Missionary mentor muses Purno’s childhood

From Cosmos Sangma

TURA: Behind every Aristotle there is a Plato. Purno Agitok Sangma found his mentor in the form of Rev. Fr Giovanni Battista Busolin, an inspirational Catholic Italian missionary who would shape the former’s date with destiny.
The 95 year old missionary spoke to this scribe on Sunday afternoon fondly recalling his close association with the young 13 year old boy of Chapahati village who he took under his wings 58 years ago.
“When I heard the news of his sudden passing away, I felt that God had made a mistake. I should have been taken first. I am 95 years old. It was a very sad moment,” said Fr Busolin.
Remembering the first time he came across Purno Sangma at Chapahati village, Fr Busolin said that their meeting happened in 1958 when he had gone to inspect the missionary primary school set up by Fr Archimedes.
“I found him to be a very bright boy. He was able to answer every question I put to him. I was impressed,” recalled Fr Busolin.
The same year Purno Sangma, who was the youngest in the family, cleared his primary education and moved to middle school at nearby Nogorpara but the sudden death of his father coupled with poverty forced him out of school.
Fr Busolin was able to convince Purno Sangma’s mother      to hand him over to his care so that he could be enrolled in the new middle school set up at Tura, near the Cathedral parish by another Italian priest by the name of Anthony Bucceri.
“Purno and I set off for Tura, 80 kms away, on foot after visiting some more villages along the way,” recalled Fr Busolin.
He also spoke about the magnanimity of Purno Sangma who while attending the middle school at Dalu by staying at the Catholic mission hostel went out of his way to teach the young boarders of the primary level before attending to his own classes every morning.
On the decision of young P.A. Sangma to join politics after completion of his law studies at Dibrugarh, Fr Busolin pointed out that he never discussed politics with him. “I left it to his (Purno’s) wisdom. I was interested in his soul, on him being a good Christian and a good citizen.”
The enduring modesty of the Garo leader was best symbolised during his regular trips to the St. Luke Church near Holy Cross Hospital in Tura where he would prefer to sit amongst the common people instead of accepting a seat upfront.
One of the things Fr Busolin asked of P.A. Sangma was to always work for the development of the people.
In 1971 Fr Busolin had sought P.A. Sangma’s assistance in starting the middle school for students of Rongjeng area.
“I asked him to help since it was difficult to help pay for teachers salaries. He came forward and helped to make it a deficit school,” said Fr Busolin.
Terming the late Sangma as a leader of international repute, Fr Busolin termed him as a welcoming leader who extended a helping hand to everyone who called on him, irrespective of whichever religion they may have belonged to.
While he disagreed with some of P.A. Sangma’s political decisions, nevertheless, Fr Busolin recalled him as a leader of international repute, a man of the masses who extended a helping hand to everyone who called on him, irrespective of one’s religious dispensation.
“He was a true Christian because he helped everybody,” concluded Fr Busolin.

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