27.7.14

2 An Inspirational Story: The story of my father

It is 08:35AM in my watch and I missed it again by 5 minutes, the deadline to start for my office. I am starting my Car, putting my seat belt on, and I am allowing turbo effect of engine to come with full force so that it could pull me from my basement parking. I am on the road now. I switched on the Bluetooth and redialled a phone number from the previously dialled list. An ever energetic voice appears from the other end. He asks well-being of my son, my wife and my office. If there is any news from my village he narrates it minutely. Then we switch on to the topics of national politics, international politics, philosophy, mythology or the book that I am reading currently. We keep talking. He is satisfied that I bought a car in which this facility is inbuilt. It is 9:05AM. He says, “Now you must be reaching your office so let us hang up”. From the modulation of my voice he is sensing the traffic condition from 2000 miles that whether there was a jam or it was smooth today to judge whether I am about to reach my office or we can talk for some more time. Finally call gets disconnected to be connected again next morning or until we really need to talk. Every morning this was my routine. These were not merely the discussions; my father has been pumping energy in the morning that used to keep me rejuvenated for the day. However, on unfortunate day of 11th June 2014, I had so many urgent things to do. I postpone the daily telephonic discussion for the evening. When I called back that evening instead of my father my brother picked the call and he informed me that he was no more, he died few minutes back. How could I afford not to talk to him on that day? Generally upon NOT getting a call he used to call me. He did not call me on that day, either. He had already booked his final journey leaving me shattered, meek and incapable. More I try to become normal more powerless I find myself. I already started going to office. It’s unbearable for me when I start my car and habitually put my Bluetooth on and finally realizing that I cannot talk to him anymore. At his relatively good health and at the age of 61-62 it was NOT a right time. As someone suggested his good memory would guide me throughout my life. His life has itself an inspirational story to learn important lessons. Let us have a look.

My father’s life story can motivate any person in distress. Everyone’s father is unique, there is no doubt. But he was unique out of several uniques. I would like to write about him without assigning any adjective to him, yet I am sure those who read this story would have a remarkable positive influence on him. I am writing his story (in short) without using any adjective, does this not vouch many things in itself? If you find it motivational do write to me. It will help me regain some of the energy which would be necessary to move on.

Part-I


Late Shri Mohan Mishra (1952-2014): Story of my father is nothing less than a story of modern India which encompasses a glorious past, brave survivals through austerity of its extreme, progressing slowing but steadily and now roaring to become superpower to regain its glorious past. Let me start the story since 1940’s prior to the birth of my father when my grandmother was just married. The grandfather of my father (my great grandfather) was a baron and had a close relationship with the King of Darbhanga (mithila). Therefore, my grandmother came from a very affluent family of Darbhanga. My great grandfather inherited 700 acres of highly fertile land. He was possessing 7 elephants (presently cost of one elephant is equivalent to a Mercedes S class). He was sponsoring a traditional residential Sanskrit college where students used to get education free of cost till post graduation courses. As my great grandfather and so his sons were highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. They started taking part in freedom struggles.

A landlord-ship and freedom struggle did not go hand in hand. The king of Darbhanga (Mithila) was very upset of their participations in freedom movement. Though quit India movement was at its peak, however English collector (of Bhagalpur) thought to teach my great grandfather a lesson. They sent so many legal notices to him for creating unrest in the society. He did not respond to all legal notices and there came a day when collector manipulated and got the legal rights to attach all his property.

A prosperous landlord became wealthless. My grandfather had three more brothers. Two of them were highly involved in Quit India Movement starting from 1942. When they saw their entire property vanished, they fled away together from home. Subsequently, one of them get into the team of Lal Bahadur Shashtry and were jailed together. Association with Lal Bahadur Shastry brought him again in prominence and when he became priminister of India, one of the brother of my grandfather, Mr. Ramakant Shastry became Mayor of Agra.

Back home, my grandparents found themselves nowhere. They still wanted to run their inherited Sanskrit college. But alas, they didn’t have any means to do this. In spite of this life crisis my grandfather decided that he would stay in my village. My great grandfather at that time possessed a man-made fish pond/lake spread in the area of 5 acres. My grandmother sold all her ornaments which her affluent parents gifted her in marriage. Thus my grandparents purchased this fish pond of 5 acres. As of today (07th July 2014) I (Kumar Padmanabh) inherit this fish pond as an agricultural land. My grandmother was left with nothing except this piece of land. She became mother of 4 children but none of them survived owing to lack of healthcare system and hence huge infant mortality rate in India. My grandparents were however settled and running their non-luxurious life with 5 acres of land. Then in 1952 my father was born. India was improving and healthcare was now available a little bit. There was a health center 35 KM away. My grandparents took extra care and my father survived. My grandfather also inherited family tradition of becoming Sanskrit Scholar. He was an expert of Mimansa, a sect of philosophy that deals with rituals. Life of my grandparents were coming steadily, however in 1954 there came a day when my grandfather died leaving behind my 40 years old grandmother and my 2 years old father alone at the mercy of the God.

It was an inconsolable moment for my grandmother. Her estate had vanished, her husband died leaving behind her two years old son. Brothers of my grandfather were already left village. There were no mode of communication and they thought there is nothing left in the village. My grandmother had a lots of self respect and she decided she will not go to her parent's place demanding her share of property which would have sufficient to live a luxurious life. She had no other option but to live for her son, i.e. my father. Therefore the real struggle for survival started in 1954. It was a time when river Kosi was at its peak. Even today it is known as sorrow of Bihar. It was always changing its course, devastating agricultural land of northern Bihar. Jawahar Lal Nehru, then priminister of India decided to tame this river by restricting it to flow through two embankments. My village came in between the two embankments. Mr. Nehru promised rehabilitation of almost 100 villages falling between the two embankments. That promise is not yet honoured. So now the Kosi flood was restricted within these two embankments. Other portion of Bihar was benefited but my village started remaining submerged in flood for 3 months to 6 months every year during monsoon.

By 1960 construction of embankment was over and therefore my village started getting flooded every year. Agriculture was completely devastated. Mr. Nehru started distributing food grains as a relief. As an 8 years old child, my father would go to the relief camp to get food grains every month. At that time he was going to a government primary school to get his education. Since, in this school, the education was provided only till grade- 5th. After few years my grandmother realized that my father needs to go to nearby town for his middle school education. It was 35 KM away from my village. As an 11 years old child, my father started living in hostel. Hostel and mess fee was almost 20 rupees a month. This was a huge amount in early 60s. Since the agricultural land was almost used to be submerged in flood only means of survival was relief. Arranging Rs. 20 a month was a challenge. My grandmother decided to have an entrepreneurship stint. Mahatma Gandhi organization was teaching making of Khadi. So my grandmother started churning charkha given by that organization. Very soon, she started earning good amount to afford fee of my father.

Instantaneous financial problem of my father was solved by initiatives of Mahatma Gandhi organization. However, my father was worried. As a 12 years old child every year during the rainy season, he would come to my village to look after his mother. He would remain in village leaving his study to take care of his mother. He used to be with his mother until flood water used to subside. He told me that many years, even house was getting flooded. He was making “machaan” and for several weeks both of them were staying on the “machaan”.

Time passed and there came a day, when my father was graduated. He passed his exam. He told me once that during those days result was getting announced in newspaper and after seeing that he passed his 10th grade, thereby became eligible for applying government job, he ran from his school (in Kishanpur) to his village which was 35KM away. He ran for 35 KM continuously. My grandmother was so happy. He was not yet 18 so not eligible from age point of view to apply for government job. Therefore he decided to pursue his study further. In the meantime river Koshi was tamed further and 5 acres land of my grandmother was started giving her more crops that they could consume, hence they started saving. Moreover, the entrepreneurship stint of my grandmother was at its peak and she was earning substantially. While my father was in 2nd year of Intermediate University Course (12th) he married to my mom. My father was 20 years old and my mother was 15 years old. My father told me, he was a unique example of his village who did not take any dowry in his marriage.

In year 1973 he finished his intermediate examination at the age of 21 years. Then he started looking for a government job. One of his relative was an IAS officer in Kolkata. He helped many people of my village to get a job. My great grandfather had lots of obligation to his family. Hence my grandmother suggested my father to go there to seek his help in getting a job. In 1974 he was camping in Kolkata for many months. This IAS officer was very much fed up with this kind of requests and therefore he was NOT in the mood of helping my father. However he suggested him to develop some skill. (Son of this particular IAS is now CFO of Hathway in Bangalore. He very well remembers my father. When I was in IIT Kharagpur, I introduced myself to him through a community portal. He was astonished, how could I go to IIT).

My father returned back home in 1975 without a job. Government Job was not easy. Either it was coming through recommendation/influence or through extreme hard work. He sold the ornaments of my mother to get some seed fund and started learning typing and shorthand. After few months he became so much proficient in these two skills that owner of the institute recruited my father as an instructor. In the meantime he started preparing for banks and railways recruitment. I was born in year 1976. He was economically satisfied. Therefore he participated in 1975 Jai Prakash Narayan Movement. The effect on his phyche was so much that he removed my surname from my official papers. Because he believed your surname represents your cast. Even though coming from a highly reputed Brahmin family he did not want to take advantage of that. Subsequently, he started applying for the government job. It was in 1977 that he was selected for many positions in Indian Railways and SBI. He preferred Indian railways and joined as a  a personal assistant to chief engineer in Gorakhpur on 30th October 1978.
During the period of distress and when river Kosi was tamed properly, some of the village people were envious of 5 acres of land that my grandmother purchased and which was giving good crops. With some false documentation they registered a part of the land in their name. Both my father and grandmother were very worried because my grandmother purchased those lands after selling her ornaments. My father fought legal battle for 5 years and then he got his land returned in year 1983.

After his job in Indian Railways in Gorakhpur he was getting railway quarter in Gorakhpur. My grandmother was not willing to relocate. She wanted to die in the territory where she struggled for her survival. My father respected her opinion and decided not to relocate until her last breath. We were getting agricultural produces and my father was getting his monthly salary cheque. Everything was looking so bright and beautiful. But all of sudden my grandmother died on 17th September 1984. As an 8 years old boy, I saw my father crying like a kid. My father struggled for his survival, for his education and for his career along with his mother. His world was restricted to his mother. All of sudden his mother left him. He wanted that she should see the world. By that time I was going to my school. I was doing very well in school. My father was so happy. For his mother’s love, for the reason that I was doing good with my study, my younger brothers were still very young and with all his ecosystem in place he decided that he will not move his family until few years more.

 (To be continued… He was just 12th class pass. How he got MBA. How fortunate am I that both of us went to the same university, in the same year, many a time on the same day for our respective studies. I will talk about the last book he gifted me. And why he was so happy during Obama's last visits of India. Please read on…)



You can share if you want. Your words would help me to move on. Please comment…!            

2 comments:

  1. Generally I do not read long posts but your post is so gripping that I could not resist. You have got a blend of writing and your style is lucid with a grasp on history and geography. I will suggest to write a book based on your family stories. I will turn out to be a great service to the people belonging to the area.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Mr. Sushant Jha;
    Thanks for having patience for going through this long narration. Yes, i have a plan to write it. Presently I am occupied with the daily chores of my life, will see how soon I can start.

    ReplyDelete

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