Category Archives: stories

Dignity Of Life – A Poem

We grew old,
Sick and weak.
And before we could guess,
What was coming,
We lost our grip and fell.
But our Master was kind;
Gave us a cushion,
To soften the blow.
With eyes shut,
A subtle smile on His lips,
Oblivious to our joys
And sorrows,
He said, “Goodbye.”

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

This poem is now on poemhunter.com also. https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-apocalypse-7/

One Musical Afternoon…Remembering Uttara Di…

On 26 January 2020, while the whole country basked in the glory of India’s 71st Republic Day, my husband Sukhangshu and I participated in another memorable event in our lives; he as a performing artist and I as part of the audience at Mrs. Uttara Dutt’s Memorial function organized by her family at their picturesque mansion in DLF phase I, Gurgaon.

Sukhangshu did a monologue on Tagore. He received a big applause when he ended. The other artists who performed before Sukhangshu and after him also got similar appreciation.

It was amazing to see even the young children perform so confidently without feeling an iota of stage fright.

It could be because the stage had the aura of a wonderful personality who continues to shower her love and blessings on artists even after passing away.

The kind of barriers normally associated with a formal stage did not exist here. Both the artists and the audience were completely relaxed.

Uttara Di’s daughter Sanjukta Dutta and daughter-in-law Debjani kept coming in with trays of snacks for the guests. Some had green tea, while non-experimental people like me had dudh-cha (tea with milk and sugar), which was excellent.

The stage was set inside a large room at ground level with a backdrop of a lot of greenery behind a huge glass window, a room full of guitars, and a huge, heavily garlanded photo in one corner of a youthful Uttara Di playing sitar. The audience sat on sofas, chairs, and on little cushions on the floor.

While the benevolent winter Sun smiled in the clear blue sky outside, the green shrubs and leaves peeped through the window and created shadows on the surrounding walls.

Being far away from the noisy traffic of Gurugram, the place had a quiet and soothing ambience and contributed in keeping the discerning audience engaged with every performance.

During lunch time, we were all treated to delicious home made food cooked in Bengali style.

Being a vegetarian, I loaded my plate with my favorites, shukhto, rice, salad, luchi, aloo dum, chana dal, chutney, and payesh. They all tasted heavenly.

At the end of the program, Uttara Di’s husband Kalidas Da, an accomplished Architect, discreetly gave each artist an envelope as a token of appreciation. I came to know about this from Sukhangshu. This is meant to be a secret, so I will keep its sanctity intact by not revealing anything else.

Sukhangshu told me that this practice was begun by Uttara Di and Kalidas Da to nurture musical talent and their family organizes this kind of a get-together every year.

Being a singer, Uttara Di was well aware of the struggles young Indian singers and musicians go through in keeping their art alive and this was her way of quietly doing whatever she could to help, no matter how small. Kalidas Da ensures that this family tradition continues. Which only proves that Love is stronger than Death.

Here are some more pics that I clicked during the program.

My husband Sukhangshu. See him below.

Now the kids…

Flutist’s flutes…

This young man performed here earlier when he was a small child.

Kalidas Da, wearing grey sleevless jacket, busy, supervising…

Debjani (standing, in blue sari) and Sanjukta (seated on sofa, in magenta-colored sari), taking care of guests, offering them snacks…

Here I am with my Aunt-in-law, Maima, Mrs.Maya Bannerjee (Kalidas Da’s sister)…

With my Uncle-in-law, Bhola Mama (Mr.Bhola Bannerjee)…

Managing Immigrants

Africans

Ever since CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) turned into CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), India has erupted into waves of protests followed by brutal police action. A lot of innocent lives have been lost and public property worth several crores of Rupees has got damaged, which is very tragic and unfortunate. God knows when and how it will end.

There is nothing wrong with having a national population register, as in US, and deporting outsiders living illegally in the country. But making a national policy of granting citizenship to only non-muslims is as good as promoting Hindutva and goes against the basic character of our constitution.

And while the police remains preoccupied with controlling thousands of vociferous protesters, another set of population, the Africans, appears to be quietly increasing in numbers in every nook and corner of Delhi and other cities. Unlike people from neighbouring countries such as Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, Srilankans, and Nepalis, many of whom have been smuggled in by local politicians to create vote banks, Africans look conspicuously different from the local population, so they are easily identifiable. See the photo on the top and you will understand.

Again, unlike other Asian immigrants who integrate easily with the locals, Africans keep to themselves and are not engaged, generally speaking, in legitimate jobs. So you wonder where their money for daily existence comes from.

Each time a major drugs or human traffickingcase comes to light, you invariably hear about involvement of some of them. I don’t mean to sound racist, but this is our bitter reality.

Instead of catching the real culprits, the outsiders disturbing our peace and stability, the police is compelled to train their guns and lathis on the innocent, well-meaning citizens of the country.

USA has a strict policy on illegal residents and preventing them from creating law and order problems. They do not discriminate on the basis of cast, creed, and religion and they enforce their immigration laws with great efficiency.

Let’s hope our political parties offer better options in the next lok sabha elections.

A Cocoon Of Joy – A Movie – By Jasbir Chatterjee

Google Photos gave me a pleasant surprise yesterday (4 January 2019), my day off from work.

They made a movie out of my photos that I clicked that day and sent it to me for saving in my library. It looked so good, an evidence of a day well spent, as in a Jane Austen novel (my great grand neice Alia’s 7th birthday, a walk through a park, sunbathing in the balcony, etc, etc).

I never thought that the photos I created without giving much thought to it would turn into something so wonderful. Well, it proves that movies needn’t always be larger-than-life, doesn’t it?

With wars, calamities, and bloodshed all over the globe and Trump and Iran threatening to go to war, blissful images like these give you a niggling feeling of living in a quiet, cosy cocoon that may burst anytime…

Here is the YouTube link: https://youtu.be/DS1avSHzbVw

Enjoy…

Once Upon A Time…

Way back in 1990, at my first job, my colleague Sukhangshu Chatterjee performed an impromptu parody item during an office get-together. That was when I discovered that he is a talented artist too, apart from being a wonderful, caring human being. I lost my heart to him that day and married him 2 years later.

On 30 November 2019, on Bhola Mama’s 80th birthday, Sukhangshu performed this parody again and made me visit the old memory lane again. This time I got the chance to make a video too. Here it is…click here…

A Tragic disconnect

Our newspapers, these days, are preoccupied with things that don’t bring much cheer in the daily lives of ordinary common people. See above. These are front pages of Hindustan Times dated 16th and 17th November 2019.

Prices of basic food items like onions and tomatoes are sky rocketing and the media is not talking about it as freely as it ought to. It looks like some government person sits down with an editing pencil and orders removal of everything it finds objectionable in the pre-print newspaper copies.

And the most worrisome thing is that while the farmers, the producers, get only peanuts for their labor, 90% of the astronomical prices we pay goes into the pockets of middlemen and traders who have learnt to keep the prices high by manipulating the supplies through hoarding. Read this article. It’s quite an eye opener.

https://www.indiatimes.com/news/poor-farmers-get-only-rs-8-kg-for-onion-why-does-it-cost-us-99-kg-who-makes-all-the-profit-500229.html

While we end-consumers try to save for the rainy days by scrimping and controlling our consumption of high-priced food items, the farmers end up dumping their farm produce on the streets after having wasted their precious, hard-earned resources on their farms. Many commit suicide out of sheer desperation Very tragic indeed. Something that we common people will never forgive our government for.

We are now in the middle of November 2019 and unlike previous years, the prices of vegetables are far too high, Rs.60 per kg onwards. We are told that enough vegetables are not available as they got destroyed in excessive rains. This is a flimsy excuse, as rain disturbances are a perennial phenomenon. Something that the government needs to prepare adequately for.

Their focus, however, is only on electoral gains and the most alarming part is that they are callously allowing nation’s power and money to go into the hands of a few. We seem to be turning into an oligarchy.

We must rise up against this trend and force our government to wake up before it gets too late. Otherwise onions and tomatoes will have to be consumed like dry fruits.