"Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!

I have been trying to escape. The nightmare that we are living in is putting a burden on our generation in a way that is going to shape our lives from now on. When I sit to write this, I myself am coughing and been taking antibiotics for the last two days. The body aches and doesn't respond well to whatever news comes my way. And, in the bouts of high fever, I close my eyes and try to go back to my BA days- Department of English, Patna College, 2012 - the world of bliss. And She is there. 

                  The news comes. MSG is no more! It takes a while to process this. It takes a while to realize what would that mean. The news is not sudden. There has been a fear that has crept up in the past few days and even then it hits you in a way that a part of you dies. So many memories get hold of you. The first memories are of her late-afternoon classes on Lawrence and Hardy. I used to hang around Bhasha Bhavan, waiting for her to arrive. I would play some cricket, chitchat with hostelers and would sheepishly look at my crushes. Also, sometimes I would sit in the shade of a tree, read some poetry from here and there and would scribble in my notebook. And from there I would wait for a glimpse of her car. Often, she would drive herself. Bholi Bhaiya would be waiting. By the time she would climb up the stairs with his support, we would be lined up waiting to wish her. She would smile at us and her eyes would twinkle. She smiled with her eyes!

                                        I remember being mesmerized by the charm, that old-world charm which I am going to associate with every memory of my college life. In a way, time stopped in Patna College and at the same time, it ran very fast. Now that I look back, I feel that there was so much that could have been learned from her. She was cheeky. Her humour, her jokes, I borrowed. This one particular memory is etched in my mind. I was madly in love with this "very-very" senior girl I was seeing at the time. The world was new and full of promises. So, I had visited the book fair and somehow, someone clicked a picture of us in front of an ice-cream stall. On the next day, This picture was printed in The Hindustan Times on the second page. She walks into the class and as soon as she enters, she makes me stand up and then, this is how the conversation goes : 

 "Boy, are you in today's newspaper?" 

"Yes, Ma'm." 

"Is that your girlfriend?" 

"Yes, Ma'm."

"Do your other girlfriends know?"


                             And the classroom fills with laughter. This was her - full of humour, full of life and full of fearlessness, never imposing and easy going. Her classes were fun because she would never let them become hectic. Another trait that I adopted when I started teaching! At the time, the writers she taught were my favourite writers, Lawrence still remains close and would remain close for life. She was like the river which flows nearby, She was like the trees on the campus, She was like the birds that chirp in the campus and She was, for people like me who had been lonely, a guardian to whom one could talk about anything. 

                                        When I met her last, a few years ago, She had not been keeping well. Her physical health had troubled her for a long part of her life. Her mind however was younger than my own. She was full of enthusiasm. She was sitting inside her car as she could not walk up to the store her daughter was shopping from. I asked her what she was doing after retirement and she said she was writing a novel, something that related to A Passage to India. She had done Howard's End with us at one point in time and Forster might have been a favourite. To me, She was Keat's Nightingale. It is impossible to imagine my ideal escape without placing her there in the Department. The Kindness and Warmth you showered upon us will remain with us for our entire lives - 

                                 "Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
                                  No hungry generations tread thee down..."

Adieu, Ma'm. Look upon your children. 

2 टिप्‍पणियां:

  1. Rest in peace mam. I had heard your name uttered so very often by my sisters. The older Sadhana Bharadwaja will be happy to be with you in heaven but her younger sister Sujata is sad & mourning your absence in this mortal world.

    जवाब देंहटाएं
  2. Rightly Said. That immortal bird. An inspiration for generations. Her eloquent speech, her motivation, unimposed and free flowing thoughts will be cherished. She epitomised how 'LIFE' is to be lived. Your soul will keep blessing and inspiring us. Rest in peace Ma'am ����

    जवाब देंहटाएं