Obituary: Sushila Koirala: A ‘courteous’ lady who was also ‘beautiful’

Kathmandu, July 13:

Sushila Koirala lived through every political upheaval down to the April Mass Uprising of 2006, but stayed off politics.

Sushila Bhauju (her popular name) religiously maintained a safe distance between politics and herself. She even discouraged her three sons from joining politics. It is said that she did not even react when her husband was carted off to jail following a royal takeover in December 1960. And the reason was — she had faith in her husband and “never complained if things went wrong.”

“She was an extremely courteous person. She was a person who lived up to her very name. The best thing, of course, was that she never interfered in politics. Never,” said Amod Upadhyaya, who is close to the Koirala family.

Upadhyay said she was even against her husband taking over as Prime Minister after the 1959 elections which the NC won by a landslide. “If one can serve the nation even while out of politics, I don’t see any reason behind one becoming a PM,” Upadhayay quoted her as saying.

Sushila was born in 1923 in Taulihawa and married BP in 1936. However, after the marriage, BP saw to it that she not only attended a school in Biratnagar, but also went to the Banaras Hindu University for higher studies. A trained Bharatnatyam and Kathak dancer, she made use of her dancing skills to earn money for the family during difficult times. BP described his prospective bride in his autobiography “Atmabritanta” as “young and slim” and someone “who had survived kalazar” . “She hadn’t studied much, but was very fair. When I saw her, I felt a lot of regret. I had already seen her, therefore, couldn’t say no.” However, this changed later. Sushila soon grew to be a beautiful and popular woman.

BP was so proud of her that he even placed a bet with fellow prisoners in the Hazaribag jail, claiming that his wife was the “most beautiful lady in the world.” That “beautiful lady” died after a quarter century of BP’s death in 1982.