Sunday, March 6, 2016


                                     IN THE BEGINNING

It all started , I am told, at around 8.45pm of  Thursday the 23rd of November 1944 in the modest district headquarters called Purnea in north Bihar. I was born! - to Kalyani and Siddhadev Chatterjee. I was to be the youngest of five children with a brother, three sisters and me , in that order.

A lot of people have asked me in subsequent years as to what my mother was doing in Purnea. Well, my mother was only accompanying my father and the children to where duty called him. And it called him to Purnea to discharge his functions as an officer of the Imperial Bank of India! Purnea was, and still is, the District Headquarters town. Its importance was strictly of the commercial kind, being rich in indigo plantations and paddy cultivation. In those years of wartime India it had nothing else to offer. But the Bank reckoned that one of its officers be present there to look after its interests in indigo and rice and so, voila! my father was posted there!

From what I have heard, my parents did not have a pleasant sojourn in Purnea. Firstly, it seems, the town was in a very primitive state with hardly any other civilized inhabitant on  view, let alone any schools or hospitals. Secondly, the place was infested with snakes and my mother could not take to the idea of cohabiting with these slithery and often venomous creatures, come night or day. Thirdly, my father had an unfortunate accident while out on an inspection tour. This resulted in a very badly broken ankle. The Bank wouldn't grant him leave to visit Calcutta to have the injury attended to and Purnea did not have the medical wherewithal for such emergencies. After struggling with pain and functioning from home for about one whole year, my father was finally given a leave of absence. So, finally, the broken ankle was attended to in Calcutta. But it left my father with a permanently troublesome foot!

Thus ended the forgettable chapter in my parents' lives. However, they always maintained that the inconveniences of Purnea were more than made up by the arrival of their youngest child!

I am told that all great stories must include several eventful flashbacks. I believe that it makes the writing appear more "professional", or at least, more impressive ! In deference to this golden rule let me not move ahead with the story but let me go back to tell you a little about us, the Chatterjees.


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