Dipen Mondol, the life saviour:
After failing to offer tarpan (water offerings) to my ancestors including my father in the Pitru-Paksha as it rained yesterday. I reached the Pandu Ghat on the banks of the might Brahmaputra at Guwahati early Tuesday morning, Mahalaya.
It was the last day of the fortnight to perform my duties as Devi Pakhya commences from today. While I was preparing myself to get down into the river at the ghat where the priest was waiting for me. I heard frantic cries a few paces away at the corner where the river took a sharp turn.
It took me some time climbing up the loose sand and reach the place where scores of people had gathered by now. On the day of Mahalaya, the Pandu Ghat was filled with devotees. Revellers ushering the festive mood of the Durga puja since the break of the dawn. By the time I reached the spot and tried understanding the situation. I realized that a devotee was almost drowning and I could see his head sinking.
In the next second, he vanished while the whole lot around him watched him disappearing into the mighty river.
Though everybody was shouting for help, none went forward or tired saving him. For me who have seen floods and devastation being in my career for the last 20 years, this was the first time. I saw someone drowning from such close quarters. Before I could gain myself and decide what next, a young man in a yellow tee, ran down and plunged into the river.
“I went to the ghat with my wife to see the Mahalaya crowd and was clicking pictures when I saw this person sinking. He raised his hand a couple of times before disappearing into the water. There were people all around but surprisingly none came forward. I know swimming. Instead of thinking much I removed my watch and handed my wallet and slippers and dived into the water. Down inside the water I could see the person sinking further. I went towards him and caught him by his hair and pulled him out. He was heavy and bulky, I alone was not able to drag him to the bank, amazing none came to help except for the old priest. Luckily the person was saved,” says Dipen Mondol.
28-year-old Dipen Mondol hails from the nearby Maligaon area and works as a marketing executive. Married to Monali in March 2021, the Mahalaya morning stroll made him a hero though many wouldn’t know about him.
“My friends knew that I would jump but my wife was in tears. She has never seen this side of me. She asked me to speak to the drowned person when I was about to leave the place. As I was completely wet. The mother of the drowned person blessed me and that’s my Prasad on the auspicious day of Mahalaya,” he said.
It was on the 26th of September, four teenage students drowned in the Brahmaputra at this very spot. The teenagers, all students of Class 10, had reportedly gone for a swim in the river near Pandu Port while returning from their tuition classes. Rescue personnel found the Mobile phones, bags, shoes, and clothes of the students on the banks of the river. Amazingly the area with such previous records surprisingly did not have a river police vigil. The disaster response force was in place on a day when thousands of people gathered to offer prayer in the might river for their ancestors.
“While I was getting to the water, the place was not so deep. Suddenly the mud slid over my feet and I found that the water was much deeper, which I could not recognize and I sank,” expressed Debaditya Purkayastha while his mother kept on weeping beside him.
As a newsman, I did not have my mobile to capture the video but was fortunate to have senior photojournalist Shubhomoy Bhattacharjee around who framed the event. He helped me to compile this article as a salute to the young man. Who did not think for himself and was the godsend savior of the day.
Image credit: Wikipedia
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