Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

This is a day that comes to me with all the sweet fragrances Mother Nature has so kindly created till date. On this day, 13th of June in 1977, my wife Sabitarani had given birth to my son Saswat.

Those who know him personally know that he is a man of extraordinary erudition with exemplary dedication to Mother Earth.

But when he was even a student, in the eyes of his illustrious teachers, he was held rare.

Once expressing his views on him his teacher in Utkal University, Prof. Pratap K. Rath, at the Centre of Advanced Study in Psychology, had said, “He is the only one I have come across in 25 years of teaching at the highest level of learning in India who could challenge my teaching and follow it up with documentary evidence to hammer his points… In Indian set up, a student’s conviction and the character to express it clearly is a rarity and I consider that most important, simply because it is (was very refreshingly for me) a rarity”.

Now a media scholar he is married and is residing in United States of America with my daughter-in-law Amrta, who even though an official counselor, is pursuing a course of studies in a newer discipline. When a few days ago, we were having our daily chat, Saswat informed me that the day being Amrta’s examination day, he was cooking food for both of them so that she gets time to concentrate on her preparations.

As I expressed pleasure on knowing of his responsible help to my daughter-in-law, he recalled the initial experience of both of them after arrival at USA.

As I have said, I will produce the excerpts of the chat. In writing a mail one may get time and scope to review and make necessary corrections in composition. But real mind of a person comes instantly alive in a chat.

In the chat conversation, you will find my son as “Raja”. We call him “Raja” because when he took birth, the day was “Pahili Raja”, the festival of Orissa’s national retort to caste apartheid and the festival of matriarchy, sic passim in societal outlook of indigenous Oriyas.

So, now to the chat conversation:

Raja: we remember how much food we were throwing in the beginning when we first came to this country. we could not even eat our own cooked food…it used to be so bad in taste. but now both of us manage to cook quite decent food whenever time permits
Subhas Ch. Pattanayak: cooking is one of the most creative expression of a person
Raja: yes of course it is…and plus it teaches you to have more patience and understand how diversity of thoughts (or multiculturalism of spices) help in refining the tastes in living life
Raja: it of course also teaches one to be more caring….else the food…like everything else in life… will be burnt..
Subhas Ch. Pattanayak: you are so very right
Raja: well..these are things that come purely from the standpoint of male privilege i guess…because traditionally we have never attached importance to cooking skills and never really paid the “housewives” for all the amazing things they did…i quite enjoy switching the historic gender roles and getting better insights into appreciating the silent (mostly, the women) workers of the world.

Raja Festival being the festival of Oriya culinary skills, on my son’s birthday, his honest emphasis on “getting better insights into appreciating the silent (mostly, the women) workers of the world” gives me immense hope that the world will one day rise to recognize the amazing things the housewives have done to make a better world to live in.

And, the Raja festival of Oriyas is perhaps the best vouchsafement.

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