Comrade Bani Bhattacharya, mother of Comrade Dipankar, passed away on 5 June evening. She was 92. Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya, Kunal, Amar, Kartick Pal and several comrades from the Greater Kolkata region joined Comrade Dipankar to bid her goodbye the next afternoon. A meeting was held in her memory on 18 June near her residence at Subhasgram. Below we reproduce excerpts from Comrade Dipankar’s tribute to his mother from his Facebook page (posted on 7 June).
“My mother was born in Bogura district of erstwhile East Bengal and current Bangladesh. Like millions of her contemporaries her life was also disrupted by the traumatic developments of the 1940s when her family migrated from Dubchachia in Bogura to Balurghat in Dinajpur (currently headquarter of South Dinajpur district of West Bengal). My mother had the lifelong regret of her formal education getting stopped at the high school stage as she was married off soon after Partition.
“Her father Nikunja Bihari Goswami ran a Sanskrit school at home (alongside a temple of Radhamadhav) and grandfather Vinod Bihari Goswami set up an ashram in Vrindavan. Several of her paternal and maternal uncles were however thickly involved in the freedom movement. Despite the disruption caused in her life by the Partition she never became bitter about life and people nor did she ever become a prisoner of the partition-induced narrative and mindset. All through her life she remained remarkably free of caste and communal prejudice and treated all with love, care and compassion. She was deeply religious without being ritualistic or sectarian in any way.
“My father was a cancer patient and needed a lot of care in his last few years. My mother was the principal support for him. Subhasgram was a totally new place for my parents, but they, especially my mother, made it their own. They helped many local children with their studies. She had a lot of respect for the communist cause and appreciation for the struggles and initiatives led by our party and had also enrolled herself as a Party member.
“To me, our family and all friends and comrades who came in contact with her she has left behind an inspiring legacy full of love and energy. I lost the first teacher and best mentor in my life. Though I may have failed in many lessons, my mentor never gave up and kept encouraging and inspiring me through the ups and downs. In my childhood it was my mother who taught me how to read and write, how to improve my handwriting and read and recite rhymes and poems in Bangla. Occasionally when I’d get a slap or two from my father for some mischief or after being detected that I actually missed a sum in my mathematics paper, my mother would come to my rescue and be my protector.
“Since 1974 I have been physically away from home, first as a student living in hostels and then as a full time Party activist, but she knew I’d come home from time to time and I knew I would always find her there. With the advent of the mobile phone, our contacts became much more frequent. Occasionally she’d call me to share some news or even to ask for some answers to her daily Bengali crossword puzzle. We could not get her to shift to a smartphone but whenever any of us were around we would involve her in video calls with all her loved ones. Her basic Nokia phone is still here, but the phone calls will never be answered again. We will miss you Ma. It’s a void that cannot be filled, but we will try to live up to your legacy.”