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Punishment for a College Boy

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I was in my Graduation Classes way back in 1978 that I went to Bhubaneswar and traveled the whole city with my bosom friend Sumant Mishra. Bhubaneswar was a small and beautiful city by then . I met Bhagaban Nayak Burma, then Editor of Dharitri Saptahiki and he invited me to a literary meeting at Godabarish Sahitya Sansad, then centre of literary meetings. There I came in contact with two well known women authors, Sailabala Mohanty and Sudhanshubala Panda. They were of double my age at that time.

Last year around this time , we lost two great Poets,Rahat Indori and Mangalesh Dabral to Covid-19. I fondly recollect their memories .

I met Poet Rahat Indori two years ago at his house at Indore .Hoped to meet him at Indore in April-May 2020.In fact a National Seminar on Children's Literature was planned to be held in April 2020 in collaboration with Devaputra ,the largest circulated children's magazine of India at Indore and I visited Indore for the purpose on the way to Ujjain in September 2019 where I stayed for 3 days last year for holding some children's literature events.I met many writers and poets there including Rahat Indori.

I have been holding literary meetings for almost last five decades,fortunate that since my college days I have been meeting a number of good people engaged in writing. Some people were so good that they forgot my mischief. One such great person was Sudhanshubala Panda from the city of Bhubaneswar.Sudhanshubala Panda died a few years ago .

I was in my Graduation Classes way back in 1978 that I went to Bhubaneswar and traveled the whole city with my bosom friend Sumant Mishra. Bhubaneswar was a small and beautiful city by then . I met Bhagaban Nayak Burma, then Editor of Dharitri Saptahiki and he invited me to a literary meeting at Godabarish Sahitya Sansad, then centre of literary meetings. There I came in contact with two well known women authors, Sailabala Mohanty and Sudhanshubala Panda. They were of double my age at that time.

Immediately after returning to Puri I planned a literary meeting at Municipal Club on a Sunday and sent a post card letter to both these women authors from Bhubaneswar . The Club booking was cancelled at the last moment and the meeting was shifted to another venue.So worried I was that I did not put a notice on the notice board of the club regarding shifting of the venue.In fact, that practice was not there those days.

But, how to inform these two authors ? It was two decades before cellphones came to use and there were hardly 40-50 telephones in the town. I also did not have their phone numbers.

I felt helpless but could not do anything. A week after someone told me that a lady and a gentleman were looking for me at Municipal Club.

After several years I took over as the Odia Language Editor of National Book Trust and came to Cuttack to hold a meeting with eminent publishers of the state.I found a book ‘ Saloni’ by Sudhanshubala Panda published by Vidyapuri , one of the eminent publishers.

- ‘Where is Sudhanshubala Panda now ?’ I asked the proprietor Pitambar Mishra.

Then, Pitambar Mishra gave me a news that his daughter is being married off to Tanmay, son of Sudhanshubala Panda. By that time husband of Sudhanshubala Panda had expired and after 3 years in Delhi with her brother she had settled at Bhubaneswar.

I had guilty consciousness for that lapse of 1978.I went to Bhubaneswar and met Sudhanshubala Panda. Her brother Durgamadhab Mishra was there too after his retirement from CISF as DG.It was evening.

-‘ Do you remember that a college student invited you once at Puri for a literary meeting at Municipal Club and the meeting was not there ?’

-‘Poor fellow…Do you know him ?’Both of them questioned at the same time.

- ‘You were also there…’ I asked Durgamadhab Babu with anxiety.

Then I confessed,’I am that careless boy and I still repent for that mistake ‘.

-‘We presumed that some problem has happened and you could not inform us, for you didn’t have our number.Any way, we spent an hour at the sea beach and took an evening Darshan of Lord Jagannath.’Durgamadhab Babu said to ease the situation.

-‘But as per Police Law you are liable to be punished and your instant punishment today is ,you will have two more pieces of cake with 6 aloo chops ’, Durgamadhab Babu added and we all burst in laugh.

The author is a senior editor , media academician and author. He has served the government of India as a senior bureaucrat in the North East. He has taught Development Communication at various institutions of Higher Learning including IIMC

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