The brutal murder of Patna University’s Prof. Papiya Ghosh and her elderly maidservant at her home in Patna on December 3 shocked the academic community in Bihar. A brave and popular singleton, Prof. Ghosh taught history to postgrad students at Patna University.
It has been almost five years since my aunt Papiya Ghosh and Malti Devi were brutally murdered in our family’s home in Patna. Though several years have passed, the pain and injustice of their murders remain raw. Every time a birthday or holiday passes without hearing Bumble’s voice, the harsh reality that she is gone sets in.
Bumble used to call me "son." How fortunate I was all those years, and I did not know it. I had a second mother in Bumble mashi. She knew it, and every interaction she had with me reflected this maternal sense. Virtually every phone call and email, as well as those precious personal visits, began with a simple salutation: "Hello, son!" Hearing those words always cheered me up.
Goodbye my bumble,
Goodbye my friend
May you ever grow in our hearts,
You were the grace that blessed us all.
You used to captivate me
By your resonating life
Now you belong to heaven
And the stars spell out your name
you and I born of the same mother, struggled for life from the same womb, yet unknown to each other, they killed you, plunged their knives into your fragile body, like Brutus hath done to Caesar
Professor Papiya Ghosh
It was my great fortune to be neighbour to Papiya during six happy months at the Indian Institute for Advanced Studies in Shimla in 1995. Papiya was on leave from her home city and university of Patna. She had a very friendly and warm personality, a powerful voice and infectious laugh, and was supportive of all her many friends. She was not above putting them straight when they needed to be, without causing offence.
Most people knew Papiya Ghosh as a professor, a teacher, and a historian. However, very few knew her as a poet who penned a number of short poems that expressed her true feelings about things she cared.
It has been more than a week, Professor Papiya Ghosh, the noted historian from Patna was brutally murdered, yet the police haven't been able to find any leads.
Nearly 15 months after her brutal slaying at her home in Patna, Prof. Papiya Ghosh's books 'Community and Nation - Essays on Identity and Politics in Eastern India and Civil Disobedience Movement in Bihar, 1933-34, were released by the then Lok Sabha Speaker Mr. Somnath Chatterjee at a function in Delhi on March 9, 2008.
Prof. Papiya Ghosh's book Muhajirs and the Nation: Bihar in the 1940s (New Delhi: Routledge), 2010; that was published posthumously three years after her death in 2006 is reviewed by Meher Fatima Hussain in the Economic & Political Weekly Nov. 13, 2010 issue.