January 14, 2015 § 1 Comment
When I was young, say 5 or 6, one of the things that I looked forward to the most was going to gaav. Gaav was where all worries dissolved, where there was no homework and plenty of space to do the sort of awaragardi that my generation used to do. But one of the highlights used to be hearing stories and other chitchat from Sood Ajja.
Sood Ajja was the maverick brother of my paternal grandfather. Unmarried, alone and always in good cheer, he was the perennial favorite of us children. We used to gather around him in the evenings to hear from him stories that seemed to come from his ever expanding mind. But as we now know they were a mishmash of old folk tales, tales from the Mahabharata and Ramayana and some just old tales spun to make them more appetizing to us. He was full of tales about Old Delhi, about the High Court there – where he was said to have worked, of Agra & the Taj Mahal, of Hyderabad and riots, and of places in India we’d never heard about. It was a treat to our ears and our minds. He was a favourite with us.
As we grew older, the stories changed and the words were more nuanced, measured and seemed to impart wisdom which was mostly misunderstood by the listener. I always listened though, even if it took time. And tried to make most of it. The man was getting older and the world a bit more unforgiving.
I had always been of the mindset that I would rather not marry and live a life that was unfettered and unbound by the usual stuff of grah grahasti. part of it might have been due to the presence of people like Sood Ajja amongst the ones I liked. He lived a life unknown to most from the crowd, a different sorta life. When I was vociferous about my then decision, my mom used to tell me “Do you want to die alone? Uncared for? Surrounded by no one? There will be no one to remember you! Why would you want such a life?” She would be giving an example, obviously. Nobody to remember, she said. I would nod in acquiescence.
Sood Ajja is no more. He departed for the afterlife last month. I write this for many reasons, to pen down my thoughts about his life and what I thought of it, to acknowledge that of what he did – he played a good part in my life – through stories that I realise have taught me much but most of all to prove that nobody worth remembering is forgotten. Sood Ajja’s life and his stories live on through us and countless others who listened to him. I will forever remember how he recounted the riots of Hyderabad and Charminar teeming with sword carrying militia (how true, I have no clue). But remembered he is, if nowhere else then in this post. And this blog. Long live his memories.
Farewell, Sood Ajja.
[Ajja: Grandfather in Tulu]