Sunday, October 25, 2009


Ma. She came from a very erudite family in Calcutta, her father, the late Professor S. P. Chatterjee is known as the father of Indian Geography, the man who coined the name "Meghalaya" and the founder director of the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) if you hated geography in school, you should know that in our generation all those books we read were written by him. But this is not about him. Its about his third daughter, (he had four), an elegant lady who was known for her quiet demeanor and gentle ways. Ma met Baba in college, and the rest as they say is history. Ma was a qualified lawyer, fortunately for other lawyers in her generation and unfortunately for her, she did not practice law after marriage. But she was with Baba every step of the way and solely responsible for his illustrious career....she was the driving force, the one who took the decisions, the one who gave up on personal happiness for the sake of her family....and her family was large. Sorry, I err when I say she gave up on personal happiness, she just made the family her number one priority, whether it was the children's studies or going for "secret" matinée shows with other ladies in the house! Ma was way ahead in her generation and she possessed that delightful blend of whim and gentleness that made you stop whatever you were doing and listen to what she had to say. And she never imposed on were free to do as you wished....she insisted that the daughters-in -law of the family work, she allowed them to dress and behave freely when all others were shaking their heads in disapproval and she absolutely endorsed further studies and higher education.Ma never made the headlines but in her own quiet way she held the reins in the house...kind to a fault, her heart and home was always open for friends and relatives. She gave of herself just as she gave of her material possessions and never once have I ever heard her speak ill of anyone....everyone got a kind word of encouragement but that did not blind her to the weaknesses of others....oh she knew exactly what you were only she handled it her way. With kindness. And patience.....
Ma left us on September 15th this year. She went painlessly and peacefully, without a fuss just the way she would've liked to, unobtrusive and quiet. She had been ill earlier, and we had been though many complicated medical battles which she won through sheer will power and inner strength... but this time she had it her way...with Baba by her side and a quiet "adieu". She left before we had a chance to reach her side to tell her half the things we still have to say to her but I know for sure she's still with us, deeply woven into the matrix of our lives. And when she left home that last time she took with her the glow that set it apart......

Before I forget, I have to add that Ma is my mother-in-law. When all my friends would sit around and bitch about their mothers-in-law I was always the one with nothing to say. I was the envy of my friends, I never had to undergo a single fast or snide comment, I was never made to feel she handled a home better than I did or raised smarter kids. We giggled together, we laughed together, we shared hopes and dreams and stories...I'm sure there have been things which she may have disapproved of....but I was never made to feel small or inadequate...I was never criticized....scolded, yes, but never without cause. I was the spoiled "Bahu", the pampered one. Hell, she may not have been my biological mother but in the years I have known her, in many ways she was more of a mother to me than my own! And I never ever was made to feel like an outsider. That says it all.

Today I like to imagine Ma up there, quietly watching us, dressed in a beautiful sari, looking as gorgeous as ever, surrounded by people she loved in this life and who are no more, ensuring we are safe and well and free from harm.... And if I look hard, I'm sure my father is there too in that crowd and somewhere together, they watch over us!


  1. Oh, she's there all right, resplendent and dressed in her tip-top way, smiling that beautiful smile and keeping herself abreast on all the important news...
    What a lovely tribute, Ipsita!

  2. You could not have put it better than this.....the little time that I have interacted with her has left such a lasting impression on me and I wondered if the lady head of the house is so positive, pleasant and modern then why.....well adieu Jethi and I know that you will always bless us wherever you are.

  3. So well written!And,I totally agree that they dont leave us,but,just become our guardian angels!!