Happy Birthday

My mother and me at the Acropolis in Greece. June 23, 1964.

My mother and me at the Acropolis in Greece. June 23, 1964.

My mother would have turned 82 today. I would have picked up the phone and called her. 011-91-33-2247-6600.

I would have said: Ma! Happy Birthday. I would have asked her what she was doing to celebrate.

She would have said that my pishi (aunt) was coming over for lunch. Nothing special was planned.

I wold have asked about what else was going on. She would have given me family updates — she kept in touch with everyone. She was the glue. She would have caught me up with gossip about the neighbors in our flat building.

She would have hurried through the conversation to get to the most important part. When will you come to Kolkata?

I would have said: In mid-September, Ma. I will be there soon.

I would have imagined her smile. She would have told me how she couldn’t wait to see me.

I will get on a plane to go home next week but she won’t be there waiting for me.

Happy Birthday, beautiful Ma. I miss you every waking moment.

The grimmest of anniversaries

Anniversary stories are common in journalism. A year ago in Haiti, an earthquake devastated the country…

Anniversaries a great peg to revisit stories.

Number 10 is a big one and I am sure journalists around the country are gearing up to tell all sorts of stories as we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Hard to believe sometimes that it has been that long.

I have been thinking of my own 10th anniversaries this year — of a massive earthquake struck I covered in western India when I suddenly found myself in the midst of intense human misery.

Today is the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. Alzheimer’s turned his brain to mush and rendered his body weak and feeble. In the end, he had massive bed sores eating away the outer layers of flesh.

I knew he was very ill and was rushing to get home to Kolkata. In Amsterdam, during a six-hour layover, I found out he had died.

I sat at an airport bar, drinking glasses of cabernet and wiping away unstoppable tears.

I tried to calm myself with the thought of my father’s pain finally ending; that he had found relief.

I landed in Kolkata and tended right away to his cremation,

Today, I went to work with thoughts of my father’s death. It was one anniversary that went without notice in the CNN newsroom.