on with mamata

Countdown to …

by mamata niyogi-nakra, Ph.D. No Comments

16th July is the date Kala Bharati was founded 39 years ago.

Just spent Thursday, the 16th of July, doing exactly what Bans and I did every year, ever since 1981, which was to revisit moments, memories and mementos of our lives in alien soil with Kala Bharati, in as Bans would put it ‘ Ananda Bhava’. Our lives are dotted with these moments of happiness,  presently  being referred to by me as Martinique  moments. Michel Laverdiere has captured them in a card and gifted that to us  using Usha Mukhedkar’s words from Udbodhana , our podcast.To learn more about this, you may refer to the card I have attached to this email.

I emerged out of this solo trek through almost four decades of a storied past, with a clear eyed view of what lies ahead for me. Although Bans is not with me anymore, there is no doubt in my mind what he expects me to continue to do.  That’s why when an acquaintance, who met me after a long disconnect expressed surprise “Oh, you are still at it.”  I  replied, somewhat dismissively ,  “What choice do I have!”
I reread an article by Bans recently, entitled  Guru Poornima at Kala Bharati  July 2015 in which I  rediscovered the passion and fervour with which Bans supported and contributed to the work being done at Kala Bharati  I was totally taken aback that in his article  Bans had uncharacteristcally spoken with gay abandon about my service  to the Art of Bharata Natya… so very unlikely an act for Bans to have unabashedly  written about Kala Bharati  work in such laudatory terms.

I also chanced on a letter by Prof Jean Rene Chotard , written in 2010. A self-proclaimed  art lover, he was  one of the members  of the Kala Bharati Board of Directors. Despite their different  backgrounds , there is an uncanny similarity in the views expressed by these two erudite men, who had been with Kala Bharati since its inception and been cognizant of its achievements.

As I stand on the threshold of Kala Bharati’s 40th anniversary, I sense the presence   of these two men :: Harbans Nakra and Jean Rene Chotard putting the mantle of responsibility on my shoulders to  leave behind a trail of the legacy built and served by, as well as  bequeathed and belonging  to many . On the 16th July this year, I drew the mantle closer to me in an act of affirmation and wrote the following haiku:

Bans just being Bans
turning over a new leaf
tells me what to do
and went on to translate it  into French  :

c’est simplement bans
qui tourne une page de ma vie
pour me dire quoi faire

I sent this to Michel Laverdiere, for the first time  with a request  to correct it and not for translation. He inserted an apostrophe between  the C and E in cest  and promptly sent it back with  a comment ,‘Very touching .’ The  first haiku I wrote in French had thus met its necessary approval.
I come, on the eve of our 40th anniversary  to you, seeking for your blessings, goodwill and support  to celebrate our life and times at, with and for Kala Bharati in the spirit of Thanksgiving with a sense of appreciation and gratitude.

I pledge to heed Bans and Jean Rene’s advice and try to live up to their expectations of generating  activities with Martinique moments at Kala Bharati. This is being sent to members of my niyogi–nakra family ( I have had the good fortune of meeting  all of you), to members of Kala Bharati Parivaar,  to our close friends and associates and well wishers.  I request you to join me in this pilgrimage so that we may honour our roots, recognize our sources of help, pay tribute to our associates and collaborators, and duly embrace  our achievements with pride. 

Guru Poornima at Kala Bharati - July 2015

Jean-Rene Chotard's letter - 2010

Sruti from the editor