GODHULI The Golden Dusk Memoirs of a Zamindar’s Son

By Harihar Panda

“It was the most turbulent period in Indian history. The sonorous slogan, Simon, go back! reverberated through the political corridors of a rising nation. The historic Dandi March had its soulful impact on millions of common people as Mahatma Gandhi gave the clarion call to ‘Do or die’. But even as India achieved her blood-soaked independence, there were already signs of a popular uprising in the country against the tyranny of the zamindars. There were widespread rumours that the new government would confiscate the zamindari estates and distribute the land among the tenants and the landless. Villagers everywhere were elated at the imminent prospect of owning their own land. Those who had never before uttered a word of protest against their landlords, began to act with defiance and disregard. The mighty zamindari citadel was crumbling. All the king’s men had gone, leaving the abandoned King distraught and forlorn, victim of a changing world order…

My father, who had tolerated with exemplary fortitude a series of personal calamities, could not bear the ignominious loss of dignity, the thing he valued most in life. Independence without honour was a meaningless platitude for him. It was indeed a painful transition from wealth and aristocracy to democracy and equality. The unthinkable fall from mastery and power of the zamindars, was an event that shook the very foundations of the century-old socio-economic system of newly independent India.

Written with elegance, the narrative captures with depth and grace an era which now lives only in history and in the minds of a remaining few who lived through those momentous times.

Harihar Panda
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Harihar Panda was born in 1932, into a traditional landlord’s family of Orissa (present-day Odisha). He joined the Civil Service after completing his post-graduate studies and gaining a degree in Law. During his term with the Civil Service, he successfully undertook varied judicial and administrative assignments. Post-retirement, he taught at the University Law College, Bhubaneswar, specializing in Constitutional and Administrative Laws. He has also served as Chief Executive of a literary journal. His abiding love of literature has richly endowed his life and he continues to read and write into his eighties. Harihar Panda can be reached at: hariharpanda@hotmail.com