National

Dennis Meredith, The Recluse Of McCluskieganj Living In The Past

Dennis Meredith returned to McCluskieganj after the death of his father. Everyone will tell you he doesn’t like to talk and dwells in the time gone by. In the Gunj, time is what you have.

Dennis with his daughter Karen
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Everyone will tell you in McCluskieganj that Dennis doesn’t like to talk, that he lives in the past with motors and machines that date back to the 1960s, and after people left, he became a recluse.

On the road that leads to the railway crossing, a small sign says Hermitage. You take the lane and a small gate appears on the left. A dog barks in the distance and tall trees that have creepers hanging like curtains shield the view.

“You spoke in English. Like a lady. How could I refuse?” Dennis says, leading the way through a garden that hasn’t been tended to in a long while. His mother was an Adivasi and his father moved here after his retirement from the iron ore mines in Jharkhand. His father bought two houses on 8.36 acres of land. “It was only Rs 7,500,” he says. Dennis was the only son and when his father died, he returned to the Gunj after working in Asansol.

Over the years, he witnessed the collapse of the place. Time is what you have here. You have the time to remember. Like the man who was the village alcoholic who died in the coffin where he had begun to sleep in his last days. Like Harry Mendies who wrote the receipt of the sale of his property on a piece of paper with the lead from the bullet while on a hunt.

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