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Modhusree Chatterjee

Also known as: Mod.

This commemoration is to celebrate a life less ordinary – a life that has sparked and died quickly – but which has left behind countless more touched by its deeds; people who will remember her with everlasting fondness borne of genuine love and kindness for all. This is the little story of Mod, and it is a good story.

Mod (Modhusree) was born in Kensington and attended City of London School for Girls. She won a scholarship there from the Guild of Barber Surgeons and went on to study medicine at Cambridge (which is where we met as students). Academically, Mod was extremely bright, coming first in the Cambridge entrance examination in 1984. She went on to win several prizes in her short career as an eye surgeon, culminating in the award of an MD in 2004, the highest degree awarded by Cambridge University. Sadly, her illness never permitted her to work again.

Mod was an accomplished violinist and pianist, having completed grade 8 with honours in both instruments by the age of 15. She used to win open competitions regularly in both. Then marriage and children, and it was all downhill after!

Mod was an exceptional mix of brains and beauty, having once been offered a lead role in a Bollywood film with a leading film star. She was an avid reader and researcher, including volumes of self-help books. She said many a time that she could not imagine a better life than that of a physician with the life robe of science, knowledge, humanity and teaching. To paraphrase her advice to Anshuman - `be zestful and curious. Keep your victories hidden. Do not sulk over defeat. Get up and fight on. Read books and learn. And above all, love and honour your family.’

But Mod’s achievements owed as much to her personal traits and attributes as they did to her academic excellence. She was perhaps the most self-effacing person I have known, one who always downplayed her own problems and suffering before the needs of others, however trivial. She never discussed her own illness or any other problem with even her closest friends, preferring to help them with their troubles. Mod took time to talk to all mums and dads in the playground and took an active interest.

The last years of her life revolved around Akash. She tried to instil all the right values in both her children, her husband being beyond redemption, and the two are growing up to be very responsible, affectionate and loving. She taught them values of love, respect, kindness and tolerance through stories from different cultures and would always make the effort to explain things to them in paradigms they would appreciate. She was their rock in a topsy-turvy world.
Mod was, in every sense, a very private person, and we are celebrating, in a very public way, a very private life. But she touched the lives, in one way or another, of all who knew her. She had an engaging vibrant manner, a very sympathetic listener, and it was always very easy to relate to her.

Added by: Deepak Sinha on 14 August 2009.

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