This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 28; the 28th Edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The topic for this month is 'BLANK PAGES'.
The great news today in the newsroom is sudden announcement of a press conference by PD. Poornendu Dey, lovingly called PD by the press is one of the most popular novelists and thinker of the era. He is not only popular amongst intelligentsia but also among the common ranks. He is not only popular in the East but also in the West. He is known to be fearless and stands for the tribal and the exploited. He basically writes in Bangla but almost all his works have been translated in the major Indian languages and even the other major languages in the world. He travels a lot and his lectures on various topics ranging from literature to atomic energy and from dam displacement to ecology are well attended and appreciated.
“Now what would be the announcement?” everybody in the room is guessing. They are all budding journalists and are willing to do anything to achieve name and fame. Each one of them would like to cover the press conference today and each one is trying to find who would be that lucky fellow! Within five-seven minutes they come to know that one of the Senior Editors would cover the prestigious Press Conference. So all of them- the juniors - have nothing else to do but have enough time for some gossip. Such opportunities are rare indeed. The world as if has come to standstill – every telephone call, every news channel is talking about only one thing – PD and his Press Conference.
“Has PD finally accepted the proposed honor of Bharat Ratna?” asks Nandita loudly. But in that case some high profile Government official would announce it and not PD.
“Has he rejected it?” asks Sameer. But then PD is decent enough not to make miles out of other’s failure. So, it won’t be about any award or any kind of fight with Government.
“Is PD going to return Padmashree Award in protest of tribal exploitations in Niyamgiree in Odisha? Or anything related to the proposed Refinery in Chhattisgarh?” Sahu has another question. But PD had accepted Padmashree long back that returning it now won’t be relevant. PD is shrewd enough to be relevant all the time.
“What would PD by saying?” everybody is still guessing.
“How many novels has he written? And how many awards?” one asks.
“Aranyer Satya, is the best” one says. “Oh! I like his sense of humor. Do you remember the political satire he wrote about communist power in West Bengal?” another asks. “No, I like the one he wrote about a tribal boy turning out to be Nakshalite the best”, third opinion is expressed. The discussion goes on and on. It brings out three facts clearly: PD is a multi-faceted personality, everybody loves PD and everybody loves PD for different reason.
Time is clicking. TV channels are showing the venue of press conference. All big names in the media are present, cameras are flashing. Mani Shankar, PD’s close friend cum secretary is smiling as usual. He is busy with checking microphone and talking to all the journalists. Everybody is waiting for arrival of PD.
It is indeed strange that PD is making people to wait for him today. Generally, he is a person who abides by his high standards; he is never known to have reached late to any venue or event. Today something seems to be very special.
One TV channel is smart enough to show coverage of area just outside the residence of PD. They would gain extra TRP for covering PD leaving his house and entering his car. The time is running. The press conference is at 4.00 PM and it is already 3.50 and PD has not left his residence yet. Everything seems to be peaceful and quiet there. PD has such a kind of aura that nobody dares to enter his house or call him saying that he is getting late. They all wait for him like the subjects wait for the King.
It is 4.30 PM. No PD yet on the scene. Channel anchor persons are tired of saying the same things about PD which almost everybody knows for years. The speculations of why PD might be late are on – not on the channel but off the camera. People are convinced that there must be something very important and that is why PD is getting late. Is he discussing his announcement with someone placed in a powerful position? There are guesses and guesses.
Mr. Mani Shankar is trying to hide his stress. He has been working with PD for more than 25 years and as far as he remembers, it is for the first time PD is getting late. To his embarrassment, he does not know what PD is going to say to the press. It was decided so suddenly that Mani Shankar had no time to speak to PD about the event.
A senior police official is walking with a constable holding a young child. They all walk towards the stage. The child seems to be frightened. The official calls Mani Shankar in a corner and hands over an envelope to Mani Shankar. “What is it?” Mani Shankar asks.
“This bloody rascal brought it to the security guard saying that it has to be given to you. I just want to ensure that there is nothing threateningly serious.” The officer speaks gravely. The child shivers.
Mani Shankar opens the envelope. Two pages come out of the envelope. Mani Shankar hides them in his shirt pocket and looks helplessly at the police official. Then he takes a closer look at the envelope.
“What is this letter? Is PD Sir being kidnapped? Is he not well?” the officer demands.
“Well, my name is written on the envelope. And no doubt it is the handwriting of PD Sir. Let me call him first.” Mani Shankar is sweating now. He is under tremendous stress.
“The mobile you are trying to connect is switched off” – the announcement keeps on repeating; as expected by the police officer.
Now some journalists have realized that some other drama is going on in the corner. A police officer; a constable; with a child and stressed Mani Shankar and no PD. What could be the story?
Police officer pulls both the child and Mani Shankar in another room. Constable follows the direction automatically.
“Who gave you this envelope?” asks the police officer to the child.
“A sahib came on a motorbike and gave me ten rupees. He said he was in a hurry and asked me to give this envelope to the guard at the entrance.” The child is frightened.
“Do you remember the bike number? Do you remember how the man looked like?” the questions are thrown at the child again. He shakes his head tearfully. “He was wearing helmet, goggle; had beard and his bike was Bajaj …” the child is trying to be helpful. But the officer knows that if he starts searching a man with this description, he will get thousands in the town.
“First things first”, says Mani Shankar. “Let me announce that PD is not able to address the journalists today. That will make us free from the wolves …”
Mani Shankar regretfully announces postponement of Press Conference. The journalists are trying to get reasons from Mani Shankar but he refuses to answer. The journalists are shouting, pushing the microphone, the flash is passing through the wires with speculations.
After about 10 minutes there are very few people in the hall. The child; Mr. Mani Shankar and police personnel.
“Ok, we already have police in the residence of PD and he is not there. So, his ill health is out of question,” the officer says calmly.
“Now what does the letter say? Is any ransom demanded? Who has written it? Can you know the handwriting?” the office continues to throw the question.
Mani Shankar is completely clueless and helpless. He hands over the two pages to the officer.
Nothing is written on it.
They are Blank Pages.