If you are in search of an example to draw inspiration to follow your passion, Samir Ranjan Das may be a worthy one for you. A banker by profession and a literature-enthusiast at heart, Samir belongs to Jashapada village in Kandarpur of Cuttack district. Known as a ‘Manoj-Das-maniac’ among his family and friends, he invests his entire time after work to read, record, share and preserve the writings and the speeches of his ideal author Sri Manoj Das, the ‘Vishnu Sharma’ of modern Odia literature. Diligent efforts and thorough research by a unique team lead by him have made it possible for the fans of the writer to relish authentic information about his life and works on the website http://www.worldofmanojdas.in.
Hyderabad based ARUN DASH, himself an ardent admirer of Sri Manoj Das and a blogger at #idlemusingz, managed to interview Samir on the eve of the 85th Birthday of the legendary writer.
- Arun: Your field of study during the post-graduation days in Ravenshaw was not literature. How and when did you fall in love with literature?
Samir: It does not always happen that one chooses a subject for academic study according to one’s spontaneous love. Factors like advice of teachers, guardians, etc. as well as availability of a subject influence one’s academic choice. I love literature right from my childhood. Rather I should say, for me, study of literature academically would have been superfluous. Love of literature was in my veins.
- Arun: There is no dearth of options in Odishan literature, English inclusive, when one comes to pick one ideal author to adore and admire. What made you choose Sri Manoj Das as your ideal author?
Samir: Well, somebody loves thumri, somebody loves ghazal, somebody loves popular film songs and somebody loves classical music. Literary tastes vary. For me, in music, classical is favourite; in literature, Manoj Das’s works are favourite.
- Arun: Meeting your idol Sri Manoj Das for the first time must have been a life-changing experience. Narrate the experience of that dream-meeting, briefly.
Samir: The answer is inherent in your question. I agree, it was my most memorable experience.
To be frank, before I met him, he was something of a fantasy for me. In keeping with the excellence of his creations, I dreamt that he must be living in an equally excellent mansion; he must be driving an imported car.
But when I approached his residence, I found it to be a modest one and I was shocked that he and his wife Pratijna Devi rode only bicycles. When asked about it, he simply said that the Pondicherry roads were heavenly for the joy of cycling. I was deeply touched.
- Arun: You have almost a decade-long association with Sri Manoj Das. But your enthusiasm to read and share his timeless creations and preserve them in the best possible manner for posterity has only grown more and more. What gets you going?
Samir: The more I delve deeper and deeper into his literature, the more I feel that I am swimming over the blue waters towards a charming horizon, never being tired. The experience becomes richer and richer; my understandings of human nature, human possibilities, and human promises grow wider. It is like a pleasant intoxication.
- Arun: Your dream project in has now grown up to become a pretty comprehensive resource on the life and writings of Sri Manoj Das, and Sri Das must be aware of this venture. Have you ever got a chance to know his personal views on this initiative? Let us know his views.
Samir: Answering a similar question, he had once said that the inspiration that makes him write comes from the very source from which the love for his literature in the hearts of his readers comes. But all I know is, he rarely sees the website. Maybe, he takes a look at a part of it when any of his friends draws his attention towards it.