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Journalist Moni Basu inspires at Mother’s Day event

June 2024
Journalist Moni Basu inspires at Mother’s Day event

Women in spring attire were greeted by pleasant weather at the Mother’s Day lunch hosted by the IACA Women’s Forum. The guest of honor, journalist Moni Basu, currently serves as the director of the MFA program in Narrative Nonfiction at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Gayatri Ayala, Namita Tawde, Kavitha Reddy, who have all scaled Mt. Kilimanjaro (Reddy has also successfully ascended to Everest base camp), shared their experiences and adventures.

[Left] IACA event organizers and guests.

Opening with a grounding exercise to encourage everyone to be present in the moment, Mansi Kumar set the tone for the afternoon as Judge Neera Bahl’s rendering of “Ma aaj tumhe nij dwaar kholna hi hoga” filled the air with divine waves.

Keynote speaker Moni Basu captured the audience with her moving journey from being an abandoned child to becoming an accomplished woman who teaches the art of storytelling for a living. Taken in and nurtured by loving parents, Debabrata and Kalyani Basu, Moni Basu expressed her gratitude and joy of being blessed with wonderful parents and “the very best of mothers.”

Basu’s incredible journey moved every mother in the arena. “I think all the time about fate. How fortunate I was that the trajectory of my life was upended when I was only a few days old because of a chance meeting between a missionary and a woman who desperately wanted a child. I might have grown up poor in Kolkata. I might not have had a good education or traveled around the world. I might not have become a journalist and had the privilege of telling the stories of people who are vulnerable or marginalized or unfairly treated. I might have been one of the millions of people in the world today whose lives go unnoticed, whose voices remain unheard,” Basu expressed.

Basu spoke about the challenges her mother endured and the indomitable spirit with which she faced adversity. Her mom, Basu said, survived for 19 years in a wheelchair. Both her parents, she added, lived through suffering in the last years of their lives. “I spent quite a bit of time with them in our flat in Kolkata. In some ways, my mother and I exchanged roles; I was now the one she looked to for guidance and help. And I saw her as someone who was dependent on me.”

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[Top] IACA guests at the Women’s Day event.

Basu observed that her mother never complained about her misfortune and never made demands of others or felt sorry for herself. Until the very end, she had laughed a hearty laugh, spending hours on the telephone keeping in touch with friends and family because she could not readily visit them. While her father sometimes scolded her mom about the massive telephone bills, Basu said, her mom was the glue that held them together.

“She did not fully overcome the obstacles placed in her path. But she persevered. Her perseverance has been my guide as I fast approach the age at which she died. Most of the stories I write now are about resilience,” Basu said about drawing inspiration from her mother.

Mountaineering Moms Ayala, Tawde, and Reddy infused inspiration for aspiring hikers with the stories of adventures.

Ananya Muni’s soulful Bollywood tribute to mothers moved hearts. Dancers Vani Rao, Sandhya Prashanth, and Soundarya showcased the love of Ma Yashoda towards Krishna which transforms from love to devotion.

In a joint statement, the organizers emphasized the goal of the IACA Women’s Forum—which is to encourage and foster Leadership, Empowerment, and Sisterhood within the community.


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