Those of us who have worked with Ragtime Magazine, were devastated by the loss of the Magazine´s founder Avanti Flatabø. She passed away at the age of only 69 on the 7th of July after a longer period of serious illness. Still more sad, her close confidant and co-editor Dipok Sarma also left us on the 14th of August.
Avanti Flatabø was an inspiring woman who was able to make people come together on cultural issues. She was born in Calcutta in 1949, and was brought up in a family where the arts, writing and performing were the very core of existence. Although born in Calcutta, her family originated from Assam. They lived alternately in both places during her upbringing. After pursuing education as a painter in Calcutta, Avanti left for Bombay in 1967 to work as a journalist. She had steady work in Femina and Planter´s Journal. Avanti was an adventurer. Falling in love with a man from Yugoslavia, she left her native India to roam about Europe in the early seventies. She ended up getting married to a Norwegian, with whom she got two wonderful children. Her base was from then on in Oslo.
In 1994 Avanti issued the first Ragtime and overthe next two decades combined the editorial work with arranging cultural events and the publication of the anthology of multi-cultural writers "U like Horisonter" in 2004. Avanti had so much going, was in touch with so many culturally oriented people, so it was a shock to learn she got seriously ill around the end of 2015. Up until that time she was still working, although with a dreadful medical diagnosis hanging over head. She knew that life was not going to be the same, and this was so sad and made us feel helpless. After so much suffering the last two and half years, she is finally resting and with us Elsewhere.
Dipok Sarma was almost a co-founder of Ragtime himself. He was constantly by Avanti´s side, giving advice, editing, participating and of course writing in a broad set of genres. Dipok´s background was also from both Calcutta and Assam. He was a close relative of Avanti´s family. I remember well how they all lived in a building in Calcutta called Karnani Estate, in which I was their tenant. Amusingly, when I left home and forgot to turn the fan off, Avanti or her sisters always noticed and came running, saying: " Ms Parrera, your fan is on!".
Dipok also came to Norway in the early seventies and began working at the Santal Mission, from where he retained many friends til his later days. Dipok was a man with deep interest in and knowledge of litterature, both classics and modern. He kept writing till he was well beyond his eighties. His last contribution to Ragtime was in 2017. In this issue, we publish one of his short stories as a tribute. Dipok was also a talented painter and participated in several exhibitions organised by Avanti and Flernasjonal kulturforening.
Though deeply saddened, we hold high the torch that Avanti and Dipok passed to us. They were a great inspiration and will live on always.
- Sheila Parrera