Obituary: Amiya Chaudhuri
Friday 23 September 1994
AMIYA CHAUDHURI was about 80 when I first met her and totally housebound. In the years since she never expressed any bitterness about her loss of mobility, but on the contrary was always warm in her manner and full of concern for her family and friends. The wife of the writer Nirad C. Chaudhuri, she ran her household in north Oxford from an upstairs room with clockwork precision.
She herself took up writing in Bengali only when she was in her eighties. Her two memoirs, Didimar Jug o Jiban ('The Life and Times of a Grandmother', 1992) and Prabashini Didima ('A Grandmother in Exile', 1994), are highly regarded in Bengal both for their historical value and their literary qualities. (She died before completing the third instalment.) She published, too, several autobiographical articles and biographical sketches of both Bengali and English life, produced a Bengali cookbook, and contributed three articles to the encyclopaedic Robert Carrier's Kitchen in 1981.
When she first became ill with a disabling condition she busied herself preparing for press the first volume of her husband's Bengali autobiography Atmaghati Bangali ('Self-destructive Bengalis', 1988). In 1987, in his English autobiography, Thy Hand, Great Anarch], Nirad Chaudhuri exquisitely described his arranged marriage in 1932, remarking that a fastidious man such as himself was fortunate to find a wife who not only could spell Beethoven correctly on their wedding night, but who also nurtured him through periods of 'poverty, anxiety, privations and humiliations', and bore him three sons.
Mrs Chaudhuri had a robust outlook on life. I know of no other Bengali woman of my grandmother's generation who would not have been daunted by the prospect of settling in England so late in life (1970). She, by contrast, adapted well to her new life, made English friends and enjoyed herself. She continued to wear a white cotton sari, with a shawl wrapped around her on cold days. She appreciated the best in England and the best in Bengal. By virtue of her books, she became a surrogate grandmother to all grandchildren of Bengal, chronicling her long lifetime for them in crystal-clear language that the best of story-tellers would envy. Her distinctive voice will endure for many years to come.
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
- 4 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
- 5 Google search history can now be downloaded in its entirety, mass embarrassment expected
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...