He was 31, she was 22. They were married in August, 1947. If you are an Indian like me, you’d be wondering about the date. Was it 15th August, 1947? As some would joke now, did the country’s independence bring an end to a handsome bachelor’s? I’m not sure about the date either, since celebrating wedding anniversaries weren’t a trend back then. No one cared to document the date and event later. And yet, it must have been an important wedding as the bride’s father soon swore-in as the state’s first Education Minister. The bride was a demure girl, younger on the rung of two elder brothers and six sisters. She was a not-so-beautiful girl, neither fair complexioned like her brothers or elder sisters, but had an endearing smile to win over hearts. I have seen her fading aura while she was above sixty years old in my childhood. He, on the other hand, had a carefree, jovial personality, slightly mired by a mountain of familial responsibilities throughout his life. They are my late maternal grandparents – Gour Mohan and Smritimoyee Basu.
The story began when the handsome boy from a village named Saidpur near Taki (North 24 Parganas, West Bengal) decided to graze greener pastures in Calcutta for education and employment. He completed a degree in Commerce and a diploma later in Chartered Secretaryship. He began working in Calcutta, gradually transporting his younger brothers too from Saidpur so that they could receive the education he wished for them. A few years passed by, the World War II began and its impacts were on Calcutta as well. The modest rural band of brothers struggled to make its ends meet in the city while their parents were still in Saidpur. Gour Mohan was the eldest, he began working already during the war. The second sibling Nitindranath went for a technical training course at the Indian Technical Institute soon after. The other two were quite young then. Third in the line, Pulakendranath enrolled in Indian Army as a foot soldier and the youngest, Ajit Kumar would later start his practice as a homeopathy doctor. The brothers would visit the village at every occasion, especially Durgapujo. Gour Mohan and his bride would grace the family group photograph along with their sister, Sujata and her children. The younger brothers would be married much later though.
Smritimoyee as a young bride, was perhaps a little terrified of her mother-in-law, Rani. Could a bride from the city adjust into the rural life of domestication? As far as I’ve heard, Dida fit herself well into the new ambiance and nursed her mother-in-law well when she was terribly sick. Her brother-in-laws were truly fond of her and respected her. And Dadu was probably smitten with her, or so he looks in the photographs!
Dida was a little frail in health, she would tire easily and couldn’t cook for longer durations. Dadu would visit the markets and grocery stores, sweet shops and the occasional telebhaja. Every time he went out, he would ask Dida, “Ki aante hobe?” (What should I buy?) They had their share of daily banters, not bitter or aggressive ones, but the mild, dulcet kind, that we term as ‘khunshuti‘ in Bangla. Since I was very young, I would wonder at times about these fights. Now that I’m growing older in my marriage, I realise it’s a part of the package and it’s fun at times! I’m sure we’d make memories too, like the photo below that Dadu had cherished to present to his beloved wife. Just gazing at the writing from around seventy years ago fills my heart with emotions that I haven’t been able to fathom till now.
Dadu passed away in 1995 and Dida in 1998. I still miss them.
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.
All images above are from family archive and copyright protected. Please do not steal/share/distort.