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IPS officer breathes life into driftwood

You might be in for a surprise if you visit the official residence of IPS officer P.K. Das at Nathnagar in the silk city. A polar bear, albeit of driftwood, will welcome you.

That is not all. Das, the principal of Police Training School, Nathnagar, has transformed his home into a makeshift museum of driftwood sculpture — artefacts made of wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach of a sea or a river by the action of winds, tides, waves or man.

The 50-year-old, hailing from Bhagalpur, took the additional charge of the police training school recently. He is also the assistant director of Bihar Police Academy, Patna. Back at home, Das has also returned to his fascination with driftwood sculpture.

He said: “Since childhood, I was interested in driftwood sculptures. I used to visit the house of artists late Sahesh Chandra Sinha (popular to the people as Tukul babu) and his wife late Latika Sinha. They were pioneers of large-sized driftwood sculpture in the town.” Tukul babu had even named his house in Choti Khanjarpur locality of he city “Kath ka sapna (dream of woods)”.

The couple, according to Das, had a unique collection of driftwood sculptures. “You can find many driftwood works around the country but Tukul babu’s collection was unique. They were all made from one piece of wood and were extraordinarily large,” he said.

However, much to Das’s dismay, since the couple’s demise over six years ago, there was nobody to take care of the sculptures. “Soon after I came here, I went to Tukul babu. I was shocked to see the poor condition of the valuable treasures. After the couple’s demise, there was no one to take care of the rare works,” said Das.

Taking the initiative to preserve the treasured sculptures, Das brought all of them to his home. Pointing at the sculptures displayed all around the home, Das said: “Look at this polar bear. It is made from a single piece of bamboo root. The python is made from a branch of a tree, while the mother and her son is made with a similar/single piece of wood.”

Das has also decided to establish a permanent museum for the collections of Tukul babu and has started work on preserving the artefacts. He has engaged the trainee constables of his Police Training School in the conservation of the driftwood sculptures.

Mukesh Kumar, one of the trainee constables at the school helping Das in the preservation work, said: “For the first time, I feel something special when I work on maintaining the driftwood sculptures here. Though wood has no life, the structures speak ample of the artistic language.”

Das said: “My students work on maintenance of guns and rifles. But now they have the opportunity to handle such artwork. I am sure that the creativity in the wood would certainly stimulate positive thinking in them and they would be a benefited lot.”

Asked how he manages to further his interest in the driftwood sculptures while donning his khaki, Das laughed and said: “I am also engaged in a special training project — image transformation project — for cops, right from deputy superintendents of police to constables. A project of the Bihar government, its main aim is to make cops well behaved and fit. Sensitivity is required to handle such an important project. Luckily, my inclination towards art and literature comes handy.”