AJIRA: Down the Memory Lane

It happened perhaps in 1982. I became the Chief Production Engineer, Mechanical in Hindustan Motors, Uttarpara after working for almost ten years in production shop floor in Engine and Axle Plants. Banerji was working for me in as chief planning engineer. One Banerji asked me to tell Bhattacharya to get allotted a plot of land in Salt Lake for building a residence of my own. Bhattacharya worked as clerk in my office when I was manager in Axle Plant. I never knew that Bhattacharya is so an important person and he had so close contact with the Chief Minister. I called Bhattacharya and expressed my desire. Bhattacharya requested me to put an application requesting for getting a plot of land in Salt Lake to build a house for permanent settlement after retirement and I did. I was surprised when I received a letter dated October 28, 1981, allotting a little more than 4 kathas of land in Salt Lake, sector II on a lease of 999 years at the rate of Rs 100,000 per katha. As I was told, with the salary that I was getting at that time I couldn’t have got bigger plot.

Whatever I had saved since 1961 when I started working for Hindustan Motors, I had spent first in the enterprises of my youngest uncle at Pipra and later on to satisfy the wishes of my mother in building a house in Bodarhi, her village. It ended with a Shiva Yagya at Bodarhi.

However, I wanted to have a shelter in some metro city. I took an Rs 10,000 loan from Provident Fund Account in March ’81for booking a flat in Salt Lake. When I got the allotment of a land in salt lake, there was no other way but to take a non-refundable loan of Rs 50,000 from the Provident Fund Account in November ’81. I deposited a total of Rs 42,959 for the final lease deed of the land. When asked to select a plot, I selected the plot of AJIRA, as it was quiet on a back lane instead of one on the second avenue itself. Later, I requested to refund the advance that I had given for a flat. It became a necessity as I got an opportunity to take Yamuna with me to Europe and UK where I was sent for training cum business trip in 1982. That was the year Rakesh appeared for school final examination.

One day I sent my mother to see the land that I had bought. As I was told, she was very unhappy to see the land and said, “Why did my son select this barren place for building a house. Could not he find a better place?”

But it took almost six long years to start the work of construction of AJIRA because of the constraints of finance. I was also professionally too busy and all the three kids were growing and had gone to engineering colleges increasing the monthly expenditures and parents aging and ailing parents staying with us.

But then one day in my own typical way I agreed with Yamuna to start building work at Salt Lake. I was having my evening walk on the road connecting new flat area of Hind Motor Colony to officers’ flat zone. Yamuna asked me, “How will you manage buying ornaments for the marriages of your daughters-in-law and building the house at Salt Lake?” “Ok, why don’t you start the Salt Lake construction?” I had just Rs, 50,000 or so in my saving. One BANDO was the architect. He got the plan that was of a typical three storied building with 4 bedrooms about 1700 square feet in each storey for each son, sanctioned. Was it not a typical middle class mentality for leaving behind a house for the offspring?

On February 8, 1988, Yamuna went to Salt Lake with Ramji Misra, the family priest, Rita, my cousin sister, and Anand to perform the ritual for starting the construction. It was barren all around. I had appointed a labour contractor. And the foundation was cast on February 25, 1988.

It was in July 1989 that the ground floor got completed. That was the year Rakesh went to Purdue University in USA for his MS. AJIRA made it happen. The second floor took another year. It was in the last quarter of 1992, finally AJIRA was ready for hosting the guests for some of the functions related to the marriage of Rakesh and Alpana. I had organized again a Shiva Yagya with the main priest arranged by my uncle. Raj Kishore Chacha and Chachi did all the rituals and listened to the story from the scripture. The seven day Yagya had finished on the day the relatives of Alpana came and performed the tilak ceremony with a big feast (Brahmbhoj).


AJIRA- UNder Construction


PUJA after completion of ground floor

The construction of AJIRA was slow in bits and pieces but steady. I was almost intoxicated to get it finished. Every roof casting required around Rs 40,000 or so. I had to arrange it through all my savings as well as by disposing off some minor properties in Bodarhi and Pipra. I could also put my relatives to test by asking them for help. I had to face minor troubles with the contractors, the supervisors, and material vendors. But God was great. Anand, Rajesh, Rakesh and Yamuna put their best and worked hard to make the dream realized. While Anand tackled some of the worst contractors that I employed, Rajesh and Shephali could become a savior for me by making the rogue tenant leave the premise. Yamuna provided physical supervision and enthusiasm to arrange the resources to complete the project. AJIRA became a reality.


AJIRA

Today AJIRA has become a part of history, and I can feel the vacuum created. There are many memories good and bad of the AJIRA. How can I forget the nightmarish situation created by the rogue tenant in 1996- 97? AJIRA will live in the memory of all the family members for the whole of life.

AJIRA gave me a respect among the known friends and relatives, a self confidence and security, and a faith in Almighty and destiny.

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