Tags

The empowered committee of the College Senate hereby records the following decisions, that:

  1. The Principal’s speech delivered at the meeting convened on 01 March 2013 to condole the death of Doctor GG be released to the general public. It may be noted that the “Copy Right” act of the State of Waste Bengal permits readers to make copy of the document with alterations that do not deviate the copy substantially from the original hereunder except for alluding to fictitious characters as real, and vice versa. However, the reader of the document is warned that allusions to characters real or fictitious in the original document below is purely intentional, aimed to hurt ill-conceived sense of propriety.
  2. The Doctor’s birthday be celebrated as ‘Save The Dog Day’

Signed: The Proctor, NITD / 02 March 2013

<<

(Don’t start by saying, “Please switch off your mobiles”. It is not a business meeting. Just stand at the lectern til people settle down. Take out your mobile and with it tap the lectern three times. Then hold it up with the left hand and put your right forefinger before it like you place it over the lips to quieten people. Pause for effect, clear your throat and go)

Kith and kin of late Dr. Ghosh,  colleagues and students,

When I took over the reins of this college as Principal at the beginning of this year, I had no inkling that so soon I would be presiding over the condolence meeting of one of the most endearing members of this college community.

And here I am, in assembly with you all, to condole the sad demise of Doctor Guptalinga Ghosh, fondly known as GG to his contemporaries. As we stand by his bereaved kith and kin, shouldering their grief together, we join them in praying for the safe passage of his soul to his heavenly abode for final residence. May he look down upon us from his celestial station and radiate forever upon us his unending goodwill and blessings.

The good old GG has left us at the early age of 68 on 29 February 2013, on the same day that he was born, after rendering selfless service to the staff and students of the college relentlessly over several decades rejecting rest and retirement.  Let us on this sad day, therefore, recall his untiring service to our community. May I be allowed to recapitulate how the good doctor came to be among us and become one with us. His life story bears recall, especially for those of you students present,  whose parents graduated from this college and may have recounted stories of some miraculous cure by the hands of this Good Samaritan.

The doctor’s selfless service started in the late sixties of the previous century. Born with a congenital defect of retracted genitalia (whence his name, as you may have guessed) he was urged to become a doctor, particularly by his father who believed in “Physician, heal thyself”. Doctor he did become, though of animals, having developed a fascination for animals after reading ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’.  Just after acquiring a diploma in veterinary medicine he came to spend the summer with his elder brother Dr. Luptalinga Ghosh, a professor of the technical arts – LG to his students. It was during those dog days that the doctor got sucked into the vortex of a sordid drama of utmost tragedy that unfolded in the college. I find myself compelled to share with you this particularly dark period of the history of this college, aided by the memoirs of the doctor. Preserved by the professor’s family and now handed over to the college archives, his journals reveal how the doctor came to rescue the college from ‘going to the dogs’.

The first significant entry in the doctor’s journal related to this tragedy mentions a bizarre incident in Hall no. 3. His elder brother, professor LG, being warden of this hall was required to make a weekly night-inspection of the hostel to acquaint himself with the state of discipline. One evening while passing the first room in the third wing of the hostel the professor had faintly but distinctly heard a timid ‘woof!’ sound from behind the door. Startled, as dogs were not allowed in the hostels, he had stopped to listen. But the sound had not repeated, making him suspect that he had heard wrong. Then, just as he had passed the last room of the wing a plaintive “Woof?” had been followed by a booming “Woof!!”. The doctor had felt as if a small dog had asked “Who?” and been told to shut up by a large dog. He had then leaned against the door, but had heard nothing other than an orchestra of loud snoring of the inmates. So the professor wanted the doctor to tell if he could be developing a hearing problem. The doctor gently assured that this could not be the case. Then he went and entered the incident in his journal.

A week later, after his return from a similar night-inspection, the professor fell to his drinks in a somewhat morose mood, avoiding his brother’s company. Sensitive as the doctor was, he inquired of the professor what the matter was. After some persuasion, the professor revealed that he had been strangely accosted by a student whom he had awarded the highest mark in the drawing class-test held the same day. The student whose door he had just passed during his tour of the hall had come out and seeing him mumbled some words of gratitude.  Then the student had impulsively gripped the professor by the shoulders with both palms and started to gleefully lick the professor’s cheeks, drooling copious saliva. While the professor had struggled to disengage himself, the student had shown great agitation of his pelvis, wagging it sideways in the strange swinging fashion of female Hula dancers. This apparent but crude display of gratitude had left the professor totally unnerved, seeking relief in a stiff drink. The doctor, with a frown, made the second entry in his journal.

At the end of the same month, the professor, entering the common toilet during a recess witnessed an awkward spectacle of a student passing urine in a weird manner. He had stood not facing the urinal. Rather, standing with the urinal on his right side (and thus with his back to the professor entering from behind), the boy had his right leg folded and raised in the air. In this unbecoming posture, with his pelvis appropriately twisted and tilted, he had adroitly directed his discharge under the right leg while combing his hair using both hands. All this act was executed with the perfect poise and precision of an acrobat. The same afternoon the professor was puzzled to see a boy with high-powered glasses and the drift of a lost puppy going toward the canteen. He had stopped at every other bush by the road side to sniff it. At times he had briefly lifted his right leg over the bush exactly in the manner of the boy at the urinal. At one place he rapidly rubbed his left foot to and fro on the ground, throwing up dust, as if to burrow. The professor would have ignored these incidents as boyish pranks, but for the common aspect of the lifted right leg in both the cases. This vaguely reminded him of something he could not place his finger on. So he thought it best to report this to the doctor, who nodding vaguely recorded this in his journal.

After a fortnight the professor, making his hostel visit, met the mess manager to ask about the funds position and food supplies from contractors. After satisfying his queries the mess manager hesitantly informed the professor that of late the students had started a ‘Wild Booze Chase’.

“You mean Wild Goose Chase!” remarked the professor, mocking the Malaprop manager, who was prone to notifying ‘the exhausting menu’ instead of ‘the exhaustive menu’ for the Hall Day celebration. But he led the professor to the notice board outside the dining hall, where the students had put up a poster.  It read:

“Wild Booze Chase – A truly bacchanalian orgy – midnight, every night.
Come one, come all – Attackers dark and sombre, defenders in white”

“What does it mean? What do they do?” asked the puzzled professor. The mess manager implored, “Sir, I suggest you stay and see it for yourself”.

So the professor stayed back in the mess office. Just before midnight struck the manager switched off the lights and pushed aside the window curtains. After a short wait there was a faint sound of scampering. Soon came into the view from the window a group of boys clad in the all-white dress of PT class. They went galloping silently on all four on the road. Soon, in hot pursuit behind them came a similar group clad in black. Each group moved in total silence.  As they disappeared from sight the manager hurriedly led the professor up the stairs to the roof of the mess. There he waited, wondering why the campus dogs were silent. Then he saw at a distance the second group catch up with the first group. Wild and jubilant cries like “Woof, woof” rent the still air of the night. Totally perturbed the professor stood silently for a long while, as if immobilized by the torrid night. Finally he saw the students returning, still on all four. The whole pack now moved in a leisurely trot, white commingling with black, with some playful pawing, lapping and necking among the boys. At the foot of the main staircase they dispersed after a brief and subdued exchange of ‘Woof, woof!’

Dutifully the professor briefed the doctor, who again made his entries in the journal, but with knitted brows this time.

Soon in the staff room the teachers were heard exchanging loose-talk on the strange activities of some students, which, seemingly outright prank, were of alarming frequency and depravity. One new lecturer reported that once reaching late his drawing practical session he had found the students sitting on the drawing boards in – he used the phrase – “His Master’s Voice” style. Holding their heads high with an attentive look, they sat on their haunches with the chest leaning against knees drawn together, and the hands reaching straight down to the board in front of their feet.  An assistant professor stated that a student whom he had expelled from the class had happily bounced down the lecture gallery on all four and trotted out of the class. A lab boy reported that during a blackout he had passed what seemed to be a row of dogs having a smoke together, their eyes glinting bright green above the glowing red tips of cigarette, and conversing animatedly in human voices.

Finally, one day one senior professor faced a most horrific incident. He inadvertently stepped on the toes of a student. The student immediately crouched low, snapped viciously at the teacher’s leg and bit him hard just over his ankle. The professor had to be hospitalized, where he gradually developed a fever and started foaming at the mouth. No nurse could give him a sponge as he became hysterical at the sight of water.

Matters came to a head when the then principal received by registered post a handwritten poem from the group that called itself, “Aamraa Kaangaali”.  The poem ran like:
“The ten dogs of Haradhan,
Roamed free, fit and fine.
After we had mutton curry,
Alas! There remained nine.

The nine dogs of Haradhan,
Tried to flee in abject fright.
After we had mutton-do-pyaza,
Alas! There remained eight.

The eight dogs of Haradhan,
Sought shelter in an oven.
After we had roast-mutton,
Alas! There remained seven.
…”

(Here adopt a conspiratorial tone, just for the para below)

Now that professor LG is no more, I may reveal that Haradhan was his nick-name by the students.

The principal naturally flew into a rage. He convened a task force under the professor, and urged him to find the root-cause of the outrageous behaviour of the students.

During a meeting of the team, professor LG received a call from the mess manager. He informed that one vegetarian student from north India having lost a bet had been forced to eat meat. “So what? What’s wrong with this? Boys do such things all the time”, reacted the professor. “No Sir! This is different. Ram Singh has stayed awake the whole night, yelping like a puppy with stomach ache! He needs to see a real doctor” pleaded the manager. “What about his roommates? Ask them to take him to see the compounder at the dispensary!” ordered the professor. The manager then explained that the two students were hardly up to the task, fatigued from barking through the night at Ram Singh to quieten him.  Moreover, he said, Ram Singh’s trauma was too acute to be entrusted to treatment by the incompetent compounder.

Students! You may not know that in those good old days the college had a doctor-less dispensary, like pilot-less drones you hear of now. A compounder was the commander of all – life and limbs – that he surveyed at the dispensary, and serviced when it pleased him!

So, the professor rightly recognized this incident as the last straw on the camel’s back, which indicated the need to introduce a doctor for the denouement of the drama. Addressing his team “Friends” the professor thundered, “Enough is enough! I am going to meet the principal along with my brother who is a doctor. He is familiar with the history of the incidents. He has been reading up “The Island of Doctor Moreau” which is the most authoritative treatise on the subject. I am confident he has a clue or two, to suggest a suitable course of remedy.”

The doctor meeting the principal, requested for some traveling and incidental allowance, to visit the School of Tropical Medicine at Calcutta for comparing his notes with the specialists there. The principal granted this. The doctor returned from Calcutta with the somewhat reassuring news that such symptoms had been recorded in some community countries like China and Vietnam. The afflicted persons happened to be mostly tourists who, trying the country’s favourite meat dishes, ended up developing addiction and attendant obsessive compulsive disorders of the kind witnessed among the students.

On matters concerning food the principal always maintained the protocol of conferring with the mess secretary. This person, a jovial boy by the name Kaycee, when closely questioned, made some incredible revelations. The doctor noted his statement verbatim, which reads as follows.

“With the college admissions inducting fresh blood every year in the college, the CCCP (Core Committee of the Community of Pro-Literates) had taken up a drive to increase the RBC count. (RBC is short for Red Brigade Comrade). By a happy coincidence the year 1968 happened to be the ‘Year of The Cur’. With this cue the CCCP hit upon a novel promotional scheme for an effective drive. They proposed to send select RBCs as delegates to the plenum committee convention at Ho Chi Minh City. To enable the delegates to fully enjoy the trip it was deemed necessary to acclimatize their palates for the local delicacies of the city. The CCCP then pressed me to revise the menu. I opposed any change in vegetarian menu and just agreed to change only the meat keeping its preparation unchanged. I also agreed to introduce some new non-vegetarian ingredients. We noticed that while the termite–mite mixed cutlets took off well, the boarders came to fight over the meat dishes, as everybody began grabbing the big dog-bones, which some took to their rooms as prized toys to chew-on at leisure.”

“Desperate institutions call for drastic measures” – to quote Dr. Triguna Sen who famously institutionalized education.The very next day a notice appeared on all the hostel notice boards informing of discontinuation of meat from the menu in view of rising hackles (and mess-bill) of the students. The principal promptly appointed the doctor at the dispensary with a proviso that he would devote himself primarily to curing the afflicted students of the animalistic escapades and rituals.

So, this is how the college dispensary came to have its first qualified doctor, albeit a vet.

Students! The doctor noted that for good measure he had all the campus dogs impounded one by one. Though not one dog ever attacked him, the afflicted students on the other hand, bit him over and again. He suffered this without complaint, administering himself as often as bitten the twelve-needle anti-rabies vaccines, which gave him the lovable portly appearance with a bulging midriff. And, his humble collection of dogs now procreated fearlessly. The litters afforded him some solace and distraction from his grief of not being able to have his own family, for reasons stated already. Subsequently his menagerie becoming unmanageable was taken over by the Municipality and named ‘Bhule Bichhrey Dogs Baagh’, popularly known as BBD Baagh. Here the forlorn lover can go and pet a dog or kiss a puppy and thank good old doctor GG.

So, today in his homage, please recite after me:
“With our bleeding-hearts we red salute ye, our own Hercules, for vanquishing the Cerberus that, evolving within our souls, had turned us into our own enemy 45 years ago.”

Finally do join me in praying to God Almighty that the departed soul of GG may rest in peace among his dead and departed dogs. Please pray in silence for two minutes.

(Count – holding your breath for the quickest result – 1,2,3, ….  59, 60, 61 … 118,19, 20)

Om Shanti!

And, thank you.

>>

Advertisements