Since she couldn't find answers to the question 'why?' Anuradha Bakhshi chose to craft them herself.
Anuradha Goburdhun Bakhshi says she is paying back a debt to India. But that is strange accounting. She hardly owes anything to this land -- unless you count her lineage. Her great grandfather shipped out to Mauritius from Bihar over a century ago as an indentured labourer. By the time she was born in Prague the family had prospered. Her father Sri Ram Goburdhun -- a judge--, had heeded a call by Pandit Nehru, taken Indian citizenship and become a diplomat. Anuradha --an Ambassador's daughter-- was raised in the lap of luxury in world capitals. She spoke French before she spoke Hindi or English. Life was a lark with cruises, parties, fine dining and savouring of classics. Marriage to a rising executive meant postings abroad again. As the French translator to Indira and Rajiv Gandhis and with connections in high places her life seemed to drift closer to the clouds.
Yet today, she spends her waking hours in Delhi's Giri Nagar slums, battles to raise money for her adopted brood of 500 young people and rides a three wheeler to the courts, to donors, to reach Page-3 people and anyone who might further the cause of her wards. Anuradha's story reveals the way India weaves her magic over those that display the slightest affection for her.
Her sense of indebtedness to India is perhaps inevitable given her forbears. Goverdhan Singh --labourer No.354495-- who shipped out to Mauritius in 1871 on S S Nimrod never forgot his village Barka Koppa, District Patna. He returned to take a bride --and dig a well for his village. Anuradha's maternal stream in the meanwhile, was outspokenly nationalist. Her grandfather Gopinath Sinha a freedom fighter, made jail going a commonplace. Her mother to be -- Kamala--, had sworn she would not marry in an enslaved India. When India did become free, Kamala was 30 and a Red Cross truck driver running errands to mitigate the rigours of one of India's many famines that the British had neither the inclination nor the wit to prevent. In 1948, Ram Goburdhan -- a barrister at law from the Inner Temple and a licentiate from the University of Lille-- took Indian citizenship and began a career as new India's envoy.
Anuradha says her father's distance from India gave him a romantic outlook and her mother's more recent experience of it made her a sturdy realist. Even as they exposed their only child to the rationalism and fine arts of the West, they laced her life with an Indian-ness. It was an influence she was unaware of through a rebellious teens and effortless successes in academics: upon her parents' insistence she qualified for the IAS and having proved to them her ability, refused to join it. Marriage, two children and a glamorous career as interpreter followed. Then, quite quickly between 1990 and 92 both her parents died.