Sixty eight years later...

Memories of another day

(Hemoprobha Kakoty, a volunteer during the Quit India Movement in 1942, recalls those pre-Independence days)

Those were the days. A fervor had gripped the people. Every day was a whirl of activity. There was continuous news of movements, dhars and rallies to free the country from foreign yoke. There was an overwhelming passion, a tidal wave of emotion, a tremendous determition among the people to break the shackles of slavery. Gandhiji’s call for freedom was like a divine message, inspiring legions of volunteers and freedom fighters across the country. They were followed by people in every state and every district. Even in small places like Sivasagar, common people were out fighting against the British rulers.

During the Quit India movement in 1942, we were only children 10-11 years old, but very active. Our main duty was to pass information to the leaders of the movement. I was born around 1931-32 in Charing of Sivasagsr district of Assam. My grandmother Xundari Borkakoty and father Durganda Kakoty were active members of the freedom movement. Many leaders used to visit and stay at our home during that time. No one in our family used to wear cloths made in mills. I still keep that custom. My grandmother used to make the household clothing and my mother used to help her in the work. My father was out of home most of the time due to his social activities.

One of the leaders of the freedom movement, the Xatradhikar of Garamur Xatra of Majuli, used to come to our home in Charing and stayed for days together. In those times, whenever some information had to be communicated, we were eager volunteers for that work. We used to write the letters in pages and cover it with threads, which we called ‘paji’, and carry those pajis to the persons to whom it had to be delivered. We also used to do office work of the leaders - like writing letters, gathering people for secret meetings, informing people about rallies and other such activities. As we were children, police did not suspect us and so we were assigned such jobs. During that time, I met some leaders like Gopith Bordoloi and others. Their speeches used to evoke an upsurge of patriotic feelings in our hearts. I also accompanied my father during his visits to nearby places for party work. At a very tender age, I understood the meaning of freedom and its importance for our future. 

At the time of Independence, we were 16-17 years of age. August 15, 1947 was a great day for us. I still remember, it was a clear day with lots happy faces all around us. Each and every person in our area came out from their houses and celebrated the day. They raised slogans like Vande Mataram, Inqilab Zindabad and others. The people had a great hope - that everything will be good from there onwards. There were hopes that the country will one day be what Gandhiji had dreamt of – that it will flourish with development and happiness for all. However, if I now see where our society has come to, I become depressed. Every person is busy with his own life and family. They do not have time to think about their society and country anymore.

Tomorrow is the 69th Independence Day of India, but I must admit I do not feel the same as I did 68 years ago. Politicians who lead us, put on a show with their fake emotions. People celebrate the day just as another holiday. I carry on with memories of that magical day…

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