I had written about my uncle, Dayanand Sanvordekar, a few weeks ago. Today, i would like to introduce you to his better half; Kishori at birth and then Deepawati as named by her husband.
First about the title, Shanyaa was what she was always called by my uncle, a lovely term of endearment; she in turn always called him “Saybaa”. Their conversations were simply hilarious, the best one was about her sending veg khaaana in his lunchbox, for some 7 days straight. On the 8th day, my uncle comes back from office and lodges a formal complaint — with his “satrashe saath paadh” comment.
This extraordinary lady is my Maushi — maternal aunt. She stood shoulder to shoulder with my uncle, looking after all those who landed at our house. Not that she ran a small household, 5 children and the two of them, plus me every weekend. That stretched an already small 1 room kitchen apartment in Andheri, to its seams. Somehow she always managed to find place, somehow her kitchen never ever returned someone hungry. Food was always prepared in excess to our needs, there was no saying when someone would turn up. In the era before washing machines hit our shores, it also meant becoming a one woman cleaning service for a few hours every day. We helped as much as we could, of course.
Her biggest contribution in each of our lives is the amount of self belief she helped instill, the confidence she can provide you in ten minutes is truly amazing. Not formally schooled beyond 4th standard, she took great pains to ensure that all children around her got a good education. Her lack of training in English never prevented her from teaching us the language in her own inimitable style. Two instances on this front are stand out memories:
My TY Bcom exams, tomorrow is the first paper — Accounts 1. I go to our building terrace and start a last minute revision. The first few problems to ab tak by heart ho gaye the. And then it happens, i blank out. The numbers start swimming, i have no clue what they mean, what any of it stands for — lockdown more terrible than what Trump has just imposed.
Trying and failing for about an hour, i rush down back home. Its around noon by now. I break down. She comes out of the kitchen, enquires what happened. She calms me down, gives me some tea. Then says, “koi tension nahi, nahi hota to mat jaao exam ko, next year de do, itna mehnat kiya hai, dont worry”. And then makes me sleep, i get up around 5 in the evening, all refreshed and just like that, it all came back. I scored a decent 80 marks out of 100 in that paper.
The second instance is my first day of MMS at Kj Somiaya. I was not keeping well, thoda bhukhar tha. I must be the only MMS student to have been escorted to college on the first day. She had dropped me to the exam centre for my SSC and HSC exams as well but MMS tak to I was all grown up; not for her, i guess. She always maintained, “No education goes waste”, study as much as you can.
Deeply religious, Ganapati was one crazy time. Bahut pehle, we would go to Girgaum until the day we started with Ganapati at our place. That is another great story. It’s the first day of Ganapati, 5:30 a.m. the bell rings, we open the door to find an idol. Just like that. From that year onwards (almost 30 years ago) we celebrate for 1 day and a half. Its great fun, all of our traditional Goan dishes are cooked (even the famous mooga gaati), people drop in from all over, aartis are sung, bhajan bhi hota hai. I can never forget the jam session where in full bhakti she swayed to “tujko mirchi lagi to mai kya karoon”, we managed to get that line into some bhajan which was going on.
She can carry off anything, most times her saree and blouse make no real “matching” sense. She would always go “Arre asa padhar odlo, ki khaay blouse distolo”. Not that she ever needed to. My maushi is as they say in marathi “char chaugat uthoon distey”, radiant and always with an air of complete nonchalance about her.
When she went visiting my sister in Boston U.S., i had asked her to visit Harvard; she came back all excited from that trip. She mentioned that now someone from our family should study there.
Mother extraordinaire, a loving spouse, a helpful sibling, pampering grandparent, fashionista, even composer — do request her to belt out “Baabdi boom” — no idea what it means, but it’s known for its calming effect on troubled minds.
I don’t think she is even aware of the number of lives she has touched and altered. She has led a simple life, a rich life, a life that took her from a dreamy village in Goa all the way to Harvard and back. She may have not studied there but then, she did not need to.