Photo credit: Suroshri Chatterjee
Photography by Suroshri Chatterjee
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…
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)…
Through a veil of stupor,
He looks at the world around him;
Where he was born, how, and why he came here,
He no longer remembers.
With callused feet and hands,
tattered clothes covering his black, thick body,
Black, untidy, unkempt hair covering his head,
Heavily drugged, with a sleep fuddled mind,
He walks ahead,
Out Into the udnknown.
Hunger, thirst, pain, agony, misery
No longer bother him.
Even Death feels too scared to come near him,
let alone look into the red, bloodshot eyes,
of this frightful vagabond…
Demons of December
with them are pollution,
Smog, chills, mist, and fog
Angels of February
Are coming in
with their clear blue skies,
Bobbing flowers and soothing breezes…
My dear Friends.
Enjoy being alive,
It is only
For a little while
For this too
And Harsh Summer
will be in…
A few days ago, I had written about a few puppies whom I hoped to see again in better circumstances. See link below.
Well, yesterday, on 19 January 2020, I finally got the chance to see them again. Their puzzled Dad, a stray dog, watched as I clicked their pics. See them below.
This only proves that like humans, some dogs are luckier and get all those things in life that one can only dream about.