When He Found The Man Of His Heart - V
All That Drama!
Another day, Sri Sri Thakur is sitting in Fani Bhai’s verandah. Fani Bhai is standing beside him, fanning him gently. Thakur asks, “Fani! How many children do you have?” Fani Bhai replies in a timid voice, “Three. Two boys and one girl.” Thakur says, “You will have one more child.” Everyone starts laughing, including Fani Bhai's wife, Santosh, who takes it lightly. But the person to whom it was meant for knew exactly the seriousness of this saying. Fani Bhai says, “Once something comes out of your mouth, it is bound to happen. But you should have thought a little before saying this. If I have a child at this age, then who will take care of him?” And lo and behold, it comes true! Ten years after having their last child, Santosh gets pregnant again and gives birth to a daughter.
At times, Thakur invites Fani Bhai to the ashram where he would be residing. One time Fani Bhai prepares to go to ‘Bangala Saraswat Ashram’ with his family. A few other families of devotees also join. They take a steamer to cross the river. There were some young girls travelling with them too. Fani Bhai notices some indecent people board the steamer with them. From their behaviour, he knows that their intentions are not right. Fani Bhai is strong, farsighted and an experienced lawyer as well. He instantly makes out that the motive of those people is not right and stands infront of the women and children like a wall. The ruffians start pushing him away to come closer to the women, but Fani Bhai stands his ground not moving an inch. After failing in their attempt, they start making rude remarks about Fani Bhai. When their utterances become intolerable, Fani Bhai loses control. He storms ahead and punches the face of one of them. It breaks his jaw and blood starts pouring out of his mouth. There is a commotion among the people in the steamer. The men start spreading the word that Fani Bhai is a rogue. Fani Bhai’s friends try to explain the situation to fellow passengers but they refuse to accept it. When they see all the blood on the man’s face, they take his word to be true and gather up against Fani Bhai. When the steamer stops, the man who got hurt goes to the police station along with his companions and files a complaint against Fani Bhai. The police officer in charge comes to investigate the situation and is startled to see Fani Bhai, of all people! This police officer is his spiritual brother, Sri Kshetramohan Ganguly, a devoted disciple of Sri Sri Thakur, the one who started off his journey with Fani Bhai himself. He is the friend who had first informed Fani Bhai about Sri Sri Thakur and had accompanied him to meet Thakur. After listening to the entire description of the episode, instead of charging the accused, he scolds the accusers and hushes them off with a warning.
Whenever Fani Bhai faces any difficulty, pain or danger in his life, he comes out of it unscathed by Thakur’s mercy. One time Thakur is residing at Fani Bhai’s home in Howrah. Whenever Thakur visits, his house gets crowded with devotees and disciples. Many came to Thakur, praying for initiation. Santosh gets busy taking care of everyone and looking after the food and all their needs. That day, after lunch, Thakur goes up to his room to takes rest. All the disciples are enjoying the prasad. Santosh is serving everyone. Suddenly they hear the heavy footsteps of Thakur’s footwear. Everyone turns towards Thakur. Thakur comes downstairs and askes, “Fetch a carriage, I will go to Puri now.” He hadn’t changed his clothes. He stormed out straight through the drawing room door. The devotees get up, halfway through their lunch, and start packing their bags quickly. ‘Haren Dada’, who is Thakur’s caretaker, washes his hands, hurriedly packes Thakur’s luggage, and goes out to fetch a tonga. The carriage arrives. Along with his disciples, devotee and, care takers, Thakur gets inside the carriage and departs towards the station. Santosh is devastated, her eyes filled with tears. She can’t understand what went wrong. Thakur has so many disciples in Howrah but he didn’t go to anyone’s place. He advances straight towards the station. Puri Express is scheduled in the evening. They will have to sit in the station throughout the long day. No one utters a word. No one has the courage to ask.
Fani Bhai returns in the evening and finds the house still and noiseless. That never happens when Thakur is at home. As soon as he enters the house, Santosh rushes towards him and exclaims, “Thakur left!” She also doesn’t know the reason for this sudden departure. She guesses that it might have been that someone whom Thakur didn’t want to meet who must have come to the house that day. So Thakur was annoyed and left the house. “Has Thakur renounced me?” he thought to himself sombrely. As such, Fani bhai has become weak after suffering from beriberi. On top of that, the news that Thakur left him hits him like a hammer blow. He loses control of his senses and falls down on the floor with his teeth clenched. No one is even there to call the doctor. Santosh sprinkles water on his face and starts fanning him. She srarts crying and praying to Thakur when she hears someone call from outside. “Fani Da, Fani da!” Chidananda Maharaj, another disciple of Sri Sri Thakur, enteres, calling his name. He sees Fani Bhai’s state and immediately ases what the matter was. Santosh narrates the entire incident and, wiping her eyes. With Chidananda Maharaj’s care, Fani Bhai opens his eyes and begind to regain his consciousness. After getting back into his senses, he sees Chidananda Maharaj and begins crying uncontrollably. What is his fault? He has no idea and Thakur is so angry that he left the house in the heat of the noon and is sitting in the station. Chidananda Maharaj consoles gently him and quickly leaves the house to find out what the matter was. Fani Bhai and Maa got some solace with the arrival of Chidanand Maharaj and at least got the opportunity to speak out their mind. But now they are startled to see him leave the house- they couldn’t even ask where he was heading!
On reaching Howrah station, the keen eyes of Chidananda Maharaj fall on Thakur settled on top of a bedding bundle. All the people accompanying him are strolling around waiting for the train. When Chidananda Maharaj touches Thakur’s feet, he asks, “How come you are here?” Chidananda Maharaj replies, “Wow! You are seated here enjoying your pipe and there he is on the verge of giving up on his life. You left the house and Fani Bhai became unconscious thinking of himself as the culprit. Everyone is wailing in the house.” Thakur becomes worried and says, “Let’s go! Let’s go back! Call the carriage and pick up the luggage.” Everyone returns back to the House No.203 on Panchanantala Road. The house becomes lively again. The smile is back on Santosh's face. Thakur changes his clothes, sits down on the armchair on the verandah and starts smoking his pipe again. Fani Bhai pays his respects and quietly stands beside him. He starts fanning his lord with his head down, as if nothing happened. One of his disciple quips, “What was the need of all this drama? We are back here. We couldn’t even have our prasad. What an unnecessary waste of food!” The next moment he turns around unsuccessfully trying to hide the big smile that was etched on his lips.
... to be continued
Image Courtesy : Shyama Mohanty
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Fani Bhusan Mitra'.