My mother, Adramoni Das, who died at the age of 91 in Code 19, moved from India to the UK with almost no English and became a published author and active member of the Labor Party in Salford.
She was born in Nanpur, a village in the Indian state of Odisha, to Rama Devi, a housewife, and Bipra Mohanty, a forest ranger. It was a traditional family. Instead of going to school, Adarmoni stays at home, learning to cook and caring for family members, the skills needed for marriage. Even so, she used her younger brother’s school books to stimulate learning, and often insisted on doing housework.
At a young age, Adramoni married Bhagabat Das, who served in the British Indian Army Medical Corps. She had a large family: from morning till night she was busy cooking, feeding and washing. But, no matter how tired she was, she would get up to read books and write poems and short stories. Eventually he dared to send his writings to magazines and some were picked up. She was an avid reader of books in Bengali as well as in her mother tongue Oriya.
About eight years after the marriage, he was able to spend time with my father when he met a civilian medical officer in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. She loved to entertain and play with her classmates, but, barely four years later, she was alone again with her two children when my father moved to Edinburgh to study medicine. For 10 years she was stuck between the villages, taking care of my grandparents, her own parents and other members of the extended family.
In 1968, my mother, my brother, Satya, and I moved with my father to Washington, Cheshire, where he was a distinguished physician. Within a year we moved to Eccles, Greater Manchester, where we settled. He enrolled in the Adult Education Institute to learn English, then embroidery, and also taught himself Gujarati and Hindi. My father was a Guardian user and read every issue, especially the editorial, which he described diligently with the help of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Adermany took an active interest in the Indian Senior Citizens Centers, which my father had set up in Manchester, participated in publications and went on tours. My parents were members of the Labor Party, and my mother continued to attend local meetings after Bhagabat’s death in 2012. He developed a passion for writing and wrote a book about his experiences in Britain, and two East-West fiction. Stories, 1983) and Deep in Dream (a novel, 1985), all published by Vidyapuri.
Four years ago, Adermany developed Alzheimer’s disease and went to a care home in Norwood, south London. Being close to Satya and me, we escaped, as are four grandchildren, Shaan, Amrita, Sabrina and Preeti, and a granddaughter, Amba.
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