Early life of 'Khudi'

Last updated: 10 October 2017 From the section Khudiram Basu

Only son, 'bought' by elder sister Aparupa for three khudi (rice)

Khudiram Basu (also spelt Kshudiram Basu or Khudiram Bose) was born in a small village of Habibpur situated close to the town of Tamluk in Midnapore (now Medinipur) Municipality of West Bengal in British India. He was born in a respectable Bengali Hindu family of Kayastha caste to Trailokyanath Basu and Lakshmipriya Devi. His dada (paternal grandfather) was Babu Ramdhan Basu, a middle-class man who had five sons: Trilokyanath, Kamalakanta, Dwarkanath, Iswarchandra, and Taraprasad. His nana (maternal grandfather) was Dukhiram Das from the village of Kalagram in Keshpur thana, Sadar subdivision.

Khudiram's father Trailokyanath was a Tehsildar (officer in charge of the collection of revenues) for the Narajol Raj estate in the service of the Raja of Narajol. His mother Lakshmipriya as a housewife who was known for her piety. They lived in a kutcha house - a house made from mud, thatch, or other low-quality materials - just in front of Sidheswari Kali Temple.

Trailokyanath and Lakshmipriya had three daughters: Aparupa, Sarojini and Nanibala. They had two sons but both died in their infancy. One died after his birth while the other died when he was six years old. This had a traumatic effect on the couple. They desperately wanted a son. Lakshmipriya had apparently laid prostrate before Goddess Kali in a Siddheshwari Kali temple near the house for three days praying for a son who would enjoy a long life. On the third night, goddess Kali appeared in her dream and said to the mother that soon she will give birth to a child. That child would not live for long but he would be remembered forever. Finally, their prayers were answered and Khudiram was born.

As the parents feared losing Khudiram prematurely like their two sons before him, the 'sold' him to Aparupa. In those days it was was customary to 'buy' a newly born baby by offering either kuri or khudi (rice) three or five times. If offered three times the child was called Teenkuri and if offered five times the child was named Paanchkuri. Khudiram was 'bought' by his eldest sister for three khudi and hence given the name 'Khudiram'. Khudiram would go on to survive but he would not enjoy the love of his parents for long.

As the only son of the family, Khudiram was brought up with extreme love and affection. Though he was dark complexioned, he was good looking. Whoever saw him loved him.

When Lakshmipriya gave birth to a son it was decided that the newly born boy should be 'sold' to avoid premature death like his brothers before him. As per the custom of those days, he was 'purchased' by his sister by offering three mutho khudi (rice). As he was taken up by offering khudi he was name Khudiram.

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Orphaned at age of 7

Trailokyanath had big aspiration for his son. He would have a good education and a bright future and hopefully one day secure a high post in the British administration. However, his plans were jeopardised when Lakshmipriya Devi fell seriously ill. Despite the best efforts, she could not be saved. Khudiram was only 6 years old when she died. Trailokyanath re-married in order to provide a carer for the toddler following his mother's passing. But Khudiram could not get along with his stepmother. Trailokyanath was busy with his job and could not spare much time for the child. He noticed Khudiram was gradually becoming self-centered and stubborn. Noticing all these behavioural changes he got worried and his health too began deteriorating. He passed away - merely a year after Lakshmipriya's death and two weeks after re-marrying. Thus, by the age of 7 Khudiram became an orphan. His eldest sister took on the responsibility of raising young Khudiram.

It was doubly shocking for Khudiram to face the death of his father just after his mother's death. He would keep crying for hours hiding his face in the lap of his elder sister Aparupa.

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Trailokyanath's house was sold away in auction to pay his debts following his death. Therefore, Aparupa Devi kept her brother Khudiram and her younger unmarried sister Nanibala at her in-law's place in the village of Hatgachia, Daspur thana, after discussing the matter with her husband Babu Amritalal Roy. Khudiram was lucky to have such a loving elder sister. He was very close to her and he remained dependent on her throughout his life. She brought him up like a mother.

As a boy, Khudiram had refused to abide by the norms that govern a boy of his age, but in a strong and determined way, he had demanded a revolver from Hem Chandra Kanungo because his ambition was to kill at least one saheb. Kanungo further elaborates on the oppression and cruelty perpetuated on Khudiram by his guardians who were compelled to give him shelter because he was an orphan.If Khudiram had passively accepted such humiliation, he would have been termed a sushil subodh balak (good, well-behaved boy). But since he was a rebel by nature, he defied them to the extent of being accused of restlessness, impoliteness, disobedience, mischief and evil.

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Education

Khudiram began his primary education in the village pathsala (infant school). Around this time Aparupa Devi's husband Babu Amritalal Roy, who was an employee in the Civil Court, Ghatal, was transferred from Hatgachia to Tamluk so the family migrated. Aparupa bought all her belongings as well as Khudiram. At Tamluk, Aparupa began teaching the alphabet to her son Lalit and younger brother Khudiram. Later, in 1901, both of them were admitted to Hamilton Higher English School School at Tamluk In the beginning Khudiram was not interested in his studies. He would spend most of his time playing with children and gossiping. However, after a mathematics teacher had scolded him, Khudiram began to take his education more seriously.

At Hamilton School he impressed everyone with his remarkable courage and capacity to bear pain with dignity. For instance, once he jumped from a big almond tree. His clothes were torn and he was badly hurt but, when he faced the teacher, he stood erect and showed no sign of pain on his face.

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In 1903 Khudiram shifted to the main town of Midnapore where his brother-in-law Amritalal Roy was appointed head clerk in the office of the judge at Midnapore. Khudiram joined Midnapur Collegiate School where he read upto the third class, equivalent to present day Class VIII (8) standard. However, young Khudiram was more interested in patriotic activities and devoted to the cause of freedom of the country than to class work.

The curly haired, lean and thin Khudiram who wore iron bangles on his legs, had a sparking face and commanding voice. He had never learnt to fear anyone. When he grew up, he began opposing the useless rituals and traditions. He would react, on finding anything wrong going on around him.

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Exercise and reading patriotic books were key hobbies

Along with academic studies, Khudiram also read books he borrowed from a local library. He read almost all the books of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and was highly influenced by 'Anandmath' (1882, The Abbey of Bliss), a Bengali fiction set in the backdrop of Bengal famine of 1770 where untrained sannyasi (monk) soldiers fight and beat the highly experienced British Army. In the novel the Muslims are portrayed as the enemies. Khudiram also read some of the writings of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk who was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India.

Apart from studies, Khudiram was highly interested in physical exercises. He used to go to the school regularly to do physical exercises. Regular practice made his body muscular and as a result his health also improved. He gained confidence too, due to his studies and regular physical exercises.

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