Simply Me

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Ajju...

Ajju (My paternal grandfather) celebrated his 100th birthday today, 16th June… We couldn’t go there… because of my job… We called him up today and amma made sweets to take to office… but it isn’t the same… I missed him a lot…

Ajju and bapama had lived with us since before I was born till the year 2000, after which they went to stay with their other son in Bangalore…Ajju is a retired high school teacher who taught kannada at Canara High School in Mangalore and Bapama was a house wife… What do I write about? I could talk about their 5 children… I could talk about how he was loved by his students and who still visit him and have called since yesterday… I could write about the stories he told when I was a child… there are way too many things that I can write about him and too short a blog space…

So I’ll write about some memories of when I was a child… the difference he has made to my life… the lessons he taught….

Ajju has always loved to sing and he still has a very strong voice… Last year, ajju and bapama had been to Dombivili for my cousin sis’s wedding and as I always remembered, he suddenly started humming to himself… We all kind of stopped chatting and listened to him… I took my cell near his mouth and asked him to sing… After he got over his confusion, he started singing… as he sang, his voice grew louder, he grew more energetic… he stumbled a bit in the second stanza but got over it really quick and remembered the rest of the song very soon… He sang the whole song… After the song was complete, he wanted to hear the recording… he heard it… I could tell he was satisfied with the way he had sung… ‘Kashi jalla ajju (How was it),’ I asked… ‘What can I say about myself,’ he said modestly… He couldn’t fool anyone really… he had that naughty twinkle in his eye which we always recognize… he liked what he heard…

As ajjus and bapamas go, my grandparents also spoiled me a lot… getting angry with amma and annu if I fought with them… and speaking on my behalf even when I fought with my grandparents… a pure vegetarian, I tried to feed ajju monginis slice cakes when I was playing with my toy utensils… ‘Oh… egg isn’t non-vegetarian,’ he said… well that’s a point for discussion…

A funny memory is when we made fish… Amma made fish for annu, me and herself… we had and still use completely different utensils for non veg… everything from the cooking utensils to plates and glasses are different… We would always have dinner together… the whole family… so on the days when we made fish, amma would ask ajju and bapama to have dinner first… the very same guy who had wandered in the kitchen about an hour ago would suddenly realize amma was making fish for dinner… needless to say, the door to his room would be closed to ward off the smell of fish… of course they never had objections to fish being made in the house… If a fortnight went by without fish being cooked, bapama would ask amma why we hadn’t bought it… they taught me to be tolerant and generous…

Since my childhood, I was supported whole-heartedly when I wrote poems… Creative genes I inherited from my father who in turn inherited them from his father… ajju helped me with my English grammar… Of course he never understood why our maths had to be so complicated… a complicated sum whose answer he could work out in his mind in a jiffy, we had to work out from a series of steps… he corrected my poems… taught me to classical music… and adored me with his love and affection and stories…

I was listening to an old audio recording the other day… when I was small, annu loved to record everything I said on a cassette… now I can be very stubborn when I want to… so most of the tape is my amma and annu trying to coax me to sing, which normally I would do all day at the top of my voice (I inherited quite a good voice from both sides of my family and with ajju as my teacher, I was quite well versed with classical music…) I was giggling away listening to the tape when suddenly comes the voice of ajju singing… More like humming to himself… but completely content…

One thing that comes out of being married to your wife for 73 years is that you know each other very well… you can recognize their voice… their breath… their whisper… last year at my sis’s, we were trying to get ajju’s attention… all calling out to him… ajju is hard of hearing now… Bapama is 12 years his junior but quite frail… she has always been delicate, but now she is almost fragile… In her tiny voice, she called to him, “Aikata vae… appaitaasa palaiyaati” (They are calling you…) Surprisingly that tiny voice reached his ears when all our voices didn’t…

Bapama was quite ill a while back… I think it took the most toll on ajju… he fell ill too… he wouldn’t recognize anyone at that time… we were all concerned for them both… Bapama got well… ajju got well… we were relieved…

Today when I took the sweets and told all my friends and colleagues that it was my ajju’s birthday, they were all very happy for him and for us… to have his blessings with us… I feel lucky to have him… Hopefully we will get to soon visit him… I’ll stop now… Find below two links… one of a song recording from about a year or two ago and the second an article in the newspaper about his birthday… Again… Happy Birthday Ajju

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFE-GD2JgH0 (Special thanks to Nagesh anna who uploaded this last year on ajju’s birthday…. It meant a lot to me as well as our family to see and hear ajju sing)

http://www.hinduonnet.com/2008/06/13/stories/2008061359451100.htm

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posted by Tejaswini Shenoy at 12:21 AM

7 Comments:

Too cool. :)
Do all Mangalorean Ajja's go to Canara? A part of my Ajja's soul is in Mangalore... and a portion of that part in Canara High school!!! (he is a Canara plus Aloysious product)
100 years... wow.....My Ajja is only 85.... Ahem... ONLY.. :D. But he bacame a pijjo that day!

June 17, 2008 at 2:47 PM  

:D... Happy Birthday to ajja!! :) :)

I just wish my grandpa too had lived this long. :'(

June 17, 2008 at 6:17 PM  

Aprateem ani manapasoon lihilas ha post. vachta vachta anand gheta yet hota.

P.S. had to write this in marathi, couldn't have said it better in any other lingo.

June 17, 2008 at 8:21 PM  

Nice post and a great way to salute someone so great... I started having goosebumps and memories of my own ajja and bappama started flowing in as i went through the post... I still regret for not having made the most of their knowledge, when they were alive... Apparently, we dont understand the value of things when they are around... You are indeed lucky to have them and their blessing with you:)

June 25, 2008 at 9:55 AM  

kewl! thats nice..

and by the way my pet name is Ajju.. i was petrified wen i read the 1st sentence,..missed the brackets infact..hehe!! and i had to read the 1st line again.. :D

June 27, 2008 at 1:33 AM  

@Jayded: Yeah... Manglorians are synonymous with Canara college i think... My ajju is already a Pijjo and his great grandson... my cousin's son just gave his 10th standard exams... So I guess both ur ajju and my ajju became pijjos at the same age :)

@Purni: Def wrote from the heart... was missing him so much wen i was writing that :(

@Nitin: Sometimes we just learn the importance of people after we can no longer tell them how much we appreciate them... Sometimes though, just thinking of them when something nice happens is like giving a tribute to them i think... And moreover, I think, even after they are gone, they keep an eye on us from somewhere to guide us...

@Ajan: Wasn't your birthday a while ago? :D

June 27, 2008 at 3:21 AM  

btw, i forgot the lyrics of the song rey... we used to sing the same song in skool u kno..

its a hap hap happy b'day
a hundred & three
a thousand & four
may you hav many more..

umm..sumthin like that!! do u kno it??

June 29, 2008 at 10:54 PM  

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