Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
In March 1999, when Smt Shailabala and Sri Gobardhan reached Patnitop, 112 km from Jammu on the highway between Udhampur and Srinagar, they were about 6,640 ft above the sea level in the Himalayas. They have climbed many heights in life together and have many more heights to reach.
Shailabala Rath, a glowing flame amongst Orissa’s socialist students of the 1960s, and Gobardhan Pujari, then a distinguished leader of Students Federation, whose adherence to Marxism was a source of inspiration to his friends, found in each other their dream-epitomes of revolutionary culture that made them seek family approval for life partnership. With their marriage on February 10, 1972, they have continued as a two-in-one unit to espouse the cause of the disadvantaged, the downtrodden and the exploited, all these years, as they also have served the cause of Orissan letters.
Both lawyers of eminence, specifically in areas of labor interest, they are illustrious examples of responsible conjugal life that not only is addressed to personal family, but also is noted for responsibilities to the society. Be it a campaign for guaranteed employment for the rural people or a campaign for disarmament and world peace or for the rights of the child and women, or a meet of lawyers on impact of globalization, they have contributed their might with entire consciousness to the cause they have pledged themselves to. So dedicated they are to the society that they have built up on their premises in Rourkela a hall for mass interaction on burning issues of public importance in inauguration of which Justice Ananga Pattanayak of the Supreme Court of India and former Chief of Bar Council of India Sri Jagannath Pattanayak were conspicuous by their presence and participation.
I am thankful to my friends Sura Narayan Patra and Bibhu Prasad Tripathy for telling me that they are for the time being residing in Bhubaneswar, where, as and when I want, I may not find it difficult to meet the exemplary couple.
Last year, when they celebrated their 40th marriage anniversary, their three daughters had brought out a souvenir with very rich and firsthand inputs from their classmates, colleagues and admirers. It was captioned “Murchhanara Chalishiti Basanta” (forty years long rhythm of togetherness). I wish, some publishing house should reprint it to make it available to people of Orissa, because of its inspiring revelation of four decades of selfless love and sacrifice to make the society a bit better. It would be a contribution to our living history in keeping on records how our soil is a proud mother of unsung heroins and heroes like Shailabala and Gobardhan, who, without any expectation, have always tried to make the world a better place to live in and honestly.
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