In the first episode Prof K M Tiwary narrated what had led to his involvement in the political activities as a student at Patna College.
In this episode he relates the story of why he could not get admission to BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Patna College despite his good results in IA (Intermediate of Arts). Here he also tells the story of his adventures of swimming across Ganga in Patna.
Me: Sir, why did you have to leave Patna College in B A?
Prof Tiwary: By the end of my Intermediate Exams I had started realising that my drift towards Communism was taking a toll on my studies and I must do something about it. So I made up my mind to move away from Patna College, known as the best in Bihar for the study of Arts then. Any other college nearby which could match its reputation was either University of Allahabad or Banaras Hindu University in Uttar Pradesh.
So immediately after the results of Intermediate I went to Allahabad, Prayagraj now, to seek admission in B A (Bachelor of Arts) there. I stayed there with a distant relative in a hostel. My results for I A were very good. I had no doubts about my getting admitted to the best college in the university. But I was disappointed to learn that the admissions had been closed. I was late. Then I moved to BHU. I had to face the same problem there too. The sessions of Allahabad and BHU were a little ahead of that of Patna University. By the time Patna declared its results, Allahabad and BHU would close their windows for admissions. So finally I had to come back disappointed to knock at the doors of Patna College once again, not knowing that even their doors had been closed for me.
On my arrival I went straight to meet the then Principal, Prof K P Sinha. I got the chit of my name sent and I was called inside.
The Principal said, “Are you K M Tiwary?”
I said, “Yes Sir”
Then he said, “We don’t have any place for the likes of you.”
After that he rang the bell. His chaprasi came and I had no choice except to leave his room. I was pretty upset by the Principal’s response.
I realised that the Principal had received an adverse report from the hostel authorities about my activism in the college and the university. He refused to admit me probably because of my affiliations to the Communist Party.
The Principal of Patna College used to live in the Principal’s residence in the campus. The hostels like Jackson and Minto were in the same campus, about 100 meters away from the Principal’s residence. The best students in the merit list would be allotted Jackson Hostel. After that they would be provided accommodation in Minto. I had secured very good marks in the Matriculation Board Exams. So I had been a boarder of Jackson Hostel.
The Principal, of course, was at the top in the hierarchy of the hostel administration. Below him was a warden, who would be a senior teacher of the college, to oversee all the hostels. Each hostel then would have a superintendent to take care of the respective hostel. The residence of the superintendent was attached to the hostel. Moreover there were assistants under the superintendent to monitor the day to day affairs of the hostel. Those assistants were known then as ward servants. Very often those ward servants would spy on the activities of the students and share the reports to the superintendents.
The superintendent of the hostel would take a round of the hostel once in a while but the ward servants would be on duty round the clock. There were different schedules for the mess, study hours etc in the hostel. In the night the lights would be off after 11 pm, by which we were supposed to be in bed for sleep.
Once I recall a ward servant was on a round. He came to my room to see if I was present or not. I was away from the hostel but I had arranged the bed in such a way that it appeared that somebody was sleeping there. I had covered my pillow with the quilt properly to hoodwink the ward servant. But he already had some prior information of my absence. He pulled the quilt and discovered that I was not in the bed. Immediately he reported the matter to the superintendent.
Next morning I was called by the superintendent and asked to explain why I had been absent from the hostel the previous night. The superintendent also inquired about my activities and affiliations with the Communist Party and cautioned me not to participate in such activities further.
Those were the years after the Independence in India when the Congress Party was in absolute power in the country and also in Bihar. Communist Party was emerging as an aggressive opposition in the state. So the authorities kept a strict vigil on the activities of the Communists. Later the Party was banned in Bihar for some time and its leaders were put in jail.
Once I remember that some AISF students of Patna College hostels were participating in a protest outside the college, in the city, and they were arrested. During the same period some unknown persons had set the old gymnasium building in Patna College on fire. The police of the local police station, Pirbahore Thana, then linked that incident of fire with the protest by the Communists and accused the boarders who had been arrested in the city of arson. I had nothing to do with that particular protest though.
Still the hostel authorities had been aware of my involvement in what they would consider the illegal political activities of the Communist Party. My occasional absence from the hostel to attend the Party meetings had come to their notice. And it was in this background that I was refused admission in BA at Patna College.
Me: Please share the story of how you swam across the river Ganga in Patna?
Prof Tiwary: Another incident had taken place in 1948 while I had just joined Jackson Hostel in first year(I A). One afternoon I went to the Patna College Ghat, popularly known as Batheja Ghat, along with one of my friends from Arah Zila School. We both decided to swim across the river Ganga.
I hail from a village named Nainijor which is on the bank of Ganga and where it was common for the youngsters like us to cross the river. We were confident we could do that in Patna too. We didn’t realise that the river’s bed becomes much wider at Patna because of the two tributaries, Sone and Gandak, that join Ganga just before. The current also is higher. By all means it was a very wild decision to swim across the river.
We both embarked on our swimming mission out of mere impulse. We started together but I overtook my friend soon. When I reached the middle of the river, I looked back and saw that my friend had suddenly decided to return. He was actually tired. But his decision to turn back could have been dangerous because a large ship carrying passengers from Mahendru Ghat to Pahleja Ghat was getting very close to him. He escaped being caught in the range of the ship by just a few seconds. I, on the other hand, kept the spirit and speed and continued swimming. Towards the end I was also getting exhausted. When I reached the other side, the people there asked me where I had come from. They were amazed to hear that I had come from Patna College Ghat because I had not been swept away by the high current of the river as much as I should have been. It is almost impossible for anyone to cross a river like Ganga straight. Normally you would be swept at least a kilometer or so diagonally to the other bank by the waves. My diagonal distance was much less.
By the time I returned back to Batheja Ghat it was dark and my friends had already gone out in search of me by boat. I disembarked from a boat in what you would call the undergarments that I used to wear then. They were fully wet, clung to my body. The teachers of the college were having a party on campus then and I had to wade through the celebrations to go to the hostel. No wonder the word got around my crossing the river in the campus soon. The authorities’ decision to refuse me admission in B A was not linked to this incident though. It had happened a year or so earlier.
Much later when I became a lecturer I swam across Ganga once again. It must have been sometime in the late fifties. It was the same Ghat of Patna College. Dr R K Sinha, the Head of the English department, had accompanied us by a small boat generally known as Dengi. I along with another colleague (I don’t remember his name. He was also from Bhojpur region) had crossed the river swimming. It was a planned event and we had had fun. Dr Sinha had taken what we call as Sun Bath on the sand on the opposite bank of the river.
Dr Arun Jee