In Fond Remembrance: Averee Chaurey

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Averee Chaurey
Averee Chaurey

Almost a decade later in the mid1980s as Ranjan and I were about to enter the Academy of Fine Arts to watch a play, we ran into Averee and she exclaimed, “How come, both of you are together here?” All three of us burst out laughing! Averee had a radiant smile and by her mid-twenties, a large bindi had become her “style statement” though the term possibly hadn’t entered the lexicon in the early eighties. It was then that I learnt Averee and Ranjan were batch mates at Jadavpur University, she in Comparative Literature and he in the English department.

On 1st April, 2024, evening, I was on my way home after watching a dance program at ICCR when I received a WhatsApp text from a friend in Delhi, C.R. Park. What? I simply couldn’t believe it. By the time I reached home, social media was replete with, “Averee is no more.” I had to tell Ranjan. Both of us fell silent for a long while. We reminisced and shared our memories.

I met Averee Dutta in January, 1974, at Pratt Memorial School, Kolkata, having chosen the science stream. I was a newcomer. She was in the humanities section and we had our English language and literature classes in common. 

We were the last batch of the erstwhile “Senior Cambridge” exams. I remember her as a very beautiful and soft-spoken teenager. I was awestruck to find her one day walking up and down the assembly hall, soon after school hours, loudly reciting a long excerpt from Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.” She whispered to me she was waiting for Miss Xenobia Dalal, our English teacher, for the final corrections as she was preparing for an inter-school elocution contest. In between classes we chatted a lot and told her she looked exactly like her mother when she showed me a post card size black and white photograph. Sometime around February, 1974, she told me in an undertone, “Ustadji is no more.” It was then that I came to know she had been taking lessons from Ustad Amir Khan. I was in awe of her.

Averee had a radiant smile and by her mid-twenties, a large bindi had become her “style statement” though the term possibly hadn’t entered the lexicon in the early eighties.
Averee had a radiant smile and by her mid-twenties, a large bindi had become her “style statement” though the term possibly hadn’t entered the lexicon in the early eighties.

Last evening as we grieved, Ranjan fondly remembered they had performed together in Tagore’s “Raja” directed by the famous DM, Prof. Debabrata Mukhopadhyay– she as Sudarshana and he as Kanchiraj at the 20th Century Literature Conference hosted by JU in 1977. Both were in their late teens. The rehearsals and the show remain etched in his memory with love and nostalgia.

 

Later she joined Bohurupee the iconic theatre group and performed in the role of Basantasena in Mrichhakatik pairing with the legendary actor-director Sri Kumar Roy. This was a rare honour for an upcoming actor like her still in her twenties.

 

Averee Dutta became Averee Chaurey and shifted base to Delhi. Friends in Delhi often told us Averee was very active in the drama circuit in Delhi. During the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore she had performed in the play “Boshtomi” adapted from one of Tagore’s stories and directed by Soumitra Basu. I loved her performance as Boshtomi but could not meet her after the show.

Friends in Delhi often told us Averee was very active in the drama circuit in Delhi. During the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore she had performed in the play “Boshtomi” adapted from one of Tagore’s stories and directed by Soumitra Basu
Friends in Delhi often told us Averee was very active in the drama circuit in Delhi. During the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore she had performed in the play “Boshtomi” adapted from one of Tagore’s stories and directed by Soumitra Basu

Temporarily we were out of touch with her apart from seeing her occasionally on the DD as a news reader. It was she who took the initiative to reestablish contact almost a decade ago through a common friend who was a batch mate of Ranjan and now a professor at JU.

We met Averee, after a long time, when we went to see her perform in the play “Japanese Tea Party.” Hope I am not mistaken about the name of the play. She had performed as Tetsiko with three other ladies in the role of Japanese women who had married American men during the second world war and emigrated to the US after the war. Their life was not easy. We still remember Averee’s wonderful performance and the intense impact of the play performed in the intimate theatre format at Padatik Little Theatre. After the play we had a discussion with her as we stepped out of the performance space. This was about seven to eight years ago; I forget the exact year. We felt happy that she was doing what she loved the most.

We still remember Averee’s wonderful performance and the intense impact of the play performed in the intimate theatre format at Padatik Little Theatre
We still remember Averee’s wonderful performance and the intense impact of the play performed in the intimate theatre format at Padatik Little Theatre

As I write these lines, our eyes are filled with tears. We never thought that we would be writing reminiscences about a very good friend. Averee the dear friend we will not ever be able to meet in person again. All her illness, pain and suffering have been reduced to ashes. She will remain in our hearts forever radiant with her smile and that large bindi.

If we happen to meet her in the other world, if there is one, we will definitely start a fight with her. “This is just not done, Averee. You left us too soon. How could you?”

All Images: Facebook and Freepik.com

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