Monday, November 8, 2010

Bahut Sundar Hai!

After a long long long time today, I thought of this aunty we kids used to called "बहुत सुन्दर है!"
It has almost been decades since I thought of her, and I want to put down my thoughts about her before her memory fades away again...

I grew up in a small town in Maharashtra where my Dad had a forgings plant. We were one of the affluent families in town. This aunty was married to the tailor uncle who had a contract with our company to stitch uniforms for the workers. They used to live nearby, and aunty would come to visit my mom quite often. I never gave much thought to her then...just someone coming to see mom, and I actually used to get irritated sometimes too, because she used to talk a LOT! But today, don't know why, tailor aunty floated into my mind, and I realized what an awesome woman she was!

She was the daughter of a rich Marwadi family. Uncle was Maharashtrian, a tailor who rented a room in their house. The two fell in love and decided to get married. The rich family rejected the poor tailor, she insisted on marrying him and her family broke off all relations with her. I am not sure which town they were from, but they moved from there and settled in the same town as us. Uncle was a very quiet guy (I think aunty more than made up for that ;-)), strikingly handsome, very polite and nice. They had two sons making up the small family of Shakuntala, Shahuraj, Praful and Praveen.

They had a small home, one room (which doubled up as living room, bedroom, dining room, everything) and a kitchen. At the time we got introduced, the house didn't even have a toilet. I used to visit them quite often. Two main reasons: They subscribed to a children's magazine called "Chandoba". (Marathi version of "Chandamama" in Hindi). I loved to read it, so I used to go there. Sometimes aunty would let me take it home if it was getting too late, other times I would finish it off right there. The other reason was something she used to cook. Can't remember what it was, but everytime I went, she would make it for me.

Whenever she visited us, she used to talk to Mom about this and that, would admire anything new in our house (and there was something new all the time) and keep saying "बहुत सुन्दर है" for just about everything. Us kids would be really amused, thinking why is she admiring things all the time, and that's how she earned her nickname. She was genuine about whatever she said though. She would tell mom about her sister, who was married into another rich Marwadi family, and was the only one who still spoke to her. She only had good things to say about her. She spoke about uncle, how hard he works, and how good he is to her. Only had good things to say about him. She spoke about her kids, again, only good things. Both boys did not do well in studies, but all she said was, I know they try hard. They do their best.

What I didn't realize then, and do now, is her attitude towards life. She gave up a luxurious life to be with her husband who will probably never be able to provide her with what she left behind. Her love and commitment to him was so strong that she never once uttered anything in the vein of "because of him, I had to ....". Her love for her kids was so strong, she completely supported them in any which way she could, instead of comparing them with others who did better than them. Now that kind of love..the kind uncle and aunty shared, I think, is what epics are made of :-)

She knew how to be grateful for what she had, focus on the positive, instead of dwelling on what could have been, or what is missing. She had a lot of self-respect, enough to consider herself equal to my mother, and come visit her, and be friends with her. I must give credit to my mother too here...for not being snobbish like most others in her position were. Tailor aunty would call my mom "aunty" and seek advice on things related to the home and raising kids. Aunty, how should I go about doing this, what about that, what do you think of this, and so on. She never put herself across as a victim. Always upbeat, always positive, always willing to learn.

We moved out of that town and lost touch with her. I moved out of the country, and completely forgot about her. If I was near her, I bet I would go to her for advice like she went to my mom. I want her attitude, her dedication and commitment. I want to be sunshiny like her!

I should ask Mom if she heard anything about her lately. I hope she is doing well.

You are awesome, Aunty, and आप बहुत सुन्दर हो!

PS: They did build a toilet in their house while we were still there. It was a joyous occasion in their house :)


Ria said...

It was so sweet of u to tell us about her. Its good to knw that u still remember these things. :) Such things keep us grounded in life. Good to read a post from u after a long long time.

Cinderella said...

What a wonderful post. Very "sunshiny" as you say. :)

I admire that quality a very few have, of always finding it in themselves to see the brighter side of things - my mom is one of them - I dunno how they do it. In everything that comes their way. That is so admirable.

Your aunty must be still gliding in mirth as she used to always, wherever she is. :)

I hope you inquired about her to your mom?

Neeku said...

sometimes... little small things do matter alot. life is certainly not hunky dory all the time or should i say at times not even a bit...

but to stay positive despite of facing so many challenges is very courageous and app-laudable...

i like this auntie of yours :) she is indeed sunder hai.

Veens said...

**I want her attitude, her dedication and commitment. I want to be sunshiny like her!**
Me too, I am tired of being negative, and I want to be sunshiny too.

aneri_masi said...

Ria, I am also glad I thought of her after so long, makes me happy. And also glad to know you are still following my blog although it is practically dead :)

@Ella, not had a chance to talk to mom yet, I doubt she would have any info though :( But I agree, I am sure aunty must be happy wherever she is!

Neeku, yup, very sundar!

Veensie, that's in our hands, na? And you and negative? Kabhi nahi! Not the veensie I know!

Srinivas said...

Thats really interesting to know about somebody with virtue.I think this is the inborn quality of Indian women.Do you hear such stories from US girls?

aneri_masi said...

Srinivas, I don't think virtue has a nationality. It is there everywhere. Of course, we hear such stories of American people as well.

Anonymous said...

Good story, and incredible woman to have made the hard choice at a time when it was certainly not the norm and required a lot more courage than people might imagine.

I wonder if at some point she regretted the decision. It's got to be hard to give up a life of luxury and settle for penury, especially with no upside and hard knocks that life gives you.

Hopefully it was true love and it lasted her all her life.

On a similar note, a friend of mine, coming from a rich marwari family, married into another wealthy marwari family, made the 'mistake' of having a girl as the first child, and was pretty much ostracized by her in-laws, the birth of a second girl bought about physical abuse.

So your 'aunty' was probably the smart one of the two.

The story really takes me back in the day though, when life was so simple and uncomplicated. Such a far cry from the hurly burly of 'civilization' today.

aneri_masi said...

Aregon, I think her relationship with uncle was the upside, no?

Didn't quite get why you said aunty's decision was a smart one, because she went from Marwari to Marathi? I would not generalize about any one community like that.

And I totally agree, life was much simpler!

Anonymous said...

Couple of quick points, I wasn't beating down the Marwari's over the Marathi's, my allusion to smart was that she went with love over money (unlike my friend) and from what you said, she appeared to be happy, so all in a smart decision.

As to the 'upside', my comment was more rhetorical, did the infatuation (love if you want to call it), fade amidst the reality of a hard life, or did it thrive and truly become love.

I find as I age, I get more cynical about things and feel the need to parse things more clearly.

Oh and for the record, I hope the love survived the hardships and the kids despite under performing in school, went on to be very successful businessmen who helped uplift the family, and she went on to a life of luxury and happiness. :)