On a quiet morning of November 22nd at 5:20 am , my phone buzzed. I usually prefer not to receive any calls specially at night but something within me told me this was an emergency. Mom , on the other side of the phone , gave the news that my paternal Grandpa passed away.We called him “Ajoba”. He was 95 years old, lead a good , healthy life and passed away peacefully in his sleep without any major ailments. Hearing this news , I weeped all day . A flash of beautiful memories just came to me all week and brought tears everytime I recollected his fond memories.
There are a few people in your life who love you unconditionally and Ajoba was one of them. Being the youngest of all the grandchildren , I was the most pampered and loved grandchild .I used to playfully call him “Ajobi”and he had all sorts of nicknames for us grandchildren. For most of my grandparents’ life , they were based out of Solapur and my childhood was filled with memories of summer holidays at my grandparents. When I visited them in Solapur , Ajoba would make sure that my grandmother would make all our favorite cuisines. He would take me to the parks , make sure I always have friends around to play with and at times even play with me like a child. He would collect the seasonal mangoes from the trees around and prepare best of the mango recipes for me. He would collect the special soft leaves from the Neem trees and grind them for hours to make a homemade medicine for me to increase immunity.Both Ajoba and Ajji (grandmother) would have tears in their eyes as we would leave back for hometown after summers with a promise that they would visit us soon. He helped me write letters to mom-dad telling them how I was doing.
When they visited us , Ajoba would love to drop me to the school bus and would wave till my school bus was not to be seen and wait eagerly for me to be back.
With a humble lifestyle they lead , Ajoba-Ajji used to stay in a rented apartment in Solapur till they were in their 70s and finally built their own home. The home they built so late in their time , with so much of hard-work was so close to their heart . They took care of the house almost like their child. With trees planted in the backyard , a front porch and a beautiful cozy home. He had a big housewarming for this home and showed around the home with so much pride. I have a vivid memory of Ajoba sitting in the verandah (front porch) with all the neighbors gathered every evening and the chats that went till late nights.
As we grew older , our visits to Solapur reduced primarily because of the amount of heat in summers which would easily be over 115F and would be un-bearable. Ajoba and Ajji visited us often and would stay with us for months. Ajoba was quite a conversationalist and would love to talk and get nostalgic when he served in the railways. I used to hear bed-time stories from him. He knew I loved to hear horror stories so he would tell all horror stories.He used to narrate them with animation and we would be glued to them till the climax .We heard many of his stories multiple times but he would tell them always with the same enthusiasm and interest every single time.
As we grew older whenever Ajoba-Ajji visited us , I would tell Ajoba to be in the living room when I return from work and he would wait eagerly just the same way he used to when I was kid to welcome me with his BIG adorable smile. When he heard of any problems of our problems that went on in life , that would bother him the most. He loved to chat and listen to how we lead our lives and his eyes would be filled with curiosity. He used to recite prayers in the mornings and meditate in the evenings. That brought him a lot of peace and calm more so after my grandma passed away some 8 years back. My brother’s kids were fortunate to meet their great grandparents and grandpa called him his walking stick as he used to help him move around the house.
I was away for work in his last days . With age Ajoba’s memory was fading and he didn’t easily recognize people. My aunt and uncle who were with him in his last days tell me that he remembered our memories vividly and always would enquire about me. For me , wherever I was in life , I knew that there was this person whose blessings were with me throughout and who loved me more than anything else. We visited him everytime we got a chance and didn’t miss to convey our love for him. Such was the love between me and my Ajobi. A bond that was so strong and the memories which were so beautiful , filled with kindness ,innocence and worth cherishing. We were blessed to have them in our life.
I hope wherever Ajoba and Ajji are , we have their blessings for us all and they remain in our beautiful memories forever.