Subir Roy, the Revolutionary
- Fahim Khan, December 2007
They say that each one of us has a story to tell. This is the story of my comrade, the revolutionary.
Subir Roy, now a respected and retired schoolteacher, was born in
Mr. Roy returned to the city of his birth under strained circumstances at the age of 25 and led a miserable underground existence for two years. His parents came back to rescue him and Subir Roy gradually regained his health and his sanity. He worked in the corporate sector for nine years, got married and was persuaded by his wife to become a teacher. He now lives in Kolkata and has become a grandfather.
As if this were not enough to be the plot of a Hindi movie, behind all this his Subir Roy’s mental condition: He claims that his brain is being monitored since 1975 by artificial intelligence which may not be earthly in origin. His doctors say that he is suffering from hallucinations. Let us turn the pages…
Born in Free
Subir Roy was born in
He nearly died of whooping cough at the tender age of one month. Subir vaguely remembers the servants crying when his maternal grandfather, Mohit Kumar Sengupta, passed away; as well as the family’s pet greyhound coming home bloodied after a fight with an Alsatian.
The family moved to
Happy Childhood in
Subir attended Van Horne School,
Noticeable at an early age were the hand movements that he called nervous mannerisms. At age ten, he started the weekly, Roy Family News, whuich indicated his early desire to become a journalist. Subir stood first at age twelve in the spelling bee organised by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal and won academic scholarships every year from grade seven. In high school, Subir had a massive crush on a ballerina that eventually crashed. Subir was an ardent supporter of the social-democratic New Democratic Party and fought for issues such as Medicare (free medical care for all) and Capital Gains tax for the rich.
At age seventeen, Subir entered
Subir took Honours in Maths-Physics in his second year, but failed miserably as he couldn’t ‘concentrate’, except in chess. He switched to Majors in Psychology, which he passed. At age twenty, Subir moved out and began to live in the ‘ghetto’, an expression for small, rented rooms near McGill. He dropped out and began to experiment with marijuana and hashish, which he took for a year. Although he had many friends of both genders, Subir had no sexual contact, perhaps due to his parents’ upbringing.
Around this time, there was a radical change in Subir’s political views. Disillusioned with liberalism after the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, Subir joined the New Left movement. At age nineteen, Subir’s father made him apply for Canadian citizenship. Prior to this, Subir had been considered the minor son of a diplomat and had not thought about citizenship. Subir was told that it would take five years for him to become a landed immigrant, and his father warned him that if he were to be arrested and spent time in jail during this probationary period, he could be deported, under the laws then prevailing in
Subir rejoined McGill and successfully completed the third year of the four-year course. 1968 was an eventful one for revolutionaries all over the world: The Cultural Revolution in
How the Transformation Started
Subir Roy was well known in New Left circles in
One evening in May, one Marcus Kunian, who was then considered a paid informer of the CIA, approached Subir in his room in the ghetto and started to talk about the Cultural Revolution in
In June 1968, Subir came to
In July, Subir (now back at McGill) attended a series of meetings organised by Hardial Bains and the transformation was complete. For the next thirty years, Subir Roy was to contribute financially and otherwise to Maoist organisations.
To the youthful and ingenuous Subir Roy, Hardial Bains was a demi-god. He was a walking encyclopaedia with infallible reasoning. His every utterance was TRUTH. He was to be obeyed without question. He was like a religious leader who mesmerised his flock. At the mere suggestion of Comrade Bains, Subir Roy left the university for good and became a full-time party worker funded, of course and throughout, by his father.
Only when the young party workers had picked up a smattering of Marxism-Leninism and had begun to think for themselves, did Comrade Bains begin to find fault with them and hounded them out of the party for which they had sacrificed so much.
Subir Roy never made it to any top post as he was considered (and rightly so) to be a ‘bourgeois idealist’ and not a ‘thoroughgoing materialist’. For five years,
The Literature Table
Thousands of young people across the globe were ready to die for their cause in the late ’60s and early ’70s and Subir Roy was one of them. Like many others, he has secrets that he is not willing to reveal; however, the following story will illustrate one of the many adventures that he had:
It was late in July of 1969. Roy and Sheldon Glick (a Canadian worker and the leader of the two) were sent by Hardial Bains to start a party unit in
Subir Roy approached the student council and got his organisation, called Dalhousie Student Movement, registered with the student council. The young comrades set up their literature table and started their own newsletter, called Dalhousie Student, which sold like hotcakes.
Alarmed, Bruce Gillis called in the police on the specious argument that the tax-exempt status of the building would be affected.
This sensational event made headlines in the local press, radio and television and even found mention in the distant Peking Review. Yet it found no mention in the Indian media, preoccupied as it was by the Naxalite movement. As a matter of fact, the Indian media has hardly ever reported anything about Hardial Bains and his Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) until Bains’ death in 1998.
The Deportation Order
In November 1970, three racists, led by the son of the former Mayor, confronted Roy in front of the party bookshop (located in the heart of the black ghetto) that he was taking care of. They shook their fists at him and shouted, “Go back to
The next morning,
The second ‘criminal’ offence took place on May 20, 1971. About 100 supporters of the CPC(M-L) gathered in downtown
A couple of months later, Subir Roy was served with a deportation order. In order to buy time,
The judge, a motherly sort of lady, asked
It was early in July of 1973 that Hardial Bains asked Subir Roy to go to
Subir Roy was told to approach his father for money and to fly to
Subir made the necessary inquiries from a phone both and went to his father and asked him for Canadian $500. Without telling anyone else anything, Subir Roy booked an Eastern Airlines flight to
In the first week of July 1973, Subir Roy returned to the city of his birth. There was no one to receive him (the comrade had not received the telegram as he was in Punjab) and so Roy, with Canadian $1000 hidden under his left sock, took a yellow cab to Connaught Place and checked into a hotel under his party name. Both the cabbie and the owner of the hotel were happy to be paid in dollars. The next morning,
Underground Life in
In November 1973, Subir Roy met ‘Sharma’ and repudiated his political line. Through a series of inner-party articles, he won over the majority of the Delhi State Organizing Committee. They then joined the Arrah Committee, which was the forerunner to the CPI(M-L) to be led by Vinod Mishra. Hardial Bains sent one of his men to meet
In February 1975,
One day, while walking in the open air, Subir Roy began to hear the voices again, now constantly. He thought to himself, “This is uncanny.” While he thought this, he heard these very words and could see them spelt out. Confused, angry and frightened,
For the next two months, the voices would lecture him all day and all night, explaining that they were monitoring his brain and were on the same wavelength as his brain waves. Years later, they told
In August 1975, Subir Roy’s parents came to
The Train Incident
In March 1975, Subir Roy realised that the voices he heard were not just sounds coming from two-way micro-phones (if such things existed) but a concerted effort to monitor his brain: he decided to get out of range. He had to protect his comrades at any cost. Bewildered and irrational, he thought of fleeing to
He boarded the train which had started moving and searched everywhere for his berth. Finally, the TTE told him that there was no such berth or compartment and the ticket sold to him was a fraudulent one!
What happened in the next couple of hours is a blurred memory.
Some time later, Subir Roy was led out of the train (sans suitcase) and was told, “This is
When Subir Roy finally reached his home, he found that he had no money, no suitcase and no passport. When he looked in the mirror, he observed that his face had turned black, his hair was on end and the pupils of his eyes dilated. Three days had passed and Subir Roy had not eaten or drunk anything or gone to the toilet. He had been drugged with ‘truth serum’! It took
Lost and Found
Two months later
The good doctor (who by then had a fairly good idea of what
His months in
In the summer of 1975, Subir received a letter from his mother, who had by this time found out where he was and what he was doing, encouraging him and praising him for ‘fighting against all the evils’. Subir Roy’s parents returned to
Subir Roy’s life had been marked by high drama in his twenties. He would now very, very gradually return to ‘normalcy’ and a return to reality under the loving care of his mother and father. By April 1976,
Corporate Life in
Subir Roy worked for three years as an accounts clerk, three as a salesman and three as a manager. This corporate life did not suit his temperament, his personality or his talents but it did serve to bring him into the mainstream.
By this time, Subir Roy had deduced that his voices, whether artificial intelligence or not, whether of earthly origin or not, were not in a position to give him away. He renewed contacts with the CPI(M-L), this time, with the Satyanarain Singh faction. He met Singh himself in 1978 and, at the time of his demise in
In 1978, Subir Roy managed to convince an attractive young woman, whom he had met while on voluntary work for an eye doctor, to come to his home daily to teach him Bengali. Sikha Chatterjee took it upon herself as a challenge to wean him away from the party.
After a year the two, now in love, got married with the blessings of both sets of parents. (Subir Roy took the party’s permission to undergo a Hindu ceremony.) Sikha, with her down-to-earth practical nature, complemented
Meanwhile, in the early and middle eighties, Subir Roy had approached the then editors of the Indian Express, The Statesman and The Telegraph for a job as a reporter but was put off by these worthy gentlemen under various excuses.
Prompted by his wife’s desire that he get paper qualifications for the French that he already knew, Roy got himself enrolled at the Alliance Française de Calcutta in 1983 as a private candidate and got Mention Tres Honorable. A year later, he received a diploma in Commercial French (after taking the course) and got Mention Bien.
St. Paul’s School,
Much to the chagrin of his parents, Subir Roy – with his wife and baby boy – was separated from his parents once again in 1985, when he got a job at St. Paul’s School,
At the beginning, Subir Roy was completely raw, not even aware that the children had to go to the dining hall before the teachers. Slowly and slowly, he learned public school etiquette.
It was at The Assam Valley School, Balipara, Assam, which he joined in April 1995 (bringing his wife, son and twin daughters) that Subir Roy went flat out again. It was here that he was the happiest and got the most satisfaction from his job.
The man whom Subir Roy now admires the most is young enough, at age 36, to be his son: Derek Mountford, the sitting headmaster of AVS.
Subir Roy and Maoism
Subir Roy severed his contacts with the Maoists in July 1998 after an association of 30 years.
The difference between the two countries is that in
Subir Roy believes that the majority of the world’s countries will be led by communist parties by the end of the century.
Subir Roy and Voices
Subir Roy says that understanding how his voices work can be done only by those who experience them – it is impossible to explain. He has been experiencing them every minute, every second, every moment since February 1975. They have been trying to control his thoughts in his waking moments and making him dream in his sleep. There has not been a single moment when they have not been with him in over 32 years. The voices are highly intelligent, rational and scientific.
An interesting footnote: when the ‘voices’ first started ‘monitoring’ his brain, they warned him, “If anyone believes your story, you will be shot dead!” Hello?