Yeh Papa ka college hai…

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Mr Ajit Kumar Alok in front of his department with family

Papa yahan khelta thha?” lisped a 3-year-old Ghrishneshvar, as he pointed out to the Tata Steel sports ground, just opposite to the Ramanujan Complex. He, along with his elder sister, Ujjavalaa, both toddlers, were at IIT Kharagpur campus for the first time with their parents and elder brother Aayush, who is in IIT-BHU. Their father, Mr Ajit Kumar Alok, a 1995 alumnus of the Electrical Engineering Department of the Institute, was here to attend the 17th Annual Alumni Meet held at the campus from 10th to 12th January 2020.

Aayush with Ghrishneshvar and Ujjavalaa

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when The KGP Chronicle caught up with these two pre-schoolers at the Arena. They had just come from Lala Lajpat Rai (LLR) Hall of Residence, which was their father’s address from 1991 to 1995. Excited to know that their ‘Papa’ was just like them – he also carried a bag to college. “Humko bhi jana padhega?”, “Will there be a playground with jhula in my college? – came in questions one after the other. Too young to understand the concept of a campus, what really mattered to them was whether their father felt homesick. The fact of staying away from home for four years didn’t quite go down well with them. Aayush kept smiling all the while keeping a hawk’s eye on his younger siblings.

Ghrishneshvar with his mother Alka

For their mother, Mrs Alka Sinha Alok, it was also her first time on this campus. “It feels wonderful to be able to converse in Bengali after such a long time. I am originally from Chittaranjan, near Asansol, but due to my husband’s transferrable job, we stay in Punjab and there is absolutely no scope of speaking the language,” she let out a sigh of relief. She missed her friends who were the wives of her husband’s friends in Bangalore. “They had some prior commitments, and so couldn’t come,” she regretted.

Mr Alok in front of the Institute main building

Mr Alok is a senior employee with the Indian Railways. His job requires him to shift his base every three years. “For me, it is my job, but for my family, it gets very taxing, especially for the children. But then, they are slowly getting used to a cosmopolitan culture, which I think should mould them into better human beings,” remarked Mr Alok. Thus when the daughter pointed out to a Punjabi dish on the menu which she didn’t quite like, but loved the mishti doi, it did not come as a surprise.

Ujjavalaa playing the drums

Yahan papa ko khana koun khilata thha?” asked Ujjavalaa, while fiddling with the drums in one segment of the Arena. Now that was a real googly. The close to 12,000 students on campus make friends who ultimately become second family to them. Their father himself did so, which is why he was back for the Annual Alumni Meet… to be with his long lost friends. But that is something beyond the comprehension of little Ujjavalaa. For the pre-schooler, it is impossible to imagine a world without parental love and attention. Hence her innocent query.

Currently residents of RCF Kapoorthala Punjab, the Aloks would be moving out of the place very soon since Mr Alok has already been transferred to Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh. “I will miss my friends at Oxford Junior School,” said the two munchkins in unison, “but will have new friends in Ratlam,” chipped in Ujjavalaa.

The family had a wonderful time in the campus. The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves running along the tree-lined campus roads, enjoying swing and see-saw rides at the children parks and dancing to the tunes of Balam Pichkari on the Gala Dinner Night with bonfire and DJ, on Saturday 11th January 2020.

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