At the beginning of June 2021, the one and a half acre land of Mission Tirhutipur was almost deserted. It had neither a boundary nor a roof. In the rainy season, it was impossible to call and teach the children there. The option of initiating the Study Centre within the village was already exhausted due to the rains. Often a thought arose in my mind that I should start the process of building the Geodesic Dome, but seeing my financial condition, all the enthusiasm would have cooled down.
In such a situation, one day Kamal Nayan said that why not make a thatched hut. I was not very excited by this option but I could not refuse him as there was no other way. Taking my silence as my approval, Kamal started scrambling for the hut. He collected most of the material of the hut free from the village. We had to buy some stuff from the market. But that too was arranged somehow and thus by June 15, two huts got ready. This solved our immediate problem. Now we could gather the students in one place. Our hut was not robust enough to save us from the heavy rain, but yes, it provided reasonable protection from the sun and minor rains.
The study centers we ran within the village from January to April were very successful in their own right, but restarting them again in June was not very useful. Now we wanted to implement an advanced version of that experiment. Kamal, Harsh and I collectively came to the conclusion that the time has come to move forward a few steps in the direction of the Gurukul that was mentioned earlier in the documentary film of Mission Tirhutipur in January.
In order to implement the new plan, Kamal visited each house of the village and enlisted the children who were really serious about their studies. Usually, only children between the ages of 10 and 18 were taken. We were very much keen to call all the children, but there were many practical difficulties, due to which it was not possible to do that at the moment. People in the village were also understanding our difficulty, so no one insisted on teaching the kids.
When all the preparations were completed, then on June 20, on the day of Ganga Dussehra, we inaugurated our Gurukul. Coincidentally, the Beso river flowing between my village and Tirhutipur was in flood. Somehow we managed to cross the river. When Harsh and I reached the Gurukul’s hut, we found that 34 children were waiting for us. They were all happy with this new look of the study center. Since It was the first day, I did some light talks and closed the proceedings by sunset.
Regular classes of the Gurukul started the next day. Gradually, we developed a routine. During the first half, we used to study, contemplate and discuss the various methods and principles of education, and in the second half usually between 5 pm and 7 pm in the evening it was time to do all practical experiments in the Gurukul. It was Harsh’s responsibility to go to the Gurukul and teach every day. I was giving him as much support as possible from behind. Since all the children were now coming to the same place, Harsh was able to pay good attention to them.
We wanted to give exclusive focus on the works of Gurukul till our first anniversary i.e. Dussehra. But the illegal sale of liquor and open gambling in the village was a constant source of irritation. Due to this the environment around the Gurukul was also getting spoiled. Since my hands were full with many more pressing assignments, I had decided that I would intervene in this matter only when there was some initiative from the village side. This happened in August when the village Pradhan raised this issue. Then I quit my neutral position and sided with Pradhan to bring order in the village.
On August 11, I wrote a letter on behalf of the mission and asked Kamal to hand it over to the local police station. The village head and other dignitaries also accompanied him. I was apprehensive that the local police would adopt a procrastinating attitude in this matter, as such works are not their priority.
When Kamal and others came back from the police station, I came to know that the behavior of the Police Inspector was very irresponsible and objectionable. Hearing all this, I felt sad. I was not very keen to use my contacts in the village matters, but here I had no other option. I informed this matter to some of my friends sitting in high positions in the Government. They did their job and within a few hours, the police became very friendly. Immediate action was taken on the illegal sale of liquor and other illegal activities in the village. But all this did not remove my sadness. I knew that in a few days the police would return to their old ways.
The policing system has its challenges, but for the time being, the biggest challenge before us was to maintain the routine of Gurukul. On August 14, I learned that Harsh would have to go to Mohali as the next session of his institute (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research) would not be online but offline. For the last two months, Harsh was running the Gurukul alone. I was not sure how I would run the gurukul in his absence.
Time was passing fast. After staying in the village for almost three and a half months, Harsh left for Mohali on September 1. I too was almost out of the village in September. In the absence of me and Harsh, all the responsibility of the mission fell on Kamal’s shoulders. In the Gurukul, he now had to play the role of not only the manager but also the guru. Initially, there was some difficulty, but gradually Kamal adapted himself according to the new need and continued the Gurukul.
Today is October 10th. This diary of Mission Tirhutipur has now come out of the memory lanes of the past and has touched the solid ground of the present. In the next few days, we will complete one year of Mission Tirhutipur. I don’t have any great achievements to count on this occasion. But it is a matter of immense satisfaction that my enthusiasm for the mission is intact.
When I started the work in the village last year, I had enough enthusiasm. But at the same time, I also had a fear. I felt that the problems of the village might force me to seek refuge in the city. Due to this fear, I had decided not to raise funds from society for at least one year. Today, when one year is about to complete, I can say that almost all my fears have vanished by the grace of Maa Bhagwati. Now I sincerely believe that my prospective decisions will be governed not by any fear or apprehension but by the power of auspicious resolve and strong determination. Good Bye.
Vimal Kumar Singh
Convener, Mission Tirhutipur