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Twenty years ago, I visited the city of Calcutta on work. I was looking forward to the visit because it was the city my father grew up in, and being a typical Bengali, he was very proud of his city. But I was also looking forward to the trip because there was a little old lady in Calcutta that I had never met, my grandmother, my dad’s mother. I was hoping to visit her. When my father had become a Christian as a student in university, his family had cut off all ties with him and so I had never met my grandmother. I called to tell them I was in town. My grandfather was dead and my dad’s oldest brother now ran the joint family. What he said went for everybody. How would he respond to my call? Would I finally get to meet my grandmother? I had heard she had always been very keen to patch things up with my dad but the men in her life, her husband, her oldest son, always said no.


Then the answer came: “Your father is nobody to us and so you too are not welcome.” Later I had the chance to meet my dad’s sister and she told me my grandmother really, really wanted to meet me. But she could not go against the man in the family, my dad’s older brother.


Often in broken relationships, there is a thread that is common: hard-heartedness and stubbornness on the part of one or both sides of the broken relationship.