Memory Trigger 21: Question.

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.”
~ Chinese proverb

Recently, there have been some evenings when my daughter in love Manjiree has been asking a lot of questions about our past about which she does not know anything. Her questions have covered mostly Ranjan’s background and about our relatives that she has met. A natural tendency to get to know about her husband’s background.

During one such session she asked me very searching questions about her late mother in law, Urmeela and I suppose that she was not satisfied with my answers for she suddenly appeared a couple of days ago and asked me to go to a link online that she helped me key in.

Lo and behold. this is what I saw appearing on my computer’s screen:

“Artists like Dasrath Kumari Mathur and Urmila Shaw could not be very active in their careers after marriage. “Urmila Shaw was the best painter in our group”, says Fatima recalling her college days in Hyderabad.

Urmila was a Christian and belonged to a middle class family. She had been active in the professional field right from her student days at the local college. She was appreciated for her work by almost everyone known to her, particularly Vidya Bhushan, her teacher. Like him she also went to the erstwhile Yugoslavia to learn mural techniques. She and Usha Shankar worked on the Ajanta mural project, assigned to Vidya Bhushan by the Lalit Kala Academy. Urmila’s family and that of Vidya Bhushan’s were friends.

Urmila was in Hyderabad until the late 70s. She went to Bombay after marriage. Later she settled down in Pune and still lives there. She continued to paint for a long time following her marriage. Urmila and Usha were friends. Usha began to study FineArts after marriage. Her husband encouraged her in her creative pursuits. She had a fascination to experiment with various media, such as, oils, acrylic and egg tempera.”

Every name in the narrative was known to me as I had met and spent time with all of them and had even visited all of them at their homes, and had also attended their exhibitions on occasion. All except Fatima sadly are no more.

That Fatima, a formidable personality considered her as the best in their group came as a complete surprise to me. That Vidhya Bhushan thought very highly of her was known to me, but Fatima’s praise came as a very pleasant surprise. Incidentally, she is very much in Pune and is quite active in the art world.

The reason for the title of this post is that I have been googling for many things for many years but had never found this particular passage till now. On asking Manjiree how she found it, she enigmatically replied that she asked google the right questions!

22 thoughts on “Memory Trigger 21: Question.”

  1. Nothing like a bit of posthumous recognition, Ramana. I am sure that Urmeela knew her “worth”. I actually read a large junk of that whole chapter in which Manjiree found the reference to Urmeela. So very interesting to compare attitudes to, and aspects of women’s lives set in very differing cultures. It appears, some things are universal.

    By the way, I noticed that in the book Urmeela’s name is spelled differently to how you refer to her.

    Greetings to the lovely Manjiree – a formidable woman, judging by the recent photo and the mischievous twinkle in her eyes. Your daughter in love looks like someone with a generous heart, and not to be messed with.

    Ursula recently posted..Ambition

    1. I think that the extract is from a PhD thesis submitted by a scholar who had never met the ladies in question. Both Spellings are acceptable but, Urmeela’s official name was spelt with two ‘e’s.

      I like the description of Manjiree as a formidable woman. I am sure that she will too. I can assure you that she is.

  2. Wow. What a great find. Have you ever posted images of Urmeela’s work?

    Having noo information on my birth father, I was not so fortunate with my discoveries. I was able to discover the source of my not insubstantial dark side as my sperm donor was a genuinely bad fellow.

    Kudos to your daughter- in- love for knowing the correct questions to ask as she clearly brought some additional, unexpected joy to your life.

    1. No, I never did Shackman. After she retired from the Art world, she refused to give any kind of publicity to her works. Apart from what are now perhaps available in some serious art collections in India, her works can be seen on the walls of homes of family members all over the world. As I type this, there are two on the wall just above the screen of my computer.

      Yes, Manjiree did that and it was all the more pleasurable for not having consulted me in any way before she did that.

  3. Your quiet pride in Urmeela is lovely to see. It’s very interesting that Manjiree pursued the matter, I wonder what made her think there was more to find out.

    Just once I had opportunity to ask my mother in law and her mother about their family history. The story I was told was fascinating and i was in awe of their fortitude through circumstances i would never have dreamed of but they were not very impressed with my questions. The following morning I got the blame for their bad night’s sleep due to “too much thinking”.
    Despite all of that, I am glad I asked, my husband had no idea of any of it but now I am able to pass the story to my children.

    1. Both of us went on our first date way back in the early sixties when we were just friends. We saw The Singer Not The Song with Dirk Bogarde and when I proposed to her finally in 1968 she asked why because I was not clued in on her artistic work. I had replied that I wanted the marry the painter not the paintings. That line came in handly for both of us on many occasions later on of course.

      Both our mothers were quite liberal in sharing their stories with us whenever we asked them and Urmeela knew many stories about my family just as I did about hers too. It helped that we were friends before and one of my friends married her cousin as well.

  4. this is a wonderful post rummy.
    your pride in urmeela’s accomplishment as an artist and just as a person has always been obvious when you’ve written about her here.
    and now to find that she and her work were so valued by her peers… wow!
    what a treasure you have in manjiree that she can appreciate her husband’s mother and wants to learn more about her!
    tammy j recently posted..moving on old bean

  5. That’s wonderful to know that Urmila was so creative. I guess she must have been a very modest woman !
    Never late… 🙂 Keep writing, RR

    1. Yes Jayashri. She was a modest person and that was what attracted a lot of admirers for her throughout her life and after her death as well. Many visitors remember her even now with great affection and gratitude for many things that she did for them.

  6. Lovely to be so surprised by your dear wife’s accomplishments in her lifetime and beyond.

    Your daughter in love is a woman to be reckoned with. What a lovely gift she bestowed on you and us, your faithful readers!


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