By Mr Utpal Chatterjee
Ex-Sheriff of Calcutta and a Veteran Journalist.
Sans doubt, my father was one of a kind. If one were to sum up the views of all those who knew and admired him well enough, he was “electric, dynamic and brilliant”.He was known as the quintessential pundit.A linguist with an amazing command over several languages that included Sanskrit, Latin, French, German and even Greek.His mother tongue Bengali came first and Hindi thereafter. But his English,his main language,was like music to the ears. Indeed,he was gifted with a natural wit.When he was elevated to the highest rank of National Professor a la Professors Drs Satyen Bose and Suniti Chatterjee,I remember the respective letters of then Union Education Minister S. S. Ray and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of how proud and honoured they felt writing to him. I was positively delighted.But for my father, the late Professor. Debidas Chatterjee,it was like any other moment, any other day. He was one who largely kept to himself. Precisely when he went to sleep or when he woke up, I cannot tell. Once I woke up at 3.30 AM and found him engrossed in his books.When I woke up at dawn, I found him pruning his roses and in deep thought.No,he never taught me except for imparting the occasional tip. There are so many who have asked the extent to which I had learnt from him. By watching him closely was an experience in itself. But his constant quest for knowledge and his leaving everyone mesmerised with his speeches without a scrap of paper influenced me greatly.Yes,I have been honoured and recognized both in India and abroad.But my achievements are not a patch on what he was in totality.On the New Year’s Eve, countless calls would come with Birthday wishes.When he suddenly left us all, he was working on the “The ways and means of creative imagination”,the second after the great Samuel Taylor Coleridge.That was,roughly,three decades ago.