Baba, My Comrade!
D P Bakshi (Pranab)

-- Madhurima Bakshi, AISA activist and Comrade DP Bakshi’s daughter

When I was born, Baba was in a remote place in Assam. He came to see me after around 10 days. It wasone of the few stories I heard frequently about my childhood.

I have grown up in a Party atmosphere; mostly with my mother, comrades, well-wishers, family friends and few relatives. Generally Baba was not there. He was busy in organizational works in different parts of the country then. I could see him only once in a while. As the obvious result, I was not very close to him like I was with my mother and have very limited childhood memories with him. Among them, the most fond memory I can recall is his utmost effort and storytelling to feed a very stubborn and annoying kid like me whenever he used to come back home. Somehow despite of the apparent distance with him, I used to love those stories. Gradually, during the late school days this had turned into much closer bond and hen a strong friendship.

When I started my college andoined AISA, I remember a party class taken by Baba. An AISA comrade whispered in my ear, ‘What are you listening to so attentively? You must have heard everything at your home itself!’ I was quite embarrassed and after a while I somehow managed to explain her that, no, it's not the case! The fact is that I never had any formal political class or anything like that from him. What I actually got was endless informal discussions which includes stories of his jail life, RE College, contemporary national and international politics, sports, and my research work. During every political debate, he used to hear each of my arguments very patiently. This environment shaped my thought process. I was always considered as an independent individual who is capable enough to take her own decisions and was never advised whether to participate in active politics or not. Rather I was nurtured in a broad, progressive and democratic environment which sowed the seeds of rational thinking in me in a very natural way without any artificial imposition, helping me to understand society, politics and the need to actively join struggles to change this unjust society.

Even after his political activism of nearly five decades with so many ups and downs, I have always seen Baba with full of positive energies. He used to throw some of his typical humorous punch lines to his close comrades like “Keya aap to hume bhul hi gaye”. Due to his organizational commitments in different states of India he had to travel a lot, mostly in trains. Fondly, Baba used to say, “I have spent half of my life travelling in train compartments only”. He was the in-charge of working class department of the Party for a long period. Besides that I have always found him to have strong interest in students’ and women’s movements. He had a keen interest in sports too, especially in football. Some Party comrades must have known that Baba was a great cook and how much he loved cooking food for comrades who visited our home. Sometimes, I failed to understand how a person with so much work load can have such enthusiasm, zeal and passion towards his commitment for a better society.

Baba suffered from many serious ailment one after another, from malignant malaria to hepatitis B. Every time he recovered with the help of his comrades and doctors. His invincible spirit and strong willpower always made him come back to his activism in full swing. But this time it was different.

After Baba was diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer he had to be admitted in hospital twice. Probably this was my longest and closest time with Baba - during his stay in hospital which lasted for around two months. The first Central Committee meeting after the 10th party Congress was supposed to take place at that period. The physical pain of cancer was not able to demoralize him but he was extremely impatient and disheartened to miss that meeting. One day, when I went to visit him in the ITU, I remember him asking me, ‘Why are you so late?’ I said that there are certain rules in ITU and we need to follow that. He smiled and said, ‘You must understand the dialectics between following the rules and breaking them’. I was numb for few seconds and could not even reply. This was when he was not even in his full senses!

After coming back home for a few days he promised every visiting comrade to return to Party work at the earliest and to ake up some fresh plans. In his consciousness and sub-consciousness everywhere probably he had only one existence which was his political and organizational being. The rest of his qualities were perhaps just revolving around that. A revolutionary communist till his death, a tireless organizer, a beloved comrade, Baba might have physically lost the battle against cancer, but the revolutionary legacy of Comrade D P Bakshi and many other comrades like him will always give us strength and inspiration to fight many battles in future.

Red Salute Comrade! The journey for a better world towards human emancipation will continue!

DP Bakshi with Dipankar Bhattacharya


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