Stories About Women

A Fish-eyed Goddess from Madurai

T.S. Nagarajan (b.1932) is a noted photojournalist whose works have been exhibited and published widely in India and abroad. After a stint with the Government of India as Director of the Photo Division in the Ministry of Information, for well over a decade Nagarajan devoted his life to photographing interiors of century-old homes in India, a self-funded project. This foray into what constitutes the Indianness of homes is, perhaps, his major work as a photojournalist.

Editor's note: This story is reproduced, with permission, from Mr. Nagarajan's not-for-sale book of his memories, A Pearl of Water on a Lotus Leaf & Other Memories, 2010.

I decided to marry at 25, two years after I got a job in Delhi as an official photographer in the Information Ministry. I wrote to my parents in Mysore asking them to look for a suitable girl for me, preferably from Tamilnadu.

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Amrita Patti (1923-1997) by Sujata Srinivasan

Sujata Srinivasan

Sujata Srinivasan is a Connecticut, U.S.-based journalist specialising in business and economic development, as well as community and general interest features. She and her husband Arun enjoy the theatre, travelling, and classical music, among many other things.

I loved to nestle against my Patti, which means grandmother in Tamil. She smelled of all my favourite smells – Mysore Sandal soap, shikakai, and soft, sun-dried Pochampalli saris. And when she smiled, which was often, I felt as though all was indeed well with the world. My world, at least.

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Memories of My Dadi and Nani by Renu Khanna née Chatterji

Renu Khanna

Renuka (Chatterji) Khanna, born in 1927 in Lahore, studied psychology at London University. She supported and encouraged her husband, Krishen Khanna, in quitting his prestigious job at Grindlays Bank to become a full time painter. Thereupon, she became the school psychologist and taught English at Modern School, New Delhi until retirement. An avid reader, a dilettante painter of birds, and an inventive embroiderer, she has raised her three children to follow their own stars. The eldest, Rasika Mohan, is a classical Bharatnatyam dancer, Malati Shah is a painter, and the youngest, Karan Khanna, is a professional photographer. She is a most loved grandmother to five grandchildren, who know her favourite word to be “comfortable”, which is what she wants everyone to be.

Editor’s note: This story has two parts. Renu Khanna’s story is followed by her daughter Malati Shah’s memories of Mrs. Khanna’s nani.


Dadi - Kumodini Das (1858?-1949)

On Dadiji’s eightieth birthday my parents celebrated by lighting up the house with about two hundred diyas (oil lamps in earthen containers), and having a party at which delicious food and sweets and clothes were given to our domestic servants and their children.

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My Memories - Dadi and 1942 by Surjit Mansingh

Surjit was brought up in many different places in India, went from Delhi University into the Indian Foreign Service, and subsequently joined her husband in academics, shuttling between India and the United States. Now a semi-retired professor with two grown-up sons, she lives with her Himalayan cat, music, books, and walks in Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


My Dadi lived with us for the last years of her life when my parents and I returned from two years in England and were reunited with my three elder siblings. She was, in fact, my father’s bhua (father’s sister) who had adopted him when his own mother died shortly after his birth in 1904, and was known by us as Beji.

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Dida by Partho Sengupta

Partho studied at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and XLRI, Jamshedpur. Cutting short a professional career, he is now enjoying teaching at an ordinary management school in Orissa, where students come from ordinary Indian families. He is married, and his daughter and son are university students.

She was called ‘ma’ at home by all her five daughters, never called by her first name by her husband, and always referred to in third person singular by her three sons-in-laws. She was born in Khulna District, Bangladesh, and her in-laws were rooted in Dhaka.

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