13th August was my Aajis birth anniversary. Had she been alive she would have been 107 years old. Aaji was born in the Kamat family of Banda in the Sawantwadi district in Konkan. She was the second eldest amongst 4 siblings, 2 brothers and 1 sister. Aaji was named Saraswati, which means the goddess of knowledge. She was fondly called as “Tai”. After marriage, Aaji moved to Vengurla. My grandfather’s family business was a grocery store in Vengurla which was started by my great – grandfather.
Aaji had 5 children, 4 daughters and one son; my dad being the youngest. Aaji spent the major part of her life in Konkan( almost 60+ years). Still when she came to Bombay( as it was called then) , she adapted pretty quickly. Aaji came to permanently live in Bombay in around late 70’s.
I remember a small incident , both my aaji and maternal grandma used to make pickles during summer. I would like both the pickles, but I liked my maternal grandma’s pickle more. Whenever my maternal grandma gave me pickle, aaji would feed me maternal grandma made pickle. She did not have the -I will purposely not feed anything given from the maternal side attitude. My mom never had to worry whether we are well fed or taken care of when she was in office.
Aaji wore a nine yard saree, she would look a bit traditional. But she was probably more modern in thought than some of the fashionable looking people. She chanted shlokas but never insisted upon us to blindly follow rituals. We had pujas, prasad etc but the most important thing she said is doing the right things. We need to be honest, sincere , helping fellow human beings only then god helps us. Another thing I remember if there was a work commitment that coincided with a puja, aaji put work first.
.Aaji’s wish was she should be able to be present at my brothers thread ceremony and my sisters( eldest aunts daughter) wedding before she dies. Both those events were planned in 2001 and 2002( she was 88 then). She could witness both these events.
In 2002, she was hospitalized for around 22 days for sever cough and related illness in BPT hospital, Vadala. My mom and my aunt would do hospital duty daily alternating between day and night.. My eldest aunt and my dad took care of us while they were in hospital. This was my aaji’s sanskar- family comes together in crisis and not only for get-togethers. I have always got the strong support of my family and that is the reason why I am able to have a career alongwith kids.
In 2006, aaji feel sick , a mild paralysis I would say. She did not get better after that and passed away in 2006.
P.S. There are many things and lessons I learnt from aaji, which cannot be covered in one post. But this is my gratitude post to one of the most influential woman in life