This Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the lives of some of our exceptional women members, who have dared to break the shackles of convention and managed to create a niche of their own.
Ms Sukla Gupta, an ashram kanya (student) from Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan, shared her story with Mousumi Gupta about how she helped nurture a school with a couple of colleagues in Farakka on the Bengal-Bihar border and how the institution and its pupils grew extremely close to her heart.
Ms Gupta’s husband was a contractor at the Farakka barrage during its construction in the early-1960s, when this otherwise sleepy town started getting populated with a sudden influx of labourers and contractors.
There was no school in that area then. Soon, the state government took up the initiative to start a school. Ms Gupta, along with a few others, applied for posts of teachers and were selected in the interview. But the main problem was that there was no school building, leave aside students.
A school building was built with government funds and it started functioning on March 5, 1964, with a few local children and those of the barrage employees. Initially, there were around 60 students on the rolls. Gradually, the numbers started to increase. The school became like second home to the students because of the love and affection dedicated teachers like Ms Gupta and others showered upon them.
“The love, care and attention that we received from our teachers in Santiniketan and its verdant surroundings showed me the path to deal with these children,” reminisces Ms Gupta. “With strictly no punishment for the students, the school imbibed almost like the Santiniketan way of imparting education.”
No road is free of hurdles. Likewise, during the early-1970s, a few former students of Ms Gupta and her colleagues got drawn into a political struggle. “Later, when they came back to us, we hugged them and showered them our love. All those students are now well settled in life, some even abroad,” said Ms Gupta with moist eyes.
“The student strength had touched 2,200 at the time of my retirement from the school in the early-1990s. That gave me a sense of a job well done.”
Ms Gupta has an opinion on the way to deal with today’s students. “If we could solve serious issues of the young generation with love and care in those days, why can’t we change the present generation the same way?!”
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