My late father Amritamoy Mukherjee had a gun. It was probably Belgium make-DBBL gun.
He kept 4-5 boxes of cartridges of different version for use as per requirement. Though it was mainly kept as a status symbol, I saw its use in various bravery activities of chasing/confronting dacoits besides “SHIKAR”(hunting) on occasion of family get together in our village named AKAIPUR, dist 24 parganas, (located at a distance of about 10 KM from erstwhile east Pakistan border) and surrounding areas.
I came to know, that during the partition / demarcation of border all private owners had to deposit their gun at govt treasuries for safe custody and of course to prevent misuse. My eldest brother-in-law late Subodh .ch. Chatterjee was more like a friend philosopher and guide to my father. He, soon after the partition helped in getting the gun released from the govt. custody. Though things happened after my birth in 1944, I was too young to realise, remember and describe those events systematically/chronologically. Readers may please use their anticipatory power to acknowledge the scenario of a remote semi developed village and the social atmosphere in those days.
My father was very particular in up keeping all his possessions of various equipments/tools particularly the gun and wall clocks. As per his time schedule, a routine maintenance of all items was meticulously carried out. He would dismantle parts of Gun, clean using specified correct lubricant in movable parts. I specially took interest in his cleaning action of barrels. He had a detachable three-piece rose wood rod to clean the barrel and examining the cleanliness looking through the barrels.
As I grew old, he sometimes depending on mood, would allow me to look through the barrel before and after cleaning which used to be an exciting moment.
Being a respected and honourable person in the locality ,having social connection with most of the district officers, MLA’S/Minister (health minister Dr Jivan Ratan Dhar was his friend) together with his close association/responsibilities with the Relief and Rehabilitation work amongst the migrated refugees from east Pakistan, gave my father a pivotal personified position in various humanitarian activities including solving law and order problem and was paneled as juror in session court.
He had formulated a particular drill in case of any serious problem in our locality especially related to movement of suspicious persons/dacoits /thieves etc in nighttime. In such cases, the informer had to immediately rush and contact my father. The messenger’s duty was to sound a big GONG with wooden hammer from our rooftop. Within no time about 50-60 individuals would assemble at our courtyard with their available weapon. After giving them instruction to proceed to the place of occurrence, my father with his usual attire (Dhoti folded like a wrestler, a short kurta (FATUA) with pockets full of cartridges, a medium size knife tied on waist ,a five sell torch on one hand and loaded gun on right hand,) with two his trusted lieutenants (tribal santhals of our village) duly armed with spears, would also proceed half running to the site.Two other persons will remain in our house as guard. Every hamlet would also have guards.
My eldest Brother in law, once, observing the actual unsafe drill, presented my father with a leather shoulder strap to carry loaded gun and a leather belt to carry the cartridges.
In one such incident (I was about 10-11 years old),at dead night ,a messenger came with the information that a big gang of people are suspiciously passing through our village. The drill followed. On their return at early hours, we got the feedback. By the time our people encircled the gang, all able-bodied members have fled. Few young boys and women hiding behind bushes came on assurance and narrated their motives. They were all very poor displaced family members from East Pakistan. For their survival they used to act as labourer in carrying sack full of BETEL NUTS (SUPARI) smuggled across the border which had a profitable market in INDIA. They used to follow the mud road across our village during night hours to avoid detection/harassment. Since nothing, could be done at that juncture and on humanitarian ground, the women and boys were warned and allowed to go.
One frightening incident with that gun needs mention. One of my young cousin brothers, playfully took that loaded gun from unlocked Almirah adjacent to my father’s bed,and started threatening my sister. Since all of us were shouting, he could not understand our caution –that the gun is loaded. Suddenly and luckily, he pointed the gun upwards and fired. A big hole on the wooden beam (concrete roof support) stunned everyone to silence, which was broken by an equal thunderous frightening shout of my father followed by the PHAT—PHAT—PHAT sound of his WOODEN slipper (called KHARAM), who rushed from his KACHHARI room ( a big thatched hall ) .Rest is history, with marching order to that poor chap to leave our house after necessary doses of dressing down. To us? I am ashamed to describe.
During the Naxalite problem and the influx of Bangladeshis during liberation struggle, my father who had shifted to nearby town-Ranaghat, thought it necessary not to keep the gun at our place. After discussion, we obtained a retainer licence on my name and took the gun to my quarter at Jawaharnagar, Bhandara, near Nagpur—my working place.
It was, sometime between 1971-1973, we decided to surrender the gun. I contacted a gun dealer at Kolkata, BBD bagh,near the Lalbazar police stn. and after completion of formalities, the gun with all accessories and cartridges was handed over.
I still have one piece of the cleaning rose wood rod as memento.
Dear father’s gun, hope you and your parts are in good shape and enjoying majestic treatment from your present owner. In remembrance of our association,I convey my 21 gun salute—boom-boom-boom——.
Your old acquaintance.
KHOKA- SWAPAN- JYOTIRMOY