logo image Visual & Oral history of the Indian Subcontinent via family archives

68 – The day my father committed to marrying my mother

My father, Ranjan Sarkar, Västerås, Sweden, 1970

Image and text contributed by Jaydeep Sarkar, Mumbai

This picture was taken a year before my parent’s marriage. My father, Ranjan Sarkar, had moved to Sweden from Calcutta, in 1968, with his first job as an Engineer with ASEA.
The first child from his generation to work outside of India, my grandmother was particularly concerned about his single life and urged her elder children to find a match for my father. At that time, he was thirty, and only a thirty year old bachelor in the family could be a cause for such ‘epic concern’.
Pictures of prospective brides would be sent to my father by mail, for his consideration. Unsure about committing to marriage, he would resist taking a decision on any of the pictures.
Finally my eldest aunt (my father’s eldest brother’s wife) sent him a letter loaded with melodramatic words of emotional blackmail, urging him to get married, for his “own sake and that of the family”. With the letter, came another set of five pictures.
My father’s friend photographed him here on a Sunday with his Minolta camera, as he went through the letter and the five photographs that came with it. One of the pictures was that of my mother’s, Jayshri Sengupta. Probably the one he is looking at in this image, or not. But it was on this day, that my father decided he was ready to commit to marriage.
A year later, my parents got married. They met each other for the first time, on the day of their wedding, at the ‘mandap‘.
The day was also momentous for another reason. It was the day of the final confrontation between Indian and Pakistani troops, before Bangladesh was liberated on the 16th of December 1971, a day after their wedding. The people of Calcutta were urged to switch all their houselights off, for fear of aerial bombings. My parents got married in darkness, with light only from the fire of the ceremonial ‘havan‘.
Next day, when my mother stepped into my father’s house for the first time, the blackout was called off as India won the war. All the lights came on at that moment as if by divine design, in the house and the city. An occurence that seems right out of an Indian soap, but true! Everyone from my father’s family started cheering loudly much to my mother’s shock and horror!
Last year, on the 15th of December, my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary together.

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Responses (7)

  1. Shaonli N says:

    Like a beautiful Jhumpa Lahiri plot!

  2. vijee says:

    what a lovely story — thanks for sharing.

    Including the marriage just by haven light;
    lights coming on the minute your mother stepped in etc.

    What do they say — truth is lovelier than fiction (even Jhumpa Lahiri’s lyrical stories) ?

  3. Shaonli says:

    Reminded me of Ashima and her husband’s story from Namesake.

  4. Indu says:

    Such a beautiful story, it perfectly complements the photograph. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Madhu Shetty says:

    Dear Jaideep but where is the photo of both your parents??

  6. Maanvi says:

    Beautiful snapshot. Literally and otherwise. :)

  7. Ashwin says:

    Lovely… reminded me of one of Jhumpa Lahiri’s short stories

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