The man whose cremation was to take place had never been a favourite of mine. While I personally could be anything- good or bad, righteous or unjust, but the fact remains that I always had the highest regard for people who have genuinely and truthfully abided by laws. Thus to take a random name, I always admired Devesh Chaturvedi, who had been my District Magistrate in Pithoragarh and Deoria, for the simple fact that Devesh believed in the supremacy of law- for one and all, including himself.
From, whatever I had heard of Shashank Shekhar Singh, Triple S as he was often called, I was always wary of him. His image in my mind was that of a person who was not made for law, but for whom law molded and amended itself. And I can say with surety that I was not the only person who thought in this particular manner. A very large section of the bureaucracy often echoed this feeling, when talking in their private conversations.
But as the saying goes- Nothing succeeds like success and Shashank Shekhar succeeded in Uttar Pradesh bureaucracy like no one had before him and possibly no one will again in a long time to come.
The five year period 2007-2012 definitely added to his image, power and persona. It made him a larger than life figure- at least in the power corridors of UP, with its reverberations being seen naturally all across the State and also in the country.
Thus Shashank Shekhar was a mysterious figure in the eyes and opinions of many who equated him with power and authority.
When his death came all too suddenly and all too quickly after his retirement only a few ago, it shocked most of the people. While not knowing much about others, at least my natural feeling was that of strange remorse and vacuum. Being truthful to myself, I would admit that it was not primarily guided by some genuine emotional outburst for the departed soul, because it had never been so, but was the result of the strange eeriness that death often accompanies.
When coming back from the office yesterday, I saw a large gathering at Bhaisa Kund, the Lucknow funeral ground, my feet automatically stopped in strange fascination of death.
It was here that I once again realized that whether one hated or loved Shashank Shekar, the fact remains that he was a powerful persona, someone who commanded authority and had aura around him- something which had not left him even after death.
In the midst of the people present there one could see many powerful people- bureaucrats, police officers, politicians etc, along with media persons rushing around to get a snap of the man who lived and died like a King. Even the way his body had been wrapped so elegantly and delicately seemed to be a homage to the man who was always believed to have fine tastes in life.
My stay at Bhaisa Kund convinced me once more that this man was different from others and he was born to command.