Our first meeting...
Bela Mukherjee, wife of Hemanta Mukherjee, reminisces...

I was a regular singer for Chhotoder Aashor in All India Radio then. We were working for a programme for Bani Kumar, and Kajida was the music director of that programme. There I heard the name of somebody called ‘Baro Khoka’. During the rehearsals, he would never turn up and when Kajida complained about this, Banida used to say, “That’s no problem, if Baro Khoka hears the song once only, he will pick it up.” We were all very surprised. The day before the programme, when we were doing the final rehearsals, he turned up. I remember very well how my sister Aabha and I had laughed on seeing him for the first time a tall, thin boy ... ’Baro Khoka’. He got very angry. In fact, later he had told me that he had even thought of complaining to the person in charge.

But on that day, we hadn’t met formally. Our next meeting was at a function in Jessore. That time, carrying a bag with you was the ‘in’ thing. Just a few days back, I had got a new bag as a birthday present and, needless to say, I was carrying it. But, I was not at all comfortable with it. On top of that, I was wearing a saree, which I had just learned how to wear. It was impossible to take the bag on stage and I did not know what to do. Suddenly I saw ‘Baro Khoka’ standing in the wings and chatting with my sister. I asked my sister to keep my hag, but she refused. So, I did the only thing I could I requested him to hold it for me. That was the first time I had spoken to him. After that, thanks to my extrovert sister, he started coming to out house and we started getting closer. Finally, in 1945, we got married.


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