PURNIMA– full moon

Purnima , which means full moon,was born on the 31st of July ,1928 in Allahabad,India on,yes,the day of the full moon. She was the third born of eight siblings. Her father ,Suhrid Chandra Choudhury ,was the strict head master of Colonelgunj Inter College in TagoreTown ,Allahabad. Her mother was Pushpa Rani,an accomplished lady known among the large Bengali community of Allahabad for the literary soirees she organized in her home and for founding the Durga Puja of Tagore Town.
Purnima, 1952

Bengalis insist on pet names. The proper ,classic names or ‘bhalo naam’are unearthed only on occasions when forms need to be filled ,such as, school admissions or marriage certificates.The rest of the time which is basically the person’s entire life he or she is known everywhere by his or her pet name.So Purnima was called Punnu.

Among  Indians ,in a rapidly diminishing culture,it is impolite to address older people by their names .So different relationships have different terms. In the case of Punnu ,her younger siblings called her ‘Mejo di’or second eldest among sisters. In later years, the children of her brothers  called her ‘Mejo pisha’ and the children of her sisters called her ‘Mejo mashi’ .

Punnu ,like a lot of middle class Bengali girls ,went to Jagat Taran Girls’ School. Surabhi di was the principal of the school. With her Max Factor- pan caked face and Godrej -dyed,bobbed hair she influenced Punnu greatly not in her lack of propensity towards make-up but in her appreciation of the finer values of life.

If there was one thing Punnu’s strict father insisted upon ,it was that each of his four daughters would receive university education. So Punnu made her transition not only from skirt-blouse to sari but also from school to Allahabad University. She finished with a Masters degree in Geography,bicycling everyday with her older sister to the university and back.

Her sisters and she would be often enlisted by their mother’s literary friends to be ushers at the Vijanagaram Hall of the university for many Indian classical music soirees.She proudly counted having heard  live performances of many great musicians,among them Ustad Faiyyaz Khan and Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

 A young ,handsome and extremely hard working doctor ,Jyoti Bhushan,would come on house call to treat Punnu’s father. In him her father found a fine match for Punnu. He spoke to Jyoti’s relatives and proposed his daughter’s hand in marriage to Jyoti. They agreed as very happily did Punnu and Jyoti . They married on the 16th of July,1951.

                                             Purnima and Jyoti at their wedding                                       
It was very unusual but due to circumstances ,which is another story,Jyoti brought his bride not to his parents’ home but to a crumbling ,large,old bungalow that he had just bought at 13,Lukergunj,Allahabad and a loving family of Jyoti’s younger sister and brother who he supported.

In one of the two habitable rooms Jyoti and Punnu  set up his new  medical practice and in the other they created two rooms divided by a curtain ,one for Jyoti’s younger brother and sister ,and in the other, a room for themselves.
Brick by brick the young couple built their house  as they did Jyoti’s practice and later, a nursing home.Their first child ,a son,was born in 1952 . Three others ,2 girls and a boy after that.
                                            The home they built ,13,Lukergunj
Within the next few years they had arranged successful marriages for Jyoti’s brother and sister and helped them settle.
 Punnu had to become a strong young woman from the day she married. She had to assume the role not only of a highly supportive wife but responsible sister-in-law and loving mother.
When Jyoti built his nursing home it was Punnu who managed finances and stores, while keeping a beautiful home almost single handedly,taking her children on holidays and keeping up wonderful relations  with extended family and friends. She was the strong and practical one in the marriage and Jyoti the soft,hard working dreamer.
These are only a few things that made her the remarkable woman she is as she lives in the beautiful home she and Jyoti built.
She is my mother.
 A poem I wrote for her :

With pink tinged cheeks 
and glowing skin,
Hair waving gracefully,
A small bun,caught with a pin.

Doing mental math,
Sharp as a chilly dark green,
Maybe her Masters in Geography
Gave her a confidence rarely seen.

In summer crisp cotton sarees she wore
They were the most elegant we have seen.
In winter it was beautiful silk
Bought judiciously with an eye so keen.

It was not just the best shorshe baata she cooked
But also spagetti bolognaise.
An unforgettable cream chicken,
And to die for-a fish mayonnaise.

With confidence and charm
She held her own,
With no matter who,when or where.
In restaurants and nice shops 
Folks big or small she could out-stare.

Heavenly garden parties she organized
Meticulous she has always been
As next to her pillow she places
Her toothpick,medicine bag and boroline.

This is our dearest Ma,we believe she is a queen
Confidence and practicality she has shown us
Giving us the best we have seen.


About Adity

Hello ! You are either already a friend or will become one--through this medium! I am an artist and jewellery maker, a wife and mother to two lovely children. Beautiful homes, food, nature and wonderful things happening around me make me ecstatic. That is why I started to write this blog-- to share with you all of these things. After all what good is any experience if not shared !
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14 Responses to PURNIMA– full moon

  1. Anonymous says:

    My sister writes beautifully. Where did she get the wonderful photograph of Ma sitting in the garden?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can picture every little detail while reading. Felt like I was taken back in time – talented is an understatement.

  4. Harveen says:

    Enjoyed this Aditi! Good to know why you are the way you are… A lot cuz Of a girl called punnu

  5. Anonymous says:

    Always was convinced that you had the best of both the parents-strong practicality and heightened sense of beauty,perception and empathy.Love you and so proud of you.From the elder sis to the much adored younger sibling

  6. Anonymous says:

    And yes,you took me back to the lovely days of Maharajin and her toast wonderfully toasted next to the warm choolhas/quarter boiled eggs/homemade guava jelly-all for breakfast sitting on Baba's lap turn by turn,Rajaram Dhobi coming for the daily washes and Baba's crisp white cottons pressed to a knifes edge, Bechulal taking us for rickshaw rides,Ma and her evening treats at Kwality's and Ayah shooing us away from her precious Bopibhaiya' Farex!Love you,precious.

  7. Thank you, Harveen. It is lovely to share with people with empathy like you .

  8. The sister thanks you and says she got the photo when it was sent to her by her elder sister two years ago.

  9. The taste of new potatoes ,flattened and cooked dry with sookha masala.Hot summer afternoons with dushehri and langra eaten peeled and whole after lunch.

  10. I think it is you who has got the best of both, elder sister.

  11. Uttora Ratna says:

    The very kind Sinha Mashtermoshai coming alternate days , trying to teach us music like all good Bengali children-Baba going ecstatic (!) over all the noise we made in the name of singing. Both the younger ones learning to play the sitar and the elder one playing the guitar-how we loved to hear “Pukaarta chala hoon main”.
    Baba's morning prayers and songs-shutting our eyes ,trying to see when Baba opened his eyes -and then running away to our rooms while Ma busied herself getting something special for breakfast-in fact all meals! Yogi chacha called her “Annapurna” and that lovely marble table which has seen and heard the history of our home and around which who came sat and shared……

  12. I think we have just so many wonderful memories of such a delightful childhood- or is it that we now have more of a perspective as we get older ?

  13. Uttora Ratna says:

    Pishi its mishti. I seriously didn’t know so much about dida. I had a great time and believe me the patience to read it.

    • Delighted you managed to read this, Mishti. Dida was a very accomplished lady. The latest realization I had of another one of her qualities was when I saw/thought of the saris she wore. I wear some of them today and realize how elegant each one was ! Each one ethnic, hand woven or hand printed and of great beauty.

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