Spice of Life| He lived life on his own terms, full batta full
While Nanaji always got jittery before exams and insisted on thorough revision, Mamaji would refuse compliance staying put that he knew all and lie on the bed feigning sleep, writes Suruchi Kalra Choudhary in a tribute to her maternal uncle’s winning streak
Brother to five elder sisters my Mamaji always enjoyed a preferential treatment in the family. Brilliant and sharp-witted, he effortlessly excelled in academics. Ma and Mamaji shared an uncanny bond, mathematics ran fluid in their veins. They recited formulas, theorems like nursery rhymes. While Nanaji always got jittery before exams and insisted on thorough revision, Mamaji would refuse compliance staying put that he knew all and lie on the bed feigning sleep. As a truce treaty between the warring father-son duo, Ma would sit at his bedside and revise the syllabus. With eyes shut tight, he would say you solve the problems, I am listening. Patiently, Ma would solve question after question loudly with Nanaji parading up and down fretting and fuming with a tense curfew in the home. Using choicest Punjabi invectives, Nanaji would enquire, “Will you pass this time?” The confident reply, “Full batta full,” would enrage him no end.
Result day in school and Mamaji would insist on new clothes, new shoes and a garland of flowers. Nanaji would retort an assured garland of shoes and never ever accompanied him to school. The onus would fall on Ma and the jubilant duo would return home with the report card “full batta full”. This winning streak ran up to the gold medal in mechanical engineering.
He fell in love with, as well as in, the royal city of Patiala. Career-wise he traversed a wide gamut from a lecturer to chief engineer. He fell in love with a charming woman with an infectious smile and affable countenance. Once again, the onus of breaking the good news to the family fell on Ma. The family welcomed his soul mate with open arms and she effortlessly gelled with us kids and the elders. The entire clan would descend at their abode and partake of their warm hospitality. We cousins treasure the best memories of our childhood spent with them. Celebrations, elaborate family meals, sight-seeing, shopping trips with all of us huddled in his Fiat. Fun and laughter galore. Afternoons spent playing cards and post-dinner anecdote sessions regaling episode after episode leaving us in splits of laughter.
A gregarious being to the core. Magnanimous, vibrant, full of love and affectionate. He always kept tab of his siblings, their offspring, his cousins et all. Frequent update calls ensued between Ma and him. Super network we termed it, catching up on family news. Fastidious to the core, fetish for cleanliness and fond of shopping. His home is choc-a-bloc with artistic knick-knacks, bric-a-bracs, souvenirs from trips from his childhood to youth till date.
Lively fellow he lived life on his own terms, even while in hospital. Meals, medical visits, he dictated and all obeyed. He recovered from a major illness and bounced back. Alas! He succumbed to dengue and left a huge void, a shock hard to absorb. But I’m sure he would have united with His Maker with a scorecard “full batta full”.
The writer is an associate professor and head of the department of English, Hindu Girls College, Jagadhri . She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org