The narrator coincidently met Biswajit Jha in Darjeeling and learnt about the way he became a journalist. The story we shared in the 1st and the 2nd part of this series. In the 3rd part the narrator meets Biswajit Jha again coincidently, but this time in Cooch Behar. Read what happened after that.
By Somashis Gupta
Some time had passed since my last visit to Darjeeling, where a fortunate chance enabled me to meet the fascinating Biswajit Jha, at the Windemare hotel. His may be remembered with my narration under the title of ‘Compassionate Chronicler’. That day while speaking to him some message of importance, which I dared not ignore, made me retreat to my room. Hence, the story to which I listened with breathless interest remained untold. I continued staying in the hotel for few more days, but never met the man again. Later upon enquiry I found that Biswajit had checked out already.
After coming back to Calcutta, I went back to my active habits and was compelled to remain within the four walls of my office from long period of time. This went on for several days and never felt in more need myself of a rest and holiday again. It was only in October, when I could warrant a visit someplace in order to cleanse my system from the impure air of the city. I began to wonder where I should best find the rest I needed and almost at once, the name of Cooch Behar came to my mind.
It was the 2rd day after I reached Cooch Behar, when my inclination for adventure led me to another fascinating incident which I shall narrate now. I walked out of the hotel where I was boarding, to look around this princely town. After walking for a few miles I came across an open land where I saw a group of young boys and girls involved in an activity. All of them were wearing a dress which seemed like a school uniform. Out of natural curiosity I approached them and what they informed me left me resolutely surprised. They said with utmost positivity that they were actually attending their classes.
“Classes? In an open field?” asked I with great surprise.
“Yes, we are learning the process of farming. It is a part of our academics” looking at my confused state they continued “this is Green Clay Organic Farm of our school, where we learn farming. You see we only appreciate the cook who makes a good dish, but we never appreciate the cultivator, so we are being taught the process of farming in our school, which in turn will help us in developing respect for the farmers.”
I appreciated them and walked out and as I roamed around I realized that there is something different about this school. As I walk passed the alley, I saw a building, the signboard of which read ‘Innovative center’. Wondering what it was I approached, and to add to my list of surprises, I found Biswajit Jha walking out of the building.
Finding me motionless and speechless he approached with his usual smile and said “welcome to my school”.
“Ah! So this is your school?” said I gathering my senses. We continued to walk down the alley as he spoke “I started this school after I came back from Delhi. It all began when Zico my son started his schooling here in Cooch Behar. Soon I realized there was an urgent need of a school as none here were up-to the mark. I wanted children to learn values of our country and also encourage free thoughts”
“Fascinating” said I “so what is this Innovative center?”
“In Epic Public School, we encourage students to come up with new ideas and concepts which are practical solutions to day to day activity. This is being supervised by Nilabho who left his high paying job in IBM to join us” said he.
“That is quite a decision, just like yours to leave your journalism and come here”
“Well I wanted to contribute to the society by teaching the children on values and sustainable lifestyle which remains absent in modern day educational institutes. By the way, we are also the first school in Cooch Behar to introduce Yoga as a part of the school curriculum.
Impressed as always I asked “you told me about two schools during our last conversation..”
“Yes, in fact why don’t you join me for lunch at my residence, and I can tell you all about it.” I readily agreed to his proposal, as I particularly desired to know more about the man than the food which awaited us.
After reaching his home, I realized over the course of our conversation on how Biswajit could betake himself to such unique ideas. His wife Dr. Sanjukta Saha, a remarkable lady, is always there to support Biswajit with all his endeavors. In fact I would say, she reaffirms the old saying by Groucho Marx – behind every successful man is a women. Dr Saha in-spite of being reluctant to let go Delhi life style, decided to come back to Cooch Behar to be with her husband to extend her full support.
After lunch we were seated at the living room when I raised the topic of the tribal school again. “So tell me about the tribal school which you run”
“It so happened that we visited Mandabari near Chilapata forest where we saw some children playing. We found out that these children were left out from education due to the lock down.”
“I see, so you took up the initiative?”
“Yes we spoke to the villagers and opened this school or rather a couching class where we guide them on academics as well as music and dance.”
“I see, so they depend on education only upon you now?”
“No they go to their school, but here we give them couching for 4 days in a week. I also plan to open a football academy for them as I want to help them in all round development.”
“So how much do you charge from these students?”
“It is completely free of cost and I fund the entire project with my own money. In fact I have also taken the responsibility for the education of 20 girl child in places in and around. In this initiative I get support from a few more people like Moumita Debnath one of the parents from the school who teaches the students free of cost.”
“Ah! That is indeed motivating and gives me a hope for the future” and as I said this I could hear the calling bell for the door. Biswajit went to attend the door and when he returned I could see his face glinted with a sense of happiness.
“Some good news?” asked I as he read the newly arrived letter again.
“Yes in-fact I was waiting for this letter related to my college for some time now”
“Your college?” I asked in surprising tone.
“Yes I am starting a college where I want to encourage the youth on entrepreneurship besides other subjects, as the youth of Bengal rely only upon government jobs which as you know is not much. They need to be encouraged towards building up something of their own, which will result in a stronger and better state of West Bengal overall” replied he.
“You were a journalist, then you became a writer, than you open two unique schools and now college?” the more I knew the person the more fascinating I found him.
“In fact, there is a story behind it”
“Go ahead I am all ears”
“It so happened that my wife after completion of masters in economics and MBA approached a college for a job. She did get an offer but the remuneration offered were not at all a justice to her skills and ability, so she refused it upfront. The owner of the college, mind you I say owner as this was more of a family business then an educational institution, any ways so the owner said and I quote ‘dus jaga dhakka khaoge to aisahi kar loge’.”
“That is preposterous” said I with an expression of anger.
“Yes so I decided to start my college, as this was back in my mind which added with my desire to develop entrepreneur skills amongst the youth of today. So finally my dream is about to come true.”
“I must say Biswajit I am not just impressed with you, I am actually mesmerized at your dedication. It is for people like you hope exists”
By this time the sun was setting at the western front and it was time for me to bid good bye to Biswajit, Zico and Dr. Saha and as I walked back I suddenly I could feel my phone vibrating, it was a message from Biswajit which read…
“Do read my next book which will be published next year”…
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.