Er. Swagat Ray

A Pleasant and Memorable Experience
Swagat Ray

This article is the description of the enchanting experience of Er. Swagat Ray who is working in Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation at Bhuj and travelled 485 km to meet his favourite writer Shri Manoj Das at Ahmedabad on 1st May 2013.Shri Manoj Das was speaking on ” The epic roots of literature and their relevance today” in the literary festival organized during Ahmedabad Natinal Book Fair. -Editor

My joy knew no boundary when I was suddenly informed by my frined Samir Ranjan Das about the probable august presence of Manoj Das Sir in Ahmedabad National Book Fair, 10days prior to the actual date. Right from that sparkling moment, I started dreaming about my personal meet with Sir and in fact, though I was talking with Samir over phone, I , in my mental state found myself in front of Sir .

Some of my close associates in the office who knew little bit of my passion for the legend could instantly read a remarkable change in my face and when they knew the very reason behind it, their version perfectly matched with that of mine that “If you aspire something with a true and deep sense, THE ALMIGHTY do the rest”. Otherwise, meeting with Sir that too in Ahmedabad was beyond imagination.

Coming back to the real action from dreaming world, I started to contact a videographer at Ahmedabad for shooting and recording the speech which Sir was going to deliver with a strong belief within self that it would not at all be a problem to get granted my leave from office. Ahmedabad is about 485 KM from my present location and to travel that much of distance takes only 06 hours, thanks to the state of Gujarat for maintaining good road condition. That’s why I decided to start from the morning of the actual programme date and took permission for 02 days leave meant for ongoing and backward journey.

But the things were not that smooth as I was expecting. A big setback occurred two days prior to my journey when the entire business functions of my organisation became stand still due to problem in ERP server and due to month ending, tremendous work load was there upon my shoulder and I could hardly sleep for 3 hours in two consecutive nights. The enthusiasm and excitement was suppressed by the work tension and I was actually getting energy form only one fact that I’m going to meet Sir soon.

With a little bit of my pre-preparation, I managed to prepare “Kakara Pithaa” at home for Sir. Then came the most awaited sunrise, when I left for Ahmedabad . At around, 9.00AM, I called Sir and conveyed about my intention of meeting him. Thanks to Samir who had earlier briefed sir about me, hence Sir could easily got me and as usual, with a very dignified and affectionate voice, he gave his hotel address and room no. to me and told to contact him once I reached Ahmedabad. He was little bit doubtful over our meeting on that day, as I was expected to reach by 3.00PM and he thought, he might be called by the organizers to the book fair early.

Therefore, I did not stop anywhere throughout my way, did not take lunch but surely did some purchasing from Ahmedabad as a token of love for Sir. A Dairy depicting Gandhiji’s Photo, a pen, a khadi bag and a bouquet; all that I could manage to take for him. Then, I reached at the reception counter of his hotel exactly at 3.00PM and called him again with excitement to fullest extent.

Fortunately, Sir was present in his room and when I rang up his door bell, he was actually busy in a mobile phone call from a media person and while talking over phone, he opened up the door and signaled me to get in and to sit on the sofa. I touched his holly feet and prayed within his blessings. After the telephonic talk was over, Sir felt very uncomfortable and expressed “Sorry ! I could not welcome you properly.” I bowed down once again, offered bouquet, the token gifts and ‘kakara Pitha’. He asked me about my lunch, but I lied for good sake.

Then I showed him a piece of paper wherein he had put down his autograph to me at state guest house, Bhubaneswar on 09.12.2004 and I had then promised him to keep this autograph always with me and show him in next meeting. After 08 years and 04 months, when I recalled this fact in front him, he instantly expressed ” Oh ! you are so committed to your words.” I did not miss the opportunity of getting a fresh autograph from him and Sir with his all love and affection gifted me an autographed copy of the book “The lady who died one and a half times and other fantasies”. I was obliged to receive the autographed copy although I have had the book with me previously. Then I asked about his health and a question about Pandit Vishnu Sharma’s origin regarding which Sir had briefly told in Aama Odisha speech. After 10 to 15 minutes close conversation , another call received by Sir was from Gujarat Samachar TV reporters who were seeking Sir’s appointment immediately to take an interview. Sir with lots of hesitation, as he was feeling about me who had traveled long distance but might not get sufficient time to interact, asked me what to do and I opined to call them.

Then the interview started inside the room and I listened every bit of question and spontaneous answer from sir with great concentration. That was definitely another surprising experience for me. After the interview was over, it was 4.00PM and Sir had got another two appointments, therefore, I begged leave and Sir again gifted me an incense sticks packet of Ashram.

Then I took some sandwich in food court and booked a hotel for me. When I met him at University Convention Center for his speech in evening, I observed, he had on his shoulder, the bag which I had brought for him. That was a great compliment for me without any exchange of words. Sir’s speech was mind blowing, excellent whatever words could be put would appear small. Our recording was also successful. In the function arena, I was introduced to a lady doctor of Ahmedabad Dr. Renuka S. Soni who had translated Sir’s odia short stories into Gujarati language and received a national award from Sir’s hand at New Delhi. She was also a great fan of him.

After the function was over, Sir was covered all around by the fans seeking autograph, giving compliments etc. , he responded them all with his unique style and in such situation, he made free himself for few minutes , held my two hands between his palms and told “you brought this bag for me, a very good dairy inside it and a costly pen too.” What could I reply except feebly uttering “what can we people give you Sir!” But, I was completely touched by his sense and way of expressing compliments that too in such a overcrowded situation. That’s why he is great and shall remain great forever.

We then departed from each other to our respective hotels and again I could not sleep that night as I was moved by some kind of never before feeling and opted to post the photos in “Manoj Das Fans” group in Facebook which was completed at around 2.15AM in night. Next morning, I had to start my return journey by 8.00 O’clock . After returning, I called Sir over phone and he praised the tasty ‘Kakara Pithas’. I wished him a nice return journey and good health.

It was such an enchanting experience that will remain memorable forever. I once again convey my Pranam to the Legend and pray his blessings. May God bless all of us.

About Manoj Das

For thousands of men, women and children of the past two or three generations, Manoj Das has been the very synonym of light and delight, whose writings in Odia and English inspire in his countless readers faith in the purpose of life and also open up concealed horizons of confidence and compassion in humanity a dire need today.