By Partha Chatterjee 

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For as long as I have known her, Ms. Soma Chatterjee has been precisely that. Today happens to be her Birthday but she does not celebrate it as Birthdays were never celebrated in the family she comes from. True, we have known each other since we were very young as did our respective families. But she always stood out. Not only was she an extraordinary and consistently a good student at the university, but she also showed what an excellent upbringing she had. She has always possessed all positive qualities that started with selflessness and the ability to help anyone who needed some help. Her maintaining her cool (no matter what) and the essential goodness she has always possessed has always made her such an attractive personality that others look up to. Never is she to criticise, let alone, look down on others. When she had completed her studies at the university and was getting set for her MPhil, she was informed that she was eligible for the Commonwealth Scholarship to pursue her higher studies at Cambridge but, surprise, surprise, she chose to teach and pursue academics here. True, around this time we were married but she seemed married even more to her priority number one,…teaching, academics and helping mould minds to face greater challenges that lay ahead. Many of her students have done remarkably well and so many have settled abroad. But if and when they come back for a brief visit, they make it a point to look her up and seek her Blessings not simply for themselves but their off springs too. True,she is selflessness personified but has never sought designations or recognitions. Try as hard as you would want, but you can never get her to speak ill of anyone. She speaks highly of her colleagues. Quite amazingly, she is gutsy too. Several years ago, she was able to prevent child trafficking in Jodhpur Park and in Jadavpur too. Since she took the help of the law, the media spoke of her courage. All these years,I had decided to keep this angel of a human in the background because that is how she wanted it. Yes, she chose to remain in the background even as I went on my triumphant, and sometimes risky, assignments as a journalist both at home and abroad, meeting world leaders, attending Summits, Heads of States, Prime Ministers, Nobel Laureates et all. But she has always been the silent and strong support. Without her support, understanding and prayers,I would not have been able to achieve whatever I have. Of course, we have disagreed more often than not only to agree in the end. But we have so much in common on so many matters, issues and world events…,say, climate control. After all these years, I have no hesitation in declaring that I have with me a gem of a human being. And, it is hard, extremely hard for both us to imagine a life without either. A true academic and a voracious reader, may she continue to help her students and do the selfless service that she does with zest and love.

(Utpal Chatterjee, former Kolkata Sheriff) 

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