Thursday, October 1, 2015

Short Story: Few mysteries are not to be solved

Kunigal, a place in South Karnataka is bigger than a village but not a buzzing town. Due to it is location on the highway connecting Bangalore to Mangalore, it has traffic on that road all the time. But the town goes to sleep quite early. It has a large and beautiful lake on the outskirts and a walk there in the early morning or evening can refresh anyone’s mood and uplift the spirits. A plain patch of land outside the town was the farm for Tipu Sultan’s horses. That stud farm is now owned by a big businessman who owes more money to banks than his worth. Is it the curse of stud farm to bring an end to glory of their owners? But the royal attachments were limited to that farm and most of the town residents earned their living by working in their fields.

In one of those farmer families of this town, Ravi was born. The Sun God is a symbol of positive energy and hope. That belief had made Ravi’s parents to choose this name for their son. They saw that their expectations were coming true as Ravi grew up. Poor background had made him only more determined and there were no clouds to mask his shine. Agriculture was his first interest. He got a degree and masters in an Agri University. The exposure he was getting and his drive to serve a bigger a purpose in life was attracting him to a top job in the Government, that of an IAS officer. His efforts saw that he reached his goal. Only a few hundread are chosen a year among lakhs of aspirants. Ravi had the merit and determination.

While going through the required training in the hill town of Mussorie, he developed strong relationship with his fellow batchmates. When the brightest minds of a nation come together, they come out good. They shape each other and the influence lasts even after they are out in their jobs of running the Govt. machinery. They have the necessary knowledge and ability to judge, some skills are imparted and the rest they learn on the job to keep the best interests of the society. They are trained to take care of the society. But these IAS officers too are human beings and need a shoulder to cry on when the work pressure or personal stress becomes unbearable. Ravi too found a friend in his batchmate. She was smart and ambitious. Did Ravi love her? Did she love him too? But both found their life partners in different persons.

Ravi got his posting as Assistant Commissioner in his home state of Karnataka. It was in a north Karnataka town but in a year he had to shoulder higher responsibility as District Commissioner of Kolar district. And a reformer in Ravi got into action. He got rid of encroachments of Govt. lands. The honesty in him could not tolerate the irregularities and the sand mafia. Quality in civil infrastructure could not be compromised to feed the corrupt elements. Public began to notice the changes and the driving force behind them. It took less than a year for Ravi to become a celebrity. It is not a common sight to find a person who has authority and position but yet simple and down to earth. People of Kolar thought they were lucky to have him but those troubled by his action did not want him to remain there for long. All civil servants know they need to pack their suitcase and move on when the call comes. Ravi was transferred to Bangalore. People of Kolar protested but Ravi had to move on to take charge as Additional Commissioner in Commercial Tax department.

You cannot train a dog not to be loyal. It is what they are made up of. Similarly few people like Ravi would not compromise their honesty even if they are asked to. Ravi in his new role found that there was lots of tax evasion happening to the tune of Rs.1,000 crores. Just two weeks of rides on such businesses brought Rs.138 crores of tax revenue to the Govt. Businessmen does not operate in a silo. They looked for ways to silence Ravi. Death threat calls did not seem to deter Ravi. But something terrible happened. Ravi was found dead.

The sudden death and the mysteries around it created a suspiscion that he could be murdered. Media too strongly supported the suspicion. Protests began. Opposition party blamed the ruling party. Support to Ravi’s family came from all corners of state. Ravi was on everyone’s FaceBook wall. Common men talked if this is going to be the fate of an Adminstrator in the highest authority, what of those without power. Protests became fierce. At the same time, there was news or rumour of Ravi having called his batchmate several times before the day of his death. A failed love story was framed around them. Also of Ravi’s intention to get into real estate business. Then, was it plain suicide? Why a person of Ravi’s caliber would commit suicide, so asked the public. The investigation was assigned to a central institute of some repute.

Everyone had their side of story. No one knew the complete truth. Is it possible for a human being to know another person completely? Victors get to write the history and victims are already dead, they do not stand a chance to tell their side of story. So any history we know of is always one sided story. In the fifteenth century, famous king of Vijayanagara kingdom, Sri Krishna Devaraya had untimely death, before he had turned forty. Was it suicide or murder? There are theories which support both the views. The brave king who did not lose a single war of many wars he fought, committed suicide saddened by his son’s death, so goes one argument. Those who poisoned king’s son also killed the king, says the opposite camp. But the truth was buried along with their death. Speculation never become the truth.

Limelight won’t stay on one individual for long. Though public were still outraged, there were other things happening. A cricket match, a local election, release of ‘Bahubali’ movie, there were so many things seeking public attention. In between all of that, investigation agency concluding that Ravi’s death was a suicide went almost unnoticed or public was not convinced but let go of it. A reformer is dead. God knows the reason. Public will ensure that the saying ‘Public memory is short’ does not turn untrue.

Even if they look back their memory lane, the puzzle of Ravi’s death would remain a mystery for the common person. Like ‘Chidambara Rahasya’ (Eternal secret), few mysteries are not to be solved. They are to be forgotten, comfortably by some, painfully by others.

[It is comfortable to call this a fictional story as what I wrote here is a perception too]