all’. Composing himself Kanak started his lecture for which he is famous (or infamous) amongst his peers, with his normal tone.

‘Actually, I was abducted by an underground group in your state long back. Probably none of you have born at that time. In 1988 when I was posted in your state to open one office at your State Capital, I was mistakenly abducted by a group of undergrounds and took me to their camp. However, when their leader identified me and the group realized their mistake, they dropped me at the same place wherefrom I was picked up. On that day, I was really scared, because at that time my children were very small, one was two year old and other one was only two months’ old. I was thinking at that time, if I would be killed, my wife and children would be on the street and would have little option but to beg for their livelihood. But now the situation has been changed considerably in my family front. My children are settled and not dependent on me financially and socially. Further, as I grow old, I realized none can kill me so long God does not want me to be by his side and reverse is also true. My time of death and the way I should die had already been written on my forehead the moment, I came out from my mother’s womb. Therefore, now a days, I stopped fearing for my death. Now, hopefully you will allow me to dress properly before I accompany you to your hideout. If possible give a ring to my wife as network of my phone is not available in your town. Further, if you kill me today or after few days, please send my dead body to the nearest police station, so that same can be handed over to my family for performing the last rites for the dead body.’

Kanak did not know how he gave such a long lecture before three gun totting boys who also did not interrupt his boring lecture.

‘It appears you are a very religious person!’ One of them commented.

‘Not exactly. I read many books on almost all the religions. I dislike almost all the religions on one account, they all claim that if one follows that particular religion only then God will protect the person. In my opinion only one’s good work will protect him/ her; not by his/her religion. If God is one, why there are so many religions? There is always one or another conflict of two religions whenever followers of the two religions have sizable numbers in that locality. However, in my opinion, good work and good thought have no alternative to meet the Almighty. Again anyone has the right to disagree with my opinion of thought.

Further, even though I am a Hindu, in the last few years, I seldom go to a Mandir to perform Puja. You may find my logic for not going inside to a worship place ridiculous. I consider myself a sinner and if I go to a worshipping place, my sin will be shredded inside the worship place (as advocated by most of the religious texts). That I do not want, because in my opinion, it is like going to a bathe room to clean our body dirt. If we believe, really God resides there, he will be disturbed by my sins or spiritual dirt. I know you will not agree to my arguments!’ Saying those sentences, Kanak wanted to go inside the room to have a formal dress on his body; but at that time a young girl emerged from the darkness.

She appeared to be the leader of the group as her emergence from the darkness made the gun totting youngsters little bit nervous.

‘Can you recognize me sir?’ The young self- styled leader asked Kanak.

Looking at the diminutive young lady without a gun, Kanak tried to recollect his memory to recognize the lady who might be the decision maker of his fate.

His old age betrayed his memory to recognize the young lady and probably that might be leading him to a disastrous consequences, Kanak thought.

‘Do not worry sir. I am Rita Paite. I understand why you have not recognized me. Probably you have helped many girls who faced similar problems in their lives, like me what I had to face on that day. I knew that you are a religious man having knowledge not only in your Hindu religion, but also you are very much conversant with Bible and Koran. Your motto to help anyone from any religion must have earned lot of respect from your known and unknown persons. I am also one of those persons who always respect for that incident when a group of street Romeo tried to molest me knowing me that I am a girl from North East. Had you not intervened at the appropriate time, I would have been molested by the unruly crowd after killing my two brothers. In that case, I would have a feeling for the entire life that all the people of Delhi and its adjoining states are bad and sick with a mentality of racial bias towards the people of North Eastern States.’

After hearing that particular incident from the young girl, Kanak could recognize the girl whom he had met four years ago on the street of South Delhi. He recalled what happened on that fateful day.

Kanak was going to purchase some electrical goods from Kotla Mubarakpur market opposite to the Defence Colony of South Delhi. Two places are full of contrasts. Defence colony is a posh colony, Delhi is proud of and Kotla Mubarakpur is one of the three hundred odd rustic villages Delhi which have nothing to be proud of. The area under this village, like any other villages of Delhi is full of lower middle class uneducated people and under the influence of antisocial groups.

On that day when Kanak was well inside the market a commotion attracted him. When he looked at the place from where a shriek of a girl was coming, he saw few local people were thrashing two young boys, apparently from North East and the girl accompanying the boys was pleading not to beat the boys. When Kanak tried to intervene, one elderly person told him, ‘Sir do not try to meddle with these people. Actually they wanted to molest the girl, which the two boys had objected. Therefore, they attacked the boys.’

Realising the gravity of the situation, Kanak rang the police at telephone number 100. From the other side, a police officer asked him rudely, ‘What happened?’ Kanak introduced himself and told the police to hurry up and help the youths from the North East.

Within a few minutes, the police arrived at the place and rescued the youth from the anti-socials. Later on, Kanak came to know that the girl was a student of Delhi University and two boys accompanying her were, one was her own brother and other one was her cousin. The badly injured boys were hospitalized and luckily both of them survived the attack. The girl later thanked Kanak over phone and they never met again till that dark night.

Now he realized, the same girl was standing before Kanak as a leader of some underground outfits.

‘Sir, will you not invite us into your room?’ The young girl asked.

As Kanak invited them into the room, all four sat down and one of them asked him, ‘Do not you feel that people from North East are not properly treated by the people from other parts of India?’

‘Yes, sometimes, I also feel. Though I have not been discriminated openly; sometimes some comments hurt me when some of them uttered those words inadvertently. For example, once one of my friends from UP told me that till he met me, he had an impression that people from NE are Buddhu (stupid). There is another common impression is that NE people are basically very lazy and all males are bootleggers and ladies are easily available for sex. But sometimes, I blame ourselves for creating this impression about us before people from other states. Another impression is that our (Kanak deliberately used the word ‘our’ instead of ‘the officers from NE states’) Government officers are corrupt and do not want to do their duties for which we are appointed. Do not you also feel like me at least on these issues?’ The answer was between the lines, not hard nor soft.

Discussion on neglect for the North East and perception about North East people perceived by the rest of the country continued for the next one hour or so without any definite conclusion.

In between, Rita gave Kanak a small packet containing a gift with a request not to open the gift till he would reach Delhi. Kanak also promised her not to open the gift till he would reach Delhi.

The chit-chat among the youngsters and Kanak continued till the morning. They left his room in the early morning with an ‘all the best for the rest of the journey’ wish.

Kanak overheard Rita was saying to the boys, ‘You must have to pay me thousand bucks as I won the bet.”

Kanak could not hear what the boys replied.

Kanak went to the bath room to have his bathe for his early journey to the district T.

Chapter V: Early Morning Travel

It was a bright morning at 5 AM with clear sky against their expectation of a cloudy morning. The Zila Preraks who were to come along with Kanak were as usual little bit late so they have to start their journey at 5-30 AM though the proposed time of departure time was fixed at 5-15 AM on the previous night.

Again another memorable road journey started. Distance between district HQs of M and district T was only 160 KM, but it took eight hours. However, Kanak was overwhelmed by the beauty of the hills of that route. The road was running along the border of India and Myanmar. This particular route is the shortest route between the two districts. But this route was closed for few days prior to Kanak’s visit due to heavy landslides. Kanak was lucky to travel through the route as it was open for vehicular traffic only on the day of his visit.

However, as he was enjoying quietly the scenic beauty of the hills after taking breakfast at a small restaurant (the restaurant was informed in advance by the escort officer to prepare breakfast for ten persons otherwise the restaurant was not in a position to provide breakfast for even ten persons at a time), the escort officer pointed out to a place where few days ago there was an ambush by militants on an army convoy. Immediately, Kanak remembered his last night’s experience which he deliberately did not share with anyone accompanying him.

The escort officer then said, ‘Sir this is the first time, an officer of your rank is travelling to these two districts by road. Even junior officers from central government prefer to travel by chopper. Actually you made a flutter in the administration by sending your tour programme. The VVIP Guest house, you stayed last night, is for the first time used by a senior officer from Central Government. No senior officer wants to stay overnight in the district M. This is the only district in India, where a local tribal can keep guns of the calibre of killing an elephant without a licence. Therefore, even local senior officers from the state government do not want to visit this district without a truckload of police men. Hats off to you sir, you are visiting this remote district by road without even a single police official as your escort.’ He smiled.

‘Has any underground outfit asked you who am I? Or they know who am I already?’ I asked the question to know something confidential from him.

‘Yes sir, I got some phone calls from some of them. Surprisingly, they know about you more than I knew about you before I met you yesterday. After meeting you and after discussing with you about our religions and our ethnic diversity, I was confident, even if you are abducted, they will not harm you. That is why I am relaxed today in accompanying you to the next district.’ He stopped there and Kanak also did not want to discuss on the issue any further.

Chapter VI: A Gift to Remember


On the next day Kanak left the district T and proceeded to the district Mu. There was nothing significant to write about the remaining part of the journey of Kanak except bad road connectivity within the state B and far better road connectivity within the State A.

On the subsequent day, after visiting two more districts of State A, Kanak took a flight to Delhi from Guwahati. He was feeling that all the bones were broken inside when he finally reached home after six days’ of hectic travel.

As requested by Rita, he did not open her gift till he reached Delhi.

When he opened the gift presented by Rita, he was surprised to see that a small bible was wrapped in a T shirt with blood stain. A small letter was also found inside the gift packet. The letter was written neatly with beautiful hand writing.

‘Respected Sir,

When I came to know three days ago that you are coming to our place, I decided to give a return gift. When the matter was discussed with my friends, they said you may not be that good and brave what I had said to them. Therefore we had played a game for which I submit my unconditional apology to you. Though I came along with them to the guest house, I did not come before you along with them so that they can test your knowledge in religions, calmness and friendly nature for the people of our state. The drama to abduct you is nothing but a prank only. None of us is a member of any underground outfit. However, as we have friends in some underground organisations, we came to know that all the organizations were conscious about your visit.

Surprisingly, all of them have high regards for you because of your past good deeds in our state. Therefore, without your knowledge they are keeping an eye on your movement for your security, so that none can harm you to malign the image of the underground before the common people of the state. About the prank we made, there was an argument among us that you are not as good and as brave as what was perceived by even the underground organizations. When my friends were quizzing you, I was listening your conversations with my friends from a distance. At that time itself, I am sure, they have also realised what I have said about you may be few understatements only. In the midway, I started writing this letter and wrapping the T shirt of my brother, whom some uneducated North Indian hooligans tried to kill on that day.

My family was keeping the T shirt as we could not forget and forgive the goons what a true follower of Jesus should have done. My Father decided if I win the bet, a copy of bible would be wrapped with the T shirt and forgive the persons in the name of God who had beaten his son. As I won the bet, I along with my family have finally forgiven all of the goons who had beaten my brothers and tried to molest me on that day. I am giving the bible as a gift to the people of Delhi as a token of love and forgiveness. Who will be a better ambassador than you to carry a symbol of peace to the people of Delhi? Please keep the bible with you as a representative of Delhi people. Please throw away the T-shirt with blood stain of my brother along with our bad feelings towards the Delhi people.

I am sure you will continue your good works for the common people of India and you will continue to help the people of North East selflessly.

Sir, I shall meet you again one day for a cup of tea at a congenial place.

With love,

Rita Paite.’

The author is a Government servant and a man of vivid experiences derived from his official postings across the country, travels across India and numerous visits outside India. He is presently placed at New Delhi.

His earlier publications are:

1. Random Thoughts through a Coloured Prism

2. Dilemma of a Young Mind

3. Funny Statistics and Serious Statisticians

4. Melody of Fragrance

5. Akhadya

6. Few Cities through the Lens of Hiranya Borah

7. Guilt: Gift of Winter Spring

8. Beautiful Ghost
9. Great Fighters: Grace of God

10. All Blurred

11. Putting kids to sleep

12. How to become unpopular

13. Soulmates

14. My grumpy Face

15. Love and Worries

16. Discussion of own Birth: A Taboo

17. Interview

18. Indecent Love Affairs

19. My Fair Lady

20. Waiting time

21. Two Stories

22. My Mother: Dashami Borah

23. Parineeta

24. Manorama

25. Unwanted

26. First Attempt

27. A father

28. The Portrait

29. Snapped Thread

30. Only He Knows

31. The Stupid Mother

32. The Same Old Story

33. The Old Scoundrel

34. Third Attempt

35. Some of my First Days and First Nights

36. Snubbed Twice

37. Have You Met the God

38. Frequent Flier

39. Messiah

40. Forgive and Forget

41. To Win or to lose

42. Call Girl

43. Beyond Blood Relation

44. Lady with a Black Car

45. My wife

46. Complete Woman

47. Diwali Gift

48. Romance with a Lady

49. Open Heart Surgery

50. My First Love

51. Replacement

52. Pebbles on My Way Home

53. My First Bengali Book

54. Murder Mystery

55. Niharika

56. Swapping

57. Make a Habit to Thank God

58. Killing of a Bird

59. The Hero

60. Fantasy versus Reality

61. The Party

62. Road Rage

63. Death of a Friend

64. Cannot Live with Memory Only

65. None Cares for Me

66. A Tribute to My Guru

67. Two Professionals

68. The Choice

69. The Elusive Spouse

70. First Encounter with A P

71. Plane Crash

72. Plane Crash Part-II

73. Plane Crash Part-III

74. Abducted

75. A Bag of Currency

76. Suitable Groom

77. Head Hunters

78. My Dear Sister

79. Selection While Waiting at the Airport

80. Oh Shit

81. Perverse

82. He Got Back His Wife

83. Beautiful Faces

84. Elder Sister

85. Good Morning

86. Prey

87. Pass on your Death to Someone Else

88. Colour of Holi

89. Why blame others

90. A Forbidden Issue

91. Hat-trick of Failures

92. Agony of Writers

93. Contrasts

94. Three Directors

95. An Unusual Love Affair

96. Birth Day

97. Do not Tell Anyone

98. Anupama

99. Late By Ten Years

100. Murder in a Foreign City

101. Strange Life

102. I love You Darling

103. Falsehood

104. Lady in the Park

105. Do Anything, I Shall comment

106. Professionalism

107. Art of Flirting

108. Are We Human

109. Old man and a Dog

110. Relation with Relatives

111. Sun and Cloud

112. My Second Lover

113. In a Meeting

114. Love at First Sight

115.A Psalm of Life

116.He Wants a Solution

117. Wings

118. Twenty-five Love Stories (Hard copy available)

119. Me and a Dozen Plus One Ghost Stories

120. Aparajeeta: Twenty Seven Short Stories

121. Nothing Official As Such

122. Illustrated Kids’ Story

123. Hundred Ways to F & F your Popularity

124. Broken heart

125. Random Stories and Dilemma

126. A Phone Call

127. Revenge

128. Men, Women, Dogs and Bitches

129. Mera Pyar (Hindi)

130. Scandal

131. Anuradha

132. Looking for a wife at thirteen

133. Fenny My Hero

134. Frustration: Can we Get Rid of It

135. Monster Father



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