Memoir : Ram Narayan Sir

~Mohan Sitoula~Dr Mohan Sitoula

With a very handsome and majestic personality, still better with his skillfully pruned and very well taken care of hair, Ram Narayan Pradhan was a dedicated teacher of talent and sweet tone, a committed educational administrator and later on a successful journalist- Chief Editor of Himalayan Times Daily – of his time. As I now remember my School years specially of around 2011 – 16 BS a few fascinating and influencing as well as un-erasable images of my respected teachers and various contexts – including funny too- during the school come to my mind. Among the teachers Dharanidhar Neupane, the founder and longstanding guru, Harilal Uprety the beginner of English language teaching, Kulprasad Rai, the strictest headmaster about discipline and lessons, as it were, of all time – lessons, specially those of Nepali ( Sanskrit) meters (Chhanda) and essays- fond of games and sports, schools functions, educational trips around villages and jungles, picnics , gatherings and interactions with the guardians are fresh in my memory. The list of the teachers goes on increasing. Targen, the mighty and skilful footballer- an excellent dribbler as a forward- who first showed and taught us how to kick the ball inside the goalpost from far with a back jump heel- over -head -kick. There are still many more in the list.

Ramnarayan Pradhan was a multifaceted person in his activities including physical and cultural aspects of education, or for that matter, life itself, as well as entertainment especially in football, volleyball, indoor games along with song and dance. He was very fond of and skilful in playing upon the harmonium and organized cultural programs, various inter- school tournaments, debate and oratory competitions in our Sharada High school on various occasions. He used to train us in all and took us to the tournaments, competitions and cultural shows to other schools as well and also to those organized by Sikchhya Samiti Atharai – the then a widely represented organization in Atharai -to participate in such events. And if the other teams had their teachers as the players especially in Volley ball Ram Sir too used to enter as a player in his team in full enthusiasm. That we had won many shields in volley ball and football for the school and later on for the college and many of our athletes, players and dancers had also received the best player, best performance artists’ medals and championships. In the cultural team there was another teacher – CM Kandangwa – previously a local person and had been back along with his wife and children again from a very long stay and education etc in Darjeeling with his parents. He was a real musician – a song writer, vocalist, excellent harmonium player and an expert in Duki-tabla. CM sir was a very nice man and a very good teacher, taught wonderfully various social subjects in school. And he was a player too. Since Ram sir was very fond of jokes, he quite often used to cut friendly jokes with CM sir and some times with other teachers as well. At times with us too specially during the trips.

Ramnarayan Pradhan, as an individual, was highly intellectual. With a schooling in Darjeeling and higher education from Calcutta, he was a messenger of new thoughts and sensibilities from that part of consciously rising India. He at first came to Chuhandada from Darjeeling-Calcutta in 2014 when I was in 8th grade. He taught us English Prose and Poetry Selection from the texts of Darjeeling curriculum.

I remember the first day of his school in our 8th class when he came to our class, exchanged introductions and then took us out from the class in the school choutari nearby in the lovely warm sun of early spring. We were some six / seven students in the class. He taught us a poem called ” The Call of Spring” by an English poet. It was so sweet to me as if the words are still ringing to my ears. So sweet – to a dreamy and flying boy of early thirteen – that even to -day I am not fully quenched even by many spring and new year poems to read and, of course, write some.

Times passed by. He went on teaching us. After one year or so he went and again came back when we were towards the end of 9th grade. He first taught us the Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy. With him we made a massive progress in our English course of 9th class and after the exam we went to the 10 grade and started preparing for the SLC, the then an important event in that wide region of the country, let alone for the village.

He had a tremendous faith in us, in fact, in all the students and vice versa. He loved his students warmly. While in ten, after a few important classes he used to leave us on our own in the library or elsewhere as senior students. He also sent us to various junior classes to teach. He was a liberal man and enjoyed talking to us some extra-optional matters like social setup of our villages, educational and developmental affairs and at times politics too. He used to teach us very enthusiastically and more than that encouraged us from the very bottom of our hearts. He once told- ‘ You are the 3rd batch of this school to go to SLC and in bigger number. Both of the earlier batches passed nicely. And you should make it as well. Otherwise people may not regard this school as they do to-day. You have to maintain the esteem of us all and the good tradition of education of this place too. Do not give everything to chance and do not depend on any one except on yourself. So, be serious and dedicated and labor hard, that will make you well prepared and self confident. This is the moral confidence that does everything.’ We went to Illam to appear in the SLC and after three months the results came out and we got through.

Since the previous year there was a dialogue going on to establish a college at Chuhandada with a plan to run it in the High School blocks in the morning and evening. Ramnarayan sir highly encouraged it. He was a studious man and was in an academic relationship with Calcutta University. We were the first batch of the newly established college at Chuhandada. Learned littérateur Rajnarayan Pradhan, the first principal of the college, was a wonderful man. Apart from being a player, he taught almost all subjects, specially as I now remember, English, Nepali and history. On his request and ours too, Ramnarayan Sir taught us political Science. I still remember one of the lessons he taught. It was when Ram sir was teaching us freedom, fundamental rights and democracy he gave a quotation to us : ‘ eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’. The class was running in late evening and our lanterns were not that bright. So he did not write it on the black board, rather, he asked for my text book and wrote the quotation in the right side margin of the right page with his own beautiful handwriting . My friends copied it later on. After the sent-up exam we went to Kathmandu to appear in the final exam of IA. There again I met him, as a visitor, at Naxal in the Ministerial quarter of late Kajiman Kandangwa- a good friend of him – the then minister.
During my stay in Kathmandu for BA study in TC College, we lived in the same house (with various flats) at Shrestha Niwas at Chhetrapati for quite long. ‘The wheel of fire’ was rolling along with which the liquid time was flowing as well. After my MA I was away back home to work for my own local school and college – long served and elevated by himself and many others- and then to Pokhara and other campuses under Tribhuvan University then at the center at CDC in Kathmandu. Once there, I went to see him to the hospital at Teku and gave him my recent book Wandering Essays. He was very much excited to see it and thanked me with very many warm blessings. After sometime in 1994/5 while at the Campus of International Languages(TU) I met him again in his office of ‘Himalayan Times Daily’ at Anam Nagar. He was the same handsome person and all the more friendly, encouraging as well as very much thoughtful about Nepali politics but less vocal. Loving and a well wisher as he was, he always called me as ‘TIMI”. I loved it too. A few of my articles were published in the Himalayan Times. I also requested him to write some memoirs about Chuhandada of Atharai where he had lived, loved and laughed so long. He wrote in Nepali and it was published in an special issue of late Soorya Kandangwa – one of his beloved students and a good player – who later on rose to be an outstanding national political hero from Chuhandada where he was born.

Then I went abroad, away from him and many of my families and friends. Now I miss many of them though in touch with some of them at times.

At a time when the eastern hilly regions of Nepal were trying to rise with a new light of social sensibilities and reforms against all pervading wilderness of traditional blind darkness these many qualified people- ready enough for any competitive run in Indian towns and cities- or those of Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, having sacrificed their prime opportunities in those already enlightened areas, came to join with the local glow of reformatory united zeal of the social pioneers like Haricharan Sitoula and Padam Prasad Uprety and a few others. They all made a successful cause and achievement out of it to the extent of not only building up new awareness around the whole areas but also to the national importance of developing manpower and leadership which had to be self manifest for freedom, democracy, development and beyond addressing the national as well as universal clarion call of time’s consciousness in later years. The trio – Sitoula, Uprety and Kandangwa- and many more close others and now Ramnarayan Sir have passed away. I miss them all too. They will be alive with me in my heart rending sentiment of wistful memories. ‘Gone are the days’!

While in the USA now, I heard from my brother Kapil Sitoula, about the untimely death of Ramnarayan Sir in a hospital in Kathmandu – a death which put me seriously upset and rendered me a sense of forlornness. I express my deep condolence to all the family members and pray for his eternal peace. All Vida Ram Sir !

USA, TX, Roundrock

(Source : English Samakalinsahitya)

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