New Delhi, Ritu Rana. The family may be Bengali-speaking, but Professor Indranath Chowdhury, born in 1936 in the Bengali family on the land of Delhi, considers his birth in this city, good luck. The old childhood in the streets of Old Delhi is called the golden period of life. Sanskar may be Bengali, but Dil made it Hindi-speaking. Apart from teaching in Delhi’s literary life and Delhi University, he was associated with administration and cultural comparative literature for 50 years, so the major parts are presented on these memories.
‘Delhi is the land of birth, then there will be wonderful memories?
Yes, my father Professor Naresh came to Delhi in 1926 from Kolkata. He was a professor of Sanskrit at Ramjas College, University of Delhi. As of 1942, I must have been around six years old. Ramjas College used to be in the Anand Parbat area in those days. I remember the incident from my childhood when that entire area was transformed into a cantonment and we went to live in Daryaganj. At that time, the mafic of Dariyaganj fort was surrounded by walls. The river Yamuna flowed from beside him. Then the river was very beautiful and clean.
Dad got me enrolled in Ramjas School No-1 in the fifth grade. I still remember the name of the principal of that school was Shaadi Lal. After school, Dariba Kalan used to go by bicycle with friends, there was very good bread and vegetables and jalebi. All our friends used to roam Daryaganj, Dariba Kalan, Kinari Bazar, Bhootha Gali, Ballimaran, Chawdi Bazaar only by bicycle. I spent my childhood in the streets of Old Delhi, passed my youth, every street there is still remembered. This city gave me so much affinity I cannot tell. I owe it. Although I am Bangla speaking but I have eaten Hindi bread while living in Delhi.
‘Did Anand Parvat turn into a camp due to the Battle of Independence?
Yes, that’s why we came to Daryaganj. When Mahatma Gandhi gave the slogan of Quiet India in 1942, there was chaos all around. Although Gandhi spoke of violence, but the spirit of patriotism within the people started moving in a different way. They broke street lights, took out processions on the streets. Then when the country became independent in 1947, Delhi had a different mood. Somewhere there was an attack, and there was the joy of freedom on the face of the people. We decorated the house from Bandanwar. At school we found a brass plate with sweets in it. On August 15, when school was over, we went to the Red Fort to hear Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech. He was very excited to hear his speech.
‘Will there also be memories of the freedom struggle?
In the year 1947, many people from Punjab came to Delhi. Many of them had enrolled in Hansraj College. There used to be a rest room with the principal’s room. Shanti Narayan, a professor of mathematics, gave shelter to the children there. Beds were laid for the children to sleep. A 24-hour library was also opened for him. Before 1947, there was a lot of love and unity in Hindu-Muslim in Delhi, but partition separated them, otherwise we had never seen so much hatred in our time. I tell a story about my father’s friend’s son’s wedding. He had sat in the pavilion, but was not starting the wedding rituals. Everyone asked what happened, so he said how should I get married until Akbar comes. Akbar was his very dear friend. Even though the two do not eat at each other’s house, they had an unbreakable love. Now a lot of change has come. A close friend of mine, Qadir, was a Muslim, he lived in Hyderabad,