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Celebrating, what?
Did you know India has been independent for 190 years? And all this time you thought this 15 August the country completed 71 years of freedom from the British. Or, that Gandhi’s death anniversary is on October 2. Birth and death – they are a part of life, isn’t it; so how does it matter? Have stomach for more? The last British Viceroy was Lord Canning, not, sorry, Lord Mountbatten. And Mother Teresa was freedom fighter. Laugh or cry?
The beautiful game
After four years the ‘Beautiful Game’ is again going to keep the world, at least most of it, enthralled for more than a month or so. As the group matches will progress, people’s daily routine will be adjusted, depending on the allegiance to doosri country- for the time being, in our case.
From childhood we have often been hearing that everything moves in a circle, and that more things change, more things are the same.
The decade of the‘70s to ‘80s with the upsurge in the Feminist movement and its subsequent influence changed a lot of things- for women themselves, society, evenfor the art and culture scenario. Though the Harvey Weinstein ‘affair’, the continuing revelations and its cascading effect on public consciousness may not be seen as a ‘movement’ on that scale, it is indeed a watershed moment for women in many ways.
Scene 1: A reputed university in Kolkata known for its student community with liberal views. Whenever the occasion rises they go out protesting against any injustice, perceived or real. You go to the campus and find colourful posters all around with a young crowd in groups talking nineteen to the dozen, discussing world politics to local ones. They sit around sipping a coffee or a Coke, some throw rings in the air from their cigarettes. On way to attend a seminar in a hall, you look at their animated faces and miss your college days.
I have an aunt, who, now in her 80s, is receiving an award this week bestowed by a well-known women writers’ group in Assam in recognition of her being an “Ideal Mother” (adarsha matri). Ideal? For what, perhaps you would wonder. Devoting her life to bringing up her children , looking after her husband and in-laws in an extended family- never bothering to look after herself or her needs et al? After all society, even today, admires all these ‘self sacrifices’ in a woman.
As the famous adage in journalism goes on what makes news,‘When a dog bites a man that’s no news, but when a man bites a dog that is news’.
So Kolkata’s very own ‘Mother’ is getting canonised after many deliberations and many years of waiting. I took out the slip of paper from my drawer I have preserved for more than twenty years. Torn from a notebook hastily, it looks worn now. I was waiting with my little daughter at the Kolkata (then Calcutta) airport, not the swanky airport it is today, to go to my parents’ place in Assam. Suddenly I saw her-Mother Teresa, in her signature blue bordered white saree, sitting on a sofa on the opposite side. Excited, I dragged my daughter and approached her. She smiled radiantly and wrote on my notebook, “God bless you!”