Anugya Srivastava, 4 December 2006, Times of India, Patna
“She gave sense and meaning to history. After hearing her weekly lectures at the Post-Graduate Department of History, things that had seemed inexplicable suddenly acquired a face that seemed as if it was a known face. She was extremely concerned about her students and often spent her money for making additions to the Department’s Library, for she often said that it was a poor Library and how could students get to know History unless they were exposed to new facts and emerging theories.”
This is about a Teacher who was loved and revered by her students. Most students gathered at the Department on Monday, the day after she was murdered at her home, seemed quite ‘lost and unable to accept’ the fact that Professor Papiya Ghosh was no more. “She was to have lectured us on the Peasant Movement on the coming Friday. Now, she would never be taking that class or any other,” said Reena Kumar, an MA Previous student.
“She was so concerned about our future and used to advise us on what to do and what not do. So ‘complete’ a Teacher I have never known and never will. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else teaching us History, so total was her involvement with the subject,” said a final year student, Rohit Prakash, as he and others just moped about the halls of the Department. Professor Ghosh’s death was a shock her students seemed not to still believe. Indeed some went to the extent of suggesting that she would suddenly emerge from one of the rooms and summon them all for a friendly tête-â- tête on the pertinent issues of the day, a gesture she was in the habit, as some of them pointed out, of repeating from time to time.
What her students could not understand was why did such a thing to happen to someone like her, “so energetic, so full of life, so much fun to be with and so very progressive, a fine human being and a wonderful Teacher, one who was so gentle that she couldn’t hurt a fly.”
Said Parwez Kumar, a final year student of history. “A total democrat like her I have never seen. It’s tough accepting the fact that such a beautiful human being and such a fine teacher is no more.”
For Krishna Sammit, a student of the Previous year, History will never be as interesting as she made it out to be. “After each of her lectures, Ma’am used to prescribe a list of books for us to read so as to clarify any doubts that remained, through after her lectures things became so clear that we did not, often need to consult any other books. She was in the habit of bringing along to her lectures a number of clippings pertaining to certain historical issues that she had xeroxed and distributed amongst us. The rarer ones she pasted on the Department’s Notice Board,” he said, his voice giving way as he remembered Professor Ghosh and the difference she had made to his outlook.
Zafar Kaleem, who attended her last lecture on Saturday, said she appeared very upset at the state of the Department’s Library and its maintenance. “She was so angry, so very hurt by the apathy of the Departmental authorities,” he said, adding that the way she taught was so very unlike the way other Patna University teachers taught, far more accessible, extremely disciplined and very strict when she needed to be.
There was one aspect of Professor Ghosh’s personality that few know of. And that, according to Akhlaqur Rahman, was her insistence upon her students knowing the ‘difference between a good newspaper and one that was not as good.’ “She truly believed that newspapers exercised a great influence on our lives and helped shape society,” he added.
Later, the students of the Department, both Previous and Final Year ones, held a Condolence Meeting at the Darbhanga House today. Still later, accompanied by the members of the All-India Students Association (AISA) they took out a Protest March and demanded that the CBI probe her mysterious murder. Teaching in all the Departments of the University remained suspended for the whole of Monday.