Mr and Mrs Rao were my neighbors. They were a happy couple, simple and friendly. They had two sons, both working in
Their eldest son came down and took them to live with him. Though the couple was happy, they missed
They came down soon after for a wedding and a break from the
But life was a struggle alone, as their siblings were old too and they soon faced the prospect of going back to the
Aunty died two months ago. When I look at their now empty house and the tulsi plant in the courtyard I feel an awful emptiness. This place bustled with energy and activity a few years back. I had grown up watching her perform pooja in front of the tulsi plant from my balcony. The waft of the agarbaththi spreading gently in the wind mingling with the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans that she would have ground and put in the percolator before doing the morning pooja. I will give my right arm for another steel tumbler of that heavenly coffee she used to make many years ago. She taught me how to drink without touching the tumbler to my lips, the Brahmin way. I learnt a lot of Brahmin rituals and traditions from her as she loved puttering around the garden with me.
After pooja she would always look up to smile at the little girl on the balcony who watched her intently almost hypnotized by the ritual. She would wave or sometimes cheekily blow a kiss blushing at the act and giggling. I don’t think I ever missed a single pooja except on weekends when I slept late. She looked radiant in her silk saree that seems to be a daily wear for Brahmin ladies in Karnataka. Her hair would be adorned with fresh jasmine and her silver anklets tinkled as she went around the tulsi plant. For a Christian kid like me this was an engrossing sight.
I remember the various Dasara’s we celebrated together and the amazing sweets aunty made. I remember Uncle pleading with us kids to keep quite as their sons were in final year
I took so much for granted. So many people for granted. But people around me are aging. Soon they will be gone. But Mrs Rao’s death has taught me something. That time is so precious, especially with your loved ones.
Rest in peace Mrs Rao. Dassara and