Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Fascinating Story Of A 69 Year Old Birthday Girl

Wanted to share a story about this 69 year old lady (it's her birthday today!) whom I briefly met once at the Kolkata airport a few years back.

Let me start by wishing her a most happy birthday, and hope she has many more of such to come. From what I have come to know of her, she must be enjoying her birthday today as much as she did 50 or 60 years back.

A few days back I received a message from Gunjan Aunty, a friend, and my friend Mrinalini's mom. Now we can have a blog post on Gunjan Aunty herself, and if you don't follow her on Twitter, I suggest you do, but today's post is on her mom. Anyway, so I received a message on Facebook from Gunjan Aunty (yes, she is a bigger FB & Twitter power user than her kids), informing me that she bought Arnab's book 'May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss' for her mother's upcoming birthday, as I had been tweeting a bit about it & also reviewed it sometime back. If you have read MIHYAP and are somewhat aware of Indian parents (in this case grandparents), then you can understand that MIHYAP and nana-nanis (grandparents) make a combination as perfect as lachha paratha & shorshe bata ilish. I know figuring out that comparison requires a working knowledge of Indian cuisine, and if you don't possess it, I suggest you try that combination. She assured me that her sensibilities are not as rigid as they usually are of people of her generation, well, in fact they are quite flexible even compared with people 50 years younger than her. Also, her quest for knowledge and eagerness to learn about new things equals those of scientists, explorers and quizzing enthusiasts. And with that quizzers have been equated with scientists and explorers for the first time.

The rest of the story I am copying from Gunjan Aunty's tweets, FB updates and messages. Fascinating will be to say the least.

From her FB profile:

28th April, 2009

"my ma's b'day on 29th of April. She survived 2009 with sheer will power. A little known immuno disorder has turned her life upside down. She had lost sight in both eyes but have regained in one and she is back to reading again! She'll turn 70 and I will introduce her to facebook and twitter on her day. She is a riot! "

29th April, 2009 (message to me)

"Suhel, Last night at around 11.30 gave Ma the book by your friend and also other works as a start to her b'day celebrations. 12.30 had to snatch that book away since I did not want her to strain her eyes. She was laughing away. Ma has vision in one eye and was using her magnifying glass but she read on! This morning she is back with the book."

"Ma is more contemporary than any of us! A little secret am sharing with you, hv bought a corby, will gift her in the evening and will get her on FB and Twitter [Request from me: Please don't spoil her surprise]... I feel let her get a feel first hand. She is a voracious reader, writer, poet, actor, a celebrated debater,won quiz contests, even in her blind state managed to script small plays"

"she turns 69 today. She belonged to a super rich family, left and eloped with my Dad a then well known player but struggling in '61. Began her career as a teacher then switched to RBI where she stood first amongst over 1500 candidates. Heramba Maitra Challenge cup she has won for debate, Lady Brabourne - medal for best actor, and tons of awards in all classifications possible.Last one being a sit and draw para championship. Got accosted with a little known immuno failure disease since 2007 that took her to the brink of blindness and has affected many an organ. 2009 was spent mostly in ICUs. No treatment for this disorder ...just steroids. She has a zest for life ... witty to the power infinity. This Feb she got her vision back in one eye (unexplained mostly) she ordered a specs which has orange rims!! I think my last line tells it all."

""Happy Birthday to our Patron Saint when we were going to college! I wish her good health". - this msg Mrinalini's school friend sent ...she actually took Mrinalini and few of her friends from college to college, including VC of Cal Univ to see that they get justice ... being frm Intl.School they were being refused. Stood in the Presidency queue from 3 AM"

Yes, that's one story that will stay with us for a long time to come. Once again I take this opportunity to wish the unbelievably amazing 69 year young lady a very happy birthday and many many happy returns of the day.


Anonymous said...


First time here and must admit that really loved reading this post.

- Partha

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Inspiring, humbling, rocking!
Wonder if she'd consider going on a date with me?

hardik mehta said...

happy birthday indeed!! heart warming it is to read ..thank u

Unknown said...

Happy birthday Gunjan Aunty , and thanks for this post Suhel. Really enjoyed reading this :)

Anonymous said...

The b’day girl is simply wow. could u pl send her my wishes on her bday? there is nothing remarkable in turning 70 but to have the zeal to know new things and the zeal to live is something which is so remarkable as at that age, most ppl sort of give up living.
@JAP: Yes, u should def take her out – i am sure she will be more interesting than those ladies of ur gen or even younger!!!

Suhel Banerjee said...

@Partha - Glad that you liked the post, a most brilliant lady, isn't she?:)

@J Alfred Pufrock - Good news, she has agreed to go on the date! Just one clause, she will bring her grandkids along;)

@Hardik Mehta - My pleasure.

@Dujju - Thanks Vivek:) Just a little correction, it's Gunjan Aunty's mother's birthday, not her's!

@Anonymous - I have been left similarly stumped.


Sudeshna Hazra said...


Prolaap said...

wow nani!!! kudos..., did u like d buk?

rajatmaths said...

Inspirational! The ladies version of Sidhu Jatha ( Feluda) . Just that she is not fictional but as lively as it can get.

Archana said...

Great post

Unknown said...

Wonderful post Suhel...Fantastic read:)

How do we know said...

Awesome story, and of course, belated happy birthday to the super heroine!

greatbong said...

This is what makes being an author such a rewarding experience.