Gayatri Das


Gayatri Choudhuri (Gayatri Das after marriage), was born on 9th September 1944 in Mollarpur, Birbhum. She was the second child, and the youngest daughter of 5 children. Her father, Dr Rama Pati Choudhuri was a renowned doctor in the region. Mollarpur is a small scenic town, not far away from Sir Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan, district headquarters Suri, or the the twin towns of Bakreshwar (known for natural hot water fountains) and Tarapith and mother a religious lady.
She was very hardworking. Her mother was very superstitious, and therefore from a very childhood age, she had to do a lot of household work. Her father, being a village doctor, could hardly attend his children, and she was assigned the responsibility of being guardian to her three younger brothers. She did not quite succeed as a student, more because of the fact that household work took her time off studies with little or no support from her elder sister.
As the daughter of a doctor, she used to face all kind of people. She had interesting stories to tell on them. One interesting story she narrates, "One day a group of villagers brought a dead man. His mouth was covered with mud. The villagers believed that the soul will remain inside if you dont let it escape. The villagers were so ignorant!"
On 1st March 1974, she was married to Mr Prafulla Kumar Das. She had two sons, born on 14th February 1975 and 20th May 1976. They were in Assam at that time. The place itself was quite nice, and the challenge of raising two children was a task in itself. Upper Assam, at that time was notoriously famous for snakes. So much so that many a times, the snakes, quite a number of them being fatally poisonous, used to enter the staff quarters. She had to keep close tab of the children that they are safe, in addition to tons of household work.
In 1981, her family moved back to Kolkata. Her mother-in-law, who was 91 at that time, was staying with the family. Kolkata had its own share of problems at that time, most striking of them was frequent power cuts and inadequate supply of water. Life was challenging at Kalighat residence. In 1985, they moved to Fort William. The defence quarters were better than the house at Kalighat, but the nagging problem of water crisis didnt leave behind. Finally she sighed a huge relief as they moved to their own house in Thakurpukur in December of 1995.
Her youngest brother, Dr Sarit Kumar Choudhuri, and was working as professor with a medical college in Kolkata, was staying with his family with them. His daughter, then only a year old was the heart-throb of the family, more so to Mrs Gayatri Das. In 1999, her husband retired from service, but at the same time her youngest son, Kaushik, went out to join service. Her elder son, Partha, was doing research in Polymer Sciences, stayed on. On 23rd November 2001, her mother passed away, and on 14th May 2004, her father breathed his last.
Both her children are now staying outside Kolkata. She now stays in Thakurpukur with her husband, and whenever her children come home, she never missed the chance to stuff them with whatever they like. So what is her speciality? Well, thats a good question. A course of meal should contain at least 5 different items(ponchobyanjon). It should start with aloo bhaja (potatoe chips), sajne danta diye sukto (curry of drum sticks, brinjal and bitter gourd), moong dal(lentils), chingri maacher malaikari (king prawns in coconut sauce with dried grapes), khasir mangsho (mutton curry), chutney (delicacy of fruit like mango or tomato with date-palm and sugar/honey syrup), ans payesh (milk rice or porridge). So what she is preparing in the photograph? Well, thats an easy guess. The photographs was taken on the Poila Boisakh, 1410 (Bengali New Year Day on 15th April 2003) .