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Monday, January 21, 2008

The end of an era

Sri Ramendra Sundar (Ram) Bhattacharyya, my grandfather on my mother’s side, passed away at 10:56 on the night of Wednesday, the 9th of January 2008. He was three months short of 91. It is the 15th today, and I have been taking my time to compose my thoughts to write about him. Even so, my progress will be slow and halting – the memories are too many, too closely cherished, too painful to come flowing easily. I shall take my time over this.

This is not going to be either a biography or an obituary in the usual sense of the term. I am only paying my last, very personal tribute to a dear departed soul. He was the man I most loved in this world, with a kind of love that cannot be replicated in my lifetime (unless God in his infinite mercy lets me live to hug a grandchild myself); he was the man I owe most, and I think I resemble most by nature and temperament. He was also, quite simply, the nicest man, the closest to the ideal of a gentleman that I have known in all my life, and I am saying this with perfect dispassion; I have never felt the need to say nice and false things about people just because they happen to be family. If there is anything good in me at all as a human being, I owe all that to this man who is now no more.

He was born the younger son in a fairly well-off and educated family in North Calcutta of yesteryear – 1917, the year of the August Declaration in Parliament by Secretary of State for India Edwin Montagu, when World War I was still in progress, the Russian Revolution was about to break out, and Gandhi was just beginning to become a household name. His father was a doctor and a highly literate man – not just an assistant to Dr. Bidhan Ray and Tagore’s household physician but also a fairly close literary colleague: the great man commissioned him to write a series of popular essays on health and hygiene in Bengali for his Lokshikshya series long before Reader’s Digest made such things well known in English. As a result, though my grandfather did not live a materially lavish life (children were not indulged then as they are today), he saw his father move in truly elite circles: men like Jamini Roy and Saiyyad Mujtaba Ali and Tarashankar Banerjee were frequent guests at home. My grandfather took a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Calcutta – one of the earliest batches, who were taught by the initiator of psychoanalytic studies in India, Girindrashekhar Basu, colleague of and correspondent with Sigmund Freud himself. He dabbled distantly, hesitantly with the freedom movement, and it still gives me gooseflesh to remember him telling me how in college, he once came face to face with the notorious police commissioner Sir Charles Tegart, who ambushed and killed Bagha Jatin in Orissa, and whom several revolutionaries including Gopinath Saha tried in vain to assassinate (I wonder whether these names would arouse even the faintest echoes in ‘educated’ Bengali minds today?). But football was his amour propre, and he gave the best years of his life to it. He made it to Mohun Bagan as a goalkeeper (besides playing on the Calcutta University cricket team), captained the Aryan Club the year they won their only IFA shield, and narrowly missed being selected for the Indian Olympic team owing to the characteristic petty politicking that has bedeviled Indian football ever since its inception. I keep telling everybody that he was the last in our whole extended family whose name and photographs appeared regularly for years on the front pages of Calcutta newspapers.

He had seen the legendary Goshtho Pal and Samaad playing, and worshipped them all his life. In those days footballers made no money, yet he chucked up two successively good jobs for its sake (he could have retired a general manager in the Indian Railways if he had stuck to one of them). Strong differences of a very personal nature with his father led to an abrupt decision to leave the family hearth without a penny in his pocket. Then, with young (and very pretty) wife and little daughter in tow, he spent several years scrounging for a living, literally sleeping on other people’s verandahs for some time and doing every kind of odd job imaginable until he could give his family a roof over his head: the little house he built in the swampy outreaches of Ballygunge, a place called Gol Park, more than half a century ago, is now worth several millions! The strain on his sensitive psyche was strong enough to give him a nervous breakdown in his early forties: yet never once did he go to beg his illustrious childhood friends (and there were many, including a former chief minister – still alive – and a chief justice of the High Court) for favours. I was born when he was only 47 (my grandmother was 36)! Pretty young for a grandpa – I am going on 45 now, and my daughter is only eleven years old.

My grandparents have always been my real parents and more. (About my grandmother I shall write separately some day; she too deserves that much, that utterly wonderful grand old lady). My grandpa’s not-too-frequent visits were the brightest spots throughout my otherwise lonely and somber childhood; he used to turn up sometimes with tins of milkfood for my baby sister under his arm or a welter of toys and always with a head full of lovely stories – I heard everything from Tuntunir Golpo and Teni-da to Aesop’s fables to the Zorro stories and The Three Musketeers and Sherlock Holmes and Dickens and Jim Corbett and Hercule Poirot and much, much more from him, and long after I had read and savoured all the books myself, and gone far beyond his level and sweep of reading, nothing could beat the happy memories of listening to him engrossed, carried away into a dreamy world of delicious imagination: my whole habits of reading and storytelling, the two things which have paid off so magnificently and kept me in gravy ever since I was 17, I have acquired entirely from him. The peculiar habit of interlacing very solemn talk with casual but always refined wit, too, I learnt unconsciously from him, and in the process of telling stories he taught me all the morals any man needs to know. Tagore was his god, and he brought me up in such a way that so it became for me. He was the humblest and gentlest man I ever knew – all his life he insisted he was ‘ignorant’, and the only time he was angry with me was when once, as a child, I struck my naughty sister in a fit of pique! He was my last living contact with history: I didn’t have to read much about World War II and the Great Calcutta Riot of August 1946 from school history books, for example, nor about life in Burma or how it feels to come back home in the middle of the night when a deadly cyclone has just ripped through the city. – and even now I can hear a thousand things he used to say, but nothing rings louder than his favourite words of approval when I did something good, an expression that he had picked up from a superior (British) officer a long time ago: ‘That’s like a good gentleman of the Eastern Indian Railway!’ My enormous nostalgia over the British Raj – despite everything bad I have learnt about it, and that’s a great deal – too, I owe entirely to him.

Going over to his house to spend my holidays was going to heaven – yet now I realize that he made it that way just by being the kind of man he was, not by offering me a lavish living and bribing me with expensive gifts: he could neither afford such things, nor did he ever let me feel that I lacked for anything. Travelling around Calcutta on foot and by double-decker bus, visiting the Maidan, the zoo, the great National Museum, the children’s museum, the Children’s Little Theatre and scores of other interesting spots – at many of these places he left little me alone for hours and picked me up again on his way back from work – I had all the joyous adventure that a little boy can want. I learnt what good parenting means from him, and if someday my daughter pays me half the accolades I have been paying him all my life, I shall know I haven’t been too bad a parent myself. I learnt the true meaning of romance from him, too, and the virtues of hard work, and patient caring, and love that expects nothing in return save the happiness of the loved one, and quiet courage in the midst of adversity; I learnt to think deeply and feel delicately about everything, I learnt the sense of wonder, and how important it is to keep smiling and make others smile even when life is a pain and a drag, and how great and rare an ability that is. It took me a lot of growing up to realize how hard he had worked, and how long, to keep the family’s head above the water (he held a humble salaried job till he was 72; one of my most abiding memories is of him crouching on the floor, leaning back against the bed, with an account book in his lap to pore over late into the evening, glasses perched on his nose, while still regaling stupid insensitive me with stories, never missing a beat, after a full day’s work, day after day, year after year, for decades together, and never once did I hear him say ‘I am busy’…) – and not just his own three children and later their children, but a whole host of cousins and their children on both his side and his wife’s passed years of the formative stages of their lives in his shelter before they grew wings and went away. From my grandparents’ lives I have learnt how some people can be endlessly giving, and also, from the way all their labours of love were forgotten as the decades rolled by, of the depth and cruelty of human ingratitude. It hurts me more than I can tell that he and his wife had to spend such a large part of their old age in loneliness and near-penury.

He was always far more comfortable with children than with grown-ups, so, though I lived with him or close to him till I was nearly 25, he gradually drifted away from me (was I growing too ‘adult’ and ‘intellectual’ for his tastes?), turning all his attention and love to the new-born grandchildren he had been gifted with. Did he ever know, I wonder, how the heart of a little boy ached for those halcyon years gone by, even as outwardly that little boy grew into a solemn scholar, a husband, a successful teacher, loving father, middle-aged man and unsocial cynic? Save the first three years of bringing up my daughter, I have never known happiness to equal what I got from my grandfather, and there can be no greater sadness, I think, than having to accept that he had nearly forgotten me. Or maybe he hadn’t? I shall ask him in heaven, and expecting to meet him again will certainly ameliorate for me the pain and terror and sorrow of saying goodbye to this world when my time comes. I hadn’t visited him for years (and neither he nor I was to blame, but circumstances that neither of us liked or could control); it was by a very strange coincidence that I happened to turn up at his bedside the night before he was admitted to hospital in critical condition for the last time. He couldn’t apparently recognize me, and my grandmother told me afterwards over the phone that he had loudly lamented later on, during a brief lucid interval, that he couldn’t caress me (‘one last time as of old’, I believe he meant). After spending a useless and painful week in the ICU (thanks to the ‘miracles’ of modern medical technology!), he passed away in a near-comatose condition – ‘multiple organ failure’ the clever doctors like to call it these days, though in saner times we should have said he simply died of old age. I only wish that a man like him hadn’t been compelled to suffer so much helplessness, indignity, loneliness and pain for so long; on that last visit I heard him moaning and cursing his fate, and that memory will stay with me till my dying day. I deliberately decided that I wouldn’t take photographs. He had once been a very strong man, and he had exercised lifelong, and had been quite fit till past 80, but he suffered his first stroke at 87 and became increasingly weak and fearful thereafter; even his usual walks stopped eventually. Three years ago his collection of memoirs was published in Bengali, and he had been writing little vignettes from memory, and poems as well, till shortly before his death, some of which were published in a few papers through the good offices of a few lingering admirers. But over the last year and more, he had become almost completely bedridden.

A minor Bengali daily noted that he had been admitted to hospital on the day itself (still they got his age wrong), but not one of the numerous major papers I checked carried the news of his passing. Who cares to remember someone who had grown decrepit and become forgotten decades ago? The world is a busy place, and anyway, no one looks back in wonder these days at people whose memories are not ‘sexy’.

So now my grandmother (poor old soul, she’s herself 80, and weighed down by age and debility) has been left all alone in that ghostly house. I have been praying for more than a decade that my grandfather be released from his mortal coils, and I shall from now on pray night and day that she follows suit soon: I am sure there cannot be words to express her agony, let alone commiserate with her. Save herself, I do not think that my grandfather touched anybody’s life more deeply than mine, though he touched so many: let me carry the burden and joy of the memories alone for a few more years before I, too, can go after him. Goodnight, sweet prince. I shall forever weep as I wept as a child every time you went away, promising to come back: only I know you went away from me a long time ago, and now you will never come back. I can only pity successive generations of children that they will never know a man like you. Everyone says my daughter’s a lucky girl; they don’t know what a lucky boy I have been. I could never do anything truly worthwhile for you; may this blogpost tell some people who care for such things that I loved you.

(finished January 20, 2008)
the three photographs on top are as follows: My grandfather with Rabindranath Tagore, once again in his sporting days, and blessing my wife at the wedding, 12 years ago.


Tanmoy Chakrabarti said...

Dear Suvroda,

After a 12 hour day in office when I was browsing through your post,I actually got back my senses.

It made my eyes moist and I made a soothing call to my Ma in Kolkata.

We did not discuss how the day went as we usually we do. But we discussed about my Dida whom Ma lost when she was barely 6 years old.

Ma told me that she felt nice discussing Dida since after a long time someone (in this case her son) asked her whether she misses her Ma.

I felt happy too.

May your grandfather's soul rest in peace.


Greek.theatre said...

The lucidity of language never obscures the pain that you suffered with his passing away. It is beautifully written; it tells us about the quintessential Bengali gentlemen, a rare and nearly extinct species by now. These were men who could cover the distance between literature and football, Aesop and Tuntuni with graceful ease. I have seen many South-Kolkata intellectuals, being a student of Jadavpur University and I have known them to be essentially snobbish, rude and pretentious fools, much like Shakespeare's Malvolio. That learning teaches you to fight for a living with dignity, to be warm and humble and to bequeath what you know to those younger, with care, is an idea that ceases to be. It was heartening to read your memoir simply because you have imbibed the same good spirits from your wonderful grandfather. To be famous, well connected and yet to be humble and self-effacing and self respectful calls for strength of character, severely lacking in men and women of today who queue up before atrocious teachers for a recommendation that would land them in an American university.
Ram Bhattacharya played for Mohun Bagan in the years 1938, 1944 and 1945. The club fortunately has a website which acknowledges this much; Aryans has no such database. Those interested can look up the web-page to learn the august company he had in his 'salad days'. Bengali football still did not need African and Brazilian rejects to save or score goals for them. And, their sportsmen were educated unlike the hoodlums of a transport minister who play these days. A simple comparison between the squad list of Mohun Bagan AC of 1940s and 1990s would tell the sad tale of a dying race one of whose last Mohicans was your grandfather. May his soul rest in peace.

Nishant said...

Sir, that was truly a moving blog. It's unfortunate that due to circumstances you weren't in touch for a long time. Both my grandmothers are quite old now and the one thing they really value a lot now is time spent together. Your Grandpa surely did lead an eventful life but I think someone having such fond memories of him and caring to write about them in a blog: about all the things learnt from him and all the wonderful time spent together, would have meant a lot to him. May his soul rest in peace.

Abhirup said...

Dear Sir,
Given the historical events your grandfather was witness to, and the towering figures he had met, his demise, I believe, quite literally signifies the end of an era. There aren't too many people alive who can boast of leading as varied, as colourful, as active and as inspiring a life as your grandfather. The most remarkable trait in him, I think, was his affectionate and humble nature despite his achievements (and an achiever he was: being a regular player for Mohun Bagan was no mean feat in those days, when Indian football was truly a competitive sport). All around me, I keep encountering people who haven't done anything worthwhile in life, who cannot boast of having achieved anything significant, and yet have bloated egos which only underscore their worthlessness. Everything you wrote about your grandpa--his brushes with the likes of Tagore, Sayyed Mujtaba Ali and Tarashankar Banerjee, his sporting days, his struggles against poverty, and above all the moments he spent with you--made for wonderful reading. I particularly admire him for the way he narrated such a wide variety of stories to you. Having had a mother who similarly read to me everything from 'Chander Pahar' to 'The Jungle Book', from 'Buro Angla' to 'Peter Pan', when I was a kid, I know quite well the importance of a good storyteller. One reason why so many children grow up to be shallow and unimaginative, devoid of the sense of wonder and the power of contemplation, is that they never had someone like your grandfather in their childhood.

I have, of course, never met your grandfather in person, but I shall forever remain thankful to him for teaching you and infusing you with the qualities that has made you such a great friend and inspiring teacher, not just to me, but to many others.
May his soul rest in peace.

With love and regards,

Sayan said...

This blogpost was a very good read. The more I think about this gentleman the more I get the feeling that he had an exceptionally good intuitive knowledge of what teaching is all about. Indeed, the fruitful time you spent with him must have been an integral part of your intellectual and emotional make up. It is my perception that not many people nowadays have an idea as to how to teach. To impart subtle truths in the form of fables to the young – not many people can do that in the ‘modern’ world. To make a child receptive enough to knowledge one has to teach in an interesting manner and yet not overlook any detail; as Einstein said “Make things simple, but no simpler”. A good teacher such as your late grandfather, teaches from the centre and not from the fringe. The ‘modern’ way is to teach by rote, and to give the impression that the long periods of boredom are essential to training. In that way a student may go on for years and years without ever getting a feel of what he is doing. Also another ‘modern’ concept is to turn karate movements into one-week drill sessions so as to turn the student into a robot. Hence we witness the large plethora of self help books. A master teaches essence. When essence is perceived he teaches what is necessary to expand the perception.
After reading this blogpost I felt that you inherited your exceptional ability to teach from your late grandfather. It is easy to create a technician out of a human being; but it is not so easy to create a Man. May his soul rest in peace.
Sayan Datta.

Sudipto Basu said...

Dear Sir,
Memoirs don't get better than this. That one can so fondly, and somewhat painfully, remember the bygone days of one's childhood, filled with both many happy and some sad memories, makes me feel terribly emotional. True, I never knew your grandpa, but through your words and memories, I can imagine him telling you stories, arriving at your place with a handful of gifts, and leaving you sad as he left... And believe me, it all makes me happy to think that I have quite closely known and interacted with a man who has lived a colourful life, and above everything, learnt a lot from someone he deemed a superb man. I also do remember you telling me that your grandfather was once in Mohan Bagan, and now I can understand why you smiled as you revealed so.

I can, perhaps to a much lesser extent, also understand your sense of wonder at having known a 'historical' man since my grandpa on my mother's side was also one who lived a adventurously colourful life (though he passed away too early for me to know him sufficiently well-- all I know about his past is from my mother).. You may remember a certain Bejoy K.Ghose (who incidentally built a huge nursery called Krishija at Arrah-Shibtala). Sadly enough, since my acquaintance with him was quite shortlived, all I have is some small memories that are not big enough to fit into a blogpost.

And lastly, let me conclude by saying that you are among those few men and women whom I have known, and who consider death as our true final destination-- I have read all about the concept in a number of poems, but very few have truly had the courage to accept that death is one event that unites all of us who have, because of our sad fates, unwillingly and sadly parted.

With love and warm regards,

Bijit said...

Dear Suvroda,

Unlike many of your younger students, I've had the chance to meet Dadu at Golpark in the mid-'90s a couple of times. To say that we had "an interaction" would be saying too much (as he was already past his prime) but I can actually visualize the person, as well as the event portrayed by the third of the pictures reproduced.

To that extent, and being at the threshold of middle-age, a time which my younger friends still have a few more years to catch up with, your essay strikes perhaps a more poignant note in me than in others. To me, the flesh and blood man I remember has fused with the living picture that you have drawn
here, adding the proverbial third dimension to my sketchy memories and endearing him more through your evocative piece than he would otherwise have been to me and a lot of others.

However, more than that, it has evoked in me (as I am sure it has happened with others) memories still green of my own youth and formative years, and personae from my own childhood years who have now passed away or are too advanced in age to "matter". Like you, all of us, at some corner of our hearts, must be having fond memories of our own grandpas and grandmas and their loving care for us during what now seems aeons back. You have, perhaps unwittingly, made all of us stand face to face with our own pasts and half-forgotten memories and brought back misty-eyed remembrances of days, events and years when the valley was still so green.

Thus, Dadu has become, through your reminiscences, an Everyman for all the generations whom time has swallowed but whom our memories will hold on to till we cross the bar.

May he, and all our beloved dadu-s and dida-s who, though deserving, would not be getting such a lyrical valediction, be remembered with the love and regard that is rightfully theirs.

Your piece also reminded me of a song which I would like to quote here in its entirety:

Purbachal-er paane takai astachal-er dhare aashi.
Dak diye jar sara na pai tar laagi aaj bajai banshi.
Jakhon e kul jabo chhari paar- er kheyae debo paari,
Mor phagun-er gaan-er bojha banshi-r sathe jabe bhashi.
Shei je amar bon-er gali rangin phool-e chhilo anka
Shei phool-er-i chhinno dal-e chinho je tar porlo dhaka
Majhe majhe kon batash-e chena din-er gandho aashe,
Hathat buk-e chamak lagae aadh-bhola shei kannahashi.

"We therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life".


Kaushik Chatterjee said...

A truly ethereal post, Suvro. The intensity of love and pain, the shared joys and sufferings of growing up in close companionship of your revered Grandpa, so passionately and eloquently brought about in this piece, reflective of the deep and abiding bond you two shared, has a haunting elegance about it…. it proved to be a catharsis for me, a fumigator of sorts (and that is no exaggeration) , cleansing my mind of the daily obfuscations that bedevil it. Unknowingly, I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes moistened, as some of the fleeting images of your Mamabari crowded my mind… The black and white portrait of your Dadu and Tagore, hung so disarmingly amidst a spartan, convivial setting and the quiet, embarrassed smile which immediately lit up his face when you talked about it.. the supple and spirited poise of your Grandma, like most of the self-effacing ladies of yesteryears, gracefully taking all the intricate household responsibilities in her frail frame and always radiating a freshness of charm, nonetheless ….. all these are indelibly etched in my mind. Good bye, my friend ! Take care and praying for you all…

Shilpi said...

Dear Suvro da,
This post lodges a lump in my throat and given the truth that whatever I write here will do no justice to your grandfather, you or your memories – I’ll still write what I have to.
One of the things I remember seeing the very last time that I visited boudi, Pupu and you is that first photograph that you’ve put up – of your grand dad and Tagore. It stayed with me and always will (although in my head it seems that Tagore and your grand dad are facing the camera rather than looking towards the right…anyway). There is something so sharp, deep and hauntingly nostalgic about that photo. It doesn’t belong to this world. It belongs to a bygone era – beautiful and noble and very much ‘in-my-head’ and what have you – but there it is, preserved in its ideal type.
I too (like Sudipto), remember the grin on your face when you told me that that your grand dad had played for Mohun Bagan and I remember the other photograph of the Mohun Bagan team with your grand dad in it. But what I loved best about your memories – apart from all the others…was the image of your granddad leaning against the bed and telling you stories while he’s busy doing the accounts. I can see it…and the image of your granddad visiting with tins of milkfood for your sister and ‘a head full’ of lovely stories for you is something else which for some unknown reason I’ll most likely always remember. You’ve made your grand dad alive for those who had never met him – and I’m grateful for that.
I’m sorry that you and he drifted apart from each other…and I cannot begin to express what I feel about the loneliness, despair, and indignity that he had to go through.
Bijit is right. You have strangely enough made us all look back. I was reminded how my own granddad passed away the year I came over here, and how autistic I had been through all the years that we all stood around and watched him gradually and painfully wasting away – losing his sight and all his senses and his freedom. I also remember how desperately I prayed that he pass away and knew almost mystically that he would once I left home.
I am sure that your granddad is happy and at peace now. As I said –it’s the one thing that give me hope in terribly bleak moments and also peaceful ones. That good people will be happy and at peace eventually…I also pray for your grand mum – for what it’s worth.
Take care.

Rajdeep said...

Dear Suvro da,

I am sorry to hear about the demise of your grandfather. I can claim to understand a wee bit of your feelings as I myself love my maternal grandfather a lot. He was the main reason I went back for last year. I have always feared that I may not meet him again due to his age and failing health. I learnt about the traumas of old age, and that of staring death in the face from seeing him in troubled times and reading the book, "Tuesdays With Morrie".

Two things I would like to say are: No words are apt or adequate enough to know the depth of your true feelings or express my sincerest sympathy for you. And I have always thought that though I have loved you and admired you over the years, I have at the same time also always felt how little I know of you and how much there is to know more about you. Maybe a bit of the same feeling that Harry feels about Dumbledore. Your post on your grandfather gave me a little more insight into your world. I will not ask you not to cry, but to let the tears flow as a tribute to a soul you loved so much. He was a great man, who would be your golden memory to treasure for the rest of your life. It is really sad that I never had a chance to meet him.

One trivial thing, I miss the double decker buses too.....


Ranajoy said...


Although the title is aptly put as "End of an Era" I would request you to mimic or at least to try and extend an iota of such a legacy in some way so that the attributes of the great man of mettle is not lost totally from mother earth.....It is almost an exception these days that people go to such extents of scrounging just to follow their passion.

There is a lot of learning from his life and it is a sad observation that many of us(including me) are missing out on life just to pursue a livelihood.....I am working 14-15 hrs daily, often coming home with a lot of tension and uncertainty even after the age of 40+.Far from telling a story to my daughter, I mostly spend the "free" time trying to complete office jobs on a laptop.At times I really long(perhaps also envy) for a life which is different, which may not have so much money as a reward but a lot of meaningfulness in content.

There are so many examples of people whom the society has turned a blind eye to. It is a shame that these people have to live a life of indignity and penury at the fag end of their lives. Possibly it is their triumph in a silent way, that they have stood out exceptionally in an utterly ignorant ,cruel ,ulcerous society.

I pray for his soul and also for peace of mind of your grandmother. Do go to her once in a while to just be around for company.That will be a small gift to your "Dadu".

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am both surprised and gratified that till the moment of writing, my latest blogpost has been seen by 310 visitors, and it's been just one week yet: the number's climbing hourly. Obviously I have touched off a deep emotional chord somewhere, even in this insensitive and frenetic age! I am most thankful for all the kind comments that have come in so far,too, though I shall be glad to have more!

Sayan said...

Dear Sir,
I feel as if I have
discovered a long forgotten species of human being who does not add years to life but life to years.Dadu's life is surely a charming and rich one unlike those who declare themselves desperately that they lead the "intellectually fulfilling" lives.I think that today's "gen-x" should be made aware that it is possible to be infinitely happy if one does his or her job and make a passionate hobby out of it.In other words,I feel that your grandpa was a true teacher who could encompass everyone in a canopy of his merry and idea-laden mind.You have wonderfully sketched his simple yet interesting life.I wonder how many people had enjoyed their relationships with their grandpas.I envy you,Sir,who had atleast rejoiced some part of his life in his 'dadu's' company-the man about whom I have read just now-who was never boring and did not pose a solemn face hung by the frustrations over unfulfilled desires accumulated over his lifetime,as most people in their ripe-old age do.
In my short 18 years of life,I have met very few colourful people.....I happened to met you...your post makes me feel I have missed your "dadu"....

Ankan said...

Sorry Sir,

I missed this post for so long. Besides the fact that your grandfather's life has actually been eventful the way the world would choose to define it, but the way you described the hard work that he did all his life, the values that he stood for, I really think many of us should look back at that generation and stop complaining
about how busy and difficult life has become!
I am not sure whether this is any consolation but I am sure you have been and continue to make him proud by recognizing and appreciating all that he stood for. I sincerely hope I am able to emulate such delicate gestures in my life, that mark the cornerstone of humanity.
May his soul rest in peace.

pratanu said...

This is the first time I have read your blog. What a lot have I missed!!! This is the next best thing to being at your side and listening to you talk. You have never believed in long-drawn condolences and so I won't spend unnecessary words on them. But ,I sympathise with you. Never having experienced the love of my grandparents from either side(they were all dead by the time I was two years old) ,I do not truly know what it means to have someone as loving as you describe and it seems ,I have missed something very 'real'.
The way you seemed to attract students to you was always a mystery to me-you have a magnetic personality, and now I know how!. Pratanu.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Anandabazar Patrika has made amends in a rather pathetic way by mentioning my grandfather's demise in a tiny item tucked away in one corner of page 15 in their February 07 issue. They didn't even mention the date of his passing - obviously it would have been embarrassing to admit they were dishing up month-old news. I wonder whose guilty conscience was stirred into doing something so silly!

Thanks to Kalyanjit for pointing this out to me all the way from the US of A.

Anurupa Ganguli said...

Dear Sir,
I was reading your latest blogpost and read those few lines about love. I remembered you telling me about your grandparents and I thought of reading this post of yours. I am really afraid if writing comments in your blog because here people all over the world actually read but after reading this post I simply couldn't help writing.
I feel this is perhaps one of your best posts ever. Tears rolled down my cheeks after reading this. It was such a moving one and truly sir you are very lucky. I have never met a person either like you nor your grandfather. Though I do not know him personally your post conveys a lot about him. I have heard that you belong to an educated family but I had never expected that you belong to such a great family.I liked the fact that you were given complete freedom to explore and discover things as a boy. Now we cannot even think of such things. It is very sad to know that people hardly remembers people like him.
Sir I have always felt that you are a sentimental person,that you too feel the same way but just do not show it. I must say that if you were lucky to have a such a man as your grandfather, he too must have been lucky to have you as his grandson. That you wrote such a beautiful piece in memory of his shows us how much you love him. If he would have been alive I am sure he would be proud of you.

Lastly Sir, I regret on not having a grandfather. I have never experienced the presence of grandparents. But its really sad how they are treated these days. So its better not to have a grandpa instead of neglecting them,isn't it Sir?

Sir you are truly one of the best man I have met and I doubt if I shall meet another one like you. Truly your love for your grandfather is much more valuable and significant than these silly valentine's Day celebraters all over the world!

Vaishnavi said...

Dear Sir,

This post has made me cry. Memoir, tribute, whatever this maybe called, nobody could have written anything better Sir. If I may, in my own childish way say something, then I would say that whenever he misses you, he would think of your days together and he would also read this post. It would make him smile to see just how much you love him :) Men of integrity are rare Sir. It shouldn't be that way but it is true. Your grandfather was undoubtedly one and so are you. We should thank him for that :)

I also read Tan's comment and it made me feel a little ashamed of myself. I never knew my maternal grandfather that well, he died when I was too small. With my paternal grandfather, I have been a bit luckier (he passed away in 2000) and not a single day goes by when I don't think of him and miss him (I'll always regret that I lacked the guts to go visit him the hospital the very last time. I was terrified). I talk of him often but I rarely talk of my maternal grandfather even to mom. How good it must be for her to talk about her dad...how painful it must be that her own child has been idiotic enough not to draw her childhood memories from her that often? Tomorrow, I shall go up to her and apologize.

Sir, it is true that if one listens hard enough, one learns something new everyday and this post has taught me something very important. It is important to cherish your memories and it is even more important to cherish the memories of those you love. It is but a small way of showing how much you care (even stupid me who never seems to able to say the right thing at the right time).

Thank you so much Sir, this is wonderful writing because of the person you have written about. May God bless his soul Sir.


Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,

I wont be able to convey my feelings in words. This is a wonderful post- a very poignant one.Tears rolled down my eyes while reading this post. Sir, I want to thank you for putting up such a post on your blog. I didn't read it before- but now that I have read it- it will be my favourite post in your blog. This is so because it made me miss my grandfather, from my father's side, because I haven't been lucky enough to see him in flesh and blood. He passed away before I was born. But I have heard stories of him from my father- and I wish he had been alive - because then I would have been really lucky( but might not be as lucky as you were).
Sir, once you told me that I can call someone my 'atmiya',in the true sense, if I have a similarity between his and my 'atma'. In that sense, Sir you are my 'atmiya'.But in the similar definition , I can't find a single 'atmiya' in my family( I mean everyone, not only my parents) - though I have received enough love and care from them over the years. So, sometimes I wonder if I have lost something vital in my life because of my grandfather's absence. Who knows....?

Thank you Sir, once again for putting up such a beautiful article as a tribute to your grandfather. I have always heard you speaking about him- but now I know how complete a man he was and how he influenced you to be our beloved 'Suvro Sir'. You are indeed very lucky , Sir!

with warm regards,

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am delighted to see that this post on my grandfather has, after many years, come back to the most-read list. I wonder what brought it back?