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Bengal gift lights up Pather Panchali author’s home

- Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s bust, solar illumination at Ghatshila residence Gauri Kunj

His imagination lit up the world of Bengali literature in the first half of the 20th century. It’s only fitting that his last abode is illuminated for his admirers to visit and reminisce about their beloved author.

Gauri Kunj in Ghatshila, where renowned Bengali author Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay spent his last days, is no longer shrouded in darkness at evenings, thanks to an initiative from the City of Joy.

Rotary Club Purbalok of Calcutta has donated a solar system with LED bulbs to light up each room of Gauri Kunj. The move will ensure visitors can flock to the author’s home at any time of the day.

Besides the solar system, the Calcutta outfit has also donated a bust of Bandyopadhyay, which was unveiled on Saturday at a small function near the author’s home.

Among those present were Jamshedpur MP Bidyut Baran Mahto, Rajya Sabha member Pradeep Balmuchu and senior journalist with Ananda Bazar Patrika Debdut Ghosh Thakur.

The Rotary move comes after Calcutta-based Aninda Chakroborty, an ardent admirer of Bandyopadhyay, approached the club, of which he is a member.

“I came to Bibhutibabu’s residence when I visited Ghatshila in 1985. When I returned earlier this year after a very long gap, I was surprised to learn that this heritage site does not have electricity. Since I had to leave the next day, I used my cellphone to look around. On returning to Calcutta, I decided to do something about it,” said Chakroborty.

Chakroborty added that Rotary Club Purbalok formed a five-member team that visited Ghatshila to check ifthey could go ahead with the exercise.

Later, they joined hands with Gouri Kunj Unnayan Samiti, which implemented the plan at a cost of nearly Rs 1 lakh. “Installing author’s bust at his last abode was one of the last wishes of his son and litterateur Taradas Bandyopadhyay, who passed away in 2010,” said Chakraborty.

The Rotary club, he added, had more plans for the heritage site.

“We are thinking about making an audio of nearly 15 minutes to be played at Gouri Kunj. It would tell visitors about author’s life and works,” he said.

Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay stayed in Ghatshila from 1938 until his death on November 1, 1950.

Known for penning timeless classics like Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar, together referred to as the Apu Trilogy after Satyajit Ray brought them to life on screen, the author apparently got the house when a person who had borrowed Rs 500 from him failed to pay back.

“A man took Rs 500 from Bibhutibhushan and was never able to repay it. After a long time, the author met the man on College Street and the latter said he could not repay the loan and offered the house instead. After the house was registered, the author came here to live. He loved this place,” said Tapash Chatterjee, president of Gouri Kunj Unnayan Samiti.


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