Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Bai ! Tula Salaam

We call her Bai.
Her family too, (even her children) call her Bai.
She is now eighty seven years old
( I won't say eighty-seven-years-young, because old is (g)old, and replacing the word "old" with "young" is a rather poor and cockamamie play of words )

So this eighty-seven year old bubbly octogenarian has great eye-sight and fairly good health, but her hearing is gone.
Recently I met her after more than three and a half decades.
Obviously, she could not recognize me.

So I asked her :
"Aap ne mujhe nahi pehchanaa na ?"
She could not hear me
Then her daughter-in-law spoke, literally inside her ear :
"Bai ... hi Zohra ... hila olakhlas ( ओळखलास ) nahi na tumhi ... "
Instantly her face lit up with child-like delight as she excitedly remarked :
"Aiyyya ... Zohra ... !!!"
She held out her hand to show a height of about three and a half feet and said to her daughter-in-law :
"Aga mala tar itkishich athavtey hi ... " indicating how tall ( or small ) I was in her memories !!!

As we got talking, after every few lines, as if to convince herself that I was the same little school girl who she knew, she would exclaim :
"Kitni badi ho gayi re tu ... Kitttti mothi zhaalis ga !!! "
 ( An endearing and irrefutable proof of how children never grow up in the eyes of their elders 😉😀😀)

                                         ( Bai and Me )

She was the second wife of her husband.
Ahead of her times, she chose to marry the man of her choice despite the fact that he was already married and having children too

It never occurred to me to ever ask how love blossomed and bloomed between them but I do now know that her father and her husband worked for the same company and as luck would have it, they were immediate neighbours, a single wall separating both their houses.

                             ( The houses as they stand today )

The fact that more than sixty years back, living in a traditional middle class household, she had the freedom and the strength to take important decisions in life, stand by those decisions, and live life sunny-side-up, has fascinated me infinitely

At first glance she would come across as a conservative Indian woman living a simple life.
But five minutes into a conversation with her one is totally charmed by her extraordinary personality oozing with affection and peppiness
She has balanced modernity and tradition with an amazing sensibility, which makes her special in an adorable way.

Her conversations are full of delicious sense of humour and zest
Her love for life and faith in her personal convictions is evident in the radiance of her face, in the choice of sarees that she prefers to wear, and the bindi that adorns her forehead even if there is a garland on her husband's photo in the drawing room

"KaaNton se khiiNch ke ye aaNchal ... " is a song written by Kaviraj Shailendra, for Rosy, the character played by Waheeda Rehman in the film "Guide".
This song brought to life the emotional saga of a woman as she comes out of her shadows to embrace life in all its glory.
In the film, Rosy opts out of an abusive marriage to live life on her own terms, even if that meant being in a live-in relationship with the man she loved, so defying the generally acceptable norm in those times.

But here is a woman in real life, who has neither betrayed nor "insulted" those cultural values and yet liberated herself from the shackles of hollow societal dogmas and lived life more or less on her own terms.
She has proved that positive thinking is the key to better living and when the thought is progressive, customs and traditions will not chain the mind or stagnate intellectual growth.

The choices she has made in life set her beautifully apart from other women of her time 
She has truly lived the spirit of Kaviraj's song and continues to do so every day of her life

Bai! tula agdi manaa-paasoon salaam

                       ( Bai with her family and well wishers )


sanjay srivastava said...

Extraordinary write up
Full of life with beautiful emotions

Smriti Roy said...

Behad khoobsoorat tahreer bhi aur tasveeren bhi ❤️❤️❤️❤️

sujata said...

Sucha frail lady with a iron will ...... well..... i adore the spirit in her. We at 50 plus will not come any more near to her persona. Recently met mother of a dear old friend, who himself is 70 and his mom is exactly 90 years old. While reading your words, i was just remembering "maa' As i called her. Same frail frame but with so much will power. Yes, she is is incapaciated in one year but still the charming smile makes her endearing. Wonderful post, Zohra. I loved it.

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