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Two Angels on Earth and Their Life Path

By R P Samal | PUBLISHED: 27, Aug 2010, 20:26 pm IST | UPDATED: 10, Mar 2017, 11:32 am IST

Two Angels on Earth and Their Life Path Athamalik is a remote village in Orissa, where civilization has made but a little impression.  When Pradyumna was born, little did any one know in that village that God would design his life on path of love. As a child he was brought up in the lap of nature and was spontaneous in his indifference to books. One day his worried postman father consulted his horoscope and was told by the fortuneteller that his son would marry a Taurus girl belonging to a very affluent family from outside the state.  Pradyumn who was eavesdropping the whole episode dared to dream the impossible.                                

He continued to be irregular at school and paid regular inattention to study. A painter by instinct, he painted whatever he could find as canvass: on the earthen pitchers freshly brought from the market, on mute looking mud walls, and on blank sheets of paper. After haphazard schooling, he tried his luck with science in the local college but failed. For failed subjects, thrice he attempted suicide, and failed.  Then he decided to come to Shantiniketan, but acute poverty drove him out and thus he landed up at Khalikote to study art but that did not last long.

While studying in Delhi College of Art, he shot into fame as portraiture by drawing the portrait of Indira Gandhi. He sought permission from authorities to sit under holy fountain at Connaught place and draw portraits. It is here that he met Charllote, his princess of dreams. Charlotte comes from a Royal Noble dynasty in Sweden and was a student in London. She had come to India in search of the prince who she had often seen in her dreams.

It happened by chance that she stopped at the unknown artist to have her portrait sketched.  Suddenly, both their eyes met as if to read in each other the poetry of the beyond, and thus in few seconds the immortal story of love was born. While drawing her portrait, his unruly heart was vibrating against his rib cage as if someone in him was painting a dream into reality. The naughty boy of Orissa mustered up all courage and asked, ‘Are you a Taurus?’ She said ‘yes’.

Suddenly the window in the back of his mind opened and he could recollect the silver threads of the golden prediction the village fortune teller had made to his father that his son would have his bride from a very far away land. Without mincing words he stammered out, ‘then you will be my wife.’ For Charllote, Pradyumn’s proposal was too divine to merit denial. It was like all her dreams coming true in few heaven sent moments. She gave him a convincing consent smile that totally changed the artist’s canvas of life. His otherwise clouded sky got painted with limitless rainbows of nameless colours.

It was 17th Dec 1975. That night many questions entered into his mind. Why 19-year-old noble Charlotte had to drive ten thousand kilometers  by her own car from Sweden to India? Why she came up with a red rose and whispered “I love you my life partner” when there were ten million people in New Delhi. What extra qualities she found in this fool of Orissa when he was neither rich nor handsome? The whole night he was thoughtful and sleepless.                                                  

He took her to his village. In a lover’s village everything looked lovely. What impressed her most was that their nature and human nature were no different. The village folks were as simple as the leaves on the trees. Love in their hearts and flowing water in the dancing rivulet were all poetry of no words. She was quiet, elegant and dignified like her motherland. She understood him despite his poverty and unimpressive background. He suddenly grew tall and touched clouds.

By the will of destiny they had their quiet wedding with consent of his father. Time flew in the endless whisper of sweet nothings and having soulful experience of each other’s being. After a brief span of love and romance she flew back and he came back to the Earth again.

Tender feelings expressed through numerous letters, emotions poured into telephone calls brought no solace to their injuries of separation. When melancholy of the separated lovers became unbearable, he better willed himself to cycle the whole deadly distance to the land of his sweet heart than to die of broken heart.

He undertook the inconveniences of a long journey on a second hand bicycle, which was timeworn and needed more of repair and rest than crossing international boundaries under depressing conditions.  Since the roads were harsh, he had to change his bicycles five times without the stray thought of changing his mind even once. It was as if to say an emphatic no to his will to go back. The chill touch of winter in Amritsar turned into brutal rain of snow in Afghanistan. But his journey continued unabated unmindful of the menacing weather and he always felt the presence of an invisible angel around him during the whole trip.

At the city of Herat he was elated to paint the portrait of his Highness Dr. Kulam Ali Aum, the Governor who was kind enough to extend his visa for few more weeks for him to stay in Afghanistan. He had no proper map. It was not needed because there was only one road from east to west in Afghanistan built by Russians. He knew that he should move in that direction where sun was setting everyday. Mr. Alp Karaosm, Ambassador of Turkey in Kabul gladly gave him a transit visa for Turkey after he sketched him. An Australian girl Ms. Sari helped him in a Kabul disco to arrange visa for Iran in a way that had no equal in words. He crossed the very cold sand of Gazni with thought of Mohammed Ghori from history occupying his mind.

It was a wonderful experience at the coast of Caspean Sea in Iran where he slept a couple of nights under open sky. In Turkey he found it easy to hitchhike by trucks. Truck drivers were fond of their portraits. He faced no problem in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia but in Germany police detained him suspecting him to be a drug dealer. They did not find any thing in his bag except the artist’s portfolio and newspaper clippings on his paintings exhibition in Kabul. The police chief understood that he was married to a Swedish national who had a “Von” title. After getting his portrait drawn, the police chief wished him good-luck and was pleased to let him proceed. On the way he watched the appearance of nature in the countryside and painted portraits of people and won their hearts to keep him warm.

But the cold grew more intense to dampen his confidence. His body became benumbed, heart heavy and the distance looked so mournful in its limitlessness on the unending roads. Sometimes tears of nostalgia for homeland welled up in his eyes.  But he was so much wrapped up in the contemplation of Charlotte that the ordinary in him got changed into extra-ordinary. Keeping life on one side and death on the other he advanced towards his destination.  He was about to collapse in extreme conditions but the cruelty of day’s painful labour of cycling used to evaporate in the dreams at night. After full four months of pedaling he reached Sweden on 28th. May 1977 dirty, exhausted and barely had the strength to stand steady on his feet.

At Denmark border a lady named Christina smuggled him into Sweden where he met an Immigration Officer and revealed the story. There was a frown on the cheek of the officer, he narrowed his eyes in dislike at the young man and said in a contemptuous tone, which was not unusual to the men of his class in speaking to a non-white Asian. He was not ready to believe that the daughter from a Royal Noble family could select such a non-white short man as her groom. He asserted in a firm voice ‘your would-be father-in-law is flawless in firing guns. If you love your life, run away from this country right now.  Otherwise he will shoot you to death at first sight’.

For the man who had crossed thousand miles through mountainous terrains, peopleless deserts, tiger populated jungles and had often narrowly escaped jaws of death, these unkind words failed to harrow his feelings. He was not moved by the dramatics of his threat and hence paid no attention to him. He reached out to a public telephone and got connected to his sweet heart. The voice at the other end of the receiver made thousand buds to bloom in his thorn filled life and he was overwhelmed with a new kind of joy barely known to the mortals. Lifetime of dream turned into happening.

He felt himself lifted up into the air towards ecstasy when she herself came driving down to say Vel Comen Pradyumna, welcome to Sweden. But moments later he started shivering in his shoes to encounter her gun-wielding father. He was speechless with fascination when toughest man gave him the most decent reception. A loving handshake, an affectionate hug drove away all his apprehensions.  The pencil sketch of their love suddenly got filled out with colours of approval from the elders. Love of man for man shocked all the orthodox conventions, upset the age-old tradition and connected human hearts with melody of the eternal.

Lotta with Pradumna

Charllote, now Lota has relaxed attitudes towards religion and prays Lord Jagannath at home with unerring regularity for bliss. For her, their marriage was not unusual because they were husband and wife for the last several births. For Pradyumna, Charllote is his life, love, art and everything. Swedish Government in honour of their love has taken due care to produce films to document this immortal love of the century. The orient and the occident met and merged to enhance the beauty of human nature. His paintings have been exhibited in major cities of the world and have found places in the prestigious UNICEF greeting cards.

Pradyumna is well known in Sweden as an artist and is working as an Adviser, Art and Culture, under the Swedish Government. When asked how he could find the reserve of will to cover such a long distance to which he replies ‘It is the beckoning of love and will of the Lord.’ Today varied experience in his life had strengthened his conviction that with justice in his heart, man can have beauty in his character. With beauty in his character he can have harmony at home. With harmony at home there will be order in the country and with the order in the country there will be peace in the world.

They have a son Karle and a daughter Emile with the latter playing on flute which means filling sweet melodies in the heart of a hollow bamboo: truly inheriting the instinct of her parents.

Their Love story is known to every household in Sweden. One day in the train, an old lady was full of tears while reading their story in a glossy magazine.  Pradyumna, who was sitting next to her, revealed that he was the same lover. She could not believe it. He fished out his purse and showed their marriage photograph. The old lady became so ecstatic that she went on kissing him all over his face.

Tagore once said, ‘My salutations are to them who knew me imperfect and loved me.’ When Rabindranath wrote this, he did not know that one-day in Sweden a sweet woman called Charllote would be born to live up to these immortal lines.