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A tribute to Lila Kalita

In the early 70’s, a young newly married lady Lila Kalita landed up in NDA, Khadakwasla, in the city of Poona now Pune. Destiny had taken her to a place from a tiny village near Mirza to a totally different environment, full of sophistication, posh and elite, laced with highest order of discipline and urban habitation, to the campus of the National Defence Academy, where her husband was a professor of history. It was transportation to an alien environment where the high and the mighty of military and civilian confluence happened, where very tall order of military and socio-cultural tradition and discipline prevailed, where the upper echelons of the social strata, the elite, the intellectuals and the national think tank converged into a myriad cosmopolitan conglomerate. It was a monumental change for the young lady from a humble village background. But she never allowed her background to create any hindrance between her and the elite society of NDA.

Since my childhood we looked upon Mami as our role model. Not only to me, but to the whole family she was a role model. Mami, as I knew her was an epitome of mental strength and grit. She was very courageous and fearless. She was vocal and never tolerated any injustice or wrong doings. She never hesitated to raise the voice against injustice however high and formidable the opponent maybe and always spoke her mind with great aplomb and finesse.

After landing in Pune she became a teacher there in a prestigious school. She also completed her second MA from Pune during that time. As a teacher she was dedicated and had an uncanny ability to forge a relationship with the students. Like at home, as a teacher, she was firm, strict and disciplined but at the same time caring, patient and kind. She always tried her best to upgrade her knowledge and engage the students with her innovative teaching. She was accorded a grand farewell when she came back to Assam after Mama’s retirement. After returning to Assam in the 90’s she became the principal of Arunoday School at Mirza for a few years.

Whenever I used to meet her in her house or in any social gathering she was always smiling, never forgot to enquire about my family and children, was ever ready with a word of comfort and advise for others when in need. During her stay at Pune she hosted a lot of celebrities at her house.

Former Chief Minister of Assam Late Sarat Chandra Singha, on his visit to NDA in the 70’s came to her house and had lunch. Mama was known well to Dr Bhupen Hazarika and whenever he visited Pune and Mumbai he used to lovingly address the couple as Poonar Kalita. During her brief stint and brush with politics she excelled with her speeches at political and social forums. Former Deputy PM L K Advani fondly addressed her as Lilaji.

Today it is very hard to believe that she is no more. Her kind words, amicable nature, her strong determination and mental strength, her exemplary courage and dedication as a wife, mother and teacher will endure and remain in our hearts for times to come. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
Nava Kalita