She nearly made it to the century mark. It was approaching next year and the family was so excited to celebrate with her. She tolerated our childishness with her characteristic stoicism, but equally typical was her ultimate response to get drawn into it. To plan with us and revel in the expectations of good times to come. Her birdlike alert eyes, her naughty smile, her penchant for wit and gossip and her eternal rock-like support will be missed forever more.
My ajjee. Our ajjee
Ajjee or Ayee to not just us in the family, but to many many more.
She left us this morning and it still does not sink in. It is, for me, the passing of an era, of a generation whose values and discipline, whose rigour and steadfastness, whose strength and vast experience we shall never match. I will always regret my inability to document more closely her life, her experiences and her world view. But I must not complain. Or indulge in regret, which I’ve always held to be a rather wasteful emotion.
Ajjee gave to us with no holds barred. She there whenever we needed her. To cook for us, sit awake through the nights when we needed to study or when a fever racked our body. But not just that. She also sat and talked to us, cracked jokes, heard our inane stories about friends, our fantasies. She ignored my usual prank of hiding the story book between the pages of a school text and pretending to study. She never told on us grandchildren to our parents. And it takes a lot to do that!
Today, when I am a parent and when I observe my kids interacting with their grandparents, I understand a lot more about how she added value.
Ajjee, no one can ever take your place, but you have left behind a legacy of care and compassion, of confidence and self-respect, or hard work and perseverance, that we carry with us everyday and hopefully will pass on to the next generation as well.
Rest in peace…..