It is unlike Aslam, my former research student and good Samaritan, to call at 6:15 in the morning. His body-clock is normally geared to schedules that begin to function when the sun is higher up in the sky. So when I saw his name on my mobile display, I was a little puzzled. When he broke the news, a weighty silence descended upon me. A person I had admired, a woman of high scholarship, of integrity, of rare sensitivity had moved on to the realms of the ethereal. The final truth of being and nothingness had arrived.
She had not been well for many months and had been in and out of hospitals ever since her fall and orthopaedic complications a few years ago. The doctors and nursing staff at Kurji Holy Family Hospital had given her the best of attention and the very affable Fr. D’Mello shared books and prayers, encouraging spiritual resilience for a quick recovery. Months after she left hospital and I had been there to visit another colleague, he remembered to ask about her. Through the months other complications had developed and her condition rode the crests and troughs of uncertainty. Through it all, she kept in touch with us and us with her. She was absolutely delighted when our daughter Tara visited her after making it to St. Stephen’s and her blessings have been her strength. She donated a part of her collection of books to the seminar library of the Department of English hoping that her beloved students would be benefited.
Dr. Chhanda Roy, there will never be another such as you. We have lost a wonderful human being, a very sincere professor whose scholarship touched the many who knew her worth and value. Farewell Chhanda di.