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Sona Uncle And The Charm Of Real India- Part ll

Updated on August 20, 2014
ARUN KANTI profile image

Hi,welcome to my Hubpages profile. I am Arun Kanti Chatterjee and live in Kolkata. My mission is to share experiences etched on my memory.


Tough Yet Soft At Heart

I had once gone to Sitarampur, a small town in West Bengal bordering Jharkhand, to see my Sona uncle. He resided there mostly during his service life. One evening a deep lamentation was writ large on the faces of the local people as I could watch one young lady weeping relentlessly with a dead baby in her lap .While her relations and friends were trying to rid her of the dead body she tried her utmost not to let go of her child and everyone was at a loss what to do or who would bell the cat in such a pathetic situation. Those present considered such an act of bravery inhuman to snatch the baby from her resisting arms. A young bachelor suddenly appeared and grabbed the child wrenching him ruthlessly away from the mother for cremation keeping all the onlookers startled with the hapless mother cursing the snatcher in the wildest language. Cremation over, the brave young man immediately returned to the bereaved mother to console her in his inimitable way offering handsome monetary assistance and assuring regular visit and further support.

The tough yet careful man was none other than my Sona Uncle. Such was his nature – he was as much kind hearted to the needy as he was uncompromising to accomplish any essential job. Unlike most other bachelors he would fritter away as much as he earned spending lavishly on such purposes as donation to the widows, destitute and critically ill patients needing immediate succor. He would stir out any time to reach the place of any accident or meet any emergency need of the old people. He was literally available to anyone in need and none seemed to bother to cry out for his help without caring to know how much time or money he could afford at that point of time!. He would be unrelenting in his willingness to visit burning ghats or morgues and spent many sleepless nights to watch the proceedings of cremation amidst wailing of the bereaved families. Consequent upon such continuous habitation with the workmen of crematoriums in such a spooky atmosphere for long years he seemed to forget to weep or burst out in extreme jubilation. But he never missed to reach out to the needy or be a part of any happy moment of his neighbors and colleagues . He thus became the unanimous choice for any job pleasant or sad.

The Selfless Kind Bachelor

Since we could not have his company regularly I wished to make the best use of his rare association whenever he would come to our house for a brief period. His gift of the gab would attract all the neighbors for enjoyment to their fill. When someone would ask “ Uncle. How are you? His prompt reply would be “Well I shall tell you tomorrow since I have to check up with my doctor to ensure that I do not have any serious disease right now".
. While making payment for any paltry expenses there would be no disapproval on his face as he would dig his hand into his shirt pocket and bring out a bunch of notes. Without even looking at them he would put them into the outstretched hand of the shopkeeper. He would put money in his shirt pockets and never use any purse and if we ever advised for proper keeping he would say “The money is for anybody, so If it changes hands and thieves get hold of it what is the harm?” So we stopped giving him any suggestions for he would never think in terms of his own benefits.

Passion for Long Walk & Books

Giving him company for a long walk was an extreme pleasure for me. Even at the age of seventy five years he could walk at a stretch of nearly 10 kms to go to a relation’s house and come back the same day. He would very much enjoy chewing betel rolls during such a long journey and I had to share the habit to keep him in good humor. Throughout the journey he would tirelessly reel out anecdotes as I kept wondering at his amazing memory and extraordinary brain power at such an old age. I have never watched him losing temper or any battle of wits howsoever powerful and resourceful was his opponent. Even senior professors or unyielding politicians had to beat a hasty retreat when they could not match his witty salvo. He, however, detested the idea of joining politics or any particular religious institute.To him the service to the mankind was the only religion.

Besides the needy and destitute the only other companion for him were books and whenever he laid his hands on any book, he would read it cover to cover. He would visit a book stall with unflinching regularity to buy us books and watching someone leafing through any literary works would give him immeasurable happiness and scope to advise “Book is the only dependable companion from childhood till death”.

Despite a very unorganized life style he could keep any illness at bay during his long years of meaningful existence but at last when he fell prey to old age diseases he could not resist the claws of death and his organs began to fail gradually. When he lost his power of speech it was a very cruel blow to us as many witty anecdotes and amusing stories were still in his treasure house which he had tucked away so neatly for us. He held on to his life philosophy of giving away everything to others while maintaining a very austere way of life which was reflected in his having only a few clothes and just one ordinary fractured pen set in his shirt pocket.

To read the first part of the story please click on the links below-

If you have enjoyed reading this article and would like to read any more
of my hubs, please click on the link below


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    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 

      5 years ago from Florida

      You're welcome, Arun, and I wanted to state in my previous comment that even though I haven't yet read the rest of your story, I think it has the makings of a good book.

    • ARUN KANTI profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from KOLKATA

      quildon-As I was deeply immersed in remembrance of the noble soul I forgot to extend my thanks for your wonderful comments. So I thank you very much, belated though.

    • ARUN KANTI profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from KOLKATA

      quildon -If you go through the other two hubs you will find his life was not very organized but he could maintain good habits like taking simple meals and walking regularly, besides doing breathing exercise. The truly extra ordinary man has curved out a niche for himself inspiring many persons like me to emulate him.

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 

      5 years ago from Florida

      I enjoyed this sequel about your sona uncle as much as I did the first, and now that I know the meaning of sona - thanks to Joe for asking - I think the adjective is fitting for such a man as he was. Lovely. Voted up and beautiful.

    • ARUN KANTI profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from KOLKATA

      DDE- I always appreciate your visit and such nice comments.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      6 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great words here about your uncle you have shared a well thought of tribute to him and found the perfect way of going about it.

    • ARUN KANTI profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from KOLKATA

      Joe-I am deeply moved by your words of appreciation particularly on the 7th anniversary of our uncle’s demise. In a Bengali Hindu family particularly in earlier joint families we had many uncles from mother’s as well as father’s side. So in order to differentiate among the uncles we had to name them differently and of course very fondly. Sona is Gold and a very precious metal. So we called him SONA MAMA meaning very dear and beloved uncle. Thank you very much for your visit and such a pertinent query. In fact you belong to the august group of writers in this community, whose presence is a boon to us.

      Aloha, my friend!

      Arun Kanti

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Good morning, Arun!

      I'd say your sona uncle was a saint. He led a good life, one that touched the lives of so many, making a difference for the better. Please tell me in your note what the adjective, sona, means in your native language. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your uncle. Aloha, my friend!



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