Bhubaneswar,Jan 22(Odisha.in) “Sei Phulati ” meaning ” that flower ” was a wonderful creation of great dramatist, humanist, author Gopal Chhotray with whom I was familiar since my Ravenshaw College days in 1961.
But I was unaware about the background of the story. I had thought that Mausa had written the story basing on an imaginary flower only, until I encountered the truth…
Though I was an ardent admirer of his radio plays, giti natyas since my school days and had the desire to meet him at least for once in my life time, my joy knew no bounds when I met his son, then a handsome young poet , widely known for his love songs, lyrics and short stories.
I can not remember the exact date when I met him at his house along with Devdas. He was reading a newspaper.
When I was introduced to him, he smiled and asked me about the village to which I belong.
When I told ” Olasingh ” , he asked me whether I know his friend Raghunath Patnaik, who belongs to the said village. I politely disclosed that he is my father. Immediately he stood up, embraced me and asked Mausi to give me some sweets.
Then he narrated, how he was sharing a room in a mess in Cuttack along with my father and an uncle. Since that day he loved me till he breathed his last . He was my most respected ” Mausa ” since my first meeting with him.
When Mausa was living in Bhubaneswar in the Government quarters in Unit-3, with his only son I.A.S. Devdas Chhotray and his I.A.S. wife Veena and I was staying in Unit-2, I was frequenting him just to pay my respect.
But all on a sudden I discovered him in my quarters in Unit-2 and was surprised, as I was never expected him at my place.
He told me he had come to see his old friend, my father. Fortunately on that day my father was there. Both of them virtually danced with joy when they met after a long gap of few decades.
The Government quarter No. 5RF/5, in Unit-3, was allotted to me after Devdas and Veena were transferred from Bhuabneswar.
One fine morning while I was sitting in the lawn along with wife Chandra , I found Mausa coming towards us.
Both of us went and paid our respect and requested him to have a cup of tea. Smilingly he said, ” I want to see the room where I was living in this house and calmly walked into my bed room.
We followed him. He came near the window opened on the south direction and looked outside. He stood silently for few moments looking at the garden from the window.
We were simply observing him. After a while he called me and pointed his fingers at a bush of roses, where there was a solitary flower.
Then he said, ” I was inspired to write the story ‘ Sei Phulati ‘ by watching this flower from this window….Today I came just to meet you and to see this rose bush with the flower through this window only….”
Mausa left for his heavenly abode on 22nd January, 2003 at the Sahidnagar residence of his only daughter Kasturi. On receiving the information I rushed to pay my last respect to him.
Everybody were waiting for arrival of Devdas and Veena from Delhi. Instead of waiting to meet Devdas and console him, I rushed back to my residence to pluck a rose from the same bush and put it over his body.
But when I reached the garden and searched for the rose bush, I did not find it there. On enquiry, Gardner Jadu told me that he had uprooted it as it was old enough not to bear flower any more.
On hearing this I could not check my tears and simply whispered, ” that flower had to vanish along with Mausa, who was deeply in love with it.”
Since that day when I tried to look through that window to the garden, I feel as if Mausa is telling me ,” you have created such a huge vacuum in my heart by allowing that bush to be uprooted…”.
I lost my courage to look through that window, and finally I closed that window , to get rid of the pain of loosing Mausa and his most favourite ” Sei Phulati”.
Long five years have passed. So far I have not been able to muster enough of courage to open the window and look at the garden, from where the rose bush has vanished.