You’re in a better place now, Aaji
Last week, I was in the middle of my final exams. It was about 11pm and I had picked up my books and my laptop to revise for the next exam. It seemed to be a good day after all - I was just back from a nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant, I’d spent the weekend at my aunt’s place, and the weather wasn’t too bad either (it rained, but it was still nice).
But, almost like a ritual, I must check WhatsApp to see if I have some messages that need to be responded to (yes, I have been receiving bad feedback from friends that I don’t respond regularly). I was just scrolling through the ‘family’ WhatsApp group when I read a message from a relative that my paternal grandmother, Kusum Aaji, had passed away, and what was more shocking was that this relative also wrote that my mother had confirmed it. I was totally shattered for a moment. But I thought it appropriate to call my mother to find out myself. And it was totally heart-breaking to get the confirmation. I was in tears, almost inconsolable.
My mother asked me to stay calm, but her words were hardly consoling. I just couldn’t come to terms to the fact that Aaji was no more. She was the anchor of my life, just how any grandparent is to a grandchild - a best friend and a mentor.
Kusum Aaji was a wonderful lady. She was the nightingale of our family – an accomplished singer and a star, back when the radio ruled. She was an amazing poetess as well. I am extremely proud to tell you that she started writing poetry at the age of 70! Since then, she had published an impressive 13 books of poetry. It was her passion to write poetry, and she pursued it till the very end.
She was truly devoted to Lord Krishna and am sure, by now, she must’ve met her dearest ‘Kanha’ in heaven. Her poems and songs on Lord Krishna are perhaps some of the best Marathi poems and songs you would ever come across.
She was aptly named Kusum; she was as gentle, as pretty as a flower! Ever smiling, there was never a dull moment when she was around.
She loved narrating stories and we loved listening to her. Her stories mainly revolved around her birthplace Betul, Madhya Pradesh, and the wonderful time she spent there. She and my maternal grandmother, Shashi Aaji, grew up together. Both my Aajis were born in Betul. In fact, Kusum Aaji was Shashi Aaji’s niece (yes, she was 2 years older, but she was the niece). They were like best friends and had been together through thick and thin. Shashi Aaji would always feature in every other story that Kusum Aaji narrated to us.
In her later days, she suffered from Breast Cancer. But boy did it bother her! She fought like a true warrior till the very end, and when it was time, she passed peacefully, in the presence of my parents. This was all we could have hoped for. She lived a full life and was always very happy about the fact that she had no regrets and was content. She was truly a divine soul.
There are so many things that come to mind when I remember her. This piece is incomplete – but yes, it’s from the heart and is all I could muster to write today.
Dear Kusum Aaji,You’re in a better place now. I love you so much! The Gods are in great company now, and heaven must be a better place now that you are there.Yours lovingly,Aditi.