Mom (aka) Dipali Guha

Everyone calls her mom. She embraces us all with her generous spirit and feeds us copious amounts of her delicious home cooked food. Her cuisine hails from Lucknow and Bengal, two very distinct regions in India. On occasion, you may spot her dancing at the Blues Fest or at the Center Gala.

Dipali came to live with her family in Taipei about four years ago. Sujoy, Sue and Anjoli. 

When I asked her to share her life’s journey, I was amazed at how sharp and clear her memory was. Her story is 87 years long, but I thought this is a good place to start.

A Happy Childhood

Dipali remembers a happy childhood growing up in India, with siblings and parents that doted on her. “My grandmother called me Batashi because I used to run fast like the wind. Life was good. When I was 12, my mother passed away and my world changed. My carefree days were replaced by household duties and taking care of my siblings. 

When my father proposed I marry during my third year of college, I agreed because it seemed like a way to be free of the responsibilities. Without as much as a meeting, 22 year old Diplai and 24 year old Dilip got married and started their new life. Much later, my brother showed me the photo of me that my husband used to carry around in his pocket before we had met.”

Our New Life Together

“Our house was in a village surrounded by fields. We had no electricity. It was not the life I was used to but I adjusted. Soon after, we moved to another city and started our journey together. My husband was a geologist and his job required him to move from place to place, so we lived in many different places. I became an expert at packing. 

One of the reasons his family got him married so early was because they knew he was going to travel a lot and they didn’t want him to come back home with foreign bride. Both of us decided not to have children right away as we were still very young. We were the only married couple amongst many bachelor’s for quite a while and we would go on picnics with friends and enjoy our time together.”

Who has inspired you in your life?

Without skipping a beat she said, “My husband. I always wanted to be a teacher and tried to finish my studies so I could graduate. However, my father-in-law wanted me to stay with them so I never got to finish my degree. When my husband and I were together he would make me read the newspaper every morning and discuss the news in English. He wanted me to be fluent. 

After Sujoy was born, I started educating the sons of my house helper. I’m very happy to say that they graduated from school and went on to study further. They still write to me and keep me updated on their life. One became an assistant administrative officer and the other son was selected to train in the police academy. My husband always supported my choices. We had a wonderful life together.

The Twists and Turns Life Takes

On the 31st of December 2009, my life changed once again,

My husband had a stroke. It was frightening. We were on holiday in a remote area and had to drive all the way back to Calcutta for treatment. A 500 km journey that took 12 hours. After this scare, I decided the best thing to do would be to sell our home in Lucknow and move to Calcutta, to be near hospitals and family. It was a bad stroke that affected him quite severely. I had to learn very quickly about house sales, banking and other legal matters. Luckily I had some good people nearby who helped me through this difficult time. Rajesh was just like a second son and he helped me with everything.

Yet Another Beginning

Dipali's birthday in Taipei with Sujoy, Sue, Anjoli
Dipali Guha March 2024

Now I’m in Taiwan and it’s a whole other life. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been given this opportunity to be here and meet all these beautiful people. Everyone calls me Mom. I see these young girls and I feel like I am a young girl once again. They are just like me. I love having young people around. I love their energy and I love feeding them.

“My message to all young women is don’t be nervous, be strong. You have to face whatever comes your way.”

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