Aniruddha Bose

Obituary of Aniruddha Bose

Aniruddha Bose, beloved husband, father, son, professor, friend, and colleague, died peacefully at home in State College, PA on Sunday morning, March 31, 2024. Aniruddha was born on June 30, 1980 to Indrani and Indra N Bose in Kolkata, India. The many names we called him, "Rahul", "Baba"", Ani", "Dr. Bose", "Anirudh", "Aniruddha", "Bose", "Gobbles", and "Babai", was just as captivating a storyteller as a historian, as he was as a father re-telling Harry Potter and Enid Blyton stories with great zeal. Ani was a lover of history and politics, a wonderful cook and epicure, and a bibliophile. His life sat at the crux of migration and being peacefully situated in place.

History and Learning Woven through Relationships

It was nearly twenty years to the day, the very early summer of 2004 when I, his wife Frances, met Ani in an office under Boston's Kenmore square's iconic CITGO sign, over winding lines leading to Fenway Park. I was interviewing for a public historian internship position and Ani was being interviewed. I remember being impressed that he had read Italo Calvino and had taken part in an archeological dig in Rajasthan. After an hour, I said, "you're overqualified. Do you still want the job?" He smiled his toothpaste-commercial smile, and answered "yes".

Ani had graduated in History from St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, India in 2002. He subsequently completed a Masters in International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. I couldn't have known at that moment, however, how significant working in the field of history was for him, and the further commitment to the field that he would later make. Ani subsequently completed a M.A. in History from both Northeastern University in 2003 and Boston College in 2005. He went on to complete a Ph.D from Boston College in 2013 and joined St. Francis University, Loretto, PA as Assistant Professor in Department of History and Political Science in 2013. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018, and received tenure in 2020. He completed two manuscripts, Conflict and Modernization: The Raj and the Calcutta Waterfront (2018) and Shunting the Nation: India's Railway Workers and the Most Tumultuous Decade in Modern Indian History (1939-1949) (2023). He continued teaching and publishing even while undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer that eventually led to an early demise.

I later came to know that even though Ani wanted so badly to study, teach, and write history, he wasn't sure this was possible for him. Ani's father, Indra Bose, explained, "During Ani's childhood, there was great fascination for studying Science so that one could become an Engineer or a Medical Doctor. But Ani, though good in mathematics, loved the arts, especially history. Repeated aptitude tests conducted by his school showed that he should pursue arts. We as parents supported him pursuing what his heart desired much against prevalent sentiment. He was very focused and pursued his dreams without much ado, quietly. He was very keen to study in Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, the premier institute in India. After he got his admission, when I was walking with him at Victoria Terminus to see him off for boarding his train, he told me he had dreamed of this walk to go to JNU many times."

Ani's mother, Indrani Bose, adds, "I had decided on the name Aniruddha for my son before I knew that I would be blessed with a boy child. I liked the meaning of the word: 'One who cannot be bound within limits'. It gives me great peace to know that he always found freedom to focus and pursue his passion in whatever he chose to do in life." Perhaps this explains Ani's passion for and dedication to his work, and why he took pleasure in designing courses and projects, working on research with St. Francis University students, and thinking up new academic pursuits, deepening and challenging students' thinking. This work was out of love, never for ego or a productivity that could be quantified. Both in Scotus Hall at St. Francis University, and during his illness, the waiting rooms and hallways of hospitals that he turned into his classroom, he lectured about lesser-known historical contexts and research that reframed current-day topics like immigration, violence, and race, often leading people with very different ideological perspectives to somehow agree with each other, or at least peacefully disagree. Even toward the end of his life, he was still brainstorming course ideas, and ways to get back to teaching at St. Francis. It was hard for him to let this go.

Ani looked for connections that he could make between his love of history, education, and his family. He often brainstormed academic article ideas with his Father-in-law, James Nebus, to write about the Polish economy, history, and politics. Ani's aunt, Sarvani Gooptu, recalls, " From the moment I held my Gobbles (my pet name for Ani) in my arms, I felt it to be the strongest truth. I was so thrilled that academically too we were so connected and his books and research have made me so proud. I was heartbroken yet proud when during his second operation he asked me to do the editing for his second book. The fact that I didn't need to and he gathered strength from within to recover and complete it himself totally floored me." Ani's aunt Anita Hui notes, "Ani was an excellent academic, achieving far more than most do. He never had any intellectual pretensions whatsoever! Unassuming and self effacing to the core, he has defined what true education is!"

Bernadette and Wade Owen, sister and brother in law recall, " Ani's passion for history, literature and learning is contagious. He encouraged us to expand our knowledge of Indian history, and to even revisit a classic book from Tolkien or Dickens. Ani's beloved son, Neel Bose (9) remembers his father. "My dad always taught me as much as he could. Whether it was history or India, it still filled my brain up a lot. Even when he had cancer, he still taught me as much as he could." Childhood friend Devatanu Banerjee recalls Ani's interest in learning as a child. "Even as kids, we knew that Ani was different. He was one of the classmates I knew who was only positive. Except for only a few classes of Vedic studies, I don't remember any memories of him being upset at school. He was the only person I knew who was excited about yoga classes."

The Hospitality of Being Situated Peacefully in Place

As an infant and toddler, Ani lived on a bulk carrier and cargo ship, as a pre-teen he moved cities across the Indian Subcontinent, and as an adult, moved countries. His life was influenced by migration, and the inevitable re-shaping of ideas and fluidity that often comes with this movement. Yet, Ani was a homebody who enjoyed food, family, and reading. Ani's uncle Suvendra Dutta recalled his favorite memory with Ani when he was an infant. "I still remember him on my lap tasting Payesh (rice pudding) for the first time. He loved the taste! He wanted more. I remember looking up at and telling Didi, my sister, "He likes it Didi! He won't let my finger go!" Childhood friend Devatanu remembers their later childhood and teen years in Bandra, a neighborhood in Bombay, India. "Another interesting ingredient in our early friendship was food. We bonded during visits to Yoko Sizzlers, Andora, Hearche Bakery, and binging on Ani's mom's amazing cooking." Ani's aunt Sakti Kunz reminisced, "When Babai (that's my nickname for Ani) came to the US, he came with a note from his mom, my Didi, "he's yours now" she said. I knew he was only 'pretend' mine as he was an adult! But this wonderful gift and my wonderful nephew gave me the pleasure of being a 'good time' aunt or Mashi, as Babai called me. No one understood the concept better than Babai who loved to be 'spoiled' by us. His first words in the first night at our dinner table was 'so Mashi, Brianmesho, do you live to eat or eat to live?" With those words started our 20 year journey of mutual love fest.

This sense of hospitality diffused from Ani's family guided how Ani thought about home. Ani's mother in Law Pat Nebus recalls, "From the first time I met Ani, he was warm and engaging. One moment that exemplified this was at his home. He went to the living room and sat on the couch and said he knew Frances had expressed that I was welcome in their home, but that he wanted me to know that he also welcomed me. He encouraged me to stay often and as long as possible. He often tried to negotiate for extra visits. This gift of welcoming and hospitality was just wonderful." Ani's cousin, Dhritiman Hui, whom Ani called his big brother, said, "Ani's father told me after we lost him that his dearest wish was that we have a house close to his, so that we could all live together, walking in and out of each other's house at will. Ani was very different from me. I ran after shiny objects, while Ani knew it was all about kindness, love and family. This was because he simply knew more than me. He was wiser than me." Bernadette and Wade added, " Ani was always welcoming and we were able to share many happy memories with Franny & Ani as they expanded their family and lives together. We remember Ani's ability to effortlessly calm a crying child and make a delicious dinner. We will specifically remember how he provided the best narrative of many books which he tirelessly read to Neel and Tara."

Ani's beloved daughter Tara (4) remembers her Baba driving his blue car and reading aloud the Noddy series by Enid Blyton. "My dad used to read me Noddy books. I liked when he read me Noddy books. I'm sad the he can't read Noddy books anymore."

Collective Gatherings Building Community and Capacity: Beyond Life as Individual

I think Ani would want our recollections to not only be focused on him as an individual, but instead the hope in our collective coming together that has occurred as we pay tribute to him across personal and work spheres, different branches of his family, across cul-de-sacs of our beloved street, and our different towns, states, and countries. Ani might ask us to imagine a different world than our current one in turmoil, one where ordinary people come together in solidarity and engage with each other in meaningful ways to do good work and care for each other. In his work, Ani was interested in structural ways of building community and capacity collectively, and to harness a rich collective life in the rhythms of our work with each other.

So today, in Ani's memory and with his spirit, I think he would ask us to re-define disciplinary boundaries, even further collaborating across academic areas, schools, and colleges.He might ask how, inspired by the acts of care and empathy that you have generously bestowed on us as neighbors, family, friends, medical professionals, and university community, how these beautiful acts could be extended to a more systemic care.

Ani's cousin Paroma Mitra recalls a moment during Ani's college years at St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, India. "Ani took a difficult stand. At that point of time in India there was increased talk of affirmative action. It was an unpopular opinion to be for it, but Ani I remember stood in front of his class in college and spoke about the need for affirmative action in our society. I thought he was extremely brave. I'm sure that bravery is continued forward." Ani might therefore ask," How might such care operate even beyond the space of our neighborhood, towns, and universities?" Ani was interested in the everyday lives and work of Indian farm workers. He was interested in the People's Archive of Rural India (, which draws on oral histories and first person narratives to build knowledge, and would encourage us to utilize such resources in our perspectives of politics and society, just as in teaching and student research.

As Subhalakshmi Gooptu, Ani's cousin, so beautifully notes, "without our connections, care, and empathy to each other, our world would disintegrate. Ani would ask us to find strength in each other and in collective gatherings, to find new ways of thinking, and to constantly push ourselves to imagine beyond what is in front of our eyes."

Vital Force Continuing: Ending Thoughts on a Beautiful Life

Dhritiman Hui, Ani's cousin reflects, "There was purity to Ani that was almost other worldly. I realized this morning that's provably because he was a much older soul. I am blessed to have had a little brother who knew a great deal more than I likely ever will in this mortal life." Pranav Chandrashekhar, Ani's first friend after moving to Bombay, India as a child notes, "I've been the beneficiary of many indulgences from Ani over my thirty two years of friendship with him, but my WhatsApp voice note and text exchange over the last eighteen months is undoubtedly his greatest gift to me. Between running after his first surgery to getting his book Shunting the Nation published and carrying himself with such exemplary dignity in the face of formidable adversity, he is the poster child of resilience that has quickly morphed into the voice in my head that will now guide me as I navigate the challenges in my own life." Rajarshi Mitra, a childhood friend from Kolkata, recalls, " Ani was my first friend. He was my best friend and in many ways Ani was my only friend. He was the only person who could read my mind, who despite being physically away, would always know when I was sad or happy. In the rare moments that we spent together, because we parted ways at least in the sense of living in the same apartment complex and the same city when we were ten and eleven years old, when we used to meet up it was like we had never been separated. I will forever be proud of being Ani's friend, for having known him. He was a wise, kind, and a wonderful human being. There is lots to learn from Ani's life. It is this that I will celebrate and I will invite a little bit of Ani in me for as long as I shall live."

Ani's family shares parting words. Anita Hui, Ani's aunt states, "I will also never forget your love and dedication to your children who always remained top priority to you, leaving everything aside no matter what. Neel will for sure bear the legacy of all that you stood for, and Tara will know what her Baba was all about too. The abiding memory that I will always treasure is the look of sheer contentment on your face and how little you needed to be truly happy. Be happy Rahul wherever you may be!" Sakti Kunz, Ani's aunt shares, "Now I'll treasure Babai's wish to be spoiled by spoiling those he loved best, his Ma, his Baba, his beloved angel Frances, and the two halves of his heart Neel and Tara. I can hear his voice saying, "I want to come and be spoiled Mashi" and hope I always will. Come anytime, Babai, our door is always open for you. Always…" Sarvani Gooptu, Ani's aunt notes, "I just want to express the deep love that I have for Gobbles, Frances, Neel and Tara and I want to cherish within my heart the strong bond that I his Gagun, had with my Gobbles. May you always be your calm, contented and happy self wherever you are"

Returning to the early days in Boston when I, Frances, met Ani, he wore a necklace on a satin string with the Chinese symbol for longevity. He had purchased it for himself with his first paycheck as a graduate student from the Museum of Fine Arts gift shop. Under the circumstances that we are today, the notion of longevity might initially seem ironic. Yet if we consider longevity as a vital animating force, time and life are measured differently. Ani's dad, Indra Bose, notes, "For me, Ani lives in our cutest grandchildren Neel, Tara and loving wife Frances. Ani's mom, Indrani Bose, reflects "Ani was the sun, the moon, and the star in my universe. The light has gone from my life but while he goes forever unbound to limitless peace and salvation, he leaves for me some of his splendid brightness in his children Neel and Tara and his wife Frances whom he loved most of all, in this life and beyond."

We, Ani's family, are grateful for the exceptional care provided by UPMC Family Hospice, especially Molly McMurtrie, Ashly Ritchey, and Dr. Karen Brown. We are also most grateful to Ani's superb medical team including Dr. Jan Drappatz at Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh, PA and his team including Ashley Prichard and Lauren Theis; Dr. Pascal Zinn and team; Dr. Abhishek Seth and team, Dr. Veeral Patel and team, Dr. Patricia Fogelman, and Leslie Finton at Mt. Nittany Medical Center, State College, PA; and Dr. Brad Zacharia at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Aniruddha Bose, please visit Tribute Store
A Memorial Tree was planted for Aniruddha
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Koch Funeral Home
Services for Aniruddha Bose
There are no events scheduled. You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or planting a memorial tree in memory of Aniruddha Bose.
Visit the Tribute Store
Share Your Memory of