Friday, December 05, 2003

Sanjay (1972-2003)

The earliest memories of memories of Sanjay are of the bully who looked much elder to us in our RMK Hostel days. The gurukul regime had done nothing to the rebel streak he so much symbolised.

Yet he would not break the rules. We, not so rebel-like, would run away from the campus and come back to the rod. He never accompanied us on such outings. He didn't have to face Panditji's rods.

He was a rebel because he was not kind of alone, unique. He was not a studious kind, but he did not belong to the non-studious kind. He was alone, most of the times. His father seldom visited him. His mother died when he was very young.

He had hardened with times. We used to miss our protective and loving mothers all the time. We used to talk about how our respective moms were the greatest cooks in the world and how bad the hostel food used to be. He never talked about his mom, and little about his dad. He was a loner.

It took a couple of years before he was really among US -- Prabhat, Abu Bakr, Nandu, Alok and I. We gave him his space and all was well. We fought, we laughed and we went out together. We shared the snacks, sweets and fruits that came from our respectives homes.

Another couple of years passed. Then came the big Board exams. And just before it began, Sanjay's dad passed away. He wrote the exams and did well. All of us did well. The state of education had deteriorated in Bihar but we belonged to a different school, a different regime. We were proud to belong to R.M.K.

And we all got into descent colleges. Different colleges. We drifted.
A year later Abu Bakr died in an accident. It was one hell of a shock. One of US was not among us any more. 1989.

In the nineties, Prabhat and I were together. We met almost every day. I was in a hostel in Bhagalpur, he had his home there. And then we discovered Sanjay in the same town nearly two years later.

He said he couldn't meet us as his father's death had left him to fend for himself. His father, a teacher, hadn't left much in the bank. He said he wanted to be back on track before he met us.

He had left his native place and rented a room in town. He was dealing in land while keeping his quest for degrees alive. He was an estate agent in a place dangerous for real estate dealers. Mafias controlled land, criminals collected property tax and police watched. He had no back up, no family to bank upon. He still plunged into the business.

And in 2002, he decided to build his own market complex on a large plot he had just signed a deal for. A prime land, it was occupied by some local musclemen. He fought cases, he braved all their threats, and finally found his own musclemen to threaten them.

He was put in jail for threatening the occupiers. But he was out soon, for the truth and even law favoured him. Ultimately, the police had to force the occupiers out.

I met him as recently as last month. He told me how after the marketing complex, on which work had already began, he would build a massive apartment complex on the banks of the Ganga, a mini township, with assurance of security and full power back up.

He wanted to sign a contract with the NTPC and get power bypassing the state's decaying transmission system. He talked like a visionary. I told him the DLF success story near Delhi. He said he would build a new DLF.

On the night of December 1, 2003, he was murdered. Now I learn the killers knew him. They called him to a place not far from the site his body was found. Then he pinned down and slaughtered. They could not slash his neck from front, so struck on the back of his neck. The death must have been slow and painful. His body was thrown at the plot his market complex would have stood a year later. Prabhat organised the last rites.

We'll always remember him as the one who was solid as a rock, a true self-made man. Another martyr in the land of thousand bloodbaths.

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