Jillian Haslam - Kolkata's day can never be forgotten

 It was the pre-independence era. Jillian's father was in the British Army. When India became independent in 1947, all the English returned to their country Britain. He was given one year to return home. But Jillian's family did not return. Actually, his father was very ill in those days and he was admitted in the army hospital. Jillian's father remained in the hospital for a long time. Despite his illness, he did not think of returning to Britain. His life started with his family in Kolkata. There were many difficulties during this period, but the family never discussed returning home. Mother had also got into the Indian environment. Now Kolkata was his permanent home. Jillian was born in Kolkata in 1970. Father was often ill. The situation was such that they did not even have a house left to live. Jillian says- We took refuge in our neighbors' house. The mother had to do minor tasks. Even we had to starve many times.

Jillian Haslam

When Jillian was five years old, Papa was offered a teacher job in Dum Dum. The family went there itself. He also got a two-room house to live there. Everyone was happy. At the same time, his two younger twin sisters fell ill and died. Jillian says - We were 12 siblings. Family was large and earning less. We could not even buy a coffin to bury our sisters, although everyone's condolences were with us. Everything was going fine that one day someone told Papa that your elder daughter Donna's life is in danger. You should leave this area. Jillian says- My sister Donna was 13 years old. She was very beautiful. We came to know that he might be kidnapped. We got scared and came back to Kolkata.

Papa's health deteriorated again. He was again hospitalized. The Sister Charity Society helped the family. Days passed, but Papa never tried to return to Britain, as if he always wanted to stay in Kolkata. After a few days they all started living in Kidderpore colony. In the early days there was no water and electricity in the township. When Jillian was eight years old, the mother gave birth to a son. He was named Neil. Papa admitted Jillian and her eldest daughter Vanessa to St. Thomas Boarding School. Meanwhile, Papa had a second heart attack. Mother calls Jillian home to look after younger siblings. Mother's entire time was spent in Papa's care. Jillian started caring for younger siblings. She was very good at studies despite having the responsibility of home. He used to get good numbers in the class. Jillian says - We brothers and sisters grew up in the Indian environment. We used to dance to the songs of Holi. Used to burst firecrackers on Deepawali.

Jillian came to Delhi at the age of 17. He got a job at the embassy after a professional course. Meanwhile, the mother got cancer. He was brought to Delhi for treatment. But they could not be saved. After the death of the mother, she took charge of younger siblings. Their life changed after getting a job at Bank of America. On the strength of her ability, Jillian took the rank from Executive Secretary to CEO. He got the responsibility of the charity related campaign. After five years of hard work, he was given a special package from the bank. Jillian says - I spent the amount received in the special package on my siblings. I took them to Britain. He showed them the way forward.

They were married in 2000 in Delhi. After this she moved to Britain with her husband. With the job, Jillian started doing welfare work for the people. She says - I have seen poverty closely. I understand the pain of forced and helpless people. Now I want to live for the society. After 2010, most of his time was spent in social service. He wrote his autobiography, which was well liked. Jillian says - The purpose of an autobiography is not to tell people how many sorrows I have endured. I want to tell people that poverty or helplessness cannot stop your path. Work hard, keep encouraging, you will definitely get success. Jillian comes to Kolkata every year. She still has many old friends there, with whom she talks with great fun in Hindi and Bangla. She has been working on several welfare projects in Kolkata and Delhi. Jillian says- Wherever I live, my heart lives in Kolkata. He is my birthplace. Can not forget that.

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