The work present herein is entirely a work of fiction and has no resemblance to any person, dead or alive.
Ding Ding Ding Ding was the sound coming from the sophisticated Nokia N-95 lying on the bedside table right below the copy of a Van Gogh painting of a lush green field with a snow-capped mountain at the background. Rakesh came running from the bathroom with the half of his face covered with his favourite “Gilette Shaving Foam”. With a slight smile on his face, he stopped the alarm saying, “Tch tch, so sorry my little boy, I defeated you today”.
It was truly a victorious feeling for travel journalist Rakesh Mukherjee– the much awaited day of his life had come when he was being finally sent on his first assignment as a travel journalist to the beautiful places of Ladakh, Leh, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar. The last few years have been quite a struggle for Rakesh. We are all aware of the fact that media being not too much of a formal industry, needs certain contacts to get into, for a starter. So, Rakesh could not really start his career as a travel journalist. After a lot of running around for at least an entry point in the media, he finally got himself a job with The Indian Express. Life as a crime reporter was not too easy for Rakesh- seeing rapes, murders and robbery became a routine for him. Rakesh was discontent with his job but he never lost his mental strength to fight his way through his tough times because he knew that one day he would get what he dreamt for. He kept on doing his job seriously as a crime reporter because he believed strongly that the job of crime reporter would let him learn in-depth reporting.
Going in-depth of anything was what Rakesh loved since his days of graduation. He chose English Honours as a subject for his graduation but unlike everyone else, that choice was not made by him after pondering upon the future prospects of this field or how much this field of education would make him earn. He just chose this subject because something from within his being, some very powerful force inside him urged him to opt for this subject, not knowing what benefit it would give him in the days to come. As the years of graduation flipped through his life like pages of a novel, he realized that those years quenched the thirst of a soul which was looking for something that could make it understand the depth of Life, through the power of Literature. Rakesh never lost his hopes working in a beat which he never liked. Rather, he took it as a positive lesson that the Almighty was teaching in order to get tough enough to face the challenges of being a travel reporter.
He woke up every morning with the thought, “Today Mr. Raghavan will definitely walk up to me and refer me to the travel section”. Mr. Raghavan was a senior editor of The Indian Express and was quite happy about Rakesh’s dedication towards his work. One fine morning when Mr. Raghavan was on his way to office, he got a call from his long time friend- the editor-in-chief of Outllook, Mr. Vinod Mehta. Besides the regular chit chat they had, that day Mr. Mehta happened to tell his friend about a vacancy in Outlook Traveller in a very casual way. Mr. Raghavan was aware of Rakesh’s dream. So, the first thing he did when Mr. Mehta told him about the vacancy was spelling out Rakesh’s name. Mr. Raghavan told Mr. Mehta about how dedicated this young blood was and promised him about sending Rakesh to him as soon as possible. As soon as he entered office that day, he walked up to Rakesh, put a hand on Rakesh’s shoulder and said, “Meet me in my cabin in another 15 minutes”. As soon as Rakesh entered the cabin, Mr. Raghavan handed out a copy of Outlook Traveller’s latest edition and asked him, “Rakesh, you must have seen this magazine, didn’t you?” Rakesh replied, “Of course sir, this is one of my most favourite magazines.” With a slight smile on his face, Mr. Raghavan said, “Vinod, the chief editor of Outlook is a long time friend of mine and was talking to me about a vacancy in Outlook Traveller and I could not help but take your name. Rakesh, are you interested?” The next thing Rakesh did was to fall to Mr. Raghavan’s feet with eyes full of tears of joy and gratitude towards his boss.
So, here’s our very own Rakesh, with tears in his eyes, so engrossed in his thoughts of the recent past, that he almost forgot that he was shaving. He got a sudden jolt when his mom called him out from the other room for his breakfast. He looked up to the watch- he had wasted fifteen minutes. Rakesh did his last minute packing, got ready and had his favourite Bengali meal prepared by his favourite cook in the world- his mom. As soon as he got over with his meal, he took his parents’ blessings and left home for his dream assignment. This assignment was even more special for Rakesh because photography was one of his passions and he well realized that places he would travel would prove to be the best photographic expedition ever for him. So he could mix work with some pleasure too. Photography has been Rakesh’s pleasure since his college days. All the deep thoughts and ideas he got about life from his study of Literature, reflected upon his amazing photographs in which he expressed his perception of life through various metaphors.
As soon as Rakesh touched Leh riding his favourite Bajaj Avenger, he stopped at a small tea stall facing the beautiful expanse of mountains all around. With a cup of hot tea in his hand, Rakesh looked around and wondered how beautiful life was. Rakesh took out his laptop and typed down the first few lines of his experience till that time- he had already started working. The next thing that Rakesh felt was an itching to take some photographs of the spectacular views all around. With this thought, Rakesh took out his Nikon D-80 which he called his “Buddy” and started taking photographs with it. So day one in Leh was spent in taking some amazing photographs. After reaching his hotel that night, when he took a look at his shots he realized that it was not only fun for him, it was work too- he got the shots which were perfect to support his articles in which he expressed his views about the place. Excitement ran through Rakesh’s nerves and without waiting any further, he filed the first day’s story along with the supporting photographs and sent them to both his seniors Mr. Raghavan and Mr. Mehta. He got an immediate response for his work in which he got lots of appreciation from both his seniors. Rakesh was motivated by this and spent the next 5 days in travelling all around the beautiful places of Leh, Ladakh, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar and filed some amazing stories along with his best photographs till date. His seniors were very impressed with the kind of interest, dedication and sincerity this boy was showing towards his work.
At the end of the fifth day, Rakesh was a happy man when went to bed- his work was successfully done and he was all set to take his trip back to Leh, and from there, back home to Delhi. Rakesh started his journey back to Leh with a smile and reached there by afternoon. But the weather was totally different from Rakesh’s mood- it was a gloomy day in Leh. But, as always, Rakesh did not let the negativity of the weather affect his spirits, as he turned this weather into the best possible setting for his photography. But who knew that the skies would act as an irony for Rakesh’s mood. Leh was hit by the worst cloudburst in years, taking the lives of many. The last thing saw from the optical eyepiece of his “Buddy” was the deadly sky which made him die a painful death by falling flat on ground from the top of a hill- Rakesh died while working.
One whole edition of Outlook Travller was dedicated to Rakesh’s stories of this trip. His writings were so good that even the chief editor could not edit one single word from any of his articles. They were appreciated all around the country. Rakesh’s photographs won various awards and laurels- Rakesh was famous. But it was too late for him to see it all. Life was such an irony for Rakesh Mukherjee.