[Scene – I, 22nd Jan 1977, Jalpaiguri a small town in north West Bengal]
She spent all of last night sobbing in his arms. “The doctor said 21st is the date but I never had a labour pain. And now the baby has even stopped moving. Some thing must be wrong with the baby, I am so scared, and you are leaving me here all alone. Why must you leave? Shouldn’t you be worried that the baby is not moving? Yes I did tell ma about it, she said few days here and there from the predicted date is fine. But I am scared. We should go to a good doctor, the Government hospitals are no good. Just because I don’t have a family of my own you people are doing this to me. If I had my parents they would have taken me to a good nursing home for a checkup.” She sobbed and sobbed.
All that sobbing really got Gora worried. It was barely dawn when he rushed to his mother’s room. “Ma, your bouma is very worried, it seems the baby is not moving, let us take her to a doctor come with me.”
They went to Dr. Banerjee’s private clinic. He took one look at Mita and said it cannot be a normal delivery. Dr. Banerjee isn’t a very sweet person. One would often hear him saying, “I don’t have time to be nice, I have lives to save.”
He asked Gora rather rudely, “when was your return to Kolkta again?”
“Er, I thought I would leave tomorrow.” Gora could sense doctor Banerjee wasn’t very pleased.
“What? Leave tomorrow. Your wife is going to deliver a baby any time now and you have plans to return to work, leave her alone here, don’t you people have any sensibility. Go cancel your tickets or whatever. There has to be a seizure, you will have to sign a bond. Leaving tomorrow it seems.” He sounded disgruntled
Mita had to be immediately admitted.
[Scene II – 23rd Jan 1977 General Hospital, Jalpaiguri.]
It’s a holiday in West Bengal. Everybody in the hospital doing emergency duty is in a holiday mood. Mommy to be is also very relaxed. The baby hasn’t been moving since 21st evening, water broke all through last night yet she isn’t worried for she doesn’t know anything about having babies.
She never read a baby book because she thought she already knows all about babies. After all she had been a mother of two at the tender age of eleven when her mother died leaving behind a 7 year old brother and a 3 year old sister. And since she was busy mothering these two she had no time to do the girl talks with her friends. She didn’t even have time to make friends for she was busy saving her siblings from the perils of a dysfunctional family made up of a fragile step mother and an abusive father.
Her mother-in-law too isn’t of much help. Ask that lady about the current affairs she would know. Ask her about the latest Uttam-Suchitra film, she knows. Ask her about how to handle a 10 member family full of children, cattle, hens, ducks, chicks all by herself with a limited hand to mouth income her husband sends from East Pakistan where he had stayed back after having sent the rest of the family to India during the 1947 partition, she would know. But ask her about crying babies and grandmotherly stories she wouldn’t know.
This is a family of special women.
So its 11 in the morning the doctor is on his routine round and just found out that Mita’s water broke all night. “Nurse, what have you done? Why didn’t anybody send me the logs. You people are such worthless.” He yelled at the nurses. Then he turned at Mita and asked, “what have you been doing since morning? Have you eaten anything?”
“Oh yes I ate properly.” She said happily.
“Excellent! Now puke on me, when I give you anesthesia. Water breaking and she is eating away to glory. Nurse, arrange the operation table. Where is the father to be? Give him this list and ask him to bring all of them.” Dr. Banerjee stormed out of the room.
Gora was about to leave the hospital premises only to be back in the afternoon. It was just at nick of time when one of the nurses spotted him and quickly pushed the slip of paper down his fist and rushed away to arrange for the operation.
Father-to-be was super scared. He held the slip in trembling hands, went back to wife’s cabin told her he is going to get the stuff and left. That was the last time she saw him before going to the operation theater.
An hour later, when she was being carried on a stretcher to the OT, on both sides of the corridor stood the entire Basu family 10 to 14 of them all visibly panicked.
This is a family of strong women. Women who have learnt to live strong and tough by circumstances. Today is the day they will pass on their strength to the new born.
Mita heard the first cry of her baby and looked at the nurse waiting to know if it was a boy or a girl.
“You have got a beautiful baby girl, Mita,” said the head nurse.
“Girl” she repeated disappointingly.
“Oh Why? Am I not a girl?” Said the nurse in a heavy stern voice.
And Mita decided to make her daughter a doctor.
[Scene III – Fast forward to 23rd Jan 2009, Bangalore, a single room apartment.]
A friend is making cocktails for a woman who is not a doctor. She is a lawyer, writer, photographer, blogger, a leader and an ideator. She is great at her work, greater at her passion. She has worked in the courts, corporates, civil societies, has traveled extensively through the villages of India, she studied law and politics at one hand and sexuality and rights on the other, though she mostly speaks in English she has studied Bengali literature till her graduation.
She calls herself a blogging evangelist, and has organized and led multiple bloggers meets in Delhi and Bangalore including one of the most popular one with the BBC World Radio team and Delhi Bloggers. She ideated and organized one of the first Blogging outreach workshops in India back in 2006. She has been all over the media, from BBC World Radio to NDTV, CNN IBN, Door Darshan to print media like Indian Express, Hindu, Bangalore Mirror. She manages Mutiny, she founded and manages Blogalroeans and Lets Go.
This birthday she is busy attending a call from the Bengaluru Vedika ABIDE team, made in their attempts to find someone who can help them engage with the Bloggers in Bangalore. She didn’t find them, they found her. Much the same way BBC’s Julian Siddle found her when they wanted to meet the techies in Delhi. Fame often finds her.
When she met Ashwin Mahesh at the ABIDE volunteers meeting he instantly recognized her, he knows her for her Barcamp Bangalore initiatives. Ashwin said, “for Blogger’s meet you don’t even have to request me anything Sanjukta, just let me know the date, I will be there.”
With that kind of encouraging words, she knows this birthday is a brand new start to her ever popular and active life, she is confident something much larger is going to happen, not only because she is destined for it but also because she deserves it.
She is never married, never had a boyfriend, never needed a man by her side in any of her pursuit, there isn’t any task that she cannot handle alone from hiring a tempo from a random tempo stand to shift a house full of furniture; to driving all through the night on a highway without anyone sitting next to her to keep her awake; to traveling from Delhi to Ghaziabad Tehsil to inspect the land registers; there isn’t anything she can’t do.
She is not a doctor, but a Rock Star. But she too knows nothing about babies. Yet there is one thing she knows, that she would be a wonderful mother someday, with or without a man.