The story of an unusual suspect
There are some tales that are destined to be told. Each tale has immense possibilities to touch us, inspire us and reveal a tiny hitherto untold dimension of what human potential can achieve. Pankaj Dubey in my universe is one such tale.
Pankaj was an year junior to me in school in the badlands of erstwhile Bihar and present day Jharkhand. The memory I have of him from those days is that of a lanky, sweet talking, fairly flirtatious young boy (although I suspect that he knew what he was doing would one day qualify as flirting– and in case he knew it then I salute him as a child prodigy). During the very brief time he was in that school we met a few times on the podium in the course of debates and extempores as both of us were active in that circuit. Soon he changed schools and life took us in different directions.
We came in touch with each other almost 20 years later in the middle of 2009. Let me recount what life did to Pankaj and what Pankaj did to life since the time we parted ways.
Pankaj struggled to pass his Xth board, particularly troubled by something called maths. Early in life he realized that between him and maths, only one life could accommodate. He flunked in 11th and owing to the small town schools willingness to take his apology as a creditable enough corrective action, he was promoted to class 12th, where his natural inclination for academic mediocrity continued to flourish – particularly in subjects like maths and science. However he debated, wrote and extempore unabated. Needless to say he just scrapped through 12th.
Pankaj came to Delhi convinced that even someone like him should have the audacity to go to college in Delhi because he was of the view that in a large city like Delhi, surely there would be many like him, with scores like his but still wanting to attend college. The only thing he knew was how to debate and speak in public, with language as his only ally and self expression his only recourse. One such college in Delhi admitted him on something as exotic as a ‘debate quota’. The next three years Pankaj did the only thing he knew – debated, extempored, wrote essays and so on and so forth – clearly not what respectable students from respectable families normally do. Pankaj had many virtues – being normal was certainly not one of them.
Over time Pankaj started winning debate competitions in his college, university and then interuniversity. He represented India in debates in international events. He then went to study ‘applied communication’ (whatever that is) in London – all on scholarship. After completing that he joined the Hindi services of BBC in London and somewhere during this time he found time to be associated with the Pravasi Bhartiya organization doing some work for them – and in one such event was the key note speaker while one Atal Bihari Bajpayee was his listener. He returned back to India only to continue his dalliance with abnormality.
Pankaj started an NGO named SPRIHA and then instituted India’s first SADAK CHAAP FILM FESTIVAL where he conducted film festivals in the slums of 26 cities in India. He plans to take the Sadak Chaap film company to 50 cities in India next year. He is doing some work on Empathy building in children through his film festival. He is scheduled to be recognized by his work by the Govt of Karnataka as India’s top 5 youth icons who are doing commendable work in social awakening. He is also in advanced stages in the evaluation of being an international recognition for his work in the area of empathy building.
Pankaj is a registered writer in the film writers association and arranges workshops for aspiring actors, directors and other trades on esoteric topics like ‘crowd funding’ He has just entered this area and plans to expand his area of work in the future. I have a feeling this part of his story is yet to unfold.
I asked him once – ‘where do you find time to do all of this?; to which he replied – if you don’t study maths, enough energies get released for mankind to do so much more with life’. Strange answer by a strange man.
In one of the conversation where he was bubbling with enthusiasm about possibilities he remarked – ‘I am against all forms of knowledge. There is no knowledge that Google cannot team me. I am a merchant of imagination. Knowledge is the pursuit of what exists. Imagination is the pursuit of what can be’ WOW!
I told this tale because it had to be told. You figure out what it tells you; as far as I am concerned, it doesn’t tell me anything – it only screams.
PS – There are two followers on my blog – AS and MSA. Could you get in touch with me or enable your settings so that I can identify you.