A Refreshers’ Course in Family Life

-- A Birds' Eyeview of his life

A Refreshers’ Course in Family Life

Manoj completed the LL.B. course but did not appear for the exams as he had no plan for a career in law. He studied M.A. in English. But as he said, ‘I had no interest in the text books. But I was reading all kinds of books which I hoped would answer my queries.’ He was slowly withdrawing from political activities, but without giving a jolt to his comrades. He remained a friend of the party, for he believed that there was a truth behind every political philosophy. What spoilt the truth in its application is the quality of human consciousness – it’s awful imperfections.

Even before coming over to Cuttack he had come in close contact with a rare family – that of Narayan Birbar Samant and Ratnamali Jema of Kujang. One of the princely states which had refused to submit to the British and had caused a lot of trouble to the East India Company, it had been attacked by the British army and the ruling dynasty of Kujang had lost their state and the last Raja had died leaving behind his Rani and two daughters. Birbar Samant, hailing from another dynasty, married the younger daughter and was adopted by the Rani. Inspired by Samant the Rani, Bhavabati Pattamahadevi, led the famous Salt Satyagraha along the shores of Kujang – the only Rani to have done such a thing in the whole of India.

While Samant and Jema (literally Princess) were renowned freedom-fighters and Congress stalwarts, the eldest of their three children, their only son, Biswambhar turned a communist while in his early teens – courting arrest several times. He and Manoj were friends and soon after appearing for his Master’s exams in 1959 (he scraped through it!) Manoj married Pratijna, the elder daughter of the Samants. He settled down at Jobra, Cuttack where the Samants had a house, bought a printing press and revived the magazine, Diganta, he had launched at Balasore in his High School days. Manoj was soon called by the senior-most Professor of Christ College, Shridhar Das, a litterateur for whom he had great respect, to join the staff of the Christ College. The father-figure assured him that the Christ being a morning college his editorial preoccupation would not be disturbed.

Diganta grew into a well-circulated and trend-setting monthly, introducing not only new talents but also new features.

A child was born to the couple in 1961, but expired in a few weeks.

About Manoj Das

For thousands of men, women and children of the past two or three generations, Manoj Das has been the very synonym of light and delight, whose writings in Odia and English inspire in his countless readers faith in the purpose of life and also open up concealed horizons of confidence and compassion in humanity a dire need today.