This is a tribute to a wonderful person, Sri Nand Kishore Agrawal, whom I had the fortune to know. He was my mosaji (maternal uncle) whom we lost two days ago. As I think of him, the words that naturally come to me to describe him are resilience, zeal to live and sensitivity.
About ten years back, mosaji and mosiji (maternal aunt) both met with a gruesome road accident. The doctors said, “This is their second life. It’s their willpower to live which has kept them alive more than our treatment”. For mosiji, one of the doctors said, “She’s an amazing lady. She cracks jokes even on the operation theater table”. The one time when I was in OT, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even properly reply to the doctor’s good morning.
More than a year of hospitalization and confinement to bed, and uncountable surgeries is what they endured to walk into their new lives. Although they carried dozens of rods and bolts in their bones for several years, as remnants of the accident which happened a decade ago, their spirits and enthusiasm was untouched. Both of them became a living inspiration for all of us in the family.
On this occasion, I wish to share an incident from my childhood which I still remember. In those days, we lived in a tea garden in Assam and mosaji, mosiji and my cousin, Ajay, had visited us from Orissa. In tea gardens, bungalows are built inside tea plantations and acres of tea bushes stretched in all directions. Each bungalow stood in isolation with the nearest one being atleast a few hundred meters away.
I used to play cricket in the lawn of our bungalow and it was very common to easily loose the ball in the hedges or the tea bushes around the bungalow. To discipline me, my mom used to ration me cricket balls. One evening Ajay and I were playing cricket and unfortunately we lost the ball. We were quite disappointed as the game could not be finished and our bet was left undecided. Besides, I knew that losing the ball meant getting grounded from cricket for next few days. The rest of the evening was quite boring and we hanged around with our long sulky faces.
Next day was usual. I returned from school in the afternoon and finished my homework by evening when mosaji came and said me, “I forgot to bring my shaving razor. Can you take me to the market”? The nearest market was 4/5 kms away from my house, outside the periphery of the tea plantation. Mosaji, Ajay and I walked to the market. As we entered a shop, my eyes naturally followed to the basket hanging from one of the shelves which had different balls. I didn’t look at them intently fearing that mosaji would pity and buy for me after which I will have to face my mom. I stood there waiting for mosaji to buy his shaving razor when he turned towards me and asked, “Which one of these do you want”? pointing towards the basket of the balls. I was startled and a weak “Nothing” escaped my lips. It was definitely a half-hearted one. Although I desperately wanted it, I feared mom’s wrath. He seemed to have read my mind and said, “Don’t worry. Mummy will not say anything”. With this assurance, I pointed towards a florescent green tennis ball. He turned towards the shopkeeper and said, “Please give me a pack of 6”.
“Ok, so all these was your plan. Knowing that I wouldn’t give you the cricket ball, you insisted your mosaji and made him buy for you”, mom scolded me after we returned home. “Why did you buy 6 of them?”, she continued. Although she was being polite in front of mosaji, I could read her mind, see in her eyes and could imagine what lay for me after mosaji & mosiji retired to their room. I thought to myself, “I should not have let mosaji buy the balls”.
On hearing mosaji ask for 6 balls, my mind had drifted and sketched the consequences. Frightened by the imminent danger, I suddenly spoke, “Mosaji please don’t buy the full pack. One is good enough. Please mosaji“! I pleaded with him. By then he had already bought the packet. He took out one ball and gave it to me. “Keep this. The rest will be hidden in my bags and no one other than 3 of us will know about them. If you loose this, you know where to find more”.
As we walked out of the shop I said, “But you forgot your razor”. He replied, “I just now recalled that I have kept them in your mosiji’s bag”.