All he had was a photograph of his “boroma” (elder aunt) and the knowledge that she had left for Vrindavan a long time ago.
So, when Samar Adhikary, in his 60s, saw in the Saturday’s edition of The Indian Express his mother’s 87-year-old sister, Kanaklata Adhikary, the memories drawn from occasionally picking up that one photograph flooded back. The story, A Vrindavan widow replies to Hema: Send me to Govinda, dwelt on the plight of Kanaklata and widows like her.
Kanaklata was 11 when she was married and widowed six years later. She left for Vrindavan soon after.
Her younger sister Anjali — Samar’s mother — passed away a month-and-a-half ago. The resemblance between the two sisters and between the photographs — one the family had treasured all these years and the other published by this newspaper — was unmistakable.
Soon after he saw the report, Samar, of Ahiritolla in north Kolkata, gathered his children, brother Subhash and rushed to Binani Bhavan where Kanaklata was staying along with 49 other widows, all of whom had arrived here for the Puja with NGO Sulabh International’s help.
While Samar knew whom he was meeting, Kanaklata could only stare and ask: (Who are you, dear?). When Samar introduced himself, Kanaklata’s eyes brightened. He called in other members of the family and slowly, the reunion — 70 years in making — began to sink in. “I cannot express the joy I felt on seeing her,’’ Samar’s brother Subhash said.