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Aja – A Celebration of Life

I was a late entrant into Aja’a life, but during the few years I knew him he left a distinct impression in my mind. The first thoughts that come to my mind, when I think of Aja  - is that is he was a celebration of life. He was everything that a copy book story dreams of. A full and an eventful life. 

Up until that very day that he had a fateful brain stroke on an early Monday morning, after he slipped into a state of semi-coma and in-cognition, Aja was an air of authority and in total control of his own kingdom. He wrote in his diary almost daily –recording the finances in fair detail and neatly recording the eventful happenings of the day. He had a very strong sense of what he wanted to do or didn’t want to do. More often than not he preferred to walk to the bathroom or to the dining table without any help. He was the master of his own will. Needless to say, added to his sense of security was the feeling that he was the boss of the house.

He was a contented man. Justifiably happy with the way life had panned out – despite the ups and downs that he had experienced, like everyone has. He enjoyed the niceties of life – good food, meeting people and chatting away for-ever. Even though his diet had reduced over the years, he enjoyed the multi-course meal on the fare everyday. Despite his relative immobility because of his age, he was always ready to take a trip to Bhubaneswar to meet his relatives. He had a gargantuan memory of past events, and people he last met tens of thousand days earlier (though he, quite inevitably, sometimes forgot what happened a day earlier). I enjoyed the way he and Nana (my father) brought to life old anecdotes, which were otherwise long forgotten,.

I don’t know much about his earlier days. But I believe Aja and Aai – the tall, fit man with an admirable gait and the petite bride – were a much envied couple during their days.  He was a government servant and worked in different parts of the state and was posted in the state secretariat for the last many years of his life.

The beautifully calligraphed certificate B.A. (Hons) in English from Patna University in the year 1939, that hung in the drawing room, was always an object of interest for me. It spoke volumes of his academic prowess. Getting an Honours in English in 1939, am sure was quite rare. I would whet my curiousity by asking any questions about his Ravenshaw college days. It is worth mentioning that Ravenshaw college students used to get degrees from Patna University during his time. I have heard with amazement how he cycled from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar (more than once) to meet his siblings and other relatives as a septuagenarian (which would be as late as the 1980s).

There are other nice stories, about him which I have heard from Lara, how he would tease them (Lara and Rupa) about spellings, and  how he used to immaculately balance multiple tiffin carriers in his cycle to take Aai cooked delicacies (including probably manda pitha) to Kazi Bazaar from Vivekananda Lane when the grand-duaghters visited India (it is worth noting – all of this must be in the 1980s when Aja was post seventy years old). More recently, I have heard/seen the teasing sessions with Lara about his wedding and kids (or the absence of them).

These stories can go on and on. I am sure his legacy will last another hundred years through these stories through the words of his great-grand children and the words of their children.

I would like to say good-bye to you Aja – with lot of love and with sincere magic wishes that you are happy where you right now (you are probably towering over the Vivekananda lane house and making sure Aai is fine, the tenants paying the dues in time and everything else is in order) and getting ready for another long innings in your next life.

In loving memory of Aja-in-law (Late Pitambar Kar), Jan 1, 1914 to Jun 12, 2016


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