I first met Subarata in 1975 in the city of Hamilton in New Zealand. She had asked her parents for a one-way ticket to New Zealand as a 20th birthday present, and they had consented.
Through chance or fate, she knew somebody that I knew and on this particular day both of us decided to visit this mutual friend. I hitchhiked 400 miles, she had flown 13,000 miles – and when we met on that summer afternoon long ago, in an instant we became friends.
Reclusive by nature we lived in remote places, often going for months without seeing anybody. Subarata loved animals – in one of our mountain hideaways she had three wild piglets, two dogs, a white Palomino horse, four chickens, some zebra finches and a madly eccentric pet lamb.
When Subarata's visa expired the Immigration Department gave her three days to leave New Zealand, so in the small South Island town of Motueka we got married in a registry office. We were both indifferent to marriage, so there was no ring, no flowers – it was as meaningless as signing a bank deposit slip, but it enabled her to stay.
We never bothered telling anyone until about five years later when I said to my mother, "by the way did I ever tell you we got married?" She was mortified that I had never told her but finally she laughed and hugged us both. My mother loved us too much to be upset for long.