People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 10, 2012


Comrade Kitty


Rajendra Sharma


COMRADE Kitty is no more with us. To state this or to acknowledge this as reality is not very difficult. But to fully grasp, to internalise reality of her not being around may take really long. Not that she has gone suddenly. Not that it was an untimely departure. She had, had a sufficiently long active life. On coming July 22, she would have been ninety. For the last couple of years, especially after she fell down again, subsequent to partial recovery from a severe stroke, she was unable to move around on her own. Any one who met her in this phase would recollect that how even in that condition, it was her inability to properly communicate with others, that she had found most frustrating. It is not numbing of sudden shock that makes it so difficult to really accept. At least for us, who were fortunate enough to work with her in the editorial team of People's Democracy and Loklahar for more than two decades, it is a loss of a real teacher, a guardian and a complete comrade in one stroke, that makes it so difficult to soak in the reality.


I joined Loklahar editorial team in 1980. But I cannot recollect any time, however short it may be, when Comrade Kitty was not an active part of PD/Loklahar editorial team. Obviously, sometime during 1984-85, after retiring from her teaching assignment in Delhi School of Economics (Delhi University) she started devoting most of her time to PD, she became even more central to our team. In two subsequent decades of her full participation in the editorial team, undoubtedly Comrade Kitty's contribution to PD as a weekly organ of the Party was huge. But no less is her contribution to building and nurturing deeply democratic atmosphere and temperament in our team that was responsible for bringing out Party weeklies.


Comrade Kitty joined this team whole time after finishing her stint of teaching in a University, while I had come straight out of University. She was at least thirty years older to me. Before I was even born, she had already had a seven-eight years long Party life. My north Indian culture could have only dictated a relationship of obedience and feet touching reverence. Still, I really don't remember having ever had any hesitation in calling her simply as Kitty. One never felt any need to add anything before or after. Not even comrade, when one addressed her directly. More than anyone else, it is Kitty and also Rajan, who have really brought in and established firmly a deep sense of equality in our unit. In our meetings, and more than meetings, in our informal discussions that could erupt any time, the charged atmosphere of debating ideas was equally matched by the power of vocal chords. But even after most heated discussion, one was left with issues and points of discussion only. Comrade Kitty never ever used her age or even her experience, as leverage for clinching a debate in her favour or in dealing with others.


Still, Comrade Kitty did put her age and experience to an exceptional use. Soon after her joining PD/Loklahar unit as a wholetimer, she was handed over the responsibility of unit secretary. Another important aspect of Party life for comrades working at Party centre is participation in Party Congress. Naturally, Comrade Kitty had this opportunity also. But very soon, Comrade Kitty insisted and gave up the responsibility of unit secretary. She was very clear that this responsibility should go to some younger comrade, although she had many more years of fully active Party life. She again insisted and did the same thing regarding participation in Party Congress as a delegate from our unit. If I recollect correctly, most probably from Chennai Party Congress (1992), Kitty and Rajan started opposing their election as delegates to Party congresses, to leave more room for relatively younger comrades. After a point of time and actually even before one’s age starts effecting the level of one’s activity, to consciously keep oneself behind to leave more and more space for younger comrades, needs a kind of dispassionate critical view which is really rare even among communists.


Comrade Kitty was really unique. She was somebody who knew only giving. To Party, to movement, to our team and more generally to all the comrades who come in contact with her, to her formal and informal students, to teacher colleagues, she only gave. Even to many Party families living in V P House with her, Comrade Kitty did not give care only in any and every need, but also gave many effective tips for sustaining families, keeping a balance between limitations of wholetimership and various demands of family life.


As a homage to this true comrade, we resolve to continue with the work we were doing together and make a commitment to try and prove ourselves true comrades of Kitty.