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Despite the ancient silk city is on transformation to a smart city with under construction of big malls and apartments, old memories yet not vanished from residents’ minds here. Many thing are still in its old formats- the lanes of Khanjarpur, the glistering white sand of the Ganga diara, the serpentine roads of Jogsar, river ghats of Manik Sarkar and Boodhanath, the Durga Charan primary and the TNB collegiate high schools, but the city of Paro, Chandramukhi and Devdas has forgotten the doyen of Indian literature- Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay who spent his childhoods here in this ancient silk city and influenced from this soil to developed his excellent literary skills.
Yes, today the 141 th birth anniversary of Sarat was celebrated in a very simple way here by a few social activists of Bhagalpur chapter of Bihar Bengalee Association (BBA). Earlier on September 15, post graduate department of Bengali of Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University (TMBU) celebrated the birth anniversary (BBA here has been following the Bengali calendar and hence celebrates it on September 17) inside the department with few students and staffs.
“Earlier we used to witness big events on this occasion here but due to the rapid erosion in Bengali society mainly due to massive migration, it’s became difficult for us to celebrate it with great funfair,” laments, Joyjit Ghosh, general secretary of BBA, here. Ira Ghosal, a senior teacher in PG Bengali department at TMBU vented the same pain but she alleged that people concerned who made Sarat a celebrity but put less focus on Bhagalpur. “People like P C Barua, Bimal Roy and finally Sanjay Leela Bhansali might have put in their best efforts to frame the evergreen tragedy by Sarat on the celluloid screen, but none of them took account of this silk city which holds the pride and distinction of being the working field of this reclusive literary celebrity,” she alleged.
“The lanes and bylanes here are still mute witness that Sarat had written almost all of his famous novels, like Srikant, Badi Deedi, many more with Devdas here, but for the so-called czars of the Bollywood it has probably no meaning. But, isn’t it like writing down a poem over poverty sitting in the deluxe suite of a five star hotel? and, if it isn’t so, why did the famous Hindi litterateur Vishnu Prabhakar stayed for quite a long time at Bhagalpur before completing his famous book on the life of Sharat, Awara Messiah?”, said Aditya Ghosh, a resident here.
If Birendra Bhusan Mukerjee, an old timer here is to be believed, the casts of Sarat’s novels were never imaginary or outsiders. His casts were his surrounding figures. Devdas reflects Sarat’s character, his childhood girlfriend Dheeru was the Paro and Kalidasi of Jogsar (a red light area) was his Chandramukhi, he claimed. Nara a small boy (Sarat) came to Bhagalpur to live at his maternal grandfather’s residence situated at Khanjarpur locality here in 1884 at an early age of eight and stayed here for more than 25 years but he could never get that sort of popularity in here due to his revolutionary approach of life. But, this soil stimulated the creativity into his mind for completing over a dozen novels here, Mukerjee pointed out.
Rajendra Singh, a writer here feels that screening of any of Sarat’s novel would remain incomplete without properly knowing Bhagalpur – his working ground. “We have so far failed even to install a statue of Sarat here so that the new generation could remember this doyen of yesteryears,” he commented.
“We have many projects like establishing a Sarat museum, at least a statue of Sarat here, but for many problems like financial crunch and non supportive attitude of local public representatives and government machineries, we failed,” admitted Binoy Kumar Mahata, former head of the department in PG Bengali of TMBU. Mahata was instrumental fopr organizing Sarat centenary celebration in 1977 which was attained mostly celebrities from all the fields of Bengal here.
He recalled how the committee members managed to create pressure on the than chief minister of Bihar, Dr Jagannath Mishra who along with the than governor of Bihar came to attain the Bhagalpur, for establishing a bench in the name of the great Indian writer at Bhagalpur University (now Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University). “The main aim of establishing of the bench in the name of Sarat at the varsity here was to open a post graduate department of Bengali which subsequently started functioning. But very unfortunately, the post graduate Bengali department somehow survives today with few students from neighbouring Bengal,” he pointed out.
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