Special Posts on the Second Death Anniversary of AKS Falling Today, 28th November 2013
We are grateful to Prof. Himanshu Ranjan for sending us this write-up on AKS coinciding with the Second Anniversary Special Posts–AKS Centre
Once when I was about to light a cigarette, held between my lips, at a cigarette shop at Aghoriabazar Chowk, Muzaffarpur, AKS suddenly came up close from behind and asked the shopkeeper for a stick of Panama. The sound of his voice and his reflection in the mirror in the shop made me go numb from head to toe. He casually lit up his cigarette and moved ahead towards Kalyani.
I came home trembling all over and went to sleep under a blanket. About an hour later AKS returned, called out my name and asked if I had fifty paisa change for giving to the rickshawalla. I gave the same to him with downcast eyes and got busy with my studies. We even took our dinner together sometime later like any other day. Between then, when I was just a graduation student, staying with him and under his tutelage, and the time just before he breathed his last, he never mentioned the matter to me or to anybody else to the best of my knowledge. Why didn’t he do so, I often asked myself. He had all the liberty, authority and right to give me a dressing down. But his soft, understanding and large hearted approach to the issue engendered an enduring profound respect for him in my heart.
Once I came home from the movie ‘Bullet’ produced by Dev Anand. The time was of the infamous Emergency and the historic Sampurna Kranti agitations. I found AKS pacing up and down in the verandah in an obviously disturbed state of mind. As soon as he saw me, he asked, “where are you coming from?” I said I had gone to watch the movie ‘Bullet’. He said with a profoundly painful expression, “you know only too well what the condition of the country is, and yet you had the frivolity to go and see a movie like ‘Bullet’—clearly a worthless one?” It was a revelation to me that a private, simple person could be affected by the general state of his country. Later, he told me he wanted to discuss some of his ideas and feelings with me and was disturbed to find me absent. I was flabbergasted to realize that he wanted to share something with me—a mere graduation student! Needless to say, the small incident did wonders to my self-esteem.
Sense of Humour
Once AKS and myself were walking to Aghoriabazaaar Chowk. I was pulling along his bicycle by my side. Being busy in conversation with him, I did not notice a motorcycle coming from the opposite side. At a particularly narrow point near a big pothole, the motorcycle screeched to a halt right in front of me. The rider shouted at me in anger: “Couldn’t you see a ‘Bullet’ coming towards you? Are you not scared of being hit?” AKS thought something over in a flash and responded with a disarming smile: “Bhai Sahab, how can an army be scared of just one bullet?” Both the rider and myself gave uncomprehending looks towards him. Then AKS slowly pointed towards the brand logo on the front portion of the frame of the bicycle: it was ‘Army’. All of us suddenly burst into a fit of laughter before going our ways.
Various compulsions relating to my job in Sikkim did not allow me to complete my Ph.D on Matthew Arnold under his supervision. I failed him, could not give him the satisfaction of shaping me up in a much more desirable way, especially because I know he doted on me and had certain expectations from me. But then, life is a complex play which hardly ever takes a pre-judged path. AKS is there behind whatever, whatsoever I am.
Prof. Himanshu Ranjan, a senior Associate Professor in English at SHEDA, Deorali, Sikkim, did his Graduation with English Honours from Bihar University, Muzaffarpur (batch 1976-78), and his Post-Graduation in English Literature from Patna University (batch 1978-80). He was one of the closest students of AKS., besides being a family member.