She still feels like taking meals to ‘Jyoti babu’ (Monday is Jyoti Basu’s first death anniversary)January 16th, 2011 - 6:28 pm ICT by IANS
By Sabyasachi Roy
Kolkata, Jan 16 (IANS) She used to send meals to “Jyoti babu” and call on him every morning. Even one year after Marxist legend Jyoti Basu’s death, Ramala Chakraborty can feel his presence and there are fleeting moments when she mistakenly thinks of taking meals to his Indira Bhavan home again.For those who were close to the late West Bengal chief minister, memories of the patriarch are as fresh as ever even as a feeling of emptiness overwhelms them.
“He is always around us and will remain with us forever. It cannot be explained in words,” said Ramala Chakraborty, widow of the late Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Subhas Chakraborty.
Recalling her long association with Basu, Ramala told IANS: “I am a humble person but I was lucky to be associated with a man of such stature. This was possible only because of Subhas Chakraborty who considered Jyoti babu his mentor.”
“But while I feel proud and happy when I recollect my memories with Basu, I also feel sad as both of them are now no more.”
Chakraborty died Aug 3, 2009, and Basu, 95, who had a record 23-year stint as the chief minister of an Indian state and almost became the country’s prime minister in 1996, died Jan 17 last year. Both breathed their last in the same ICCU cabin of private hospital AMRI at Salt Lake here.
For years, Ramala sent meals for Basu from her residence.
“Jyoti babu was fond of good dishes. But because of his ill health he had to take non-spicy food. Every day I used to cook some special food without spice for Jyoti babu and Subhas and go to (Basu’s residence in Salt Lake) Indira Bhavan at 11.30 a.m.
“Now at times, when I am home in the morning hours, I feel I have to go to Indira Bhavan. But cruel reality dawns on me soon after,” said Ramala, herself a CPI-M functionary.
Asked how she planned to observe her leader’s first death anniversary, Ramala said: “Jyoti babu was a communist leader and we communists do not believe in observing birth or death anniversaries. So our party will not organise any programme.
“But we, who were close to Jyoti babu, will be present at Indira Bhavan to pay our tributes,” she said.
Ramala’s non-governmental organisation Pather Panchali, which used to hold a programme every year on Basu’s birthday at Indira Bhavan, will organise a small function there.
“We had earlier organised a photo exhibition where several rare photographs of Basu were displayed. On his death anniversary, we will hold the same photo exhibition,” she said.
For Joykrishna Ghosh, who was Jyoti Basu’s man Friday for over three decades, it is a big void. “His absence just cannot be filled up…,” the former chief minister’s aide told IANS.
Ghosh was Basu’s trusted assistant when the leader straddled the West Bengal political stage as chief minister - the longest stint in the country - and then as his personal assistant after he voluntarily stepped down in November 2000 on health grounds.
“I used to be busy all day looking after his several personal and official activities. Nowadays, I am not so busy. Often, I go to a school run by my wife to help her and also keep myself engaged in party activities.
“At times, I go to Indira Bhavan and spend time with my old friends who were also close to Basu. There are two peons and one telephone operator who spent years attending to Basu. We chat on several issues, but inevitable we end up talking about him.
“Even today, many people pour in at Indira Bhavan regularly to pay homage to the great man,” Ghosh said.
Basu’s absence is felt in all corners of the two-storey building. A deafening silence makes it difficult to fathom the flurry of activities witnessed when Basu was around, and regularly received VVIPs from home and abroad. A big portrait of Basu adorns the hall.
Ghosh said people close to the late leader will assemble at Indira Bhawan Monday. Among them will be former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
Ghosh also said two organisations have already invited him to be present at their programmes Monday to commemorate Basu’s first death anniversary.
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Tags: amri, babu, chief minister, communis, communist party of india, communist party of india marxist, CPI, cruel reality, death anniversary, feeling of emptiness, fleeting moments, humble person, ill health, indira, jyoti basu, patriarch, private hospital, sabyasachi, spicy food, west bengal