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Changing Times – Presidency University Bids Adieu to its Legacy of Graffiti on Walls

Presidency University is losing an integral part of its culture-the expression of opinion through graffiti on walls.

The Hindu College was established in 1817 in the city of Calcutta. It is much later that it came to be known as Presidency College and then, Presidency University. Presidency served as alma mater to Sukumar Ray, Subhas Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen and many more stalwart figures. Derozio himself, had taught in Presidency(then known as Hindu College). Derozio’s disposition  towards his students was clearly manifested in his poem, “A Sonnet to the Pupils of Hindu College,” where he wrote:

“What joyance rains upon me, when I see

Fame in the mirror of futurity

Wearing the chaplets you are yet to gain

And then I feel I have not lived in vain”

Thus, Presidency was a force to be reckoned with in every sense of the term.

But when we stepped into the campus, years later, that zest for life and hunger for truth, the kind of education that was imparted by Derozio was on the verge of ebbing away. The Derozians could no longer take part in anything bigger than the academic scheme of things for they would be debarred from sitting for the examination. The legacy of protests and uninhibited opinions had come to a standstill. No matter how hard they tried, they could not break free. No more of Ray’s Non-sense Club or Bose’s undying spirit would be reborn there.

Our seniors would tell us, “How would you understand? You haven’t quite seen the Presidency we have!” We use to laugh at that but we knew something was missing.

Our teachers, especially, the ones who had once been the students of Presidency and now, served as professors, would tell us in a nostalgic moment, “What we experienced in Presidency was nowhere even near to what you are seeing”.

Indeed, we were missing out on a lot.

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The graffiti on the walls of Union Room manifests the democratic spirit of the University.

However, the walls still could talk to us. Their graffiti was still staring back at us. They still bore witness to the legacy of the past and were in no way forgetting it. They still remained vocal about their protest against AFSPA, against constant vigilance and their demand for student’s union election. But, for how long?

Little did they know that soon they would be covered in the facades of an utterly modern life.  Their voices would be silenced and put into a lifelong slumber. We had a little bit of art and love left inside Presidency and that too, would get drained.

Another graffiti.
Another graffiti.

No more Buddha, no more of that impeccable telephone. No more would the walls scream out, demanding what is rightfully theirs.

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When all of this havoc was reeking on us, a friend decided to capture the remnants and preserve it by capturing the beautiful wall art in her camera. If Buddha was gone, how long would others last? It was a novel initiative on her part, a way to hold on to something before it was gone forever,  but it never should have come to that.

The walls after being renovated.
The walls after being renovated.

On our 199th year, we are being forced to say goodbye to our legacy of graffiti on walls.

-by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: Etrui14

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