I gulped down a bottle of water.
It can’t be he. Not he. It shouldn’t be he.
I was in the middle of a meeting and my friend called me up from Odisha to break this news. The one news I should have never heard; one news I wish I never had to write on.
I am still trying to believe it but I pray deep within it be a prank and he will get up again. Maybe, one more bike ride to cover one more offbeat story.
It is how I know Arindam Bhai.
I was in school when I used to see him chasing the cyclones, my generation was never glued to the MET department or Radio updates but we would wait to watch Arindam Bhai, Swayam Bhai and Kasturi Ma’am wearing a raincoat or holding an umbrella with a boom. An indicator of the coming disaster.
It was a ritual almost every month for a mandatory call to Arindam Bhai and gossip about the political scores of Odisha.
He was a face known in all hierarchies and verticals. Knock the door of a slum dweller in Salishree Vihar or even the top quarter of the secretariat. His ambitions were taller than this height and his ego was thinner than his weight. You would find him somewhere standing between a raging sea with a boom and someday in the shady areas of factories trying to break an investigative report.
I remember sitting with him in the OTV office and getting scolded for not learning shooting or someday he would call up angrily to ask if I filled the forms for Combined Defence Services. He would often praise my father’s journalist instinct and push me to go beyond all challenges to flirt with adventures the way he did.
I remember it was Rath Yatra when he wanted me to walk the lanes of Puri in search of stories, I remember it was raining hard and I had just filed a report, not able to find a cab to return home. He being a gentleman would always offer “Sit behind, I will drop you in 5 minutes” or never let me pay for food in the canteen.
The last call was at 11:15 P.M maybe 2 weeks ago and he wanted to pursue some journalism course in Defence Ministry or Home Affairs. He wanted me to check on it and inform and in between remind me that he has a son and not a daughter which I was always confused about! An adherent lover of the Indian Army who cleared many rounds of examinations, he wanted to be in the uniform in the borders yet live in a riverside house in his native. His last Whatsapp DP was a dream that came true wearing a nightmare’s smile.
It burns my heart when I see those comments of people accusing him of irresponsibility, maybe as a sister I would do the same but maybe as someone who knew him can absolutely understand that how much eager he would be to jump on the boat. Not for TRP, for godsake never call him a TRP fanboy. He was a follower of passion to bring ahead the left behind. He had pieces of evidence of a high profile murder case that he covered during his tenure as a print journalist, some pieces of evidence and stories that he never broke to any media but are gone with him forever. It hurt when I saw one of his former editors writing on “Greed for TV publicity” because Arindam Bhai highly spoke of him. (Alas! A journalist really dies on the day when his editor fails to understand him.)
True, a journalist for him journalism is his job will be definitely responsible but a journalist whose passion is journalism will be responsible to be irresponsible to search for his true self in every report.
I wish I could answer everyone today, I wish someone wakes me up and says it was a bad dream. I don’t know who will I call next to break a story or ask for details of some hot debates. I don’t know who will I watch when the cyclone comes, for this cyclone came and shattered all our imaginations.
He wanted to die like a martyr fighting for the country and he died no less than a soldier in the line of duty.
I remember Captain Manoj Pandey saying “Some goals are so worthy that is ever glorious to fail.”
I won’t cry. I can’t cry for Arindam Bhai. A man who never knew what tears are. A man who never taught me what defeat is.
Rest in power, Bhai!
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)