This is a rare write-up by Dr. Rajendra Sanjay, a student of M S College, Motihari between 1962 and 1965, remembering AKS as a young Lecturer in English at the College. We are grateful to Dr. Rajendra Sanjay for writing this piece putting together episodes that took place nearly fifty years back -AKSCENTRE
For digging out the past one needs spade work. Later entering deep, comes out pondora’s box of memories. The scattered memories dazzle like precious jewels. To pinpoint one’s past is an audacity that fills heart with sweet and sour reminiscences that keep the person oscillating between pleasant and unpleasant incidents– a real tough job to write about as the incidents do not occur in chronological order. Besides, with each incident emerges a particular face. To collect all these scattered memories in order along with relevant appearance is another difficult job. To write memories related to a particular person is real hard task because it requires the analysis of that person, his character, his traits, attitudes, good and bad. In other words, it becomes an evaluation of a person who is physically very far but in memory very near and alive.
While my short stay in Delhi in connection with the publication of my latest book, I met with one young man of pleasant personality named Kumar Vikram, who in flow of conversation revealed that his father Shri A.K. Sinha was professor of English at Munshi Singh College from 1961 upto 1975. What a surprise! I too studied Science at the same college from 1962 to 1965 and was close to his father!! The picture of my college days ran on the memory screen.
After completing my study at MJK College, Bettiah, I got admitted at M.S. College, Motihari, to study Chemistry Hons on insistence of Maths professor, Shri C.P. Singh, who on leaving MJK College had joined MS College. At MJK, I had availed full freeship. So, I applied for the same at MS College too. But unfortunately, only half freeship was offered to me, apart from the hostel accommodation. So, I met the concerned professor Chakradhari Singh to explain my poor financial family background. A quite hefty and sober looking simpleton Chakradhariji bluntly asked me “why should you get full freeship when you are enjoying the college hostel at concessional rate?” I had no reply. Helpless, I approached C.P.Singh, who introduced me to English Professor A.K.Sinha, who had good rapport with the Principal Bholanath Singh, the Chemistry Professor. He strongly supported my case to the Principal. Having known that I was not only a meritorious under ten at the Board Exam, but also a brilliant poet and stage actor, the Principal passed a funny remark in a question as per his jovial nature “Tell me kaviji! putting stress on ‘Kaviji’-” the belt you are wearing is a ‘belt’ or lasso (‘Naada‘ in Hindi)?” It earned a laughter from C.P. and A.K. Sinha, both present there. Being young blood, I felt hurt and embarrassed too. Those were the days of thin belt used in pant as fashion very popular among the youngsters.
So controlling my nerves and keeping my senses together, I replied in quiet and poised voice-“That I don’t know sir! Please determine the same with a measure tape,” I replied innocently, “I have used it not as a fashion like today’s young generation, but as a dress code requirement.
“Well said”, praised Professor A.K.Sinha. The Principal pinned his eyes at me for a moment as if he was studying me. I gave him a timid look. He later called Professor Chakradhari and recommended for my full freeship. But Chakradhariji clarified, “He is doubly benefitted Sir!– with half free ship and hostel accommodation.” I thought he must have felt otherwise on my appeal to the Principal.
“I think kaviji should be considered as an exceptional case,” Prof. A. K. S pleaded for me.
“It will send wrong signal among other students,” objected Prof. Chakradhari.
“If kaviji vacates the hostel accommodations?”, before I could understand suddenly Prof. C.P. Singh suggested. There was a complete silence for a moment. I didn’t know, what was in C.P.’s mind, behind his utterance, but it was certainly like a bombshell for me. Losing accommodation where would I go?
“In that case I have no objection for his full freeship,” Prof. Chakradhari gave me a victorious glance. I looked awkwardly at C.P. who shotback, “Then kaviji will stay with me as he deserves full freeship.” I felt elevated in my eyes and obliged to him.
“Kaviji! you are lucky having three seniors in your support. So don’t let us down,” A.K.S said warmly.
“I am highly obliged sir! Be sure! I will never disappoint you all,” I was overwhelmed and felt proud of myself that all the three stalwarts treated me not as a student but like their younger brother or junior in making. Thus I came near to A.K. Sinha with whom although I had no connection study-wise but yet he had developed a soft corner for me. The reason for such support in my opinion was that I was a self made person right from my school days. A.K. Sinha used to come occasionally to C.P.’s rented house specially on Sundays and holidays and ask what new poem I had written. I remember once I had narrated a poem in Hindi with a title एक सांवली पत्नी का निवेदन (Request of a Swarthy Wife). the last two lines of which had touched his heart-cord. I got his pat affectionately advising me to keep it up. That day I had a great feeling. Most probably that was the reason why those two lines became very dear to me-
न रुठो अरे प्राणतम से न रुठो
तिमिर से ही ज्योति किरण फूट पाई
While staying with C.P. Singh, I came to know a bizzare name addressed by CP for AK Sinha as ‘AKS’ in one word. It became in fact a puzzle word for me. He was ‘A.K. Sinha’ or ‘Prof. A.K.’ for people, but ‘AKS’ for CP. On asking, CP explained ‘AKS’ is a Urdu word (अक्स) that has parallel word in English ‘Pollen’ i.e. ‘essence of flower’ or any substance better known as ‘Parag’ in Hindi. I liked the word immensely as it truly reflected the sweet nature of A.K.S ever since I too started calling him ‘AKSji.’
A.K.S was quite young, energetic, gregarious and good orator. His art of non-stop speaking English was miraculous. It was his art of speaking that impressed me to pick up English for writing and speaking. In the beginning, I used to stumble or fumble while speaking but AKS kept on encouraging by saying “English is so easy to speak and graceful to impress others.”
This art of oration later helped me to become Science teacher in an English medium higher secondary school and part time Chemistry teacher in Darjeeling Polytechnic in Kurseong after completing my study. His keen interest in cultural activities impressed me to follow suit in my school’s extra-curriculum activities.
I remember the year 1962 when Chinese aggression on Indian Territory in October had created tremendous sense of unity and patriotism among we Indians, raising our voices to the top against the traitor Chinese-imperialism. During those days, a Kavi Sammelan had been orgnised on the campus of MS College in which Gopal Singh Nepali had recited firebrand patriotic poems. AKS in association with the Hindi Department had participated deeply to make the function a success.
Well before the Republic day celebration, AKS had asked whether I was ready to participate for the poetry competition and I had replied in affirmative. On 26 Jan, 1963, many participants came on the stage one by one, recited their poems, all patriotic. I too receited my patriotic creation by singing.
है जब तक दिशा ध्रुवतारा रहेगा
हिमालय हमारा हमारा रहेगा
ये माटी न देंगे भले जान जाए
रहे सांस जब तक ये नारा रहेगा
हिमालय हमारा हमारा रहेगा
The judges of the competition took their decision collectively and announced the name of the poet, adjudged as the best. It was no other than my name. At the end of the function AKS as a jury member said in his thanks giving speech that my poem had reminded him of Gopal Singh Nepali and that he felt proud of me.
I did not know what made him say so, nor did I know what bond was between me and him that he showered so high on me. Perhaps he had become my fan or because I was his fan? Whatever may be, but undoubtedly it was the affection, encouragement or blessings of AK Sinha, CP Singh and Bholanath Singh that I remained throughout my life indebted to them. Even today, whenever I see the award winning memento given to me, I slip into my college days at Motihari, all the names associated with me glitter like gold that draws a thin line of smile on my face.
It is unfortunate part of my life that I never met again either of the two personalities of my student life after I left Motihari nor ever heard about them as myself was so busy struggling to get a firm permanent foothold for my livelihood thousands of miles away in Tram city Calcutta, hills of Darjeeling and later human ocean Mumbai. During my last visit in 2004 after 2000 I tried to know about them but could not get any hint even. I owe to them cultivating my career initially that helped me for founding my later career. This article has provided me an opportunity to peep into my college days past by putting reels on the projector to have a re-look on both of them and thus reliving those days again and again by fast forward and rewind like film reels.
Dr. Rajendra Sanjay [B.Sc. Hons (Chem), B.A.(Hindi), IT-(Dip), MA, Phd. (Environ)], originally from Motihari, Bihar, is an accomplished theatre activist, film-maker, scriptwriter, playwright, actor and a poet with an educational background in Science and Environment. A multi-linguist, having knowledge of languages like Hindi, English, Nepali, Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi & Bhojpuri, he has been associated with All India Radio for more than four decades. Writer, director, lyricist and producer for numerous documentary shows, radio-plays etc., he has also acted in popular Hindi feature films like ‘Saudagar’, ‘Hum Bachchey Hindustan Ke’, ‘Teesra Kinaara’, ‘Ek Thi Hirni’ etc. He has also published poetry collections and books on theatre, while various research books have been published on his creative writings. He lives in Mumbai.
Mahavir Nagar, Kandivli (West), Mumbai-67