Mahabir dadaji?€™s passing

Mahabir dadaji, my grandfather’s brother died last night – 12 Mar 2006. He was perhaps nearing 90. I remember sometime after Ajay daju’s wedding when he was quite serious and we had gone to meet him. That was in 2001. He lived a full 5 years after that. My own grandfather had died 24 years ago when I was in L.K.G. in TNA and incidently, Mahabir dadaji’s youngest son came to pick us from school, telling us that we were to go for a movie or picnic. On another March evening in 1986, 20 years ago, I had lost my grandmother. Mahabir dadaji was the last among the 4 sons of my great-grandfather Brijlal Kandoi to go. When I called to express my condolences, I was told, "Haan, shareer pooro ho gayo" (which was a strange sentence to hear, but which implied something like his body had reached its limit). He had apparently fallen down and was unable to sleep well, and not keeping too well for a while. He was there for my wedding as well. The last interaction I had with him was during my trip to India in Dec 2005 when he was sitting in front of our house and Ma had asked me to pass a glass of tea to him. When I was part of a discussion in his house a couple of years ago, I’d realised that he knew a lot about my family history, and how my great-grandfather and his brothers arrived and settled in Sikkim sometime around 1902. I had thought it would be great to document his thoughts and knowledge. Another episode I remember was when his wife, and my father’s aunt died. That was many years ago too, perhaps late 1980s. There was a big crowd of onlookers gathered near the stairs leading to his house (as normally happens in a small town like Gangtok whenever something happens anywhere). I was somewhere in that crowd. Incidently, Mahabir dadaji was around there too. Then, some passer by remarked, "Ko maryo ho?" (an off-the hand remark in Nepali, meaning "Who died?"). Mahabir dadaji replied, "Mero jaan theyo" ("she was my wife" – the Nepali word ‘jaan’ is a perhaps a slang for wife, but which literally means ‘life’ – so the meaning can be construed as ‘she was my life’). This brings me to another issue – the life of old people when they lose a spouse. The sons and daughters are married by then and busy with their careers and families. Two people who have gotten old are in-sync with each other and often out-of-sync with the ways of the changing world (of which their children are a part). I remember how Archana’s grandfather cried before us when we visited them in Darjeeling, saying he’s scared for his wife (who is bed-ridden after a stroke), if something were to happen to him. He said its alright if she (his wife) goes first, but he’s scared of he being the first one to leave. When Singapore’s first foreign minister and one of its founding father, Mr. S. Rajarathnam died last month, Singapore President S.R. Nathan was quoted as saying how Raja never quite recovered since he lost his wife in 1989. A newspaper report said how when his memory started failing, he used to put notes on his wife’s photo to remind himself of undying love. Strange, scary, insecure…a lot of people go through all kinds of thoughts and phases…valiantly dealing with life to the best of their abilities…and as Reza said to me on the phone, after he was back burying his grandmother, who died last December, "Everybody goes bhaai! Everybody has to go one day!"

Leave a Reply