Monday, December 28, 2009
Old memories are treasured and hoarded possessions---I spend time with mine whenever I can.My most favourite ones are those of my early childhood---Aazoba's house in Mumbai.
My maternal Grandfather-----Aazoba lived on Charni Road in Bombay.The house was huge but space was always a problem---it always was bursting at the seams with people!!He was the head of a large joint family---a brood of sisters---all married---and three brothers.My great-grandmother Ba-Aji would visit sometimes----she lived on the estate in Saawant Waadi.
This huge bustling house was always full of people---Aazoba's nieces and nephews--his sisters and brothers children----who came to study in Bombay or to visit.
My grandmother Aaji was an extremely beautiful and large hearted woman with a sharp tongue-----exactly like Lalita Pawar in Bollywood films---the waspish tongued lady with a golden heart!!She was by far the most popular aunt and all her nephews and nieces loved her to bits and she always looked after them well.Sweet talking was something she never could do----all her replies to all questions put to her were cryptic!!!
My mother was their eldest daughter---I was the first grand child---spoilt rotten by my Aazoba and every body else----my each tiniest wish was their command!!!
My grandparents had married rather late---Aaji was 26 and Aazoba was 38 in their wedding---in an era when people married really young!!!My mother was born a year later and my Uncle was born after three more daughters and 10 years after my mother.My uncle is just 12 years older than me!!!Of these my aunt, Vidya Maushi, was truly beautiful---both inside and out---she pampered me and had the endless patience to look after me and feed me no matter what kind of tantrums I threw---which were plenty!!!!
This whole household had a kitchen that worked all day long---food was always ready---piping hot--- for people coming from work---school---or even out of town!!! Aaji loved feeding---stuffing everybody to the gills!!!If one said "no" she'd ask if the "preparation wasn't good enough"---if the answer was" yes it was very good" then she'd say---"eat" and insist on serving more!!!
Dada Kaka---my Aazoba's first cousin---also lived with them.He was responsible for buying the Fish,Meat and Vegetables every morning.I was his constant companion---we'd both carry Rattan baskets--his was large and mine was tiny and we'd leave for the market----hand in hand.The larger Fish would land in his basket the smaller one in mine----things like Sardines,palm sized Pomfrets,tiny Mackerel called Bangadulay,tiny Honey Bananas from Vasai----all these were my load.We'd head home after the purchasing and reaching home he'd get a cup of hot Tea and me a glass of hot Milk.No matter how much I protested Tea was totally taboo to kids!!How I loved those jaunts---gave me such a feeling of importance!!!
The cooks would clean the fish,the vegetables and cook it for the luncheon meal while after a lovely clean warm bath, I recounted my adventures to Aazoba---my bestest friend----then and today too.After Lunch it would be story telling Time for Aazoba and me----he really had such a huge stock of tales----that Konkani cadence and the lilt of his beautifully modulated voice still rings in my ears!!!!The Konkanis are very loving and a wee bit eccentric---but huge hearted people!!!
Today it really embarasses me to recall my tantrums----one can't cheat oneself now ---can one???Today when my mother's cousins come face to face with me they ask me to recall their names---with the exception of a few I don't remember----the brood is truly huge!!
The warmth of the love and that feeling of belonging is what I cherish today.Relationships were valued way above things like discomfort or inconvenience."Blood is thicker than Water" is the maxim that has kept even the extended family together------even today though meetings are rare, telephonic contacts are still maintained.Should need arise relatives rush to lend support!!!
Today most of the people like Ba-aji and my grandparents have long since passed on----but they have left behind such beautiful memories that even today they bring a warmth and a glow to my heart!!