Very few people know that Begum Francis Johnson whose grave is situated at St John’s Church was a personal friend of Angum Bibi, Shiraj-ud-Daullah’s mother or the Gangaridhi civilisation had some few thousand trained elephants.
A book written by Chandranath Chatterjee carrying all such unique information and many more will be published in an exhibition entitled Kolkata Kathokatha at Sri Aurobindo Bhavan on Saturday.
Begum Johnson was born in Madras and came to Kolkata after marriage. She was a very close friend of Siraj’s mother. Because of her closeness with Angum Bibi she was known as Begum Johnson. She could speak fluently in Urdu and died in 1812. Her grave is situated at St John’s Church.
The Gangaridhi, the ancestors of the Bengalis had a rich civilisation. The kings had some thousands of trained elephants who were experts in warfare. The civilisation got submerged and now it has been traced near Kakdwip. There is a Gangaridhi museum set up by Narottam Halder in Kakdwip.
Thomas and William Daniel had come to India and a detailed description of the places they had visited has been dotted down by Chatterjee.
The exhibition will highlight the city’s history between 1970 and 1910. Sri Aurobindo was born at a house Shakespeare Sarani, the venue of the exhibition and left for Puduchurry in 1910. During this period Kolkata which was then the capital of the British Empire and was known as the second city after London had witnessed development in every walk of life.
Old stamps and coins of that period will be displayed. Well known collector Gopal Biswas will exhibit picture post cards, a thing of the past and there will be a section on flags. Collector Tapas Kumar Basu will exhibit his collection of pens, watches and camera. Utpal Sanyal will exhibit his collection of match boxes.
There will be discussions of the history of Kolkata. Chittotosh Mookherjee, former Chief Justice of Mumbai High Court and Soumitra Chatterjee will be present at the inaugural function.
The exhibition will remain open from 3 pm to 8 pm on June 4, 6, 7 and 8. The exhibition is bound to interest those who love the city and do research on the city’s past and history.