|Babai in a pensive mood|
Babai, my Aai's Aai, has always been this one strong woman, who has never ever bowed down. To see her in the bed all the time, too weak to talk is very disturbing.
When me and my sister were kids, we used to stay at my grandmom's place after our school. We used to be dropped by our rickshaw-wale kaka in the afternoon, and stayed there till evening, when Baba used to come to pick us up.
Those were magical days! Babai and Kaka (my Ajoba) used to stay at Prabhat Talkies, literally in the heart of Pune city. They had a two-room home that housed so many people at a time. We used to have all our cousins, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, all together under one roof. But the house always seemed enough for all.
Babai was almost the head of the house, taking care of the kitchen, the kids, the grocery, everything around. She was a solid support for my Mami who continued working as a nurse. My cousin, my sister, and I used to spend afternoons together after school. We used to fight during lunch for the place closest to Kaka. We used to fight again for the afternoon siesta for a place closest to Babai. She would pacify us saying that she had long hands and would reach up to all.
She was the one who taught us to read time. She had this old, broken-down clock that she used to tune and change the hour and minute hands, and then ask us to guess the time. I can never forget that red-faced clock and those "timely" hours spent in the balcony.
Babai had always been strong, at times very, very headstrong, to the point of being irritating. She always gloried in the work that she did, the contacts she maintained in her big family, be it on her own side, or her husband's side. Everyone in the family used to respect her, love her, and never forgot what she had done for them. And she really did do everything possible for everyone. No one left her threshold unsatisfied. She was there for everyone, a lighthouse, a beacon, a solid wall of support.
She had her flaws. She was too headstrong. She had been too much in the limelight, too much in the power to give up easily. She always wanted things her way. She has had a tremendous ego. But all in all, she never bowed down, never gave up.
Today, when I see her in the hospital, I can only remember how she was once upon a time. She is diminished, faded, and tired. After 85 years of being headstrong, it is hard to see her bowed down due to her age. She is slowly losing against time.
We all love you, Babai! Just one more loving request we make of you...do not go away by losing away to life. Fight back! Be your own self! Be the iron lady you have been! Make your final exit on your own terms. Not by simply fading away!