Thursday, May 21, 2015

She's come home to me!



                                                She's come home to me
                                     (Dedicated to the memory of my ‘intellectual mother’, my Chotomoni)


Many year before she left her mortal body, she had called me one day in Delhi, to tell me she was going to visit and stay with me here for two months. My partner and I were really happy and looking forward to her coming. 

However, back where she stayed in Kolkata, discussions began at her home about how she could be sent to Delhi. Her husband had got so used to having her around, serving his every need, her son had not outgrown the umbilical cord connection, her own home needed her for each and every thing – what was going to be cooked each day, how much and for how many people – the list went on and on. Needless to say, the discussion of her coming to Delhi ended, only when she decided not to come at all.

Next, I decided to spend a year in Kolkata in my newly acquired home. My flat was only a forty-five minute taxi distance from hers. I pleaded with her to come and stay a week with me, with her husband, my meshamoshai. But then, once again the question arose, as to how she could go, because her husband refused to come along and her young toddler grandson, I was told by her, asked every day, before he went to Kindergarten, whether, she his granny would be home when he returned from school…

The plan to come stay with me was dropped yet again!

I was furious! Women, I told her, always put themselves aside to put men first and then complain that they don’t get heard. My Chotomoni, only smiled. After all, it was her gentleness which was most used against her. 

I never asked her again. I knew she would feel guilty both ways, to refuse me or to listen to her family only. I did not want her to suffer the fragmentation of an undecided mind. I let it go and instead increased my visits to hers.

Until, last year, on 16th May, 2014, she left her body. I was not at her bedside at that moment, but when I went back to her house after a few days, her photo greeted me with the enigmatic smile that was typically hers. I wept uncontrollably. She had not set foot in the house, that was mine and she would never do so, now.

On the 6th this month, May, 2015, we completed the one year death formalities by Hindu rituals at Kolkata.
On the 16th evening, I called my brother, her son in Kolkata and talked to him, consoling him. On the 17th I woke with a dream vivid as real life. 

In my dream, I was preparing to eat a breakfast of what used to be my maternal grandfather’s favourite dinner. Doodh rooti  is what it is called. Chappatis torn to small pieces and thrown into milk, with a dash of sugar, was in our family pure joy, learnt from habits passed down the generations. 

I saw, my partner returning home with Chotomoni beside her. I was overjoyed. Helping her to sit on a chair, I hurried to give her my bowl of doodh rooti, which she accepted and was stirring the spoon in the bowl, before taking a bite, when she looked at me and said clearly –

“Wear diamonds around your neck.”

I was a little stunned, both from the fact that I was not given to such showbiz, nor felt I could do so because diamonds are so expensive, but my partner interpreted the dream to mean, that in her accepting the doodh rooti, she has indicated that she has accepted what I have had to offer her and in return she has blessed me with the diamonds, to symbolize, a sparkling white and pure clarity of life and path ahead.

No wonder, then, to keep the magic of the moment alive in me, I quickly placed the Chrystals around my neck.

She has come home to me, my Chotomoni. I am wearing her around my neck.


On the isle side in a printed border white silk sari, Chotomoni, Dr Pratima Konar seen here with her friend and room mate with whom she lived over seven years in London, doing her Ph.D. This picture was taken when they were visiting Holland. She wrote at the back of the photo taken in the 60s, Mira Dasgupta and Pratima on boat in Europe.


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