Album and Autobiography-7

I adore my mother for the supreme sacrifices she made for her father and uncles and then for me. I have mentioned that in my earlier entries too. I was alone of my generation in my family. Nirmal, my first cousin brother was born when I was in the final year of Intermediate Science in Presidency College. I would have inherited pretty good amount of share from the joint family. But my mother would, perhaps, have thought of passing over to me much more in landed property. She agreed to live with her father and then uncle after the death of her mother and aunty. And perhaps that was the reason that I remained the lone child of my parents. My mother visited Pipra, our paternal village only on certain occasions such as marriages.

As my great grandmother and the grandmother told me when I had grown up that I was a pretty difficult child. I would insist my mother to come and feed me her milk on bed itself in the morning, when she would be busy in household works as the eldest daughter-in-law of her generation. Though annoyed immensely, she would come with dirty hands and oblige me. She had to cook. She had to clean. She had to take care of all elderly ladies. That was the practice, and my mother religiously did it all and a little more.

My maternal grandmother was terminally ill. My mother and I went to Bodarhi, my maternal village when I was just a kid in a bullock cart. It took almost the whole day for a distance of 20 and odd kms. My mother took over the household affairs. I got mixed with the kids in the neighbourhood. That was the only time that I liked the village. After some months, the village had shown symptom of an epidemic that was very common in rural India those days with very poor hygiene sense in the people and almost no healthcare facilities. My maternal grandfather and my mother got concerned. A message went to my grandfather who happened to be in Pipra on holiday from Calcutta. My grandfather came with three other persons, got me in the mango garden in the eastern part of the village and took me to my paternal village. He had a mention of that in his diary. In Bikramgunj we had to stay for the night as we had missed the last train. I had cried for my mother while in sleep that night. Thereafter I came to my maternal village only rarely along with someone or the other of the paternal family. I never stayed for more than two-three days. It appears my attachment with my mother also declined and became very formal. When I grew up and started living in Birlapur (near Calcutta), I used to go to Bodarhi as she would give a lot of money. She used to insist on me to stay for some more days with her. But I never found the village congenial for me and preferred to spend most of my holidays in Pipra where there were many to love me and many to play with. I am sure she would have been feeling sorry and missing me, but she never expressed it loudly. She thought I am away from her only for schooling and to achieve bigger goal that was good enough a reason for the sacrifice.

After the death of her uncle, my father joined her in Bodarhi, but all the land related decisions remained with her. She remained the ‘malkin’ of the family. I liked very much one aspect of her behavior. She would appear to be very angry and annoyed with my grandfather, uncles, and even the tenants of her land or workers, but then after just sometime she would become very kindhearted and give whatever they asked for, the money or grain. I remember giving my uncles in cash and kinds that they wanted or they would have spent on coming to her or on her.

I tried to do what my mother wanted from me. She had some land in eastern side of the village that didn’t have any irrigation facility. In one annual holiday, though I didn’t have any experience I got a well dug for using the Persian wheel (Rehant) for irrigation. No one helped me. I searched for the labour (nonias) who were expert. Sometimes, I myself worked physically too to expedite the completion. I could see the happiness that mother got out of my interest in getting the work done. The well got ready. She got pleased and that I cherish. And then she wanted a house to be constructed on the outskirt of the village where we had our land. Our old house was inside the village and cramped too. My maternal grandfather and his brothers with no male child to inherit never bothered and thrust their right to get their due share.


I started the construction of the new house after getting bricks made a year earlier. I wanted a big enough modern house, built with all facilities with a hand operated pump inside the bathroom and toilet inside the house itself. I had to invest all that I was saving for the education of the three kids. And I really worked hard and Yamuna too. Cement was scarce in those days. The trouble in building the house can be appreciated only by those who had experienced it. I went up to the cement factory at Banzari near Rohtas Garh alone in search of cement, but failed in the mission. I bought suspect quality in small lot from different places. I used to reach very often pretty late in night carrying the stone chips from Karwandia near Sasaram. My mother would not like it for safety reason. But in my youth I did never care about anything to happen with me. However, my mother got major things done and completed the house. My mother was very happy and I was happy to see her happy. I planned and arranged a seven days Yagya with Siva as the main deity at Bodarhi after the completion of the house. That was the time when our car with me in driving seat overturned and toppled near Asansol, while we were going to Bodarhi. Yamuna with the three sons, a servant and late Gauri Sankar Rai was in the car. The car got badly damaged, but we could start our Ambassador car and reach Bodarhi on the next day afternoon. That was a great experience and every one even today remembers that. My parents performed the Yagya. I made all arrangements. On the last day, it was big feast with all many relatives and all the village men and women whom I had invited by personally going to their house. My father had gone very weak because of the fast. My mother was very happy to see perhaps the first function that large in her village which became the last one too.
Mother loved greenery. She had planted some fruit bearing trees in the courtyard. I too loved to sit in the courtyard. But it didn’t last for many years.

My mother used to visit Hind Motors occasionally after Yamuna came to live with me. After the birth of the kids, she started coming more frequently. She was the favourite of my sons. The call of duty and the attraction of Bodarhi would make her leave us and go to Bodarhi.

In 1982, I went to UK with Yamuna and stayed there for almost two months. Rakesh was appearing for School final. My mother took charge of the house with great Syamal who again remained with us for many years. I still remember some of skirmishes of my mother with Syamal who used to tease her as was the practice in Bengali homes.

Once my mother visited us with a Brahmin priest family of Bodarhi for the pilgrimage to Ganga Sagar followed by vesting Puri. Jamuna Baba with his aid Chandradev from my village also happened to join them. Yamuna took them to both the places. I am sure Yamuna would have got a lot of blessings from the elders.

It was only 1988 that we made her come and live with us in Hind Motors as my father was with us because of his bad health. He couldn’t go back. There was no point to leave my mother alone in Bodarhi. It used to be real worrying days and nights with no facilities of telecommunication in those days. With the presence of my mother at Hind Motors, I found my worries about her gone.

I was fortunate to live for at least some years happily with father, mother, three kids and sometimes my cousins as a big enough family in Hind Motors many years.

Unfortunately, I failed to understand that she would have loved to go back to Bodarhi to collect the outcomes of the land. I went myself with Yamuna. We were constructing our Salt Lake residence, AJIRA. My mother was very happy about the AJIRA project. She had been to the site in Diwali to light the lamps and had stayed overnight.

It was February 28, 1989. Yamuna had left for Salt Lake where we were constructing AJIRA. I was fortunately in factory board room in a meeting of Corporate Project Planning. The news reached the office. My mother had suffered a severe cerebral attack. I rushed home. I lifted her in my hands and came down the staircase. I called SK Roy Chaoudhry, my colleague who was passing through. He took us to Hind Motor Hospital. We sent message to Yamuna in Salt Lake through Mrs. Santi Singh. She returned and came straight to Hind Motor Hospital. But by that time, my mother had gone in coma. She never recovered. The same night she left us. My father took it very boldly. A big crowd joined her in the last rites on Sivatalla Ghat. The saddest day had come for me. I had to face it.

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