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The 1947 Partition Archive Survivors and their Memories

Oral history with Kalipada Malakar, 2016 December 18.
Oral history with Kalipada Malakar, 2016 December 18.
Malakar, Kalipada, Hossain, Dilwar, and Malabar, Mrittika
Author (no Collectors):
Malakar, Kalipada, Hossain, Dilwar, Hossain, Dilwar, and Malabar, Mrittika
Mr. Kalipada Malakar was born in 1922 (approximately) at Thanaghat, Saatkhira, in the district of Khulna presently in Bangladesh. He belonged to prosperous family which owned more than 12 acres of land. They were also entitled to collect taxes from the local Local ‘Haat’ or the weekly marketplace as the ‘Haat” was taken in lease by them from the Jamindar of Satkhira for 100 rupees a year. Their house was situated almost on 3 acres of land surrounded by pond, gardens, etc.Their village was named Thanaghat because earlier the police station or ‘Thana’ was situated at their village, however it was was shifted later to the local town of Saatkhira. There were two High Schools at Saatkhira- one for the boys and one for the girls. Students from distant places used to come to school; some of the girls used to attend the School travelling by bullock-carts. Mr. Malakar’s father died at an early age. He was an amateur clay artist. Kalipada had learnt the basics of idol- making and other handicraft from his father.The village where was Mr. Malakar grown up was inhabited by the upper caste Hindu. However there were some families from the lower caste community like Pramanik (barber) at the village. The Muslims lived at the bank of a lake adjacent to Mr Malakar’s residence. All the communities used to live in harmony and peace; however the inter-community interaction was very formal as the members were conscious of their social/religious status. The ‘Haat’ was the place of social and economical interaction of the people coming from different strata of society. Being the so-called collector/ owner of the ‘Haat’ the family members of Mr. Malakar were respected by the merchants and common people.Common festivals that were observed at their village are Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Swraswati Puja, Lakshmi Puja etc. Mr. Malakar narrates that Satyanaryan Puja was observed, without failing, on the very last day of every Bengali calendar-month in their household. He remembers that there was no temple/place of worship at their village.There was a great craze for performing plays amongst the youth at that time in village and its surrounding regions- almost every village had a troop of play, performed at various occasions. The troop of the village where Mr Malakar had grown up was very active and enthusiastic. They used to hire makeup artist and Dresser from the city of Calcutta for performing plays. Most of the plays performed by them were mythological and few were historical. At the age of sixteen Mr. Malakar acted in his first play named “Sita”; it was a mythological play and he acted in the role of ‘Kush’- the son of God Rama. He, still, can utter the dialogues of the play in a ‘full throated ease.’ He was awarded with a silver medal by a local barrister for his performance in his debut play. Latter in his life he has portrayed characters of various shades in different plays.After a family-trifle during 1942-43 he left his house and came to stay at Beleghata in Calcutta. While staying there for two years he earned his food by working at a Hat Factory. Later he went back to his home and 1945 he was married to Kankprava Malakar. He remembers his experience of riding in palanquins while returning back for his in-laws house for the first time.After the Partition, he never intended to migrate from his homeland. But his other relatives and his cousin migrated to West Bengal leaving almost nothing for him in Bangladesh. He came to India taking only rupees 250 with him. Moreover the growing conflict and violence among the communalities after the Partition compelled him to settle in India.Coming to India in 1949, he had stayed a few months at some of his in-laws house and then had moved to refugee camp at Beleghata. While living at the camp he took up job of assisting idol-making at Kumartuli- the famous idol crafting area of Calcutta. Later West Bengal Government allotted him a certain area of land at Subhaspur, Kankinara in the district of North 24 Parganas where he settled thereafter.He managed to run his family but making clay-idols of various God and Goddess and by crafting different handicrafts. He improvised the artistry made from sponge wood or sola. In his struggling days he used to supply topor (a conical sola coronet worn by the bride and groom during Hindu marriage ceremony) and some other handicrafts from shop to shop. Later his crafted idols of Goddess Durga and Swraswati made of sponge wood make him earn the honor of an artist. Now sponge wood idols made by him have been shipped to Dubai, London and even to USA.Mr. Malakar feels Partition has taken away a innumerable things and friends from him. However he consoles himself saying that new country has given him the opportunity to improve in his artistry in sponge wood which has given him standard livehood and great honour.
Physical Description:
5 video files
Publication Info:
Kolkata (India)
Kolkata (India), December 18, 2016
Filmed interviews