I come from Chittagong

Our Indian Ambassador to the United Nations at that time was B. N. Chakravarty. His offices were also in India House. One of my colleagues said to me, “He is a Bengali. Go and chat with him.”

“Oh no, he is such a big shot,” I said.

Then one day I saw that he was reading a newspaper in the park, so I went there and stood in front of him.

“What do you want?” he asked.

“I have just come to get your blessings,” I replied.

“Fine. Come, come. What is your name?”

I told him my name.

“Where do you come from?”

When I said, “Chittagong,” he burst out, “Chittagong! I hate Chittagong! My mother died in Chittagong, in your hospital. I will never forgive Chittagong.”

That was enough. My conversation with him ended there.

After six or seven months, it was time for his farewell. I forgave him or he forgave me, God knows. Anyway, I composed a poem on him in Bengali. I was asked to read it out at his farewell party. When he heard it, he melted. He placed his hand on my shoulder and we talked in Bengali. His wife also melted. At that time there was no Chittagong.

Then he told me one of his personal experiences. One day he was walking by Pandit Nehru’s side. He wanted to ask Nehru a question, but Nehru’s personality was so great that he did not dare to ask his question. He could not even bring himself to speak to Nehru. Then he looked at me and said, “People are all afraid of me but, you see, this is what happened to me when I was with Nehru.” And he was very well educated, a member of the Indian Civil Service.