The Real Mother !


The Real Mother

All the three daughters were sitting around their mother, The elder one asked her


“Are you feeling okay ? Is it painful, how do you feel now ?”

Their mother was quiet, but apparently was having a pain. All of them were visibly excited and happy, for, they all knew that a new member would soon join the family. The Dhaima, the local mid-wife, was slowly rubbing the forehead of their mother, and, said “You all should keep quiet and let me do my job, and why not you all go to the next room?”

She then told to their father “ I think the time is nearing, why don’t you go and fetch a taxi. You have already made the hospital card”. He rushed out towards the taxi stand. Those were the days when you never had taxis plying around the roads nearby, and you simply had to wait a few moments just to locate one. The taxi stand is about quarter kilometer away near the Punjabi Dhaba (roadside eatery) and you had 4-5 taxis waiting there, mostly driven by Punjabi sardarjis.


By the time the taxi reached home, the Dhaima has already accomplished her mission. She told “ I could not wait, and, had to do it myself, and, congratulation mister, it is a son” ! The sardarji too was visibly happy and expressed good wishes and explained that he does not have to be paid anything.

Soon the glad tidings were spread around the neighbourhood, and several elder women were the first group of visitors. It is here they told the matter in plain and simple terms

“You see this is a boy-child born after three girl-children. A special ritual has to be performed. This is to save the life of the child.”

“Now, what is that, tell me ?” the father was now looked worried.

“You will have to sell the child to a low caste woman. She would touch him, and, his life would be saved. Well, don’t get nervous this is for a short period that she will remain as the mother, and, once he is a bit grown up you buy him back!!”

Our man had a little choice or time to decide otherwise, and, before he could call a few friends to consult about all these, an enthusiastic neighbour rushed in to the sweeper colony, and soon he came back with a woman – our lead “Real Mother”. She bought the baby for four Annas.



Deep is quite grown up….. now 6 years old. All through his life, at least the last few years about which he can remember, his three sisters always bullied him “ Your Real Mother will come some day and take you away to her house. The one here, in this house, is our Mom…. And not your mom. You should be prepared always to walk out with your Real Mother !!” Deep was told her name is “Thekua”.

One day his father announced that he met Thekua in the market, and, she will come down soon. Now Deep was very nervous ! What if he refused to go…. He felt like crying aloud.

Finally Thekua, the Real Mothe arrived. Deep was holding Mom’s hand very hard and Mom said “ Come Deep, get ready to go with her.” Deep was peeping . The Real Mother was dark complexioned, and had a very beautiful face… wearing large round vermillion spot on forehead, had large gold nose-ring and she was smiling when she placed her hands on Deep’s head, apparently showing a lot of affection.

Now to complete the ritual, they were to buy back, Deep’s father offered a few currency to Thekua. She laughed loudly and said I paid only four Annas. That’s my gift to my son.

Then she told to Deep “ Okay son, you live here in this house, may be some other year I will come. Thereafter some sweets shared among all, and, Thekua had some tea before she left the house. Deep was relieved of all worries !



It was first day of a new school. Deep was admitted in fourth standard in this Missionary School, quite far. His mom was accompanying him. It was a double-decker bus and after getting down mom held his hand tightly and crossed the busy road. After a bit walking they reached at the large iron gate of the school, and mom said – “From here on you are on your own. As soon as the school is over, walk the same way and get the bus and get down at the correct bus stand and walk to our home !” Deep was never prepared for this ! This was purely an adventure for which Deep was absolutely nervous. But his mother was unmoved. Her face just exuded of confidence. She smiled without any sign of emotion. Deep had no choice.



I now always cite this example before all the young parents, especially the ones who anxiously accompany their grown up children to and fro their school. I now understand why I was not raised as “an ice-cream kid”. In life I could bear every challenge because my mother wanted me to grow up as a strong individual. She neither had hesitation of giving me away to an unknown woman – even if symbolically, she neither loaded me or herself with emotion as she let me handle my journey in my school days. Thank you mom.






AL-PADHAO (LET US EDUCATE) is a Santhali short video story (with English sub-title). All the actors here are the first timers, facing a camera. This is a result of a street theatre training organised by a voluntary organisation – Swadhina, held a few years ago.

Story/Direction/Video Edit: Diptendu Mukerji


The Old Writer


This was the third round Deep was making  around the old church, but could not locate the shop ! He clearly remembered it as a shop with large glass window and the sign board was visible “ Biswas Typewriter”.


typriter 1Deep was in his final year university level  and seldom came down to this side. His college was in the northern end of the city, and this area was in central part of the city. The other day he came down to this side to the Employment Exchange to register his name, and, after completing the task he was going down to the bus stand for his return journey, through by-lanes behind that old church, that he located this shop, selling old used type-writers ! This was one thing very dear to his heart, he was looking for a typewriter, but  they are expensive ! In this shop he noticed the bill-board clearly displayed  “Good quality used type-writers are on sale” ! Deep thought one of the coming days he would come with some money and look for one to buy, if it is within the reach…. if not too expensive !


Today was the D-day, and Deep lost the way to the shop, and all that he remembered was the land-mark – the old church ! He never asked for anybody for help with direction to a place. He never quite enjoyed asking for direction to places, for, he loved to explore things all by himself, and, he always reaped rich dividends  this way. And lo behold ….. he finally succeeded in locating the shop ! He was intently inspecting the big size desk-typewriters on display through the glass window. He now realized that he had someone watching him. A middle aged man wearing dhoti and shirt and with a  very soft voice he almost whispered “come on in young man, there are more in here”. Now Deep was comfortably looking around the shelves with many type-writers. Deep came down straight to the point. “Can I have something going quite cheap” shot Deep to the gentleman who probably was the owner of the shop.

“Oh, sure you can, how much is your budget “ ? Deep once again came out with a straight forward answer “ Listen, I have 250 rupees, do you have something really good for this kind of amount “ ?

The gentleman thought for a while and said “come, have a look at this one. This is one of the best make in world, the only flaw is that it has the roller- handle located on the right-hand side …. A very unusual one, and hence not many takers. If you think you can manage this “left-hand drive”, the machine is yours, and let me assure you with this kind of price it is a steal !! Deep was amused at the “left-hand drive” joke and readily agreed to take it.

Deep was now a proud owner of a full-fledged type-writer.  He picked up it on his shoulder started walking towards the tram stoppage. It was a bit heavy but the excitement of owning his first asset was on the higher side of joy !


The other day grand- son Rijul came down in the evening  and informed that he discovered an “Iron Key-board”, in the store house ! Next day he carried it to me. At last my dear Writer came back to it rightful owner, after many decades of neglect !



This afternoon while returning from the nearby vegetable market we both, myself and my grand daughter, were walking too slow during the last lap of our journey, for, we were crossing the pandal of our neighbourhood Durgapuja. We stopped for a while, and, watched how the women members of the organizing group preparing themselves for the last rituals for the final journey of the Durgamata and her four children. Most of the decorative items of the pandal were already stripped down. At this point my grand daughter made this comment “I always feel sad on this day, the Doshomi….. this means the Durga Pujo is over and a wait begins for a whole one     year !” I had no option but to admit that I too since her age, always felt the same way. I bet, you ask any Calcuttan, of any age, belonging to any state or religion, she or he would always felt the same way.


cs-05Durgapuja, in Kolkata, and, all over the state, is a festival dear to one and all and a show-case of true secular spirit. Everyone whole heartedly participate.

images 2How the pujas are held ? Let us get an idea. There are various types of pujas now.

Bonedi Barir Pujo (Puja held by erstwhile zamindars or famous families of Bengal). These pujas are normally held at the permanent Thakur Dalan (Festival Arena). These are the oldest pujas, and there are many such family-pujas still being celebrated .

images 3Baroari Pujo (Puja held by Community of Friends) “Baroari” literary means twelve friends. Legend has it that 12 young men from a zamindar house came together and started the first community puja. This is the lifeline of the Durga Puja of Bengal There are 28000 such community pujas in Bengal. Kolkata holds about 3000 large size such Friends Community pujas. These are held by collecting donation from locality, sponsorship and patronage by various shops, factories and industries.

Housing Estate Puja – These are the new entrants. A large number of multi-storied buildings with many flats have come up all over the state. Each building organizes a Durgapuja.

images 5So, in all there are a large number places pujas are held with pomp and glories. The decorations made, especially by the Community Pujas, on the Puja Pandal (Puja Arena) are spectacular. Each one is a creative and very unique exhibit. Various industries announce the best pujas and make cash awards to the best decorated Puja. This made the event competitive and interesting ! It is normally a 4-day event, but, these days many pujos linger on — they start a few days early and delay their “final day” . There are a large number of crowd from early morning, through whole night on pandal hopping ! There are many temporary food stalls and restaurants who arrange additional chairs and tables.

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Songs on Women’s Empowerment

Here are 4 songs. These Bengali songs form part of our village level campaign, by team SWADHINA ,  at times with small street plays. On this GANDHI JAYANTI we remember the large section of women who still have a long journey to make to reach towards living a life with equality and dignity.




This is one Puja which always fascinates mvk004e. For several interesting reasons.

This is the only Puja which follow an English Calender and held every year on the 17th of September !! Therefore easy to remember the day.

  • – This is a very secular event which is celebrated ardently by one and all.
  • – Viswakarma is the god of machineries, in all forms, be it factory machines or automotive for that matter. Viswakarma will have a chisel in one hand and a hammer in the other
  • – Somehow, in this part of the land he is also the god of kite flying !.

Every moving or stationary machinery is offered a puja on this day – computers included ! Flowers are placed on the machine, a incense stick is lighted and the puja ends with distribution of sweets. If affordable, sometimes gala lunch for all dear ones.


Deep is all excited about the day and could not sleep the night before, and, at least three times woke up and checked the wall clock – no, it was still time for sun rise. He got up from the sleep with the loud noise of a loud speaker playing hindi songs ! Ha, it is the Viswakarma Puja day, and, the local plastic factory is celebrating its first Viswakarma Puja . He is Mr. B Sarkar, an enterprising Christian young who started this factory recently. Soon there are noises vk003of many loud speakers playing songs and there is an air of festivity in the area. Deep took out his Latai (the wooden reel for storing cord) and a variety of Kites and went up to the neighbour’s roof top for flying the kites. The kite flying session went on till evening, with a short lunch break, for this Deep had to come down to his home and some how gulp something.

By evening Deep had a bath and came out on the street for a puja pandal (decorated arena) hopping. He was joined by three other friends, all teen agers. They went straight to the large factory near the railway track. This is the only day when the main gate of the factory will be kept wide open for a free for all entry. There was a very friendly worker of the factory who took them around the factory premises and showed them the huge machineries which make railway parts. A little later there was a film show and Deep joined the crowd gather there and enjoyed the movie.

vk001There after they came down to the medicines facotory. Here they attended a musical show. There after they joined the dinner ! It was an elaborate fare with rice, dal, curry fish and meat curry. A large number of people of the locality joined the dinner.


vk002This year the Viswakarma was celebrated in the area, but, it was quite a different event. There was no kite flying. Even a couple of years ago there were still some boys flying kites with a lot of enthusiasm. The plastice factory has long shut its door and a housing complex has come in its place. The factory on the railway track is stands as a show piece and not much production. The medicine factory still organize a puja – the only one survived the test of times, but, held the puja with much less fan fare. New entrants for the Viswakarma are different now.

Early morning met the Sikh Sardarji early in the morning who informed that his car is washed early in the morning and decorated with flowers and a puja was held for his taxi.

vk007The high rise building staff organized a puja, especially for the machineries like Elevators, Water Pumps etc. used in the building. The Viswakarma idol was very nice here.

Every taxi held its puja with tender banana trees and flowers.

Well !! This is the hard realities of life….. there are many things which remain alive only in write up like this, and, we have nothing to complain. “Charei betee, chareibetee” ( lets move on and on )!!


Every house celebrating the puja will have a decorated earthen pot with a little banana plant and a tender coconut, it is the basic preliminary ritual.



A lot is questioned on Kerala flood and ensuing relief need, promises, allotment and so on. This note is basically an attempt to look into various issues on certain perspective, based on a varied logical realization.

To equate Kerala flood and the need for appropriate relief and rehabilitation measures, at par with all other states,  will be incorrect. There are number of reasons:

  1. Keralites are basically very hard working and generally a Giver and not Receiver. There are many occasions when they themselves raise money for their own community needs and do not wish to seek outside support. (I have long term experience working in development and funding agencies, including overseas  ones. At any given time there are a large number of applications we handle mailed by all states across our country for relief, rehabilitation and development support. We hardly find personal or organisational requisition from Kerala. )

Since independence how many times you may recall Kerala asked for relief help, for any natural calamity, or, for any other cause for that matter ?

My submission is that if Kerala is expressing its need for fund, it is not as a “help” or “bail out”. It is Just.  It is rather an opportunity for participation – opportunity for all of us, and, it is basically a matter of rights for them.

  1. Assessing the loss of properties. This again needs to be seen in proper perspective. Keralites are hard working  and spend judiciously on their hard earned money on certain assets. Loss in the Housing is an important aspect which needs to be assessed very much differently. ( I have taken direct part in relief and rehabilitation operations  in all major disasters in the country in Andhra, Orissa, Bihar, uptill Tsunami in Tamilnadu and Andamans. Also I had the privilege to visit and stay in many Kerala homes across the state.)  Kerala houses are mostly architect designed and aesthetically built and an average Keralite would spend her/his hard earned money primarily on housing, and, that too in most befitting manner, even if that means spending a bit more money. Same goes for the furniture and other house-hold items which complete  a home  – like fridge, tv, furniture and so on.  Hence rebuilding need is quite different, certainly requiring much higher financial involvement, than understood as a regular relief operation.

Dignity is important for all. Hence before we judge what is the justified means and to what extent support  should be given to Kerala , let us prepare ourselves not to equate all states at par. The following  illustration will perhaps provide clarity about my submission :

A boy was making preparation for his marriage. He worked very hard, earned  handsome money, and, was buying all things on his own. The dad asked what is it that he can do for the son’s marriage. The son replied “dad I can manage on my own, do not worry”. Now that reply made the father really worried and he said “ Arrey  Baap honey ke naatey, mera bhi kuch karney kaa haq banta hai. Oh to karney de” (Listen I am your dad, and as your dad I too have some right to do something for you. Allow me to do that !)

Well, you got the point !