Rini Banerjee/Sabita

Rini Banerjee

BA(Hons)Student,

Lovely Professional University

Phagwara, Punjab

Sabita Ganguly was the smartest student of her class. She was loved by the teachers, admired by every fellow student of Christ Secondary School and was also popularly known as ‘the only girl among thirty male students’. She was the youngest child of the renowned ‘Zamindaar’ family of Calcutta. It was just after the independence of India, when most of the ancestral property of the Ganguly family was taken away by the Government of India and was compensated by few thousands of Rupees. Her family business that included the cultivation and trading of tea, faced a severe crisis and caused into lots of debts in the market. Narayan Ganguly, the head of the family and biologically, the father of Sabita, was a Cardiac Surgeon by profession and was considered a nobleman in the society. He was praised for his great achievements in the realm of medicine and was also popularly admired for his great taste in Rabindra Sangeet.

After they had to give up their family business, Dr. Ganguly started with his new way of earning bread and butter and that was of dealing patients at his residence and opened a chemist shop as well, which later turned into a whole sale pharmaceutical shop that supplied medicinal equipment to the famous hospitals of the city.

Sabita was studying in the tenth standard when the family went through this devastating crisis and faced sudden dramatic changes in their life. This but obviously hampered Sabita as well since she was unable to concentrate on her studies and apparently decided to drop her school. She started helping her mother in the household work and completely indulged herself in the homely deeds which was taken care of completely by her mother, single handily.

The lady behind this professional but aristocratic family was Meera Ganguly, the mother of Sabita and the better half of Dr. Ganguly, who also served him as a helper and compounder in the medical chamber during peak hours. Mrs. Ganguly was only eighteen when she got married and could not complete her studies because of the familial pressures after marriage. Though her husband always supported her for further studies, but according to her, the priority of a married woman should always be to fulfil the needs of her family but not herself; and thus she refused to educate herself any further. But to the contrary, she didn’t want the same fate for her daughter Sabita. She wanted to provide her the best education so as to make her a successful person in life with high qualification. The beautiful couple was praised all over the city by the locals and were considered next to God by many, whose lives were saved by them either professionally or economically or both.

After Sabita left her studies she was completely involved in the homely activities and was pretending to be happy, but, her gesture was neither appreciated by her father, nor by her mother. They tried to convince her by putting their best foot forward but they faced failure on every attempt. Ultimately everyone agreed on her decision and started following their particular lives, leaving the rest of the decisions upon the almighty.

Days and years passed, following the same story of the family. By now, Sabita was not just in tune with the household work but was also known by everyone for her tuition classes of the English language. She was also attending students for the art and craft sessions; and the best part was her new name by which she was addressed these days, ‘DidiMuni’ (a teacher, as popularly addressed by her students in West Bengal). She was a favourite to everybody in the locality, not just the small kids who wanted to study, but also the parents who wanted their child(ren) to study from her. ‘Didimuni’ was suddenly a popular figure among people and the most lovable personality for the children.

As far as the family was concerned, it was out of the crisis by now and had established itself once again, both socially and economically. The pharmaceutical shop was now running at a large scale and Dr. Gangly had inaugurated three more branches of the shop in the main city.

But, apart from everyone and everything, there was something that was not letting Sabita enjoy and appreciate her achievements. She had her different dreams and desires which were wrapped in an unknowing envelope, secretly in her mind. Undoubtedly, she was a respectful teacher now, who was helping children get educated and was also a source of inspiration for many; but there was something beyond that she wanted to achieve but was unable to.

She was twenty by now and was all set to get married, according to strict Indian social norms. The relatives had already prepared a lengthy list of the most educated young men to get married to Sabita, and the list was handed over to Meera on Sabita’s twentieth Birthday. Now was the time for the parents to discover the best son-in-law for themselves and the the most appropriate life partner for their beloved daughter. Meera was not very happy to do this task but had to, since it was the only trend followed in the society since thousands of years and is yet to be followed for the next thousand years and even more. Dr. Ganguly was concerned by her and they both ultimately opined their choice for their ‘would be’ son-in-law.

Anshuman Mukherjee, the only son of the reputed Colonel of the Indian Army, Mr. Vibhash Chandra Mukherjee was a lawyer by profession. Anshuman was a well educated young man, settled in Varanasi with his family, natively from Calcutta itself. The 27 years old man was the first and final choice for Sabita by her parents. Neither was she told, nor consulted about her choice, she was just informed about the man her parents chose for her to spend her whole life with. After getting the news, she was shattered from inside, since all her dreams were approaching the end, slowly and steadily; and now she was totally regretting her decision of dropping out of school. But in any of the ways, she had to face the reality and fate that she was destined to.

Anshuman’s family was informed and met by Mr. and Mrs. Ganguly. They were extremely in admiration with their daughter and announced the marriage. The Mukherjee family was so happy and obliged regarding their building relations with the Ganguly family that they didn’t even demand to see the girl for even once. The wedding date was finalised and exactly after two months, was the wedding day.

‘Didimuni’ or ‘Sabita Ganguly’ was now nowhere to be found. This matured lady, the wife of lawyer Anshuman Mukherjee, was now Sabita Mukherjee. All her dreams and desires were considered a history by her now which possibly were never meant to be in her destiny. And surprisingly, she was completely fine with this thought and was all prepared for her new life along with some set of new dreams and desires. But her destiny was yet to change again. Anshuman and Sabita started getting closer slowly and were now capable of understanding each other nicely. Two months passed by, Sabita was now taking care of the whole family along with her mother-in-law and younger sister-in-law. Her new family was just the same as her consanguine family. She was now happy being a married woman and tried her best to fulfil all her responsibilities being a good wife and daughter in law.

Anshuman was proud to get a wife like Sabita but always suffered from guilty consciousness and considered himself responsible for her incomplete education. He wanted an opportunity to get his wife well qualified and present her the dream life she always wanted to live. And now was the time when he thought he could make this thing possible. He consulted his parents regarding this, who totally agreed with his thought and planned the whole thing for Sabita. She was informed about it by her husband himself but she denied, for, “the priority of a married woman should always be to fulfil the needs of her family and not of herself”, and in case she joins the college, she will not be able to take care of the household and her family as well. But Anshuman found a solution to this problem too. He provided her with the facility of ‘home classes’, where she just had to study by staying at home, and at the same time she could take care of the members of her family too. Sabita agreed and the new mission of the Mukherjee family began.

Years passed. Sabita was now a graduate in English Literature and finished her post- graduation in the same stream. She applied for the post of lecturer in the most reputed college of North India, and it was the day for the selection process. She came out of the room after her interview, with an elegant smile on her face and her eyes constantly staring at the only known person, Anshuman. She stood in front of her husband, who was waiting for her outside the interview hall; held his hands and was speechless out of joy. Anshuman could read her eyes and congratulated her for getting selected for the post. The extreme happiness was clearly visible. She tried to thank him for his efforts that made her reach the destination she always wanted to, but before she could say anything, he already grabbed her hands and asked her to cook a delicious dinner for him to show her obligations. They both smiled and left for their home.

Few years later, the couple was blessed with a baby girl and then a baby boy. Sabita Mukherjee was designated as the Chancellor of the University in the year 1982 and she retired in the year 1990. Mr. and Mrs. Mukherjee are presently settled in Kolkata, enjoying their old age together.

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