LifeStories: Basanti Guhathakurta

Contributed by Meghna Guhathakurta, September 9, 2020

Basanti Guhathakurta was born in 1922 in the village of Fatulla, near Narayanganj in the Dhaka District. She served as headmistress of Gandaria Girl’s High School, which subsequently was named Maniza Rahman Girls High School from 1948 to 1988. She served as member of the Kudrat e Khoda Education Commission and was delegate at the 1975 Women’s Year in Alma Ata Kazakstan. She was member of Nari Punorbashon Kendra set up by the first independent Governmnet of Bangladesh to rehabilitate war widows and women raped by Pakistani and Al Badr forces. She is the author of two books: Ekattorer Smriti, where she tells the story of nine-months survival in Dhaka city after her husband Jyotirmay Guhathakurta was martyred in the hands of Pakistani Armed Forces during Operation Searchlight. She has also authored her childhood memories in the book called Kaler Bhelai ( In the Rafts of Time). Both books have been published by UPL, Dhaka. She died in September 9th,1993 in Kolkata, when undergoing medical treatment.

The Educationist

1954: Maniza Rahman Girls School Cultural occassion.centre front row: Begum Shamsunnahar, writer and student of Rokeya Shakhawat Hossain, on her right, Asha Lata Sen veteran Congress leader, Basanti Guhathakurta, back row standing 4th from left.
With her colleagues at Maniza Rahman Girls High School, Gandaria
Basanti Guhathakurta ( far left) in a Quaker Conference for Young Leaders in Lahore (April 1963) with famous historian Romilla Thapar (far right.) In the middle is Ms. Farhat Hussain.
Welcoming Mrs Suharto to Nari Punorbashon Kendra.
As part of the Kudrut e Khoda Education Commission’s tour of India, 1973.
Meeting with President V.V.Giri of India 1973 accompanying my mother with the Khudrat e Khoda Education Commission
In erstwhile Soviet Union, as part of Government delegation for celebrating International Women’s Year, 1975.
With two other educators and friends.
Honoring women of Gandaria Mohila Samiti, at Asha Lata Sen Award distribution ceremony. Basanti Guhathakurta with Begum Sufia Kamal
Honoring women of Gandaria Mohila Samiti at Asha Lata Award distribution ceremony. With Begum Sufia Kamal

The London Years

The University College Years

1959 Practice teaching in Wales, as part of Diploma Course in teaching English as a Foreign Language:
1959 Practice teaching in Wales, as part of Diploma Course in teaching English as a Foreign Language: Basanti Guhathakurta Standing 1st Left
Basanti Guhathakurta with a friend’s mother in their house in Buckinghamshire England. The friends name was Joy M. Ash who used to work at the Quakers Friends Service Centre in Dhaka. This was in 1959/60 while she was studying for her diploma course TEFL at University College London.
With classmates from the TEFL course at University College, London.
Kew Gardens 1959-60
In London, with classmates.
University College, 1960

London, 1960s

Farewell party in 1964. Basanti Guhathakurta and daughter, Meghna, go to England to join her husband, Jyotirmoy Guhathakurta.
Finsbury Park, London, 1960s.

Publications

Book Cover of Ekatorrer Smriti ( Memories of 1971) by Basanti Guhathakurta, 1992, Dhaka: UPL
Book Cover of “Kaler Bhela” ( The Rafts of Time) by Basanti Guhathakurta, 1994, Dhaka: UPL

With family and friends

Basanti Guhathakurta (1922 to 1993), sitting far right, with her batch mates in 1952 M.A. Dhaka University.
Shahid Jyotirmoy Guha-Thakurta
 Basanti Guhathakurta’s wedding solemnized in her natal home, Fatullah ( then a village in the outskirts of Dhaka) . Throughout her student life and initial career, she commuted by train from Fatullah to Gandaria, Dhaka ( where she was headmistress of school even before she was married).
With daughter, Meghna.
With daughter, Meghna.
In Gandaria Girls High School with writer Gour Kishore Ghosh and freedom fighter Ashab ul Haq and his family
with PM Indira Gandhi of India, 1973
with Rina Barman, ICSSR
Three generations of women: Basanti Guhathakurya, daughter and mother.

Portraits

In the early 50s
Basanti Guhathakurta in the 1950s. Headmistress of Gandaria Girls High School subsequently called Maniza Rahman Girls High School
1961
This was taken as a emergency passport foto on the sidewalk in Laxmi Bazaar with one of those cameramen who used to shoot with those old camera with a black cloth above their heads! The family used to laughingly call it the “Headmistress picture!”
In England in 1989 at the University of York, UK where her daughter was doing her Ph.D.
Basanti Guha-Thakurta
Taken by a journalist at home during the later years of her life.

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