The Painful Silence
How intimate Sri Sri Thakur is with Fani Bhai’s family can be understood from the following instance. Dashu, the eldest son of Fani Bhai is a very naughty child. One day, while Santosh Maa is busy cooking, Dashu is up to some mischief. Santosh Maa learns of his plots and plans, and comes rushing with a stick for him. Sri Sri Thakur is in his room upstairs at this time. Just before she can hit him, Dashu yells pleadingly, “Please don’t hit me. I can’t bear it. I’m your only son.” Thakur hurriedly comes down from the second-floor verandah and stands near the roof, looking at the scene below. He admonishes, “What are you doing? You will kill him!” Santosh Maa looks up and sees the worry on Thakur's face and responds defeatedly, “But I haven’t even hit him yet, Baba! I just raised the stick and he started screaming.” Knowing that his job is done, Thakur smiles and goes back inside. Happy that his plan to save himself worked out successfully, Dashu runs out to play.
Sri Sri Thakur depends on Fani Bhai to discuss about all the issues, be it legal or any general matter. Before arriving at any decision Thakur considers it deem to listen to his opinion in that matter. Fani Bhai is called to Neelachal Kutir to prepare the will of Puri house. Again, giving a form to Thakur’s wish, Fani Bhai also prepares the trust deed for Saraswat Math and Ashram on Thakur’s instructions.
These days Sri Sri Thakur resides mostly at Puri. Every year, he spends six months moving around different places and for the rest, he comes back to Puri. Once, unusual symptoms are noticed in his body. He neither feels hunger nor is he able to sleep and is in so much discomfort and pain that he can’t even express it. He feels restless, uneasy and loses his jovial nature. His devotees consult and bring the most famous doctor of Puri for his check-up but the doctor fails to diagnose the problem. He says, “All the organs in the body are in perfect condition. There is no problem in his heart or lungs.” This was a matter of great worry. If everything is fine then what is causing this discomfort? What should be done in this situation? At last, one day Sri Sri Thakur implores, “Please send the news to Fani. Whatever he thinks appropriate should be done. If he says I can’t be cured here and we have to go to Kolkata, then it will be carried out.”
A letter is written to Fani Bhai, but Sri Sri Thakur is restless. He insists, “Send a telegram. It might take time for him to respond to the letter.” Fani Bhai arrives as soon as he receives the news. The unwavering faith that Thakur has on Fani Bhai is once again evident from this incident. As soon as he arrives, he gets a call from upstairs and after spending almost an hour with Sri Sri Thakur, he descends down the stairs, lines of worry etched on his face. Looking at the caregivers and disciples who are waiting anxiously, he says, “The signs are not good. I couldn’t understand anything he said.”
For two weeks Thakur has stopped taking any food or water and has not even been able to sleep. If such a great yogi like him cannot diagnose the reason, then even renowned doctors won’t have a clue. The treatment in Puri is not showing any result. Showing him to a better doctor in Kolkata might help. Fani Bhai loves Thakur with all his heart and so it is even more unbearable for him to helplessly witness him in this state. Sri Sri Thakur turns his face towards him and says, “Fani, I’m not able to sleep. This is torturing me. Please find a way to make me sleep for some time. Tears run down Fani Bhai’s face. “What sort of a disease is this? Is he willingly inviting death in the guise of this disease? Will he leave us now?”
Since Fani Bhai's arrival, Thakur calls him every evening and makes him understand his responsibilities regarding the Neelachal Kutir will and the trust deed. Without wasting any more time, it is decided to take Thakur to Kolkata. Earlier, Sri Sri Thakur had already sent Haren Brahmachari to Howrah to help Santosh Maa, the wife of Fani Bhai. Sri Sri Thakur’s wish is to stay in Howrah, near Fani’s home, under the care of Fani and Santosh. A house is taken on rent near Fani Bhai’s place. Santosh Maa gets busy cleaning and tidying the place up. All the necessary articles and objects that Thakur would need every day are arranged neatly. Haren Brahmachari also joins in with all his heart and soul to get the place ready and every detail is worked out for Sri Sri Thakur’s comfortable stay. On the day of his arrival, Santosh Maa finishes all her cooking and is readily waiting to welcome Thakur. But fate has something else in store.
Santosh Maa sends her son Dashu to the station to fetch Thakur. On hearing the news, Sudhir Ranjan Ray and Bhuban Brahmachari have also arrived at the station and are busy discussing if it will be right to send Thakur to Howrah. The train arrives on the platform and Sri Sri Thakur steps out. Dashu bows down before Thakur and says, “Thakur! Maa has sent me to take you home.” But Sudhir Bhai’s strong voice comes from the other side, “No, Thakur will come to our house. It will be easier for Dr.Jogesh to treat him if he stays with us. Sri Sri Thakur will go to your home in the afternoon.” Sudhir Ranjan guesses the treatment will be for a longer duration. The doctors will demand twice the fee to go to Fani Bhai’s house in Howrah. There will also be taxi expenses since Fani Bhai doesn’t have a car. Kolkata is more convenient for that matter. So, Thakur should stay in Kolkata. Sri Sri Thakur turns to Fani helplessly, waiting to hear what he has to say. All the disciples accompanying Thakur are looking forward to staying at Fani Bhai’s residence. But now all their plans have gotten scrapped. Dashu continues saying, “Maa has cooked lunch for Thakur and is waiting.” Sura Maa joins in and says sweetly, “Dashu says that Santosh Maa has already prepared lunch and has made all the arrangements. Haren Da has also conveyed the news that Thakur will stay in Howrah. So, first let’s go with Dashu to Howrah. Later on, we can move to Kolkata.” But Sudhir Ranjan Bhai and Bhuban Bhai refuse to listen. They want to take Sri Sri Thakur to Kolkata and first show him to a renowned doctor, diagnose the disease, find out in detail about the treatment, and then go to Howrah.
Sri Sri Thakur looks at Fani helplessly. He wants Fani to take him forcefully. Though his only wish is to stay under the care of Fani and Santosh, Thakur can’t say it aloud since it might seem like he is favouring Fani. So, Sri Sri Thakur remains silent. Fani Bhai stands still as if he has been turned to stone. He can’t muster up the courage to take Thakur home with him. He could make out that the disease Thakur is suffering from is not a common one. He has to be put under the treatment of a great doctor, someone like Dr. Bidhan Ray. Fani Bhai is not affluent enough to call such famous doctors from Kolkata to treat Thakur. If Thakur’s health doesn’t show any improvement and the suffering increases, then he will be guilty in the eyes of all his spiritual brothers. So many thoughts keep racing in his mind but not a single word comes out of his mouth. The silence is defeaning.
…to be continued
Image Courtesy: Batagopal Tripathy
Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty's essay, 'Sri Fani Bhusan Mitra'.