I can't remember when I had met Vandana Datta for the first time. But I reckon it must have been to do with scholastic matters. It was after her eminent father's demise that she courageously took on the editorial and publication responsibility for Research, a biannual research journal in Literature, Culture and Creativity. Young as she was in a profession where grey hair is equated with wisdom, she balanced writings by acknowledged scholars with space allocated for young researchers without compromising the quality of the journal.
She attended UGC refresher courses in the Department of English, Patna University and impressed resource persons and organizers with her rare commitment, scholastic aptitude and sincerity. It is with the same sincerity that she taught and it is with the same commitment that she concluded her lectures while she had temporary reprieves from the effects of chemotherapy.
A few days ago, one of her dear colleagues who was at the English department on work, had informed us that Vandana was in hospital and not in the best of health. While we wanted to visit her, we were not too sure whether she would have liked us to see her not at her best. As May turned to June, we received the bad news. Vandana after battling cancer with courage and rare dignity was one with the elements of the universe.
I have often asked this question in a more prosaic manner than in Lear: why do the gods toy with good souls? In a world in which human beings transcribe their hopes and fears into a spiritual script, it must be comforting to know that Vandana is in the space of a painless destination. When I look up at the sky on a clear night, may be I will designate a special star to her memory. But as of now the catharsis must stem from the grief that we feel. She was a very good human- being and the world has been greatly impoverished by her absence.