This body of work is about my eldest aunt, Gayatri Goswami, who was 72 at the beginning of 2023 – and turned 73 in March.
Being born as albino in the metropolitan city of Kolkata she has faced both social and psychological confinement throughout her life.
She is an elderly unmarried lady who has been living with her younger sister Swati who is also albino, and has faced the same challenges throughout her life too. At present, they live in the same building where they were born and grew up. The sisters spend time together and take care of each other. Gayatri has completed her PhD in Sanskrit. She tried to get a job in several institutes as a Sanskrit teacher but she never got one just because of her skin color. So she later started to teach classes as a private tutor.
She also used to write scripts for Indian dance dramas and worked with her sister, who formed a theater school in her building where students would come to learn from them. They used to conduct the dance drama and theater programs two times a year.
Along with that Gayatri translated Othello, Macbeth, King Lear and Hamlet into Bengali and directed her students to perform in theaters consecutively in the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in Kolkata, as she is obsessed with William Shakespeare. She also received training in Spanish and Japanese and became fluent in both languages.
How does it feel to be 72?
"Physically I feel the burden of my age at this phase of my life and at the same time I feel I have learnt the universal truth that life is an act of letting go. We were a family of seven, including my beloved dad and mom. Now only my younger sister and I live together out of the entire family. Also, apart from physical issues I feel life is less complicated as well as less complex than before and I can manage more for myself."
What do you look forward to?
"At this phase I look forward to spending time with my nephews who are now not that young anymore. I look forward to seeing my nephews get married one day. I am also looking forward to taking care of my younger sister Swati who is just like me, an unmarried single lady."
What is your biggest concern?
"My biggest concern is my younger sister Swati. Both of us live together in a two-story, 165-year-old building. I actually feel afraid of leaving my younger sister alone. Apart from that, I am worried about my younger nephew, Debsuddha, who does not want to get married at all and does not want to listen about it. I am afraid about his life when he gets older. I worry he will live alone, just like we are doing now."