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When We All Stand Bereaved Today

The Heart- felt condolence for Dr Purnima Shekhar Singh for her leaving for heavenly abode on 18th January, 2023.

With the sad demise of Dr Purnima Shekhar Singh, Director of Geographical Studies, Aryabhatta University, Bihar, an alumnus of J.N.U, the wife of Shri Anjani Kumar Singhjee, the People’s Chief Secretary of Bihar, the curtain, in fact, fell upon the age and era where we all stood beholden to the epitome of compassion that she was for all of us.

The Heart- felt condolence for Dr Purnima Shekhar Singh for her leaving for heavenly abode on 18th January, 2023.

In fact, whoever crossed path with her, as this writer too had, felt the soothing impacts of motherly compassion engulfing all of us in its beneficent tentacles. The monumental grief which has befallen all of us, in the wake of her departure, inevitably left the vacuum, not only in the family she presided over in her matriarchal capacity, but those who reveled under the canopy of her blessings too, will consider it a void which can seldom be filled up.

In fact, this morning as I received the communication from Respected Anjani Singh Sir about the sad demise, I immediately called him; in a tone laced with grief, he informed me that she succumbed to her brain haemmorhage and breathed her last on 18th January, 2023 in Patna. Indeed the news aggrieved me in no ambiguous terms, for I too had the opportunity of being the beneficiary of her nobility in the past.

Anjani Babu –he is lovingly referred to one and all by this name–has been the best chief secretary not only of Bihar, but that of the entire nation. Hardly can anyone match his simplicity blended with Buddha’s compassion for one and all. He, in fact, is the person who was instrumental behind making me a writer and, that too, when he seldom knew me.

Author with the People's Chief Secretary of Bihar, Sri Anjani Kumar Singh at his residence in Patna.
Author with the People’s Chief Secretary of Bihar, Sri Anjani Kumar Singh at his residence in Patna.

It was 2015, I called upon him; he, in fact, was attending a meeting, yet he responded to my call. I apprised him about the manuscript of Yes, I Am Bihari, to which he expressed his desire to read it. Later, in the wake of publication of the book, I had sent him a copy of the book. Few days hence, I called him up to know about his feedback. He enthusiastically burst forth, ‘ Bahut badhiya likha hai, Maine Mukhya mantri ko bhi kahani bataya'( Very nicely written, I even narrated the story to the chief minister).

I earnestly urged him, ‘ Sir, why not get it launched on the occasion of Bihar Diwas?’ ‘ Yes, why not!’ he shot back. The book with all pomp and grandeur was launched by the chief minister Nitish Kumar in the presence of all cabinet ministers, Prashant Kishor, Anjani Babu himself.

Significantly, while almost over two lakh people were present on the ground, more than fifty lakh people watched the book launch world wide. It created a history in Bihar: first time, chief minister with all his cabinet ministers and the opposition leader were present in the book launch.

Only a man with an oceanic heart, with malice for none, while an overwhelming love for one and all, could have extended such a platonic feelings for a stranger, especially in such times when chief secretary of the state is simply inaccessible, the accessibility of the highest government officer of the state to be accessible to one and all, remains unprecedented not only in the history of Bihar, but the history of the nation.

It was on another occasion, I was at his residence in Patna. Suddenly I met a young girl, Apoorva Srishti, the daughter of Anjani Babu, who had returned from USA after securing her degree in Law from California University. There, albeit for the first time, I had the direct interaction with Madam, Dr Purnimajee.

In fact, after my interaction with Apoorva, madam sat to have a small conversation with me where Apoorva too was a party to it. Great lady as she was, she discussed about her daughter’s education. Once my interaction with Apoorva was over, she burst into tears, repeatedly asserting that how proud she was on the accomplishments of her daughter.

Apoorva sought to console her, yet the joyful tears of a mother, stubbornly refusing to cease, was on full display: the rivulet of tears had almost welled from her eyes betrayed the motherly love which has no parallel on earth. It was then, madam had so affectionately offered me sweets and beverage. I seldom had the foggiest of an idea then that it would be my last physical meeting with her.

Nonetheless, despite my being under the canopy of gracious blessings for an hour, even less, the imprints of the same remains etched in my memory for all time to come. The benevolence personified, Madam Purnimajee appeared to me as someone whose heart craved for doing good to others.

Significantly, many artists, painters and host of skilled people were the beneficiaries of her generosity. Prakash a tribal boy, who was brought by her to her home where he graduated into a good sculptor. Prakash, the poverty stricken Adivasi young man, confided in me that how he held her hand expectantly while she was leaving the place, and she brought him to her home. Prakash’ eyes got moistened when he narrated me this saga of his seeking the generosity of Madam Purnimajee.

Anjani Babu, the farmer’s son remained as such even today. The simplicity has been his ornament, which he has carried all along in his life, never ever succumbing to the spellbinding charm of materialism which demonically engulfs all of us in its diabolical embraces, failed to impact both the spouses: Madam Purnimajee, a devout woman, a professor of high repute, would regularly visit temple; was positively disposed towards one and all. Once, while she was leaving for temple in her vehicle, I stood along with Anjani Babu to witness the sincerity of her devotion for the divine.

Unfortunately, she is no more with us; the ray of light which had triggered the illumination in several homes, is gone for ever; the generosity which awaited its splash, drenching all those who desperately sought it, will no longer be there; yet the glorious memory of such illumination which engendered cheers over the lips of many of us who knew her, and stood beholden to the largesse of a large heartedness which the immensity of her persona exuded all along, had left for her heavenly abode, leaving us all bereaved, for the motherly grace that her persona exuded, will be conspicuous by its absence, ever since now.

But then, whereas the vacuum she leaves behind remains perpetual, yet the sweet fragrance of the behemoth of the memory she left behind, is the grand legacy she left behind for all of us to cheer and feel blessed that we had providentially been empowered to have crossed path with the great lady who taught us the innate human values.

Although the vacuity of her absence will be eloquently felt by all of us, yet for her husband and her children it would be phenomenal one. Small wonder then, we express our deep solidarity with Anjani Babu, Apoorva and her brother and all in the families in this grievous hours of bereavement, and pray to lord that He may grant them the power of resilience to overcome this grave sorrow. With folded hands, we pray to the Lord for the salvation of Madam Purnimajee at His lotus feet.

Vivekanand Jha Author of Yes, I am Bihari and Han, Main Bihari Hoon, expresses his deep condolence on the sad demise of Dr Purnima Shekhar Singh, wife of Sri Anjani Kumar Singhjee, the former People’s Chief Secretary of Bihar, the incumbent director of Bihar Museum in Patna.