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kak, kal kal, jhingera phool
baba aseta, nade baso

[O crow, Kal Kal, flower of the Jhinga squash, father comes, sit aside.]

13. As I spoke the crow changed position. Some people nearby saw this and said, "Oh, your father must certainly be coming soon." It so happened that in a few days my father arrived at our home in Ula.

14. I cannot remember very much up to three or four years of age, so whatever I write has been told to me. I have some recollection of going to a school run by Kartika Sarkara when I was three years old. Even now it comes to mind, that cane he used to show. The school was situated on a long veranda of my maternal grandfather's puja building. Many of the village boys used to attend the school. Mahesababu, my maternal cousin, Kailasa Datta the son-in-law of my grandfather, Mahendra Vasu, Syamalal Mitra, etc. also used to attend. Kartika Sarkara had a very forbidding nature and we were all very afraid of him. In those days my mother's brother Girisa Babu died.

15. When I was growing up I was full with curiosity and tried to see everything. In my grandfather's house all kinds of festive occasions were celebrated. Jagadatri puja was celebrated with much pomp. I can well remember Jagadatri puja being celebrated, during the night especially. Hundreds of chandeliers would hang on the puja house. Bachara would be [observed?] outside the puja house. There, lanterns would be wrapped around all the pillars and columns. All the guards at the doors would be dressed in sepoy uniforms. Numerous stout men dressed in golden embroidered clothes would come from Ranaghat and Santipura. Many bodyguards and soldiers used to accompany all these men. In terms of people [the scene] was like a forest of people and in terms of lights it was like the battle of Kuruksetra. The scene was filled with fireworks and rowdy pomp. On the first night there was ksemat and bainat dancing. At that time people would be so overwhelmed with pleasure they would lose all sight of the religious occasion. Late at night there would bekabi gana [singing contests]. At dawn I used to listen, but the kavi-vallas used to scream so loudly that it would hurt my ears. The deity would be dressed in the best outfits. The eating arrangements created the greatest pleasure.

16. The Durga seva used to be very nice. Everyday in the temple the goddess Jagatarini, who was very big and made of eight metals, was worshipped. At the time of Durga puja the goddess was brought into the puja house. I can remember that we used to have 25 or 30 brahmanas from west [Bengal] come and carry the goddess to the place of worship and perform the puja. For three days the puja was celebrated with very great pomp. On the sixth day two types of drums [tak and tol] would be beaten and the sound would shake the whole puja house. On the ninth day many goats and buffalo would be sacrificially killed. On that very day the ladies of the house would worship the goddess Durga by carrying incense on their heads in some manner. During the Kali puja we young boys would get together and go to the temple. The stone deity known as Dindayamayi Kali was always present in the temple named Navacuda. On the actual night of Kali puja there would always be great fan-fare. Everybody used to enjoy this occasion, except the goats and buffalo. Most of the Brahmanas and pandits used to come solely for taste of mutton.

17. During the Dola Yatra festival there used to be singing and various kinds of sport. So much red dye was thrown about that everything appeared to be red or blood colored. At this time even the guards took part in the festival. They would enter the temple courtyard singing and throwing dye. Because of all their commotion I would stay a little distance away from them. During the Dola yatra I used to enjoy watching the festival bonfire known as Merapora.

18. My mother's brother Girisa Babu passed away and immediately after this many inauspicious things happened to my maternal grandfather. Because of excessive expenses mounting up and swindlers who came, my grandfather fell into much debt. Gradually his land was lost and his mind became exceedingly disturbed. Seeing that all his sons had died, in the hope of having a son again, he married several times on the advice of some wicked persons. At that age marriage is fruitless, but he could not appreciate such wisdom due to the influence of the wicked persons. Because of this and the loss of his wealth he soon experienced much difficulty.

19. When I was five years old, according to the rule, I was sent to school. By then my former teacher, Kartika Sarkara, was no longer in charge. Yadu Sarkara and others had successively taken charge of the school. After some days my younger brother Haridasa was also enrolled at school. We used to attend school in the mornings and in the late afternoons. The teacher would come very early every day. Many children used to read and write there along with us.

20. Amongst this group, those who were a little older used to act as agents of the teacher and would harass the younger of us. If we came late to school these older boys would apprehend us. The rule in that school was: whoever came to school first got hit with the stick once, whoever came second got hit twice, and whoever was third got hit three times and the number kept increasing in this way.

21. There was one older boy who the teacher used to beat and in return he would beat the rest of us. If for any reason you were absent from school you would face a great scolding [be spat upon?] on your return. The routine was of this sort: The youngest students used to write their ka kha ga's... [abc's] on talpata with black coal. After a year they would write their numbers on banana leaves and after that they made a copy on paper. All the older boys were taught accounting, which was the work of the office of the Zamindar. From time to time under the scrutiny of the teacher we would learn the deliberation of a court. The youngest boys would lodge a complaint and their witnesses and evidence would be deliberated [as] in a court.

22. In the end there would be the determination of punishment. All decisions of the court had to have the permission of the teacher. There were different kinds of punishment: twisting of ears, slapping, caning, naru-gopala and paying a fine; these methods were employed by our teacher. We saw our teacher as the personification of Yama, and the older students used to act on behalf of the teacher as if agents of Yama. Sometimes these older students would act on their own and sometimes they would arrange a court on behalf of the teacher. Some boys used to make false complaints and bring false witnesses to court and other boys would administer punishment.

23. Therefore, as we could see no means to avoid the situation, we made an effort to keep these older boys pacified. During a school holiday the older boys once spoke to me, saying, "O Kedara, our teacher will have no food tomorrow morning, so bring whatever nice food you can from your house." Thus, the next day, from within our house I stole a little econra [a ripened jack fruit] by hiding it under my school books, and these older boys gave it to our teacher. My teacher [was very pleased] and said, "This little boy will get knowledge!" The jackfruit was grown at home, and [when] my nurse [found out about the theft] she came and scolded [me?] and took the jackfruit back from the house of our teacher. My mother was extremely angry, and when my teacher heard about this he became frightened. He spoke to us and said that I should only take things that would not be noticed. "Don't bring big things!" The neighbors' children used to steal tobacco and give it to him, but in my father's parlor the servants kept his tobacco under lock and key. I used to steal soaked chickpeas and give them to my teacher [instead].

24. My brother Haridasa was very angry with this teacher. He could not tolerate the boldness of the older boys, so one day he took a machete and entered our teacher's house after he had eaten and lain down to sleep. At that time I just happened to be present, so I threw the machete away and Haridasa fled. Hearing all the talk our teacher woke up and handed in his resignation and left home that very day. For that reason, after he left another person became the teacher. In this fashion I studied under two or three teachers and eventually began writing on paper.

25. Our method of study was as follows: we would begin in the morning by standing and loudly reciting the multiplication tables, addition tables, 'ganda' tables, cowrie tables and sonakas. The older students would recite in a loud chorus. First the older students would together say, "Four cowries make one ganda." Then we in the younger students' group would immediately repeat after them, "Four cowries make one ganda." The recitation would proceed in this manner. When it was finished we would sit down and write it all out. During writing time our teacher would often declare, "Say it, say it, then write it." We would repeat a word in a loud voice and then write it. In the [resulting] tumult no one could understand the voice of anyone else. After one prahara [3 hours] there would be a rice eating break. We would enter [our home] with rapid steps and have por-bhat [a particular type of boiled rice] and then return to the school within half an hour and again begin reading and writing. At the end of the second prahara [at noon] the school would close. We would return to school after half a prahara [1 1/2 hours]. By the time of evening sandhya we would again recite the tables then the school would close for the day.

26. Up to the end of my sixth year, whatever instruction I received was in that school, and all that learning was in Bengali. I used to learn book keeping. I would write out Sevaka Sripatha, but my handwriting was poor.

27. At that time an English school opened in my maternal grandfather's home. A Frenchman named Dijor Baret from Candananagar [also known as Pharsadanga, French Town] became the teacher there. My mother's brother's son, Mahesa Babu, Kailasa Datta, Mahendra Babu, Rajakumara Ganguli and others used to study there. At the end of the second prahara when my school was closed I would go to that English school and study the English alphabet.

28. M.Dijor Baret talked to my father and suggested that I and my elder brother Kaliprasanna be admitted to the English school. Seeing my slight attempt to study English he became very fond of me. Even though this teacher was a Frenchman he liked Bengali habits and would wear a dhoti and enjoy eating khichari and other such dishes. Sometimes I used to stay with him. My brothers would be very restless and simply go away. Sometimes I used to go with my brothers but mostly I used to like to sit with that English teacher. On the days when our teacher went to Pharsa Danga [his home] I would go with my brothers after the time of the second prahara [afternoon] and play in the gardens and at the khiraki pushkarani. Entering the water, we would net Khalisa fish in a cloth. Wandering in the gardens, we would pick ripe mangoes and eat them. Not far from the mango trees my grandfather had a circular building.

29. We all would play under that building. My father used to keep a collection of different kinds of caterpillars. He kept the Korabi, the Akanda, the Kal Kasanda and many other kinds of caterpillars in a box. He raised them by feeding them the respective types of leaves. Best of all was the caterpillar which lived on the leaves of the Isu Mul tree. When the caterpillars had grown and become butterflies he would let them go. Sometimes, in the afternoon, if I saw any of the different types of caterpillars I would save them and give them to my father.

30. At that time there were many beehives in the garden. We used to break the hives and eat the honey. Eating so much honey would make our bodies hot and my mother would be able to understand [what we had done] and would punish us. I was a little restrained, but my brothers would show no restraint whatsoever. One day the honey bees stung us. My older brother, Kaliprasanna, was an innocent fellow, but the bees stung him so much that he had a fever for several days.

31. Playing in the gardens, the ponds and the grain shed was not enough [for my brothers, who were inclined to get into trouble]. Seeing this, I left their association, and at midday I would sit close by the outer gatekeepers.

The gatekeepers where western soldiers. They would all eat rotis made from a whole measure of atar wheat and a whole bati of urad-dahl, after which they would sit down and eat on cots on the ground by the front gate. Thereafter, some of them would recite Tulasidasa's Ramayana. Although the language was unfamiliar [to me] it sounded very sweet. One day, being charmed by the reading of one soldier named Srital Teoyari, I asked him to make the meaning of what he was reading clear. He told the story of the cheating crow [Bhusanti Kaka]. That story seemed very sweet to me. In the evening I retold this story to my mother and maidservant. [My mother was very pleased] and showed her appreciation to Teoyari by giving me chewing tobacco to bring to him. Out of affection for me, Teoyari would give me rotis, dahl and khichari. I would eat them and become very happy.

32. From the first day [of my attendance at the English school] I would study English with the teacher [in the morning] and in the afternoon I would again stay near him. As evening arrived we would enter the bedrooms. There, Mr. Ghosa's maid and my maid, who was named Sibu, and other 'wise' ladies would come together and tell many kinds of stories. While taking rest I would listen, and over and over again I would hear them relate stories of highway robbery, romance, and tigers etc.

33. Sometimes I used to wake up late at night and sit by the window. At the forth watch [3 A.M.] Officer Naph and Officer Sannasi would be carrying lanterns in the courtyard and pathways around the estate and would shout out the watch calls. Sometimes I used to call Officer Naph over [to the window] and would question him about many things. Naph was very old but still used to carry his lantern, stick, club and sword. Previously he was a prominent dacoit. His residence was at my maternal grandfather's estate in the district of Mursidabad. Fearing an attack at some time by dacoits my grandfather kept many Dvarabans from the west, stick guards, Muslim guards, and sepoys. Even though [he had all of these guards] my grandfather gave Officer Naph and two of three other guards the task of protecting the inner grounds. Once, when Naph was a Dacoit, during a raid, he [accidentally] cut off the head of his own guru, and since that time the sound of 'Haribol' always issued from his lips. I used to call him over to my upper story window and ask him to tell me stories from his childhood and youth. I was only 6 or 7 years old and could not understand half of what he told me, but I used to like to hear these tales.

34. My mother was the daughter of a very wealthy man and was not able to tolerate much labor. The burden of our physical care was thus entrusted to our maidservant, named Sibu, who looked after us as if we were her own children. In the morning time she used to serve us a light breakfast and then take us to school. [Later in the day] she would bring us rice to eat. At noon she would find us wherever we were and supervise us while we took milk. In the evening she would take us home and put us to rest and lay down herself with us. She would give up her own happiness for our happiness. Even if her own daughter wanted to take her home, she would be reluctant to leave us.

35. I used to like to watch the doctors make different medicines. In the outer area [nat-mandir] of the temple of the goddess Dindayamayi the doctors made various kinds of oil based preparations known as candana, gurachya, mahavisnu etc. There were two doctors named Isvara and Umacaran from the village of Raghunathapur who were paid by my grandfather [to make medicines and care for our family]. They performed the difficult task of burning gold and oxidizing iron and other metals [to make medicines]. I used to watch them make preparations out of rabbit oil and 'sivaghrita' [a kind of ghee?] etc. They made loha-jvara by breaking precious stones and mixing them with iron. Their students would also make different kinds of medicines and study many books as well.

In the hallways of the temple of Dinadaya Mayi there dwelt [a person] named Vidya Vacaspati who ran a school there. He would recite many different hymns. He would cook rice and a preparation of chickpeas, offer it to Kali and then eat it. Vacaspati Mahasaya had many students. They would study grammar, vocabulary, and Bhatti [Bhartrihari?]. I used to hear their discussions on verses like "raveh kaveh kim" etc. Occasionally in the afternoons I would go to this temple and observe all these things.

36. During the afternoon we would go about playing in different ways within and around the house. Before I was born my older maternal uncle Karttichandra Mushtophi had died. He had had two wives. One was known as Ranga Mami and the other as Bari Mami. Ranga Mami was crazy. Bari Mami used to like me very much. When I went to her room she would give me nice things to eat and tell me many stories. Throughout my childhood I had a lot of [dental] cavities. Sometimes I used to cry all day on that account. Bari Mami used to tell me that common people thought cavities were caused by insects, but there was no such thing as insects in one's teeth. Cavities were the result of a disease within the teeth caused by eating sweet and sour things. It was untrue that 'vedinar' gypsy women could drive out these insects.

Occasionally in the late afternoon I would sit in my father's parlour and I would tell stories with him. At sandhya prayer time it was snack time and he would give me a piece of sandesa to eat. Most of the time I would stay with my older brother Kali. My younger brother was known to be naughty and I would stay away from him. [My younger brother] Gauridas was a very beautiful boy, but because he was so small he could not stay with us.

37. At the time of the birth festival of the goddess Ulachandi all [the people] of Ula would enjoy themselves. There were many banyan trees [in Ula]. There was a particular stone covered with red powder and raised up on an elevated altar that was known as 'Ulachandi' [the 'Doorga of Ula']. On the full moon night of the month of Vaisaka Ulachandi puja was celebrated with great fanfare. On that occasion two public pujas were celebrated in two neighbourhoods. One puja was called Mahishamaddina puja and the other in the southern neighbourhood was known as Brihat Durga puja. During the Ulachandi worship people used to come to Ula from near and far and stay with their relatives for three days. The roads were filled with moving crowds. In each neighbourhood two bazars were set up and various entertainments would take place.

The buffalo-elephant fights were the most entertaining. Numerous elephants were brought there from many places. The Mukhopadhyayas had a particularly huge buffalo and the horns of this buffalo would be covered in iron. One immense elephant would also have his tusks covered with iron. First there would be an announcement that the buffalo and the elephant would be set free in the middle of the town. Some times this buffalo, being very strong, would wound the elephants. Sometimes the elephants used to overcome the buffalo. We would be on the second floor roofs to watch it all. On certain days we would ride atop our elephant named Shibchandra, who would carry us to various places for entertainment [during the festivities].

38. In those days there was no suffering at all in Ula. There were fourteen-hundred good brahmana families, and there were many kayastha and vaidya families too. The Mushtaphi Mahasaya family was the most wealthy. No one in that village went without food. One could get on with very little in those days. Everybody was very happy - people used to sing, make music, and tell nice stories. You could not count how many jolly [fat] bellied brahmanas there were. Almost everybody had a good wit, could speak sweetly and was skilled in making judgements. Everyone was skilled in the fine arts, song and music. Groups of people could be heard all the time making music and singing, playing dice and chess. That village was a very happy place. If anybody was in need they could go to the home of Mushtophi Mahasaya and get whatever they required without any difficulty. Medicine oil and ghee were aplenty. The village was so large that at that time it took 56 men to maintain it. The good people in Ulagram did not know the need of finding work in order to eat. What a happy time it was!

39. At that time I never saw any of the villages [beyond Ula.] It is not possible to compare the excellence of Ula. Not a single day went by without some festival being observed.

40. I lived in this way until I was about seven years of age. My older brother Kali Prasanna was nines years of age. My brother Hari was four years old. Around this time a college opened in Krishnanagar. The king of Krishnanagar, Srish Chandra, wrote a letter to my grandfather requesting that he send the children to the college. Whatever deliberations occurred I did not know, but we heard that my maternal cousin - Mahesa Babu, my older brother Kali, myself, along with Kailas Datta, Mahendra Vasu and Yadunath Chandra, would all go to that college. From my point of view I felt extreme anxiety, and I was unable to exist at night without my nursemaid. My mother made the decision that our nurse maid would also accompany us to Krishnanagar.

41. We lived in a two story house in the midst of the Bazar in Krishnanagar. Our sleeping quarters were upstairs and we cooked on the lower floor. The bazar and the street were at the front [of the house]. Above the stairs was a statue of Ganesha. There was a storage room for cooking-oil downstairs, more specifically, to the side of the kitchen rooms. The door was kept closed, but seeds used to fall through the cracks in the door and we would fry them and eat them. [Our main diet would be] rice and dahl. The cooking was done by a brahmana, but his cooking was not good. From time to time our nursemaid would bring us a light lunch which we would eat. Sitting on the stairs, we could see into the room of the oilpress-man. He was very old and would sit on a low seat. Because he was going to die soon he would have the Mahabharata read. A seat was arranged for the reader in his courtyard by means of an auspicious tent [a canopy]. From his raised platform a speaker would read the Bharata. A garland would be placed over the head of the speaker, who would from time to time make his recitation and sing a particular song. I very much liked to hear the Mahabharata and the stories about Bheema would especially attract my mind.

42. On certain days the speaker would get a lot of things to eat, and on those days he would be most eloquent. On those days when he received nothing his heart would be very depressed.

Every Saturday we would return to our house in Ula. Hired bearers would carry us on a palanquin with great haste. We would be very happy on that day. Mahesa Babu, Kali Dada, and myself would go together on one palanquin. Soon we would reach our home and after seeing the feet of my mother we would feel great joy. On Sundays there would be no end to the stories [we heard]. Very early on Monday we would go to the residence of Goyara and after eating we would return to the college.

43. [In Krishnanagar] the college was held in the official residence of the local magistrate. The college had a playing field and many trees and shrubs, though these days the place has become something of a jungle. In front of the college was the main road. Across the road was the local police station and the heavenly residence of a barrister, the honourable Manmohan Ghosa. At the present time the chief post office is situated on a portion of that land.

In that residence [where we went to college] we studied [at first] while sitting on mats. After some time chairs, tables and benches arrived. An Englishman, Captain Richardson, was the college principal, and Ramatanu Lahiri was the main native [Bengali] teacher. Mahesa Dada and Kailash Babu studied in the second year class, while Kali Dada and I studied together in a lower class. The king's son, Bahadur Satish Chandra, studied along with us. A few days [after our arrival] the son of the king of Kuch Behar arrived. Gadadhara, Dina Dayal, and others used to teach us. Master Gadadhara had a swollen neck and a cruel nature. He used to hit us with a broken piece of slate board.

44. Everyone said that I liked to study English. With some effort and practice I gained prestige in [my] class, and thus my teachers were kind to me. That year I passed an examination and got a class promotion and an award. Neither Mahesa Dada, Kali Dada or any other of our group received any award or promotion. In Ula an announcement was made that I was the best of the boys. By [the next] Sunday, at our home in Ula, my fame was broadcast all over. My [maternal] grandfather showed me a lot of affection and made me sit near him and take prasada. My father also showed me special affection.

45. My mother, Bari Mami, and others discussed the news about me everywhere. At this time my [former] teacher, Dijor Baret, came [to visit]. He praised me a good deal, but my father stopped him from praising me in my presence. Hearing all this praise my pride became much inflated. In my mind [the importance of] my reading and writing very soon amounted to nothing.

46. [As a consequence] I was no longer good in class. Again the teachers gave me trouble. Using this as an excuse, Mahesa Dada and others who had been envious of me gave me a very hard time. When I had been proficient in class everyone became very envious of me, but now their anger came out into the open. I could no longer memorize my lessons, and torment came from all sides.

47. I would start out to school on the palanquin but would not go to class. Instead I would stay in the woods until after school then return home on the palanquin. Some days, on the pretext of being ill, I would stay at home. One [of our] servants, [called] Keshi, could understand my suffering and would take my side. At that time our nanny

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