Comment on "Remembering Barun De"

Ranabir Chaudhury

Thanks for Anup Sinha's piece on Barun Babu, which gave us a full picture of the man.

Though my formal training has been in Economics, I have always been a dabbler in the history of Calcutta, and Barun Babu was always there to show me the way forward. My eternal regret will be that he will now no longer have a pre-publication look at the manuscript of a work I am attempting on some early aspects of the growth of Calcutta. Even so, the one comforting thought I have is that he commented profusely and critically on a synopsis of the work I submitted to him last year, which will now be my guide as I grope my way through the mass of material at my disposal.

I remember telling him often to set aside some time and do a book on something or the other - his memories, for example - which I was certain would be stimulating to the mind and, of course, enjoyable as a scintillating bit of writing. During the past couple of years, he was working on aspects of British art and artists in Calcutta as part of some project or the other at the Victoria Memorial Hall, and I was looking forward to its publication eagerly. But that is now out of our grasp. When I told him about an early article he had written (in Bengal Past and Present) on the fractious relationship between his grandfather B N Dey, who belonged to the indian Civil Service, and John Beames, one of the contemporary ICS fraternity, he did express surprise that I had cared to spend time going through the piece. But what was remarkable to me was that, even after nearly half a century, he remembered the assistance and encouragement which his father had extended to him in the writing of the essay, which in fact he had acknowledged handsomely and in abundance in the article itself.

Barun Babu will be missed by historians and also by those who are not. My hunch is that the loss will be felt more greatly by those who
reside on the outskirts of the discipline of History, who probably got a greater measure of the gentleman that he was, forever encouraging with his sonorous voice laced with impeccable English.

Thank you once again for publishing Anup Sinha's piece on Barun De.

Vol. 46, No. 5, Aug 11-17, 2013

Your Comment if any