I grew up in Kolkata in the 60s and 70s, i.e. as a child and as a teenager stepping into youth. I grew up with the same middle class values like all others, went through similar experiences like all others, i.e. similar pangs of first crush, first rejection, worries and anxieties about future, dreams and wishes about life in general …. Life, then, took it’s own turn for me and I went with the flow or rather was washed away by the storm and held onto straws for survival. Survive I did, rather well I must say, and went onto living a fulfilling life from many aspects. What also happened during this period is that without my conscious understanding, I ended up swallowing the perfect patriarchal model of “man” and “woman”, though I did view myself as a rebel and a high achiever. What I did not notice was that internally I judged myself and everyone else through the same
My paternal grandmother Kumudini Dasgupta was a special woman. I did not really know her well nor did I make an effort to get to know her well while she was alive. I always found her to be distant and a bit of a critical snob. She was a dispassionate looking woman, who maintained her widowhood by wearing stark white saree , kept her hair short, eat only boiled food or really bland food without any onion, garlic or even much spices. All of these were as per the rotten and inhuman customs for Bengali widows, which she and others believed in (or so I thought). She died at 96 years and I wonder, how did she live for that long, with that diet? Anyway, to come back to talk about Kumudini (it means white lotus or moon) … she indeed was a remarkable woman … which I realised rather late, almost 43 years after her death.