Justice Samir Baran Ray: “Who do you want to stay with'”
Chandramauli Das: “I want to stay with both of them.”
The five-year-old, caught in a custody tug-of-war, did not get what he wanted on Monday. He arrived at Calcutta High Court with mother Bratati Das and left with father Lakshmi Narayan Das. Last Thursday, Justice Ray had handed the boy over to Bratati and given her four days to weigh the option of taking up a separate accommodation in Behrampore (where Lakshmi Narayan lives and practises as a dental surgeon) with Chandramauli.
When on Monday Bratati refused to return to Behrampore, Justice Ray allowed Chandramauli to return home with his father and ordered the estranged couple to report to court again next Monday, after thinking his proposal through.
The judge’s proposal to make the parents meet half way — quite literally — was that they could rent a place in Krishnagar, the biggest town between Behrampore and Haringhata (where Bratati now stays with her parents), and try for six months to see if things could be worked out between them.
But there was little sign of reconciliation on Monday. Lakshmi Narayan married Bratati in 1993 and the relationship started to sour soon after Chandramauli was born in 1997. Bratati left Lakshmi Narayan in 2001, returned to her parents at Haringhata, in Nadia, and took up a job as a teacher in a Behrampore school.
When matters took a legal turn, the Behrampore sub-divisional judicial magistrate’s court gave Lakshmi Narayan custody of the boy. Bratati approached the city civil and sessions court, where the judge handed over Chandramauli to her. Lakshmi Narayan then refused to give up custody of his son and moved Calcutta High Court.
On Thursday, Chandramauli, on spotting mother Bratati after months, had raced to her and leapt into her arms crying: “Ma, ma, ma.” This had moved Justice Ray enough to tell the parents: “Look what you have done to your child… Will you still not think of a reconciliation'”
On Monday, too, the judge persisted with his patch-up bid. “What you are doing will not be good for your son… Why don’t you give your marriage another try'” he asked them, before offering the Krishnagar option.