Train journey from Calicut was first through Madras only. Then through Jolarpet touching Vijayawada, Itarsi, Jhansi, Agra etc. A regular point where I got down was Itarsi junction. One or two comrades will be waiting there, near the place where my compartment will stop. I will be standing at the door with a package which will be handed over to them. Since the train will stop a few minutes, we will have tea, discuss union matters. Signals on, I get in to train.
The package was two dozens of Coaltar (carbolic) Soaps manufactured by the Kerala Soaps and Oils Ltd, the state owned soap company with HQ at Calicut. It was intended for Com. S.R.Nayak, Asst. General Secretary and Circle Secretary of AITE Union Class III, M.P.Circle, who was staying at Jabalpur. He was the comrade, who fought against the revisionists and built up a strong base for the progressives in M.P. His struggle in the union for correct policies is an epic itself.
Why Coaltar Soaps for Nayak? He was one of AGS of E-III elected at Bhopal AIC in 1991, in which I was elected as President and started staying along with Com. Moni Bose, GS. Com. Nayak as AGS used to come at CHQ now and then and help in the work. Later, other AGSs like Com.M.N.Reddy, P.Abhimanyu, P.Asoka Babu, P.Appaji, Debashish Dutta Gupta and many other senior comrades had been at HQrs helping in the union functioning. It is to be mentioned here that all of them came taking their own earned leave and spending all expenses from their own pocket. Union could not bear the expenses being in difficult financial position. No fund was handed over by the defeated leadership. For me, their presence was helpful in more than one way. I am a poor cook and depended mostly on hotels. Breakfast will be from a nearby small tea shop with four pieces of bread with heavily coated butter. Lunch from nearby dhaba, mostly Chole Batture, very tasty but full of oil. Both were not good for me, but somehow managed. Sometimes when I get time, I will cook rice, vegetables, chilly, etc all put together in the cooker, boil it and eat with curd and salt. Not very tasty, but good for health. When our comrades will be there, they will prepare tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner. Com. Abhimanyu used to make excellent tasty food.
Com. Nayak was in Delhi during his turn at HQrs during the 1990s. He had forgotten to bring bathing soap. I had additional coal tar soap of Kerala Soaps and I gave it to him. After some days he confided to me that he is feeling better after using the soap. He was suffering from actute psoriatic arthritis which will cause much itching, swelling of joints,damage to nails etc. After using the soap,the pain was reduced and feeling better. From then on whenever, I return from Calicut, I used to bring the soaps for him which will be collected at Itarsi by his comrades.
In between, Kerala Soaps and Oils Ltd. was closed due to loss. I used to purchase the soaps from Factory itself, which was near my house at Vellayil. Since it was closed, I went to the shops and purchased. Then again I started to go to many shops to purchase whatever they got. At last I again went to the factory, with help of some union comrade, collected whatever old dry soaps were there. That was the last time I could supply the soaps to Com. Nayak. I spoke to Com. Suseela Gopalan, State Minister, who assured that every effort is being made to reopen the factory.
In between I took to Nayak some coaltar soaps from a Mangalore factory, but it did not clinch. The ingredients may be different. On way to Cuba to attend WFTU Conference, we delegates from India had a stop at Jordan for one day. I bought soaps and creams made from the mud and waters of Dead Sea which is world famous for skin diseases. I gave them to Com. Nayak, but they also were not beneficial. My journey to Calicut also reduced after my wife came to Delhi after retirement.
Com.Nayak passed away on 8th August 2013 at AIIMS at New Delhi after aggravation of the disease. His sacrifice to the union can not be overestimated.