Skip to content Skip to navigation

Kushal Konwar Balya Bhawan: In Retrospect

OFT, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber's chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
Of other days around me:
The smiles, the tears
Of boyhood's years…


(The Light of Other Days- Thomas Moore)

As I sit down to reminisce my days in school when it completes a monumental journey of fifty years of existence—these lines come back to me bringing along a collage of pictures of different hues strewn across time. I had the privilege to have studied in a Montessori School that in course of time metamorphosed into a full fledged high school and earned the rare recognition of being the first provincialised English medium school in Assam. Kushal Konwar Balya Bhawan, as the school is presently known as, was established in the old Gymkhana Club at the heart of Golaghat town and stands opposite to a grand white-washed bust of Kushal Konwar--the legendary freedom fighter. I remember our teachers taking us to offer floral tributes to the martyr’s memory on different occasions inculcating a deep sense of love and respect to those who laid their lives for the struggle for independence. The name of Kushal Konwar invoked a sense of pride in all of us.

Golaghat unfurl memories of childhood and adolescence, of days rollicking and thought provoking and (for many like me) continues to be the bucolic idyll of a bygone era with a noticeable laze in its pace! This sleepy residential old town in upper Assam without air connectivity and off all the highways has neither known of any industrialization before the setting up of the NRL in the ‘90s nor any significant economic importance of its own but has preserved its wilderness, along the unique heritage of antiquated and cultural monuments. The legacy of the British planters is evident in much of the old-fashioned structures—both public and private--and the multi-colored social fabric could be seen in its unique social life style. A fairly large number of tea estates were established in and around Golaghat during the British era and the administration realizing the importance of the town elevated it to the status of a sub-divisional headquarter. Soon Golaghat became a favorite haunt of the British tea planters who would throng the churches for Sunday mass or seek relaxation in the grass court in front of the Gymkhana Club. I remember my grandmother recount those days and would often refer to the ‘turbulence’ created when the ‘club’ (She referred to our school as the ‘club’ only) was set ablaze by the local revolutionary leaders as the Quit India movement was gripping the nation. The local residents were also fined by the British administration for this ‘act’ and the collective fund was used to rebuild the old club in the same style.  After the British left, the Trust Committee entrusted to look after the club affairs, decided to sale the property to private bidders. However, due to strong opposition by some eminent personalities of the town who persuaded the civil SDO to impose restriction on the move, the Gymkhana Club was purchased as a public property and transformed into Kushal Konwar Public Hall and Library under a Trust Board. The Board decided to run the Golaghat Sub-divisional Library from this hall and also to start a primary school in the name of Kushal Konwar.  On September 15, 1967, Kushal Konwar Montessori School was started. The school was rechristened as Kushal Konwar Balya Bhawan, but the townsfolk continued with the name ‘Montessori’, a throwback to the school’s early years!

Till the later part of the 70s, when we were still at the lower section, the enrollment was quite few. I remember much of our outdoor activities took place under the big banyan tree in the school premises and it seemed the shade of the big tree could easily accommodate the ‘whole school’! From nursery to class X, almost everybody seemed to know everybody! As we reached the upper section or high school, the number of students also swelled. I grew up with the school and it was a pleasure to see the school grow with us, getting new classrooms, winning accolades, and making us proud to be part of the institution.

The sense of routine and strict discipline in those formative years sometimes tend to create monotony too; more so because our teachers hardly took off or missed school! A rare opportunity would present itself when the principal was away for some ‘provincialisation-related work in Guwahati” and the whole school would clamour for a half day or at least the final bell to be rung a period before the scheduled time! On the other hand, the very presence of the principal created a sense of awe. There was an abrupt silence that would descend on the classrooms as she passes and that tells of the profound effect she had on the behavior of her students. Teachers preferred to deal with the students not with the rod but rather with as much stinging sarcasm one could lightheartedly muster. However, it was not the dread for that sarcasm but the sheer dedication and sincerity that commanded the pupils’ reverence for the teachers.

Away from the monotony of textbooks, much of our recreational life also revolved around school. Sports and comics filled up the free time. Thanks to the wonderful library that shared the same roof with our school-- the habit of finding solace in books and making wonderful friends with the characters grew.

The annual sports commenced with the annual fun fare and variety show—events that we eagerly wait for. Those were some occasions in the early years when the school would have an opportunity to collect some funds. Each of the students would create, design or bring something to be sold in the exhibition for fund raising.  I persisted on getting something from ‘Dusenco’ (Doss&CO)--perhaps the oldest department store in the State that once sold butter and apples from Holland, cakes and biscuits from Calcutta and Whiskey from Scotland to the British clientele. The one-stop shop offered everything from imitation jewelry to Duck back raincoats to Cadbury’s and I would insist father to get something worth for my school! The cultural nights of the school’s annual function were mostly held in the Amateur Theatre Hall packed with audience. While I cherish those theatrical performances, I also remember the dread to take the podium in the same Hall when we represented school in the debating competitions. However, with continuous appearances in quiz and debates, I got rid of my fear of public speaking.

To quote Prof Humayun Kabir: “With efficient and devoted teachers, even the worst of systems will give good results. On the other hand without such teachers even the best of systems can become a mockery”. We had seen for ourselves, the dedication of our teachers, more particularly the principal Mrs Pramila Tamooley, whose untiring efforts paid off when the school was granted recognition as a provincialised English medium high school in November, 1991. Surely, it was the school, the teachers and the principal who carved out the best in us. Most importantly, we had in all our teachers the sincerity and devotion needed to guide the very young minds from various backgrounds to improve and increase in the knowledge of English as a language. 

Author info

Mubina Akhtar's picture

Journalist, activist based in Guwahati. Email: newildflowers@gmail.com

Add new comment

Republish

Republish this content

JFA condemns scribe’s murder in UP

11 Jun 2015 - 10:38pm | AT News

Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) expressed shock at the killing of north India based journalist Jagendra Singh and demanded stringent actions against the guilty individuals irrespective of their professional backgrounds and social standings.

The Shahjahanpur-based freelance journalist died from burn injuries at Lucknow Civil Hospital on Monday evening, where Singh (42) was undergoing treatment for severe burn injuries since 1 June 2015. His family members lodged a complaint at the local police station alleging that four policemen along with few associates of Ram Murti Verma, a minister in Akhiesh Yadav’s cabinet set Singh on fire at his residence.

They claimed that Samajwadi Party minister Verma grew enmity against Singh, as the brave journalist with the help of RTI information started posting regular feeds exposing the minister’s corruption & land grab issues on facebook. Before his death, Singh from his hospital bed, blamed Verma for everything as he continued updating investigative reports and comments against the tainted minister. Singh also declared that he got burn injuries when a police team raided his house at Sadar bazaar locality.

Once worked for leading dailies like Amar Ujala, Hindustan, Swatantra Bharat etc, the prolific Hindi language journalist lately turned into an alternate media journalist. Singh left behind his bed-ridden father, wife and three children.

“We demand appropriate actions against the criminals, who eliminated Jagendra Singh to avoid embarrassment because of his regular postings on facebook. The UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav must take up the issue seriously and help punishing those accused personnel, if proven guilty by the court,” said a statement issued by JFA president Rupam Barua and secretary Nava Thakuria.

The northeast India based media forum also urged the Uttar Pradesh government to adequately compensate the family of Singh, as he was the only bread-earner of the family. It also extended moral supports to the agitating media persons of the State and appealed to the civil society groups to stand behind the journalist fraternity in its demand for justice for the victim whistle-blower journalist.

Two girls drowned in Longa River

25 Jun 2018 - 2:26pm | AT Kokrajhar Bureau

 

KOKRAJHAR:  In a tragic incident two young girls were reportedly drowned in Longa River under Dotma Police Station at Maoriagaon village in Kokrajhar on Saturday evening. While one of the girl’s body was recovered on Sunday at Bagribari area under Gauripur PS in Dhubri district,the other is yet to be fished out. "We have intensified rescue operation to trace the other body." , said an SDRF official. According to the locals of Morigaon,two young girls identified as Kabita Rani Brahma(7),daughter of Ghana Kanta Brahma and Pami Mushahary(8),daughter of Binay Mushahary of Maoriagaon village,went to nearby Longa River for bath on Saturday afternoon at about 3 pm and since then they went missing. Family member started their search operation on the river to find out whereabouts, besides intimaditing Dotma PS about the incident by the evening. NDRF and SDRF teams from Abhayapuri and Dhubri have been pressed into action.

 

Grenade found in Dhekiajuli

24 Jan 2014 - 1:59pm | AT News

Amid stepped up security measures ahead of the Republic Day, a major tragedy averted in Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district when security forces defused a powerful grenade on Friday.

The handgrenade was found lying inside a bag just behind the Dhekiajuli ASTC bus stand in the morning. On seeing the suspicious object, the bag was handed over to the police who later confirmed it a hand grenade. Later it was defused.