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|October 14, 1998||
For Amartya's mother, disbelief is the first emotion
''I am not going to take your words for granted, for so many times our expectations have been belied. I will believe only when I see the official letter,'' Amita Sen, the 87-year-old mother of Dr Amartya Sen, told her son when he contacted her from abroad to break the news of his winning the Nobel prize for economics.
''Now that many phone calls are pouring in, I have started believing that my son has made it. I am very happy now,'' Sen said.
Recalling the boyhood days of Dr Amartya Sen, who was born in Santineketan on November 1, 1933 in a modest but scholarly family, his mother said her son had an avid interest in economics from the beginning that prompted him to take it up as a subject.
He was also very much sensitive. ''I remember the days when he received a mental shock during the communal riots in 1946 that involved the lives of the poor people in our country and he started seriously thinking of their economic welfare,'' she said.
'Amartya' was christened by the first Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, with whom the Sens had a close relation.
''Those were the best days we have ever had when the Gurudev (Tagore) was amid us and Amartya was a small boy,'' Sen fondly remembered.
Dr Sen's father, Asutosh Sen, who died in 1971, was a scholar in agriculture science and became chairman of the Union Public Service Commission.
Dr Sen's maternal grandfather, Kshiti Mohan Sen, was also a revered scholar, who as a close associate of Tagore was among the early batch of teachers at the Santiniketan.
''It was not ambition, but on health ground that Amartya had gone out to England to carry on his studies after graduating from Calcutta University,'' his mother said.
''It was due to his very poor health that doctors advised us to send him to a different climate abroad for recovery. It was a sheer chance that he got enrolled in Cambridge as it perfectly suited his health,'' she said.
However, the illustrious son of Santiniketan still makes it a point to visit his home every year whenever he is able to take time off his schedule.
''Whenever he comes, he never fails to make a round on a rickshaw to meet his boyhood friends and acquaintances. He often chats with them at the famous Kalo's Shop over cups of tea,'' Sen said.
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