I had known him since I was in my 10th Standard but the association with him goes long back in our family. He was my uncle and husband of my Aunty (Aatya, Father’s sister) whom my dad considered as sister. There was no blood relation as such but they were the only relatives whom I visited more often than my blood relatives.
When my parents were thrown out of their brother’s house, Uncle and Aunty helped them get a house in the suburbs. This was way before I was born. Years later when it was time for me to start school, all the children in my building got admission in the nearby Marathi medium school. I and few others were left. My parents reluctantly enrolled me into an English medium school far away from home.
My Uncle knew someone from a reputed school nearby and along with my father tried hard to get me admitted there. At that time, the school was the only big one in the vicinity and getting admission there was very difficult. However both did manage to get me admitted in the school. And even then I did not know him much. A family outing for us would be quite few in a year and most of them it would be relatives house. We would be visiting 2-3 relatives in a single visit. it was very boring because all the grown-ups did was talk about family politics and I hated going out with my parents. We would cry, whimper and make excuses to stay home.
Visit to my uncle house was no different. We would sit there and sometimes roam in front of the house trying to catch and torture the cats outside the house. I was cruel from childhood.
I became more aquatinted with him after by 10th standard exams. His two sons worked in BEST and the elder was quite a scholar in his times. He had studied hard in adverse circumstances and had reached quite a good position. The younger one just about made it. My uncle was the guide for the elder one throughout his career and it was this quality that was the reason for my visit to his house.
During my 10th standard year, I was considered quite clever (?) and expected to do good in exams. My parents and uncle were quite sure that I was destined to be the next prodigy in the family and hence when I gave my SSC exams, I was told to prepare for the Diploma admission in a reputed engineering college. I would pack my certificates and travel all the way to Wadala to meet my uncle. In absence of any career guidance, he was my only guide. I had no dreams to be an engineer or something like that. I guess he was the one who put that dreams in me.
There was nothing to do except wait for the result. But we both would walk down to this college and get forms and brochure for the courses. I too would feel that I was destined to be in so and so college, excel and then do some really great things. The ground realities were quite different. I would travel to Wadala and we would go through the brochures
My uncle had retired quite a long time back and was suffering from some disease which I never asked what it was but I noticed his hand would shiver. They would not shiver so much as to be noticed but when you sat close to him they would shiver and yet they were steady enough to have the most beautiful, distinctive handwriting I had ever seen. I always wondered why with my steady hands, I could not write as beautifully as him. We would sit and talk about college and I was very comfortable with him.
Unlike other elders who would tell me what to do, he advised me what to do. Unfortunately or fortunately, I did not secure that high percentage and in the rush to apply for diploma, we ignored basic college admission. Ultimately I did get admission in a junior college near my home and it lead to my worst 2 years of my life.
We both did try to get admission in the college and did get admission in the textile diploma. I refused. I still wonder how it would have been to be a textile engineer. I made many trips to their house to know him quite well.
After SSC, I stopped my regular visits but whenever I was in Dadar, I would pay them a visit. It is still the only house among the relatives where I do not need to be coaxed. That was way back in 1992.
After I started my professional life, my visits became yearly and sometimes even longer. Few week back, Mom and I visited him. He had grown quite thin and frail. He had a minor stroke and was in hospital for sometime. He still managed to walk around with the shivering self but he was not the same who would walk with me to the college. We promised to come back again.
This Saturday we decided we would visit him as Aunty said that he had grown very weak. Mom called them to tell that we were coming on Saturday. On Thursday night he passed away.
I went for his funeral and saw him lying there lifeless, his shivering hand had finally stopped shivering for ever. I was not very close to him emotionally but I did feel his loss. I did not cry, never felt the need to. He was free, free from the sufferings he was going through for the last three years he had been ill. Its been a long time and he had survived a lot of pain.
I walked to his home in Wadala for his funeral and walking there, all those memories came back. That was another time and another age. It doesn’t feel like yesterday and I wouldn’t want to be in that life of uncertainties wondering where my life would head now. In those uncertain times a man with unsteady hands helped me through the life. He tried and whatever the outcome of his genuine efforts, those events decided my life and looking back he did quite well.
Today he is no more and hopefully he had lived a good life. Hopefully I did not disappoint him much. He is gone and he is free. May god bless his soul!