In the previous episode Prof Kapil Muni Tiwary had narrated how he had become active in the student politics while he was pursuing BA Honours (English) in H D Jain College Arah in 1950.
In this episode he shares a few anecdotes related to his activism.
Me: Sir, could you share a few anecdotes of your activism during the graduation at H D Jain College Arah?
Tar Par Ka Bangla
Once I was asked by the Party(the Communist Party of India) to go to a nearby town, Dalmianagar which was a thriving industrial town in those days. Now there are no industries.
I had to contact a leader named Mr Das who was working there underground for the trade unions. The Communist Party of India had been banned during that period.
I started for Dalmianagar in the morning by train. I was a student and I didn’t have money to spend on the day-to-day expenses of the Party. So I didn’t buy the ticket and convinced the Train Ticket Inspector about my affiliations to the Party and its cause. Impressed, he not only allowed me to board the train but also helped me go out of the station gate at Sasaram.
I must have reached Sasaram in the afternoon. It was raining heavily. I had the book, English Prose Style, by Herbert Read in my hand.
By the time I reached Dalmianagar Bazaar, I was drenched. Even the book in my hand was wet. I took shelter in the shop of a Mithaiwala where I ate something with tea.
When I left the shop, the sun had already set. The rain was slow. And I quickened my pace. The road was getting enveloped by darkness and I kept walking. The downpour started again. So I started looking for some shelter. Seeing a flickering light from a house nearby, I went and knocked on the door.
A man came out and said, “What do you want?”
When I said, “I am a stranger here, I am going to a place named Tar Par Ka Bangla. I shall stay here only till the rain stops. Could you guide me about its location?”
He spoke very rudely, “As soon as the rain stops, you move from here, I don’t know anything about any Bangla.”
I stood under the shade only for a while and left it immediately after the rain slowed.
Once again in that dark night I began my journey to Tar par Ka Bangla, about which I knew the least. Wading and groping on that lifeless road on that rainy night, tired and hungry, I felt the road, the rain, and the night would never end.
Finally I got some relief when I reached Dalmianagar railway station at about midnight. Little did I realise that walking from Sasaram to Dalmianagar station I had covered a distance of 21 kms that day. Relief I got, no doubt, at the station, but only from the rain. There was no scope either for food or rest. I kept moving from here to there in the passengers’ waiting room for the morning to arrive. The only company I had was that of dogs.
As soon as the day broke, I found out the location of Tar Par Ka Bangla . I met Comrade Roy who was supposed to guide me about Comrade Das. Comrade Roy was from Barbigha. He was living and working there for the community of fishermen. Much later I got to know that he married a girl from that community and settled there permanently. I took a bath and spread the clothes in the Sun to get dry. The food that I had after that was very precious. I was having it after more than 12 hours and I ate to my heart’s content.
Das’ whereabouts were not known to anyone. He remained underground for fear of being arrested. Comrade Roy gave me the address of a Party courier who helped me meet Das at an unknown place. I remember Das and I sat on a dilapidated Chabutara (pucca platform) and discussed the affairs of the Party. He asked me to visit and invite a skilled labourer named Mathura Singh to attend a meeting that was to be organized the next day. Mathura Singh was also active as a trade union leader and Das wanted to seek his support for the Party.
I went to meet Mathura Singh at his house in the cluster of the workers’ colony in Dalmianagar in the evening. As I knocked, a lady opened the door. She was the wife of Mathura Singh.
She said in Bhojpuri, “ Ka Babua, ka baat baa (My dear boy, what is the matter) ?”
I told her about my being a member of the Party and also about the purpose of my visit. She asked me to be seated and herself went inside to inform her husband about my visit. Mathura Singh was asleep. Probably he was addicted to drinking. I didn’t know what exactly transpired between the husband and the wife. But to my great shock Mathura Singh came running from his room brandishing a revolver and shouting that he would kill me. Seeing death face to face I froze with fear for a few moments. The next moment his wife came between us. I don’t remember what were the exact words that she spoke to calm him down but she chided him for his behaviour with an innocent looking boy who had come as a guest.
I was still trembling with fear. She comforted me with some endearing words in Bhojpuri and made me sit down. Then she baked some Littis and offered them with Chane ka Saag for me to eat. Those Littis and Saag served by Mathura Singh’s wife are still etched in my memory. They were so delicious. Probably I didn’t have such Littis ever again in life.
After dinner I came to know the reason for Mathura Singh’s anger. His wife told that a comrade had eloped with the daughter of his relative. He was angry not just with the Party but anyone related to the Party.
The next day I attended a meeting of the Party and left for Arah. I didn’t know the details of who all had come in the meeting. But in Arah I was given all those details by one of my classmates. He told me about each and every person who had participated in the meeting.
He said, “Baba, a member of Forward Block and a sympathiser of the Party who was present there was in fact a police informer. I got to know all that from him.”
My classmate used to address me as Baba. He himself was working for the Intelligence department of the State Police. He also told me that the names of all the Party members including mine were in the files of the police department.
A few days later I went to Patna in connection with some Party work. I was going towards the hostels of Patna College when I saw the Hostel Superintendents, Prof J and Prof M (J & M have been used here to hide the real names of the professors: J for Jackson Hostel and M for Minto Hostel) coming from the opposite direction. As they saw me, they stopped.
Prof J said, “कैसे हैं (How are you)?
I already carried the pain of the expulsion from Patna College due to my affiliations to the Party. His question had rubbed salt in the wound.
I blurted out in anger, “I am still working for the Party. Do you think I would leave the Party after you all got me expelled from college?”
Hearing that Prof M said to Prof J, “चलिए, चलिए। कॉलेज चलिए (Let’s go to the college now). They both left without speaking a word.
The Garage and my Tamil friend
The place where I stayed in Arah was a motor garage attached to a building known as Professors’ Lodge. The professors of Jain College lived in that building and I lived in the garage on rent. The motor garage had no motor. It was my place of residence in Arah for two years.
In the name of furniture I just had a hand woven cot which was kept along the wall. There was a muddy road on the other side of the wall. That road went towards our college, which was not very far from there. The wall had a rickety window but it could not be opened. There was a cluster of houses in our neighbourhood.
In one such house a student of the college lived with his family. They were from Tamil Nadu. The father was a tutor of the children of a rich person named Hari Ji in Arah who had given them that house for accommodation. The student knew me in the college. One day he came to meet me at my place and we became friends. We both were smokers. So smoking became a common link of our friendship.
By that time I had already become addicted to smoking. I used to smoke a well-known brand of cigarettes, Captain. He was also looking for a place and probably a companion with whom he could smoke. He couldn’t do that in his house. So the Garage became his favourite haunt. While smoking we would have discussions on a number of topics of national and international importance. He used to participate in the debate competitions in the college too.
When his father came to know about our friendship he invited me to his house. I also met his mother, a very kind lady, who offered me the typical South Indian coffee. Our friendship continued even after I left Arah.
After I became a lecturer at Science College Patna I was on a visit to Arah once. I discovered that the family had shifted to a new house because the old house had been sold by its owner, Hari Ji, who was also the patron of that family. Anyway, I met the father of my Tamil friend. The father told me that the son had disappeared from the house. He was a boy of rebellious nature. He was trying to strangle his father one day. Later I was told that he had joined a Muffasil college near Dumraon as a lecturer. He was a Commerce graduate from Jain College but he was very proficient in English. So he was offered to teach English in the Muffasil College. In due course he became a popular teacher of the college.
Through that Tamil friend I had also been introduced to their patron, Hari Ji, who once invited me to come to his house to guide one of his daughters who was doing M A in English. Hari Ji was very traditional and orthodox. He used to maintain strict Purdah for the ladies of his house.
When I went to the house, the girl did not appear before me face to face. She interacted with me from the other side of the Purdah, while her grandmother sat in front of me.