Category Archives: people

A Tale Of Two Sisters

Once upon a time, there were two sisters, Beant and Guddi. The photo on top was clicked some time in around October 1966, when Beant was 26 and Guddi around 22 years of age.

Together they survived through the horrors of India’s Partition in 1947, life as young refugee children in Delhi, braving Delhi’s extreme weather conditions of winter and summer, taking care of younger siblings while their parents scraped and saved to give their children a better future.

With strong determination and blessings of their parents, they grew up, studied hard, and turned into bright, strong, talented, and extremely good looking ladies. Beant became a Nurse while Guddi a Maths teacher.

A few years later, being the elder one, Beant got married first and soon after, Guddi too settled down.

Like in so many other stories, the ruthless, callous wheels of time, however, pulled the two sisters apart. With hardened hearts and separated by thousands of miles and many oceans, caught up in their peculiar circumstances, they never imagined they would meet again in their lifetimes.

But as fate would have it, Beant and Guddi met again in around 1985. What they said to each other when they were alone, we, their loved ones would never know. Or perhaps their feelings were so deep that they just remained silent…

Since then till 2017, the two sisters met often in Delhi, always at Beant’s home, as Guddi had to keep shuttling between her home in Delhi and USA where her children lived. It was almost like the old times…

Well, like all stories, this one too ended. Beant expired on 16 November 2017 in Delhi and Guddi on 17 March 2020 in USA…

Rest in peace, Mom and Guddi Aunty…Your families miss you.

The Apocalypse – A Poem

Like last year,
This year
too,
Delhiā€™s spring flowers,
The semals
Are in full bloom.
But their sensuality, Voluptuousness,
Riots of dark, passionate colors,
Their thick, exposed flesh
No longer give any joy.
They bring on a lump in my throat,
Bringing forth images
That I keep kicking
Into the dustbin of my mind.

Last year
Too,
Many Semals fell everyday,
Making way for more.
Those that went, returned.
And those that returned, went.
No gain, but no loss either.
So it was easy to accept
As God’s will,
Mother Nature’s special way of rejuvenation.
Their sight aroused great joy and elation.
But this year, their blooming, falling, getting swept aside
Forces me to dwell on the hidden meaning,
The horrors lurking around surfaces, around corners.

Well, who knows.
Next year, the semals
Might be the only ones
Around,
Freed from the forever greedy, tormenting human eyes.

—Jasbir Chatterjee

Sunder Nursery, Delhi’s Paradise

Until recently, when popular writers like Mayank Austen Soofi wrote about it, Sunder Nursery was not a must-visit tourist destination in Delhi.

Way back in the late 90s, neither its name nor its outward appearance ever gave the slightest hint of its huge historical importance and natural beauty hidden inside. It seemed to be little more than just another ordinary nursery of plants commonly seen all over Delhi.

Inspired by Mayank’s article in Hindustan Times on 14 February 2020 and what our friends told us, my husband Sukhangshu and I got into a cab on 23 February 2020 and visited Sunder Nursery, a Sunday. The entry ticket was not very costly, just Rs.30 per person. It was just like the old times, the two of us out together on a date…

To our utter amazement, as soon as we entered the premises, vast, open, dreamlike spaces opened out in front of us with lots and lots of different kinds of flowers interspersed with several Mughal era monuments. Just like the movies.

On closer look, we discovered that the old, ancient monuments have all been aesthetically renovated without destroying their originality. The before-after pics outside each building showcase the incredible work being done by various individuals and organisations like Aga Khan Foundation in preserving our ancient heritage.

By the time we decided to leave, the sun had turned into a huge orange ball in the evening sky with its gold melting into the little lakes all over the premises…The birds too were settling down on the trees. Quite a filmi ending indeed to a glorious day…

Here are the photos.

Sukhangshu and I, grabbing a selfie before heading home…

Two Plus One

Today morning, 29 February 2029, on my way to work, my gaze fell on a family of five (Mom, Dad, and three children) walking ahead of me in a single file with grave expressions on their faces. Something was definitely amiss. But what? I asked myself

A second later, it became clear.

1. Three children, far too many these days.

2. They were all skinny and emaciated.

3. The most glaring fact was that the eldest child, age about five, following his parents with a bag hanging by its straps from the back of his head was barefooted.

His parents held the other two small children tightly against their chests.

And then it occurred to me that the boy’s feet would have been inside proper shoes if those other two children hadn’t come into this world. They would have all been better fed and that boy would have probably been walking to school instead of some other goddamned, abusive, violence filled environment. Which only shows how ignorant and irresponsible we Indians are as a whole about the importance of family planning.

Every Government, while implenting new social schemes, must also promote family planning, otherwise all efforts will be wasted. The benefits will not be sufficient for everyone.

See the pic on top. That’s the concept the government must push. Two plus one. It’s the need of the hour.

A Deserted Home

Last month, I wrote about a dog family with five little puppies. It was the worst time to be a newborn on the cold, hard streets with Delhi’s winter breaking all previous records. But, thanks to a good Samaritan, they were luckier and survived.

They had food, water, a warm rug to sleep on, a roof over their heads and they appeared to be loved.

Every morning, on my way to work, I always found the five puppies and their Mom fast asleep, curled up together into a single mass, with their eyes shut, blocking the cruel, heartless world out of their lives, if only for a little while. Each time, as I clicked their pics, I thought theirs, at least, was going to be a happy story.

I was wrong. My young 23-year-old daughter broke the bad news to me yesterday.

She said, “Nina Aunty visited them last night. She was not surprised as she keeps rescuing stray dogs. The mother dog (I hate to use the word bitch because of its abusive tone) had left. One puppy was dead. Three had disappeared. The only one left was in great distress, crying bitterly. She brought him to her home. She gave him food, milk, medicines, blankets, and the most important thing, her love and attention.”

She already has a 17-year-old dog whom she rescued when he was three years old. Most people adopt only little puppies because older dogs are unfriendly and difficult to train, but Nina was patient enough and managed to cope with him.

Let’s hope her two adopted dogs get on well with each other.

I am not a dog lover, but for several minutes I remained benumbed after I heard this.

Wryly, I told myself, unplanned parenthood is a curse.

Everyone can’t be like Nina. But the pain and misery, at least, of those poor, hapless dogs can be surely minimized by preventing births of more unwelcome puppies. The municipal bodies and civic authorities ought to sterilize all stray dogs roaming out there on the streets.

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, are you listening?