& occasionally about other things, too...

Friday, October 04, 2019

Reminiscences, ruminations, remembrances

Death has taken away a number of my friends and dears ones. In March, my cousin Madhavi’s husband Bhushan suddenly passed away. He had just crossed 50. Then, in May, my friend Satish Thakkar’s wife Rimple passed away after a brief but valiant battle against cancer. But August was just a ceaseless march of death. Deepak Obhrai, whom I met on 5 July (his birthday), passed away on 2 August. He was a pillar of the Indo-Canadian community, and an important Canadian politician. My dear friend Satish Kamath, with whom I spent some of my best and worst years during my career in journalism, passed away on 7 August. Pradeep Khurana, my friend Mini’s husband, passed away on 21 August. I met him just once, and he came across as a jovial person; and then on 25 August, Keyoor Shah, an affable, affectionate man, who I wished I’d known better, passed away. In life, we see death frequently. It’s easy to philosophise about death, but it is devastating for members of the family. 

My cousin Belu lost her husband several years ago, when her children were young. In her personal essay, she remembers vignettes of her life – right from the carefree rides behind a horse cart to the deadening responsibility of bringing up children as a young widow. English is not Belu’s first language, but the essay brings out her cherubic character. From her I have learnt to keep smiling irrespective of the circumstances, and especially in adversity.

Guest Post by 


Bela Patel

One day I just thought of writing about my life. And thanking you all for being there for me. And I ended up writing this.

Today, when I am going to be 60 (though I can't believe it) I would like to evaluate my life. Gains and losses.

To begin with I was born in rich family. My grandfather was a film distributor. But he was not happy to see me since I was second girl child after my elder sister. (And the family's riches didn't last).

He passed away when I was one. We have grown up in joint family, my siblings, my half brother and sister, my cousins, and their children who are almost of my age. Though we were deprived of many things none of us had (or have) any regrets, since we were enjoying whatever we got; knowing our family circumstances.

When I was of the age to join school, I was admitted in The Unity High School, in Khetwadi 10th road. With me Kartik (his mother passed away at young age so both brothers Kartik and Jatin stayed with us for few years) my nephew (my cousin’s son) was also coming to same school. We would walk to school, as it was not very far. But sometimes we would hang behind horse carts to cut our walking.

For 5th std I got admission in the Chandaramji Girls High School. Where my elder sister Meena was already going, since My aunt, Meera Masi, was teacher and it was a girls’ school we got admission there. (I think).

It was supposed to be best school for girls.

When I was in 8th std. Our father suddenly passed away I was 12 at that time. I think because of living in a joint family and being young, his passing away didn't affect me much, or so I think, though I missed him especially when I saw children my age with their fathers. Our relation was not close but I missed him then and I miss him now.

In school, I made friends with Jaya Lata Harshada and seven more, we formed a nice group. I got 65% in my 11th std. After finishing school, I went to K C College.  I got admission in Siddharth College of Commerce but since my friends took admission in KC I went in to Arts.

In second year, was known as Inter, I flunked due to two or three reasons, one of which was obviously, that I didn't study. I had taken Psychology as major and History as second subject for BA exam.

In my family, all sisters including cousins, got married in second year of the college, but I am always different from all I didn't find anyone. So, everyone in family was worried about me. 

After graduation, I applied in employment exchange, from there I got a job in Bombay Telephones. I worked in the testing department where I was testing certain numbers which were not in use, we were around 10 of us in that department. I had fun in that place. While checking those numbers I would call my family in Baroda and Surat.

My grandmother passed away on 17th December 1977. That was again a big loss for me. I would read religious books to her. She called me (wagto ghunt - clanging bell) because I was lively, and if I was at home, everyone and even neighbours would know.

I worked as apprentice for a year, and when I was about to get confirmed in job I got engaged to Rajiv – it was 1978 March 21st when I officially got engaged. And marriage was planned for 14th July.

Those four months were magical.

And the day arrived - I was going to stay in joint family. Father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother and bhabhi.

I got best gift from God in August 1980 in the form of my lovely daughter Chandni. After four years our Prince Charming came in our lives; we named him Chirag. Both my kids were (and are) well behaved. Chandni has always been quiet and sincere in everything she does; Chirag was talkative and hyper.

Belu and Rajiv with Chandni and Chirag

We stayed with my in-laws till August 1989; thereafter, they went to stay in Andheri West.

Then we four were staying in that house. We made new furniture, and a new fridge, mixer, ghanti, everything. including crockery.

Those days flew past fast. We would visit Ba Kaka (my in-laws) once a week. They would come to our house. 

And suddenly we got a shock on 5th of August 1990. 

My husband Rajiv suddenly passed away, it was raksha bandhan day, we were to go to tie rakhi to my brother, 

I was ready and Rajiv went for shower after having a cup of tea, I went down to do puja in the temple in our building, I came in less then 15 minutes. 

I opened the safety door, and entered in the house, and what I see, Rajiv was flat lying in the bathroom. I was thinking fast what to do as I was alone in the house. 

I ran to neighbours to seek their help, they came running, we brought him out of the bathroom. Other people from building came to help me. I called my family doctor Sushilaben, and my mami Durgaben, but before they all came game was over. 

Doctor declared he was no more.

I was blank – no feeling, my neighbours called my family. They all came running, to find that Rajiv had left this world. He was 42 and was a healthy person. It was unbelievable for me and for everyone in family or who ever came to know.

Chandni was 10 and Chirag was 5 at that time. They were my pillar of strength and reason to live.

Days went by, I was busy with my kids, family and friends. Everyone was trying to support me in their own way. 

I thank them all to be with me during those days, where without support of everyone it would have been difficult for us to survive.

Chandni gave her 10th and 12th and got good marks. She got scholarship from Singapore government for her further studies. And she went there to pursue computer engineering from one of the best colleges there.

After finishing graduation, she had to work as it was part of the bond we signed. She took up a job in same university to start with. And she wanted to do masters, so she joint evening college.

We went for her graduation. We all were proud of her.

Chirag did his graduation and post graduation in statistics. While doing post graduation he also stated working.

They had to fill form where I was assigned as their dependent. I was thinking how time flies once they were dependent on me, and now I am. I think that is life.

While studying in Singapore Chandni found her soulmate Rohit. They decided to get married. They got married in 2007 June.

I’m past 60 now, and I am thinking how time went by, with all its ups and down of life.

When Rajiv passed away, our children were young and I was busy with them all the time. Now, nearly a quarter of century later, they are busy in their lives and I don't have to help them as they are mature enough to decide about their own lives.

I hope rest of my life will pass by smoothly with help of family friends and of course God.

Thanking everyone once again to come in my life and support me in my 60 years of life.

Lots of love. And hugs to all.

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