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Shri Biren Sen and Smt. Sisirkana Sen
A fitting tribute was paid by late Shib Chandra Banerjee, the then Trustee of the Bengali Education Society and himself a doyen among Bengalees in Bombay, during the opening ceremony of the new school building in 1940, when he said – “Friends, if you break down the walls of this new building, you will find the legend “BIREN SEN” embossed on each and every brick that this building is made of. So “Himalayan” was his contribution to the inception of the School that it would be impossible for any one of today’s generation to even attempt to grasp, but for that telling statement at the ceremony.
Born on 15th November, 1892, in village Madhyapada of Bikrampur sub-division, District Dacca, he lost his mother very early and was brought up in his maternal uncle’s house in adjoining village of Sonarong. He passed his entrance examination from Dacca University in 1909, and shifted to Calcutta the same year to pursue higher studies and joined the just started National Council of Education (later converted to Jadavpur University ) in Manicktola. There he passed the four year diploma course in Metallurgy in 1913 and joined M/S Tata Iron and Steel Works, Jamshedpur in 1914. In 1916, he shifted to Bombay and joined as Chemist and Metallurgist in the Parel workshop of GIP Railway ( now known as Central Railway ). After half a century of life dedicated to the welfare of the Bengali Community in Bombay, he breathed his last on 11th June, 1964 at his Dadar residence.
Late Biren Sen was already associated with every Bengali social and cultural activity in Bombay during the twenties and through the forties of the last century. In fact, he was the main driving force behind starting the Bengal Club ( 1923 )and more particularly the Bengali School in 1933. That, a School started as humbly as ours in a rented room in Haroon Building at Parel, with six little children, of which two were his own sons, would shift to its own new premises at Morbaug Road in a matter of only six years and which today proudly nurtures the dream and ambition of more than 1500 young future success stories is a tribute to this pioneer’s single minded determination and devotion to duty, courage of conviction and organizational ability.
Wife of Late Biren Sen and co-ordinator to The Bengali School, Late Sisirkana Sen was born on 27th May, 1905, in Calcutta. She did her schooling in Diocessan Girls School from where she passed her matriculation in 1923. Throughout the formative years of the Bengali School she stood rock like by the side of her husband, not only helping him but in some cases taking up certain responsibilities independently. When the School started in 1933, she took the responsibility of teaching the six little children, which included two of her own, and whose parents had the courage of conviction to send their wards for their first lessons to a School with no past history or credibility – only the hope of a bright but somewhat uncertain future.
To appreciate the greatness of this lady, please try to imagine the following scenario:
A lady in her late twenties staying in old railway quarters, where even electricity was not available in 1933. She wakes up in the morning and besides the usual household chores of cooking breakfast and lunch, makes everything available for the husband to leave for office at 9 ‘O’ clock. Next she has to get her 8 year old eldest son ready for school – he goes to a nearby convent school, starting at 10. After this, she gets her 4 year old twin sons ready for school, including packing their lunch ( as also her own ). The youngest, a six month old son is now neatly wrapped up in bed sheets and blankets with enough spare changes in the bag to last the day. Now she troops out with the twin sons and the maid servant in tow, carrying the small baby and heads for Haroon building which is good 15 to 20 minutes walk. There, while she teaches alphabets and numbers to the 6 little mischief makers, the maid servant looks after the little baby in the corridor outside the class room. From time to time, she has to leave the classroom to look after the feeding needs of the howling baby!
After a full life caring for the family as well as giving a helping hand to the husband in all his social activities, she breathed her last on 23rd November 1994 in Calcutta.
Well, that is the way lasting institutions are built from scratch! We are sure she is now overseeing from heaven above our Platinum Jubilee Celebrations and showering her blessings and good wishes on us.
- Alumnus Samir ( Nobul ) Sen,
( That howling baby of six months at Haroon Building! )
We knew that Headmaster Moshai, Shri G. C. Pain, was a very versatile teacher. He was outstanding in the languages, be it Bengali, English or Sanskrit and formidable in Mathematics and Science, even Geography and History. But did we knew enough of his versatility to make merry at the absence of teacher of a lesser subject?
There we were in class one day, waiting for our drawing teacher, Shibu-da, to inspire future Jamini Roys and Pynes. Normally prompt to “hold fort”, we realized soon enough that something was amiss when Haripada-da, our school peon, stood outside the class to inform that “Drawing Sir aaj aashe nai” – Drawing Sir has not come today.
It was at the fag end of the day and we were all hoping that some one would pluck courage to suggest to some teacher that we be allowed to spend the period at the adjoining G. S. Medical College ground where we conducted our sporting activities. There was a lot of cacophony going on and, short of jumping from bench to bench, we did everything.
All of a sudden, in walked our Headmaster Moshai. There was a pin-drop silence resembling the ambience at Wonderers a few hours after the boisterous T 20 Indo-Pak cricket final. “Eta koun period?” – what period is this one? – he asked. Some one muttered “Drawing”. He asked whether Drawing Sir had come in to which we said “No. He is absent today”. Oh I see, he said. Let me see how good you are at drawing. Do you know what is “Saral Rekha”? “Straight line”, he clarified, as if to imply that “Rekhas” are not straight forward anyway. Take your note books and draw straight lines with only a pencil and no other implement, he said. He promised to come back after some time to check our drawing skills and aesthetic values.
We did not see much of a challenge in this simple exercise. In fact, the better artists among us thought they had a head start. It was only after a few attempts that we realized the import of this exercise, or so we thought. All heads were down, concentrating on the whites. Soon enough, the over-smart amongst us took out their six inch ruler, eraser and some even placed a printed straight line below to copy upon. Yet, no one was really claiming to have made it.
Almost at the end of the period the “Master” returned. He had a cursory look at a few attempts and shook hid head of disapproval. He had not come to approve our efforts any way. He then turned towards the black board, picked a stub of chalk and in one sharp stroke slashed a perfect straight line to amaze us at his dexterity. “Speed is the essence of this exercise”, he said and walked out. His purpose was served since he had not come to teach us drawing but to extract silence and discipline while the teacher was away. Distance learning indeed!
-Debiprasad Chowdhury, Alumnus ( 1961 batch )
( Head Master Moshai )
Being among the most mischievous boys in class, I was privileged to develop an active relationship with our beloved Headmaster, Shri G. C. Pain. My ears were enriched by frequent and sustained attention from his long bony fingers.
One fine day, I was hanging like a bat from a horizontal water pipe in the school premises when some one alerted me about the Second Coming! This had direct reference to Headu’s post lunch walk from his residential quarters, to his den in the school building, cutting across the dusty compound with long and graceful steps.
Much of that grace of course was lost on me that afternoon, as I leapt like a monkey and ran for cover, wondering anxiously if he had seen me in action…..
My speculation was put to rest as soon as I found my right ear in the wrong place!
After a few well directed strides, Headu had, as usual, taken possession of the most obedient part of my exposed anatomy. “What were you doing there?” he enquired, while his fingers were too busy to show much expectation from my answer!
At the risk of stating the obvious, I muttered, “I was merely hanging!” putting ample emphasis on the word ‘merely’.
“Why?”, his voice betrayed the seriousness of a philosophical enquiry.
“I want to grow tall!” I said, hoping that my indisputable small stature would make him see reason.
I can’t tell after so many years whether it was the pathos or the frustration in my voice that made him suddenly smile and release his grip. But what he told me thereafter was memorable.
“Try to grow tall in wisdom, and in deeds!” he said. “The rest will all fall in place!”
-Ashok Roy ( Batch 1964 )
After cutting our teeth on Mrs. Tytus’s accented English, we were promoted to further our proficiency of the Queen’s language under the tutelage of a rather serious looking Nalina-di.
I remember the day when she introduced us to the word ‘another’. After giving us a host of examples and instances where the word ‘another’ could be gainfully employed, she proceeded to put us to test with a twinkle in her eye.
“I am shutting one eye,” she said, “and opening ….?
Immediately the whole class chimed in unison, “Another!”
She shook her head and enjoyed the stunned silence for a while.
“Opening ………the other!” she declared smilingly! “We have just two eyes, don’t we?"
It was only later in life that we learnt about the third eye. But that is another story!
-Ashok Roy ( Alumnus 1964 )
who can count its worth,
Or measure its imprint
on one's soul?
It's movement unseen,
Yet it comes quietly
As a soft breeze.....
Brushing against the heart...
Making known it's presence,
Whispering," I'm here,
take my hand
And walk with me.
Together we will climb
where one alone
has not the strength,
Nor the courage to go"
- Manojit Lodh
No roof nor walls remain.
There is no children's laughter
To echo 'cross the plain.
But memories still linger on
To help us all recall...
The good times and the bad times
That started in the Fall.
We'd hustle to our empty desks
As the bell began to ring.
Pledge allegiance to the Anthem
And then begin to sing.
Another year would come and go
As quickly as a wink...
Our teachers all inspired us
And taught us how to think.
So come on back to Alumnibes
Old friendships to renew...
To talk about the old times
and give our school its due!
Bombay I like you
You gave me a wonderful childhood
Full of fun, full of play
Kept my worries , all at bay.
Bombay I like you
You gave me an exciting teenage
Full of lovely touch , full of emotions
Sweet dreams at night and joyous occasions .
Bombay I was back
Where I belonged
To the family and friends
With all it's glory and enchanting song .
Bombay I'll miss you
When we drift apart
Lonely I'll feel
Deep inside my heart
- Manojit Lodh