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A Short Story By G.S.Vasu Kumar
Based on Story Idea & Edited by Sunil Ranjan.
*Based on a true incident
‘Baba, please come to Bangalore,’ Anil Ranjan said, ‘and stay with us for some time.’
‘Yes, Baba,’ the two sons of Anil said together.
Baba looked at them with a stern face. They waited eagerly for his response.
‘Alright,’ He said, with a broad smile on his face.
Baba was aged somewhere between 95-98 years when this incident happened way back in the year 2011. His real name is Dhanush Dhari Singh and he is popularly known as ‘Huzur Sahab’ in his native place Baghi village of Samastipur District, Bihar. He is a Kabir follower. Kabir followers don’t do idol worship.
He has two sons, Chandeswar Prasad Singh and Shukdeo Prasad Singh. Shukdeo has two sons namely Anil and Sunil Ranjan. Anil, the elder son is a civil engineer and running his own business in Bangalore. Sunil, who has done MBA (Finance), works with a MNC company in Bangalore.
Anil had been to his native place along with his family for the summer vacation. He called up his younger brother and his family to inform that grandfather was coming along with them. They were more than happy to get this good news.
Anil went ahead and booked the train tickets. But he couldn’t get berths in the same compartment. Anil decided to give the lower berth to his grandfather, so that he could be comfortable.
‘Anil, you don’t worry about Baba,’ one of his friends in that compartment told him, ‘We would take care of him.’
The train No.15228, Muzaffarpur -Yeswantpur express left at about 8:30 am to Bangalore on 23th May 2011. Anil kept visiting the compartment every now and then, to help Baba to have his food and go for toilet. Everything was going good in the three days journey back to Bangalore.
On the fateful day of 25th May, early morning at 4 am, Baba woke up to answer the nature’s call. He found the compartment was dark, as everyone was in deep sleep by then. He didn’t want to wake up his grandson’s friends, who were sleeping beside him. So he decided to go for the toilet by himself.
As he walked looking for the toilet, he found dark blue curtains everywhere in that air conditioned compartment. And he wasn’t able to locate the toilet in that compartment.
He decided to open the door of the compartment. Just then, the train had stopped at the Vijayawada railway station. Someone from the compartment thought that he was trying to get down the train and helped him to get down the train.
Next morning, Anil came into the compartment.
‘Where is Baba?’ Anil asked.
‘We don’t know? The last thing we saw was he was sleeping.’ One of his friends replied, scratching his head.
They searched for him in the compartment, but couldn’t find him anywhere, by the time; the train had travelled some 200 kms away from Vijayawada, heading towards Chennai city.
‘I helped an old man to get down the train. I thought he had reached his destination.’ One of the passengers in the compartment told him.
‘What?’ Anil cried rather shocked, ‘Where did he get down?’ He asked.
‘He got down at the Vijayawada railway station!’ He replied.
Anil called up his father, who was in the native place and informed him what had happened. His father called up his younger son Sunil in Bangalore and passed on the information.
Anil called up S C Shukla whom he knew in the railways in Bangalore city and informed what had happened. That person gave him a contact person in the Vijayawada railway station by name Yadav, who was a inspector in Railway Protection Force posted at same station. Anil immediately called up Yadav and briefed him about his missing grandfather.
‘I see an old man sleeping on one of the benches in the platform,’ Yadav said.
‘Thank God!’ Anil said.
‘But he is dressed in south Indian attire, so he can’t be your grandfather.’
Yadav said, before Anil could even relax.
So, Anil decided to pull the chain in the compartment, get down the train and go back to Vijayawada in the next available train, while his family would continue the journey to Bangalore. When he finally reached the Vijayawada railway station and met Yadav in person, he started behaving indifferently towards him.
‘Well, many people go missing every day. I have better things to take care than look for a missing old man,’ He said, shrugging his shoulders.
Anil started looking for Baba in the railway station, nearby bus stand, but he couldn’t find him anywhere. He became tired and exhausted by evening. He tried to file FIR with the railway police station, but they refused to take it.
‘Anil, please go back home! Sunil and his friends are leaving from Bangalore to Vijayawada this evening!’ Anil’s father called and told him.
Sunil’s friend Diwakar called up Ganpathi, who works in a tourism company in Vijayawada and asked him to go, search for Baba in the Vijayawada railway station. Ganpathi searched the entire railway station twice, but he couldn’t find Baba. He called back and informed Sunil about the same.
Meanwhile, Sunil along with his friend Diwakar took many postcard size photo prints of his Grandfather. Together, they boarded the bus which was leaving to Vijayawada city. They reached the place by next day noon.
They went straight to the railway police station and showed the picture of Baba, and requested them to register the case of missing person. Again, they were not willing to register the missing person complaint. One of the TTE showed the picture of an unidentified body of an old person which had appeared in that day’s local newspaper to Sunil and Diwakar.
The old man in the picture somewhat resembled his grandfather.
‘No, he is not my grandfather for sure!’ Sunil cried, rather shocked at the latest development.
Sunil called up his relative Sqnd Ldr Kunal who was in Air Force, posted at Tejpur and briefed him what had happened. Kunal called Superintendent of Police (Railways) Mr. Khan and briefed about the incident. Mr. Khan promised to help and asked them to meet him in his office. In the meantime, they reached the superintendent’s office; Khan had already spoken to his assistants about this. When they reached there:-
‘Well, Sunil, I also feel that the dead person need not be your grandpa,’ Mr. Khan said, after listening to the entire incident, ‘But still I would suggest you guys to go and have a look. I would send my driver along with you.’
‘You see, when a person dies his or her appearance changes,’ Mr. Khan said, ‘The unidentified body is buried after seven days of waiting time. Once, the body is buried, you can’t see even if you want to,’
The driver took them to the mortuary in the railway police jeep. The mortuary person showed them some ten unidentified bodies. Sunil and Diwakar felt sick looking at the frozen dead bodies kept in the huge drawers in that cold room. They were also shown the belongings of the dead person. Sunil and Diwakar went back to Mr.Khan’s office.
‘I am glad that your grandfather is alive somewhere. I am sorry to tell you that this is all I could be of help to you.’ Mr.Khan said, ‘I wish and pray that you should find your grandfather soon.’
‘It’s okay, sir. Thanks a lot for all the help.’ Sunil said.
‘Sunil, you go and meet Sub Inspector Ram Babu at GRPF police station on platform number six, who will help you in registering the FIR,’ Mr.Khan said.
‘Sure, Sir.’ Sunil replied, before leaving.
Sunil and Diwakar met Sub Inspector Ram Babu and got the FIR registered. Ram Babu asked one of his subordinates to accompany Diwakar to the news papers office to publish the advertisement of missing Baba in local news papers - Enadu, Sakshi, Andhra Jyothi, and Surya on 28.05.2011. While Sunil worked along with Ram Babu for pamphlet format for distribution. They got the DTP format in the local language prepared.
They again decided to give the advertisement in Andhra Jyothi on 29.05.2011, as this news paper published the advertisement without photo on 28.05.2011.
Diwakar called up his younger brother Deepak and friend Sudhakar, and asked them to join them in the search for the missing Baba.
Soon they were four people searching in different directions in the city. They searched in temples and ashrams in the city. They did photo printing and stationery works. They got one auto driver, Abdul Kalam, who was very familiar with most of the places of the city. He took them around looking for Baba in the streets of the city.
Vijaywada isn’t a big city, so they were able to cover it completely within a short span of time. Sudhakar went to the neighboring city Guntur and Rajamundry, searched in bus stands, railway stations and other public areas.
Sunil and Deepak pasted the pamphlets on the walls at bus stands, railway station platforms. They even distributed the pamphlets among the auto rickshaw drivers. They both searched in the north direction thoroughly.
In the afternoon, they went to the press club and Bal Bhavan (NGO). Diwakar went to arrange for sound systems and printing of banners. While Deepak and Sunil went to the famous Kanaka Durga temple during the arti time in the evening, when many people gather over there.
Ravindar left from Bangalore to Chennai railway station looking for Baba. The thought was that if someone had helped Baba to reach Chennai by some connecting train.
Ganesh Sah, Shailendra and Sarvana went to Katpadi and Jolarpette towns; they gave the advertisement in the Dina Thanthi local newspaper in Tamil on 29.05.2011. They even distributed the pamphlets which had details of Baba and their contact details.
Next morning, Sunil and Deepak went to get some 1,500 Xerox copies of the pamphlet. They distributed the same in all the trains which were halting at Vijayawada railway station. Later, they even searched the nearby Lord Ram and Hanuman temples.
Once again, Sunil went to Ram Babu, to get the information of all trains that passed through the platform No.6 and 7 between 4 to 11 am, on 25th morning. While, Diwakar went to the Citi Cable, the local TV channel of Vijayawada to make a short video. They informed Diwakar that they would be telecasting the same at 7.30 pm that day. Also at 7.30 am and 2.30 pm on 30th May 2011.
Diwakar went to the Z News channel. They told him that the video would be telecasted at 11.30 PM on 30th May 2011 and 2.30 Pm on 31st May. He even went to the All India Radio and requested them to broadcast the missing person information. They informed him that it would be broadcasted soon on 837 hzt.
The TV9 agreed to display only the photo shortly.
Diwakar then went to the Hindu newspaper. They agreed to publish the information on 30th May 2011.
‘Bhaiya, I have an idea! What do you think of broadcasting about Baba on the display television sets in the bus stand of Vijayawada?’ Diwakar asked Sunil. ‘Also we can go for announcement in the city.’
‘That’s a good idea! Sunil replied.
‘However, we need to take the permission of the commissioner of police for doing the announcement in the city,’ Abdul, advised.
‘Let us go and meet him right now to take his permission.’ Sunil replied.
They found the commissioner of police in the nick of the time. He was leaving for somewhere. Diwakar briefed him about what had happened. Then:-
‘Oh, I just read about your grandpa in today’s newspaper,’ Mr. Anil Garg , Commissioner of the police said, recalling it, ‘Sanjay, could you please help them?’ He asked his secretary.
‘Sure, sir,’ Sanjay said.
Diwakar was taking care of all announcements; meet up with auto rickshaw
unions, and covering all the temples, churches and masjids . Also including local areas, slums, and riverside of Krishna.
Diwakar and Abdul gave the DVD to the bus stand control room and asked them to display the information on their television sets, which was done. Also they had announcement in the entire city of Vijayawada for whole day.
They all joined together in the evening and went to the Asharm during the Pravachan program and requested to make an announcement of missing Baba. It was immediately done by the Saint on the stage who was delivering his Pravachan at that time. They also went to the Church and distributed the pamphlets during evening assembly. But still there was no clue of the missing Baba.
Sunil and his friends were becoming restless without proper food and sleep. They were searching Baba since three days in the city. They had done whatever best they could do to find the Baba. Now, it seemed pointless continuing to stay in this city. So they returned back to Bangalore.
After returning back to Bangalore, they gave advertisement in the “Rajasthan Patrik”, a Hindi news paper on 31.05.2011. Also they went and requested Aakashvani and Door Darshan to broad cast the missing person information on priority basis considering his age.
They started searching in and around yeswantpur and Bangalore City railway station. They even visited the commissioner of police head quarters, queen’s road, Bangalore and gave the missing person complaint at commissioner office control room. The concerned officer updated the record and flashed the wireless message to all the police stations under jurisdiction of this office.
They also requested the Deputy Commissioner to include the details of Baba in the missing person report; which is sent across India every week.
‘He is missing from Vijayawada, so we can’t add his name in Bangalore edition, you see.’ He said.
‘Sir, please, sir,’ Diwakar and Sunil requested him, ‘I know that my grandfather is alive somewhere...we want him back somehow. My family hasn’t eaten nor slept properly for past few days. Please…’
‘Alright,’ The Deputy Commissioner finally agreed.
They requested for the list of addresses where this missing persons report is being send by the Commissioners’ office. Initially, they refused to give that information quoting that it is confidential and the report runs to thousands of addresses. But again they agreed and asked them to get a blank CD. Sunil and Diwakar decided to cover other places where the report didn’t go.
Anil distributed the pamphlets among the daily laborers who worked in his construction sites and requested them to circulate the same among their friends.
Whenever, Sunil saw someone sleeping on the pavements, his heart went out for them. He thought even his dear grandfather should be sleeping on the pavements like them somewhere…but where?
God, please help us to find him! Please! He prayed silently in his little heart, turning and tossing on his bed, unable to get sleep.
It was almost a week since Baba was missing from the Muzaffarpur- Yeswantpur express train.
On 1st June morning, Anil’s father received a call from a person who was from the neighboring village of their home town, whose relative was working as a daily laborer in Bangalore.
He said that his relative had seen Baba in Yeswantpur. Anil took the contact details of his relative in Bangalore and called him and requested him to come and take them to the place where he had seen their grandfather. He replied that he was at work and can’t come now.
Anil and Sunil were restless and unable to wait till evening. Every second was prolonging like a long day. They repeatedly requested him to come back from the work for the day and take them to Baba. Finally, he gave the address of a petty shopkeeper in Yeswantpur. He asked them to go and meet him, and he would be able to help them find Baba. They all rushed to the address mentioned by him.
The other side of the story…..
25th May 2011, 4am, Baba had woken up to answer the nature’s call. The entire compartment was dark and everyone was in deep sleep. He didn’t want to wake his grandson’s friends, so he decided to for the toilet on his own. He saw dark blue curtains everywhere in that air conditioned compartment. Meanwhile, the train had stopped at Vijayawada railway station. As he wasn’t able to find the toilet in the compartment, so he walked towards the door.
Someone from the compartment thought he was trying to get down and helped him to get down the train, and left him in the platform. Baba went to answer his nature’s call, by the time he returned back, the train had left the station.
‘Dadaji, what happened?’ One of the passengers in the platform asked him.
‘My train has gone!’ Baba replied in hindi, shocked and bewildered. Baba knew only one language and he never carried any money with him.
‘Where are you going, Dadaji?’ asked another passenger in hindi.
‘I am going to Bangalore!’ He replied, ‘I don’t have any money with me…’
They pooled money together and gave it to him.
‘Come on, Dadaji, I am also going to Bangalore. I would take you along with me.’ Another passenger said.
Together, they both boarded the Howrah – Yeswantpur Duranto express train. As this particular train halted only in Vijayawada, so it reached Bangalore much before Muzzufar pur –Yeswantpur express train. The stranger left Dadaji in the railway platform. Baba didn’t have a proper address nor telephone number of Bangalore with him. If he had it, then things wouldn’t have gone this far.
An auto driver came towards him and enquired what had happened. He offered to help him after learning what had happened. They both went looking for the tiles factory which was owned by Anil, and three floors building on the circle of a main road which was his home at Bangalore, but they weren’t lucky to find such a place.
They returned back to the place where they had started from in the morning. It had become late in the evening. The auto driver again dropped him back at the Yeswantpur railway station.
A vagabond, who was watching him closely, came towards him and enquired what he wanted. He offered to help him after learning what had happened.
‘Dadaji, we have to sleep on the pavements, for which, we have to pay rent.’
The vagabond said, smiling crookedly at the old man.
Baba was smart enough to understand his real intentions, and he escaped from him as soon as he got the first opportunity.
Baba started wandering around the Yeswantpur railway station and bus stand. When he tried to ask someone to help him, they thought he was asking for money. They gave him some money.
He wondered around sleeplessly in the lonely streets. Stray dogs started barking at him. Finally, he lied down on the pavements, after spreading his towel and tried to fall a sleep. But he remembered his family, and tears flowed from his eyes; down his cheeks.
Next morning, Baba was having his breakfast on the road side when the vagabond found him again.
‘Dadaji, there you are! I was looking for you everywhere! Where did you go?’ He asked, coming towards him.
He took whatever money Baba had with him and went away.
Baba kept wandering in the streets while the hot summer sun was scorching the streets. He reached a slum area in Yeswantpur. He was too tired, he lied down before one of the huts which had some shade and went to sound sleep. An old lady to whom that hut belonged, sat outside staring at the old man. She felt pity for him. His clothes had become soiled and dirty.
She spoke to her daughter Subhadra, who was running an NGO nearby, and informed her about the old man.
‘Maa, please take him inside when he wakes up and give him some food. Also wash his clothes. I would come in the evening and see him.’ Subhadra told her mother.
‘Yes, my dear. Even I was thinking to do the same.’ Her mother said, with a smile on her face.
Baba didn’t move for the next five hours or so. Finally, when he woke up, the old lady took him inside her humble hut. She prepared and gave him hot and tasty food. She gave him a towel and asked him to remove and give his soiled clothes to her. She washed and put them on a string outside to dry.
Subhadra came to her mother’s place that evening. She called up TV9 channel and informed that her mother found an old man. She requested them to make a small video to telecast it on their channel. They assured her that they would be coming soon and do it.
Also Subhadra went to Yeswantpur police station and informed them that her mother had found an old man and requested the station in-charge to send someone to see the old man. On her repeated requests, one of the cops visited her place, took the old man’s photo and his details, and went back. But they didn’t even bother to match his details with the information received from commissioner office control room wireless message.
Subhadra spoke to Baba kindly as the old man made her to remember her own grandfather. She recalled her wonderful childhood memories she had with her late grandfather.
Baba went to sleep on mat that night.
On 1st June morning, Anil, Sunil and Prem Chand Kumar rushed to the petty shopkeeper and asked him about Baba.
‘He is staying in the old lady’s hut!’ He said, pointing his finger in the direction of the old lady’s hut.
They all rushed towards the hut as fast as they could go. Baba was sleeping on a mat at that time.
When Anil woke him up, he was overjoyed to see his grandsons. Tears of joy overflowed from his eyes. The old lady too had tears of joy in her eyes.
Finally, the missing man was found.
P.S :- Always ensure that the old people who are travelling with you or your family has the address or telephone numbers with them. It would be really helpful, if they come across a situation like Baba in this particular story.