Subho Maha Asthami: My Grandmother, my Maa Durga

This post is a little difficult for me to pen down. Because I have so many things to say, I have so many memories, don’t know if words can ever do justice.
If you are one of the lucky souls on earth who is blessed with the love of your grandma then you would know how important and emotional this post is to me. 


Born in 1925, she was the eldest of all her brothers and sisters. When she was 17 years old, she got married and that was the start of a loving marriage. We pine how marriage and after marriage life don’t allow us the freedom to do what we want and how we want to spend our life. But my grandma, with her love for knowledge and with her unwavering determination continued with her studies, even after managing a family of 15 people. She completed her school, her Bachelors and Master degree. During this time she gave birth to five children, my mother being the eldest of all. She was termed as self-centered and money-minded by many of her family members. But the fighter she was and with the unconditional love and support of grandpa she kept flourishing in her life. She started working as a professor in a reputed college. With her family by her side, she was living a happy and content life.

But they had barely any idea about the looming danger. The war of 1971 broke out a few weeks after my grandma’s birthday. The next few months it was all about the deafening roars of planes, of blaring sirens, of friends turning into foes and of bloodshed. People were tortured, sacked down, women were gang-raped and then killed. The family have been in the trenches together, literally! As the guerrilla attacks and genocide intensified, my grandparents were forced to leave the country. It was not easy for them to leave their home, their homeland; but life became unbearable. On one such night of torment, my grandpa was killed just next door, while he was trying to rescue few other men from the hands of the hooligans. Think about the plight of my grandma. Crying and mourning over the loss of her husband seemed to be a luxury at that time, her only aim then was to take her children to a safe place. She couldn’t even get the chance to cremate his body. Bangladesh, for my grandma, maa and mashi, is associated with many happy memories and as well as reminds them of the barbaric acts. Thank God my maternal uncles were too small to remember anything.

The real struggle was waiting after she reached India. She spent months in the refugee camps. The family members whom she considered her life, for whom she cared for and loved so much, showed their true colors. Some refused to help and the ones who did, treated them very poorly. Didan and everybody else were given shelter inside a cow shed and were given just a plate of rice to eat, just a plate of rice for 6 of them. And nowadays people don’t even think twice before wasting food. Didan started working as a maid. My mother was a brilliant student, she studied on her own and gave tuition, even to her classmates and to students in higher classes. It took them years to recover from the dire condition they were in. Slowly they started settling in. Didan started working in a school. Maa used to go to college in the morning and work for rest of the day. She completed her medical. Through immense hard-work they saved money and finally made their own sweet home, the place I call Didambari (Dida and mamas' bari). Though small, but finally something of their own.



Didan is almost 95 now. A decade back, I had lost my mother and she had lost her biggest support. Still she stands strong. We look up to her for every small thing. I pray for her and hope to inherit at least some of her qualities.



Since childhood we have been taught that Maa Durga is the embodiment of power and energy. My grandma too symbolizes power and protection. I don’t see a difference between them. Yes, she might not have ten hands like Maa Durga, but she has mastered multi-tasking like no one else. She is invincible, personifying the actual meaning of “Durga”.



These comments mean a lot. Thank you everyone.


11 comments:

  1. Madhubani, yes Didan’s story made me very emotional but I’m not going to start saying all that now, because more than all that, it gave me a hard push towards hope, towards strength and towards the much needed positivity.
    You are very lucky to have her in your life. May you both have lots of happy moments together. Please convey my love to Didan.

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  2. This brought tears to my eyes. What terrible situation she went through and how victorious she came out to be. We need more women like her. She is power, she is invincible

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  3. Such an inspiring story!You are so lucky to have her in your life!All the good wishes to you and your grandma

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  4. What a wonderful woman and great story!

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  5. What a great tribute to your strong, hard working grandmother.

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  6. You are blessed to still have her. She was born around the same time as my grandma but she passed 23 years ago. I still miss her up to this day

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  7. Ki likhbo janina! May you always find her as your Didan in every birth.

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  8. What an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing her story. I had the good fortune to also grow up with a strong grandma, who lived to age 92. I wish your grandma many more years of health and happiness!

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  9. Wow! What an amazing and strong woman she is! You are so lucky to have such a wonderful grandmother and role model!

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  10. What a wonderful post and amazing woman!

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  11. What an incredibly story of a strong woman! Thank you for sharing it with us 💚

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