For someone who did not complete her formal education and dropped out after high school level, Durga is amazingly well read. She would often boast that she had read more Gujarati literature than those who do their masters in Gujarati literature.
However, it isn’t just Gujarati literature. Her interests are eclectic and diverse. She’s equally comfortable reading epic novels from the Saratchandra Chattopadhya’s oeuvre as she’s reading Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room. Earlier this month when I read about French’s death, it reminded me of Durga. I read her copy of The Women’s Room, soon after it was published in the late 1970s.
Durga’s tastes in reading are cultivated, and have little or no bearing to the fact that she was Meghnad’s wife, not when he was alive, and certainly not now.
She is a polyglot, and can read in more languages than most South Asians, which really is a big deal because South Asians are multilingual.
Many of the books that I read in my youth were from her collection. These included:
- Alex Haley’s Roots (I wrote about it on this blog some time ago)
- Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull (it’s cringe-inducing to admit this today, but you’ll agree it was huge in the 1970s)
- Jacqueline Susann’s Once is not Enough (regular and at times steamy pulp fiction; Durga disapproved my decision to read the book and argued I was too young; but didn't prevent me from reading it when I insisted)
- Charlie Chaplin’s My Autobiography (paperback; one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read)
A Mother’s Day salute to Durga – a woman who could have been a tremendous actor, but did not because her family needed her more.