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!