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Impressions of Chaitanya Marpakwar

If you actually can relive history, this is how it feels. Was an honour and privilege to spend the afternoon with Anita Bose Pfaff, Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s only daughter at her home in Stadtbergen, Augsberg, Germany. Bose had spent a few years in Germany during World War II and then left for East Asia in a German submarine or U-boat. He had also met Hitler then. I experienced such a fusion of feelings, was just amazed to see the humble economics professor her and husband, former Member of the German Parliament Martin Pfaff at their quaint, modest but beautiful home in the tiny town of Stadtbergen.

As we spoke over tea, there was nostalgia and a sense of pride. She had no qualms or regrets, no complaints too, just humility about who she is and who her father was. ‘My mother always told me, having a great and famous father doesn’t make you great and famous, it means you have work doubly hard to live up to his name,’ she told me. The couple made me feel at home, were so humble and we spoke on a range of issues. At 75, she’s still looking to get closure on her fathers death in 1945. Time just flew as she took me from 1939 to 2018. It was like living through my history textbook. Hearing it from the her, about Netaji, about whom we’ve only read in history books but who continues to be a source of inspiration and a symbol of Indian pride, patriotism, it was a feeling that is hard to describe in words.

There can’t be a better way to end my stay in Germany, where three months have been such an enriching experience. Meeting her was the biggest highlight of the India Germany Media Ambassadors 2018 program. I’ve met many VIPs, netas and celebrities but Anita Bose-Pfaff, is not even close to any VIP in her humility and loving, warm nature. There’s nothing VIP about her, this makes her so special. It was a meeting like no other, and she was warmer than the tea she made for us. I must thank my senior colleague, foreign policy writer Michael Weißenborn of the Stuttgarter Nachrichten for helping me out and accompanying me to see her. Without him, this trip to Stadtbergen to meet Anita Bose-Pfaff wouldn’t have been possible. We got an interview that I’ll never forget. I can’t end without saying Jai Hind! 

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