jewellery, household articles for her two daughters since we were little children. This silver box that
belonged to a great grandmother, and that sari that was once her mother’s, now appear in my almirah
when I am rummaging around for something or the other. But among all these things, there is one
object that I usually pause and look at a few times before putting it away carefully. It’s a medal that she
won while in college. She won it at an all-India essay writing contest organized by Sulekha, the ink
makers, where she was placed second nationally. Somehow, even among the little gold earrings and
chains that the medal is kept with, the round silver disc shines brightly.
pieces of jaw-droppingly beautiful embroidery that she has created. And her table is always groaning
with the best food, she being the kind of cook who can make you want to eat a whole meal with a
simple chochchori . Yet, when she has written, now and then, always in Bengali, I have loved reading her
clear yet beautiful style of writing. Her vocabulary and command over the language and her descriptions
of places and people make her a delightful writer.
Nainital, Mayavati and many other places there. After she came back, I saw her take up the pen, put
aside the house and its cares for a few days and put down her experiences. She ended up writing about
twenty-five pages filled with descriptions of her journey, her co-travelers, the winding roads they
travelled on, and the astounding natural beauty that she saw. She has always been an avid reader of all
kinds of travel writing. My default gift for her is usually a travelogue, as I have seen her read many and
often. When I read her own account of her travel, I found a woman I didn’t know as well as I thought.
Here was someone who thirsted for adventure, who wanted to walk into the unknown and encounter
new people and places. Here was a woman who remained unfazed by landslides and car breakdowns,
who could put up with nights of discomfort in wayside travel lodges and out of the way ashrams, all
because each of these was a part of the journey as a whole. But mostly, what happened to me after
reading the entire narrative was what I feel any good travelogue should do—it made me want to go
there and see these forests and temples and rivers and flowers for myself.
The wandering mind is always ready to travel the many hued paths. The hidden aesthete in me is
forever looking to savour the beauty of the outdoors and hear the orchestra of the open road. Even in
the stillness of everyday life and duties, I cannot stop hearing these sounds call out to me. If only the
everyday world could give way to the forests, mountains, unending plains and seas that beckon me. In
my heart, the ebb and flow of these feelings is as strong as all the waters the skies can hold…
and usually waved me away. A few times she said she was putting down incidents from her life, about
us. If anyone can tell a good tale, it is her, so I hoped she would actually do it. And then, a week back,
she called me to say she has written something new and personal.
gather in Kolkata to celebrate this, and the Whatsapp group comprising my parents and my sister has
been buzzing with ideas for outings, meals and what we will do at home. Someone will sing, and
someone will recite poetry. ‘I have written a little something about your father,’ Ma said to me on the
phone. ‘I’d like to read it out when everyone is there. But both the sons-in- law will not understand the
Bengali, so will you do an English version also?’
‘I can do it,’ I said. ‘But I hope your Bengali is not too tough.’
my head wondering how I would get across the pure emotions on the page truthfully. When I called her
back, she said, ‘You can do it, do whatever with it, I will be okay. I just want the boys (her sons-in- law)
and the grandchildren to understand.’
Perhaps having been born of the author gives you some unusual rights and insights as a translator. The
words came quickly and the sentences formed fast. I could picture my mother sitting in her balcony that
is filled with plants and flowers, the crows cawing incessantly in the large trees on the road, the traffic of
Jodhpur Park a constant background, as she wrote this small, sweet, heartfelt ode to the man she has
been with and the life she has had for fifty years. I can already see her reading out the Bengali words to
this para here and let’s end it more neatly. But of course I won’t, because this is mother, and she speaks
the mother language of love. I am guessing the sons-in- law will do just fine in discerning the meaning!