Bose of Nakamuraya

Author: Himanshu Ranjan

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23 December 1912, Chandni Chowk, Delhi 

That morning was unusual. The busy streets of Chandni Chowk would be usually teeming with rickshaw pullers, tangas, men cycling their way to work, and women bargaining with the shopkeepers. But that morning saw the rare sight of a ‘Rolls Royce Silver Ghost’, one of the eight cars that were the attraction at the Delhi Durbar held a year before. Today was the anniversary of the Durbar, and a good number of policemen can be seen doing their rounds on an almost deserted but clean street. Some workers while busy decorating the trees talked of the Durbar held last year. The arrangements were nothing in comparison to the grandeur of last year. By the evening, a small crowd had started to assemble on both sides of the streets. 

Seeing that no Indian policemen approached the Rolls Royce, an English Sergeant hastily moved towards it. 

‘Show me the registration’, he asked in an authoritative voice. 

‘The application for registration is under approval – you must know the registration act just got introduced.’, said the man looking unworried. 

‘Ok, what’s in that red box?’, asked the Sergeant. 

‘It’s a gift from the Nizam.’ said the old man half-opening the box towards the Sergeant. 

The Sergeant glanced at the shine of the gold crown studded with green emeralds with his squinting eyes. He grinned contemptuously and called two constables to guard the vehicle. 

The assembled crowd had grown in size as they looked at the distant marching elephants slowly growing bigger and bigger. Among them the attention was on the elephant whose trunk was decorated, head and body covered with thick distinctly coloured blankets. On its back was an elegant hathi howdah with two seats, one a bit raised on which the Viceroy Hardinge was seated along with his wife Winifred. An Indian servant was seen busy adjusting the umbrella according to the direction of the wind and sunrays. It was typical of a ceremonial procession as the crowd gaped in mixed awe and contempt of their imperial masters. Except for a young woman on the second floor of the three-storeyed Punjab National Bank, who looked tense, as if calculating something in her mind. She slipped her hands through her blouse as if itching for her breasts. Then, she went down to the bathroom. 

‘What happened? asked the fat babu. 

‘It was from the grounds up! All the practice we did in Dehradun was from the grounds up!’ said the woman in a manly but low voice. 

The fat babu understood the predicament. 

‘Ok! If we aren’t sure of hitting our target, we can increase our attempts. You have two bombs, handover one of them to Abadh.’, instructed the fat babu. 

‘Well, a woman is supposed to have a pair of breasts.’, chuckled the young man. 

Bishe Das! Change of plan! Hurry up and transform into your male version.’, the fat babu demanded keeping a check on time. Abadh! Take this and get mixed into the crowd on the sideways. Bishe Das! Go to the first floor and give it a try when the elephant approaches the clock tower. Have confidence!’, the fat babu, Awadh, and Basanta headed to left, right, and up once they had exited the bathroom. 

A few minutes later, when the elephant was close to the clock tower, a black ball flung high into the air. Boom! The sound of the explosion irritated the elephant. The mahaut had a hard time controlling it. He turned back to see the bloodstained shoulder of the Viceroy. The servant had already fallen down, wounded. Winifred, though unharmed was shocked. The perplexed Seargeant checked the pulse of the servant. He had died. He called for the Rolls Royce, the Viceroy and his wife were seen escorted to the hospital. 

‘Take us to Dr. Sen’, ordered the Vicereine. 

There was a ruckus in the crowd. The trio had disappeared in the chaos. The policemen roamed around in search of the culprit.

‘You see! I saw you standing right from where the bomb was thrown’, asked the constable to a middle-aged woman. In reality, he wasn’t sure. 

‘I saw the woman slipping her hands into her blouse. I think, she…he was a man or perhaps a woman. I don’t know where had she disappeared.’ The woman told in a fearsome tone. The constable had a puzzled face. 

                                                           ***

Night of 23 December 1912, Old Delhi Railway Station

Bishe Das! We can’t go together. Abadh Bihari has already left by bus to Agra. Here’s your ticket to Howrah. You need to coordinate with Amarendra for some time.’, said the fat babu who now donned a sweater and a muffler. 

‘Did Abadh throw the bomb, we missed him by a little?’ said Basanta

‘Questions later! We need to depart as soon as possible.’, said Boshu

‘For Jugantar! For the free motherland! They both greeted each other and left in their own ways. 

Rashbihari Boshu sat just opposite an Indian policeman as the train whistled and chugged along in the windy night. The next morning he headed to his destination – Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. 

He eagerly read the newspaper that morning, where the headlines of his adventurous misdeeds flooded the main page. The Viceroy was wounded and not killed. The news formed the talk of the day even at his office. 

‘This must be condemned. What do you think such violence will lead to?’ asked the head clerk folding the newspaper to his subordinate clerks. 

Four out of five clerks supported the moderate non-violent ways of the congress and one was loyal to the Raj. 

‘I love my job here. The Britishers recruited me. I totally condemn this act.’, said one of the old clerks albeit showing a lack of emotions. 

‘Tomorrow evening, I have organized a small gathering of citizens loyal to the Raj. We shall condemn such acts of violence in unison.’, said the head clerk. 

‘I’ll show up if that helps in my promotions.’, said one of the clerks. 

Five months have passed. Rashbihari would watch the free birds, play the violin, write letters to other Jugantar members to keep himself busy. 

Meanwhile, Basanta Kumar Biswas had just returned to Dehradun from Lahore.

Bishe Das! Bombing here and there to kill some prominent Britishers can keep the spirit of the revolution alive but only in sparks. We need to plan something big’, said Boshu in a pensive tone. 

Manindra Nath had prepared these bombs, not many are left with me. I hope they worked in Lahore.’, he continued. 

Basanta Biswas looked teary-eyed. 

‘I had put one in the Lawrence Garden road, but… but it accidentally killed an Indian in the dark.’, his tone breaking in the middle. 

Bishe Das! What mattered was your intention. Rather than doing nothing, one needs to take charge of the matters despite the consequences. That’s what the Gita says. I think you need some rest.’, said Boshu with a straight face. 

‘I think so! Do you have any message for Amarendra dada?’ asked young Basanta

‘No! I think we need to wait for the right time.’, said Boshu while opening the windows to gaze at the sky. 

                                                                   ***

Three more months have passed. It was the August of  1913. Damodar river has overflooded the Bardhaman and Midnapore districts in Bengal. A flood of this magnitude was never experienced before. Bagha Jatin and his associates carried out relief works in these districts. The thought of a revolutionary whose name signified that he single-handedly killed a tiger, whose revolutionary actions reinvigorated the revolutionaries who were hounded after the Alipore Bomb Case, and who now released after the arrest is involved in flood relief works, inspired Rasbihari Boshu a lot. 

It was the November of 1913. Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel prize in literature. Boshu would sometimes hum his poems in Bangla: 

“Chitto jetha voi shunno,  Uccho jetha shir
gyan jetha mukto, jetha griher prachir…”

In February of 1914, he got the news that Basanta Kumar Biswas was arrested in Nadia. He had informed him about the demise of his father…had gone to perform his last rites. The Britishers found this an opportune moment. Not only the revolutionaries but their relatives would be also spied upon by the Britishers. 

Dehradun was no longer safe for Rashbihari Boshu. He left for Benares where he would spend the most part of the year. When the policemen reached the Forest Research Institute, they were told that he was on leave. 

A huge sum was announced to catch the mastermind of the Delhi Conspiracy Case. A circular was issued that described him as

the man is about thirty years of age, fair-complexioned and tall, has large eyes; and the third finger of one hand is stiff and scarred due to some accident.

                                                            ***

Misir Pokhra, Near Jogeshwar Press, Benares, March of 1914 

Satindra Chandra would wake up early morning to see the rising sun’s reflection in the mighty Ganges at the Dasashwamedh ghat and then head towards the Kashi Vishwanath temple. This made his neighbours believe that he’s an astute bhakt of Lord Shiva. What they didn’t know was that Satindra Chandra on his way back would meet with his friends in the park. Most of his friends were part of the secret societies of Jugantar and Anushilan Samiti

Boshu da Naren and Bagha Jatin had met with the Crown Prince of Germany when he had visited Calcutta in 1912. The Germans are against the Britishers and they had promised a good supply of arms and ammunition.’, said one of the Jugantar members keeping his identity secret.

‘Call me Satindra’, said Rashbihari Boshu. ‘The Britishers are searching for me like anything. I don’t know about the Germans but I have told Manindra Nath Nayak to prepare more bombs in Chandernagore. It’s under French control and it helps to avoid the Britishers.’, he continued. 

‘Till I meet with Bagha Jatin, who is in touch with Vishnu Ganesh Pingale, a member of the Ghadar Party founded last year, I need to carry out my activities from Benares only. I see a lot of promise in the young students. We need to prepare more revolutionaries for the upcoming challenge. It’s the ideology that matters.’, said Satindra Chandra. 

‘I will give your message to Jatin da’, said the young man as he left for Calcutta. 

                                                           ***

It was the November of 1914. Vishnu Ganesh Pingle along with Kartar Singh Sarabha and Satyen Bhushan Sen had come to Calcutta. The three met with Bagha Jatin. 

‘World War is going on. The Britishers have deployed Indian soldiers in Europe, Africa, Egypt, and even Mesopotamia. After the Komagata Maru incident, the Sikhs are furious and their sentiments lie with us.’ said Pingle in a tone filled with vibrations of hope. 

‘The plan is to incite a coordinated mutiny by certain key cavalries of the Indian Army. We need to infiltrate and influence the soldiers secretly. For the same somebody needs to lead the plan in the northwest. I will lead here and in Dacca.’, said Bagha Jatin directly looking into the eyes of Pingle.     

‘I think, I know someone who can!’, said Pingle. 

Rashbihari Boshu’, guessed Bagha Jatin. 

‘Yes! I believe we can trust him. He is our leader and hope.’ said Pingle with a smile. 

‘I’ll send Sachindra Nath Sanyal to meet with Boshu and report us on the ground sentiment among the soldiers in the North.’ said Bagha Jatin in a confidential voice. 

Sachindra Nath Sanyal met Rashbihari Boshu in the park at Benares. He was born in Benares and was quite familiar with the pilgrim town. 

‘In case, the Germans fail to supply us the weapons in time, we need to be prepared with our own bombs. I have sent two of my young revolutionaries to Chandernagore. They will learn the art of bomb-making from Manindra Nath.’ said Rashbihari Boshu before taking a pause. 

‘Come Sachi, I’ll host you for a dinner in my home.’, said Boshu as they stood up and strolled their way back. 

But Sachindra Nath insisted that he would rather host him. So they marched towards the house of Dr. Kali Prasanna Sanyal in Bangalitola 

As they reached home, Sachindra Nath Sanyal explained to him the plan to incite mutiny in detail. 

Sachindra Nath Sanyal showed him about half a dozen bombs. These bomb caps are now rusting…’ Boom! There was a mild explosion as both of them were busy examining the caps, one of them exploded. Both got injured. 

‘We got lucky by God’s grace as the bigger ones didn’t explode.’ in that moment of pain Sachindra Nath said in a comforting tone. 

As Boshu’s leg was being nursed in another house, the Britishers had paste notices on the walls in the vicinity of the house seeking him and rewarding the informer. 

‘We need to shift near Harish Chandra Ghat and get further treated. It’s always beneficial to change addresses for revolutionaries like us.’ said Rashbihari. 

The next night they shifted to Harish Chandra Ghat.  In order to avoid being seen in public, Rashbihari Boshu acted as a corpse on a cot that was carried by four associates of the doctor in order to escape. 

Both of them approached the doctor nearby. The doctor wrote the prescription in and asked their names. 

Chuchendranath Dutta’, said Boshu in a confident note. 

And you? Asked the doctor to Sachindra Nath Sanyal, 

‘Well, I am…’, he looked confusingly at Boshu 

Satish Chandra’ said Boshu on behalf of Sanyal. 

While they returned from the clinic, Rashbihari said to Sachindra Nath,  religious revolutionaries carry the danger of dying while speaking the truth. 

                                                          ***

Vishnu Ganesh Pingle had arrived in Benares to meet Rashbihari Boshu. He had been informed that both Boshu and Sanyal were living in Bangalitola in Benares. He knocked on the door of their house in a distinct manner. When Rashbihari opened the door, he saw Pingle carrying a letter from Bagha Jatin. 

Both Sanyal and Boshu read the letter with utmost enthusiasm. 

‘The time is near. Around four thousand Sikhs of the Ghadar have reached Calcutta. More are to be received.’ said Boshu in an excited voice. 

‘I and Sanyal will go to Amritsar to assess the situation. We might find someone who can help us make more bombs and seek support from the members of the Ghadar Party in the Amritsar.’ said Pingle as if he had a blueprint of the plan in his mind. 

Two months later, in the January of 1915, Bagha Jatin, Rashbihari Boshu, Sachindra Nath Sanyal, Vishnu Ganesh Pingle, Naren Bhattacharya, Atulkrishna Ghosh, among others were for the first time together in Benares. They had together chalked out a plan. 21st February 1915 was made the D-day. Vinayak Rao Kapile was chosen to parcel the material for the bombs at several places. 

Sachindra Nath Sanyal was to infiltrate the 7th Rajputs in Benares, and the 89th Punjabis in Dinapore. Pingle and Rashbihari were to lead the efforts in Lahore and Amritsar. 23rd and 26th cavalry in Punjab, 24th Jat, 130th Baluch, 12th cavalry Meerut were on the list. The Sikh troops at Dacca were also tampered with. 

However, the Punjab CID got to know about the plans through a spy Kirpal Singh. This led the leaders to forward the D-day from 21st February to the 19th February 1915. The Britishers became aware of the plans and were on high alert. The mutinies were mercilessly suppressed. The Ghadar mutiny though took advantage of the opportune moment of the World War could not achieve its objective. Though, it warned the Britishers that their days in India are about to be over. 

Vishnu Ganesh Pingle and Kartar Singh Sarabha were arrested. Sachindra Nath Sanyal went underground. For Rashbihari Boshu no place was safe in India. A day before his favourite Bishe Das was executed by the British Government. 

                                                          ***

12 May 1915, Sanuki Maru, Dock number 6, Khiddirpore. 

‘Rasuda! I know how painful it’s for you to leave the country.’, said Sachindra Nath in an emotional tone. 

‘Oh, Sachi! You have no idea!’, said Rashbihari hugging him trying to hide his moistened eyes. 

Then, Boshu placed his hands on Sanyal’s shoulder and said

‘You are now the leader of our armed struggle. How I wish you could have accompanied me! You know better if we had sufficient weapons, we could have made the mutiny successful.’, he paused a bit to continue. 

‘There are some mouser pistols in my room above the Dharamtala post office. Give one to Girija. The war to free India shall continue from within and without’, said Boshu and left for the ship. 

Sachindra Nath kept looking at his departure. 

‘I am Raja Preonath Thakur, a relative of Rabindranath Thakur. Can my ticket be upgraded to the first class please?’, Boshu asked confidently in his suited attire. 

‘Let me see! Here it’s Sir!’, said the ticket vendor. 

Few people travelled first class and it would have helped to save himself from the suspicious eyes. 

As the ship left for Singapore, Bose remembered his now executed old associates Bishe Das and Abadh Bihari. He glanced at the blue waters of the Bay as his childhood, his parents, his associates, his friends all were reflecting back in his eyes. He could see Sachi and Girija still waiting near the dock. 

He murmured Bagha Jatin’s words before leaving the deck for his cabin. ‘Amra morbo, jagat jagbe’ 

The ship continued its march from the Andamans to Malaysia and then to Singapore, and Hongkong finally reaching to its destination Kobe in Japan by early June. 

Rashbihari boarded a train from Kobe to Tokyo via Kyoto. It was the July of 1915, that Rashbihari had met the Ghadar leader Dr. Bhagwan Singh Gyani. They both had a long chat. 

Rashbihari Boshu then headed to Shanghai where he made contacts with the German Consul in China. The plan was to ship arms mostly automatic pistols and thousands of ammunitions to the Andamans, free the revolutionaries who would then lead an attack to Burma. However, the Chinese smugglers assigned the consignment failed to achieve so and the German funds and arms were confiscated. 

The British intelligence became worried after knowing that their most wanted Indian revolutionary had been able to escape to Japan. The Britishers started to pressurize the Japanese government for the extradition of Boshu and other Indian revolutionaries. They caved in to the pressure. Lala Lajpat Rai who made brief contact with Rashbihari Boshu in Japan left for the US after the Japanese government succumbed to the British embassy.

Rasbihari Boshu again met with Dr. Bhagwan Singh Gyani who knew Dr. Sun Yat-sen who had earlier introduced him to Mitsuru Toyama, a powerful figure beside the emperor. Rasbihari Boshu was welcomed by Mitsuru Toyama and given asylum in his palatial house. The Japanese didn’t like the Britishers whereas with Indians they felt the connection due to the Buddha. 

                                                      ***

The local police cars had started to surround Toyama’s house as they got to know that Rashbihari Boshu was inside. 

Rashbihari Boshu had just started to learn a few Japanese words. Later, he would be so fluent in it that he would write five books in the Japanese language. 

Mitsuru Toyama had a plan. His expensive and fast cars could outpace the police cars. Without a delay, he sent his associates in two of these cars that zoomed past the back gates of the house. The police started chasing them. 

‘Take Boshu from the front gate.’, he said one of his associates. 

They took him to the Shinjuku district. There, he took shelter with the Soma family who ran a bakery named Nakamuraya. Initially, Boshu lived in the basement of their house to avoid attention. The couple’s eldest daughter Toshiko would serve Boshu.

A few weeks later, Mitsuru Toyama visited their house. 

‘For how long he would have to live in the basement?’, asked Mrs. Kokkoh Soma. She was the wife of Mr. Aizo Soma. The coupled owned the Nakamuraya bakery shop. 

‘There is a solution I propose. If you marry your daughter with the Indian revolutionary, he would become one of us.’, said Toyama.

Toshikho, would you like to marry him?’, asked Mr. Aizo 

‘Give us some time. I need to know his thoughts too.’ said Toshiko, a bit shy. 

Eventually, she fell in love with Boshu who married her in 1918. Rashbihari Boshu would later apply for Japanese citizenship with a different Japanese name – Hayachi Ichiro. 

‘Why did you say yes?, asked Boshu to Toshiko

‘I loved your courage, your eyes, and the Karii’ 

                                                         ***

Rashbihari Boshu would help in the bakery work at Nakamuraya. One day, he decided to serve the customers Indian cuisine – the Chicken Karii. 

He would chop the chicken breast, apply a paste of yogurt over the skinned pieces. The vegetable oil would be heated with tomato pastes and a lot of Indian spices. Cloves, Cinnamons, Cardamoms, Onion, and the correct mix of chili pepper, garlic, and water. Heated over half an hour, the chicken karii would be hot and spicy. The Japanese loved his Chicken Karii. The Nakamuraya Chicken Karii is now a world-famous cuisine. The bakery had become quite popular and later turned into a chain of restaurants, quite profitable. The business had grown multifold. 

                                                      *** 

Tokyo, January 1945 

Rashbihari Boshu had contracted tuberculosis. He had lost his wife in 1925, and his son Masahide Boshu just a year before in World War II. His daughter Tetsuko Boshu would be caring for him in his death bed. Subhas Chandra Bose had come to meet him. 

‘Rasuda, How’s your health? asked Bose in a caring tone. 

‘Why have you come after me Subhas? Your focus should be on strengthening the Indian National Army. When you came to Japan, I knew I had to pass the baton to you. You are the most daring and dynamic representative of the youth.  It was my honour when I appointed you the president of the Indian Independence League in East Asia. I have grown old now.’

His daughter informed him that the Japanese government had awarded him with the Second Order of Merit of the Rising Sun with Double Rays

‘My only reward is a free Indian nation.’, said Boshu

Amra morbo, jagat jagbe’ said Boshu for one more time before sleeping into silence. 

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction inspired by some real incidents. Creative liberties have been taken at places.

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