My Fundays 19-01-2006

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By Anita Bose Pfaff the daughter of Netaji Subhas Chandra bBose and Emilie Schenkl, she is at present a professor of economics at the Augsburg University in Germany AS TOLD TO SIPRA SEN SAHA
  • Published 19.01.06

I was born in Vienna and spent my childhood there with two great ladies ? my mom and my grandmom, whom I lovingly called Omamma. For my father, Subhas Chandra Bose, his motherland was his first and last love. He saw me for the last time when I was only two-and-half-months old. He then left for Japan on a 90-day submarine journey ? you must have heard about that.

I heard about my father and his struggle for Indian Independence from my mom, who did her best to help him in his mission. I felt proud of him but, at the same time, I missed his company a lot. After the war was over, a letter my father wrote to his uncle in which he mentioned my existence, was sent to Calcutta. Then, one day, my uncle and his family visited Vienna and spent some time with us. It was like a dream come true, those were such happy days for me as a child!

My cousin Sisir Kumar Bose was a medical student when I was only a six-year-old school-going kid. But soon, we became the best of friends and he turned into my favourite Lalda. I was learning English at school and I insisted that Lalda should study German ? it would allow us to communicate in each other’s language. When I was just seven, I wrote him a letter in English and requested him to reply in German.

After completing his medical degree in England, Lalda came to Vienna for higher studies. I would bully Lalda and he would never protest. I loved the fact that my grown-up cousin was obeying all my commands.

Omamma was a great cook and she was very particular about recipes. She would deep-fry croutons, which had to be put in the hot soup just before serving. I would steal those from the kitchen and force Lalda to share croutons with me. I would also make him play ‘home’ with me, which involved sitting under the dining table, which was to be our home. Lalda often spent quite a long time there! This was my favourite pastime. As a child I longed to visit India and my home in Calcutta but I could only come here much later, when I was a grown-up.

It is important to love everybody, but none should be above your motherland!

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