Swagata Bhaumik

My readers would wonder who Swagata Bhaumik is? Generally, my blogs are not individual specific, unless that individual has done some pathbreaking work in a particular field. So occasionally you come across blogs written by me on Amitabh Bachchan or the Waterman or Harakchand Savla – all of whom have been extraordinary individuals. In the above backdrop, a dedicated blog on Swagata Bhaumik certainly needs an elaboration.

Mrs Swagata Bhaumik is no pathbreaking or extraordinary individual. In fact, her ordinariness is what makes her unique. Coming from a humble middle class Bengali background, Swagata always aspired for a life of domesticity, with a loving partner and sweet children. She always dreamt of a life of a home maker, where she would keep her home spic and span, well appointed and interesting, cook delicious delicacies for her family and devote her life in raising her children and looking after her family. However, fulfilment of even this simple wish was not in her luck. A few years into her insipid marriage, she took a bold decision to walk out of her uncaring husband along with her infant daughter. Such a bold step in Kolkata of those days was rare amongst rather conservative middle class Bengali backdrop. With no job or any special skill and solely on the backing of aged pensioner mother ( and of course her ever supporting sisters, but all having their own responsibilities towards their respective families ), she decided to start life afresh. She quickly learnt some basic secretarial skills (typing and shorthand) and started running from pillar to post for a job, leaving her baby with her mother. After a few lacklustre mundane jobs, she got selected in the newly established UTI Bank. The bank was in the process of setting up its Kolkata branch.

As they say, the rest is history. From starting at the bottom of the hierarchy, Mrs Bhaumik decided to make the best of the opportunity that had come her way. Actually, this was also the staring point of our acquaintanceship. I met her for the first time at Kolkata branch, where I landed as an outsider one fine winter morning and met my Kolkata branch colleagues, one of them being Swagata. While I was an experienced banker picked up as a credit specialist, she was an awkward newbie trying to make it to the big bad professional world after a failed marriage. She knew no Hindi, very little English and I didn’t know B of Bangla. Our acquaintanceship started on such a note. However, she won over everyone by her positivity, diligence, hard work and overall attitude. She was there for everything and everyone whenever required. If an urgent note or letter was required to be typed at 8 PM, she would not hesitate or make excuses about her old mother or young daughter at home. In between, she picked up threads of banking also as she could foresee the end of the road for secretarial sort of roles in the face of increasing computerisation.

I got transferred out of Kolkata, but having struck strong bonding with her, we stayed in touch. I tracked her professional and personal progress, albeit from a distance. She made transition from secretarial role to mainstream banking, struggled to get her fundamentals right, earned the wrath of bosses, but all along maintained her dignity. Her progress was slow and painstaking, but definitive. She rose in the rank, gave good upbringing to her daughter, took care of her aging mother without in any manner diluting her professional commitment. She bought a house of her own to give a more comfortable life to her daughter and mother, who all till then were sharing a room. She got her daughter married into a Bengali family of repute and rejoiced at having met all her responsibilities.

However, her share of struggle in life was not to get over with the above stated discharge of her responsibilities. Very soon her daughter came back due to certain irreconcilable differences for absolutely no fault of hers. This pained her, but she didn’t lose heart. She took up the cudgel of rehabilitating her innocent daughter and indeed found a good match. She remarried her daughter. Around 5 years into her second marriage and with a 3 years old daughter in tow, the daughter has returned to her mother for good, being unlucky for the second time in the matter of marriage. She, once again, has fully backed her daughter, though she is now responsible to support one additional member, her granddaughter. Also, her mother, who is in her ripe old age, is completely bedridden requiring 24×7 nursing.

This blog is tribute to her steadfastness to her principles of not tolerating any injustice or bullying, but living life on her own terms, notwithstanding hurdles in the way. Life has tested her at each step and this is not likely to be over, because all her responsibilities are not likely to get over in near future. On top of it, today is her last day in service as she superannuates having attained the age of 60. Her income will be severely curtailed and expenses grow as the granddaughter starts going to higher classes! But I am sure she will neither wither nor accept the defeat for she has always lived her life struggling only! All the best to Mrs Swagata Bhaumik for her retired life!

27 thoughts on “Swagata Bhaumik

  1. Very well written Arvind. After going through the whole post I realized how little I really knew her. I saw her around in Kolkata Main branch and later she was posted to somewhere in South Kolkata. We exchanged the usual pleasantries when we met, mostly when I was heading Kankurgachi branch in Kolkata and later as the Zonal Retail Head. She was known to be a hard and reliable worker. This is all I ever knew. But the story of struggle and percivarence that you have described was certainly not common knowledge and totally unknown to me. So glad to know this side of her through your blog. What is she retiring as? Just curious.

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  2. Arvinduncle ,you have pened down exactly what my Mom has gone through .She is really an example to be given.Thanks uncle for your unconditional support whenever we required .

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  3. Could not agree more with you on this Arvind, for me she is a living legend because from her I learned that no matter how hard the obstacles are, if uou are willing to provide your best then the sweet fruit of success would eventually comes to you. Hope after retiring from this job, she will be able to find her peace of mind & tranquility by seeing her granddaughter growing up & also by seeing her daughter to live her life with dignity which Swagata taught her from very beginning of her life. I would like to add one additional thing about Swagata that I haven’t come across any elegant & suave lady like her in my life. She redefined fashion in her own way. I think her pampering & many gifts are to be blamed for my extravagant nature (the off late she scold me a lot for this) but I believe it is too late for me to change myself since I have seen her from my childhood. Apart from this I learned many things from her & for that I will remain greatful for the rest of my life. I don’t know how to thank her for that, so ratger than trying I hope to shower in her kindness & blessings in future also.

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  4. We have been childhood friends. I have been witness to some of her trials and tribulations. I am proud to be her friend. She is pure gold.

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  5. Dear Arvind, thanks a Ton for your unconditional support as always, not only as a peer but as a true friend. I always value my association with your family indeed as friends in need in the truest sense of the term. Your depiction has made me much emotional on the penultimate day of my professional career.
    All I can say with moist eyes and heart – – – THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.

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  6. You have wonderfully penned her journey. she is a caring daughter,wonderful mother and ofcourse a perfect sister.The way she balanced her personal and professional life is really mesmerizing.She made her own path in her own style.from a home maker to a banker -no doubt the way was full of struggles but she did it.Now she is into an another phase of life with a lesser amount of office calls but full of duties of a loving granny.wishing her a wonderful life ahead.Proud of her.

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  7. Sir, nothing could have been more apt to chronicle the journey of Swagatadi…I will always remember the support she had provided to me in the initial days…I take this opportunity to thank you also Arvind Sir for helping me with lot of Merchant Banking reports which I had to prepare without knowing the”m” of the subject…apart from her mental strength, excellent customer service I would like to mention her aesthetic sense…who can forget her personal touch in decorating Beliaghata branch? She is indeed my didi and I confide a lot of my issues in her..wishing the super grandmom a healthy and happy retired life !!!

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  8. Swagatadi as I have seen her for the last 20 years is a lady with never ending energy and full of vibrance
    Inspite of the amount of mental trauma she faced in her life I have not seen her breaking down for a single moment

    You learn from her how to tackle life odds with a smiling face

    Swagatadi I pray to god you remain as you are and all the best to you in starting your 2nd innings
    All the best
    Regards Aniruddha

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  9. Touched and moved by the story of Swagata. Ordinary people like her with extraordinary determination, perseverance and never say die spirit are the real heroes of this world.

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  10. I can totally relate to all that has been written here about Swagata Bhaumik,Tinku di for me, having seen her from close quarters during some of her trying moments of life. She has always been an epitome of warmth and affection and undoubtably grace, a person you can turn to anytime and who truly leaves a mark on you. Her impeccable sense of style too remains unwavering against all odds. May she continue to spread cheer all around!

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