Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mai Maushi - an embodiment of love and humility

No matter how mentally I am prepared for the loss of someone who is dear, the news of an inevitable sinks the heart and emptiness prevails. I feel numb as I hear the news of passing away of Mai Maushi.

Life often is a topsy-turvy of fluctuating fortunes. However, with some, they swing and touch either extreme. Pinnacle of wealth to pitiable living conditions, from social adulation and recognition to a forgotten entity. Journey from ' Rags to Riches' is definitely soothing but would reverse be true? It is highly unlikely. More so, when one has got into the situation for no fault of own but others who one has relied and. depended on. How would such a person react to oneself and with the outside world? Most likely, the person would be upset, angry, cynical, and jealous and harbors ill will of the society around. Mai Maushi turned out to be the opposite that of common foible human traits. She remained an embodiment of simplicity, generosity and carried with her pots and pots of love and caring.

Vasanji Ved, a rich shipping business tycoon marries a prolific renowned singer Anjanibai Malpekar. They have an heir to their fortune and Mai Maushi barely in her teens walks in as a daughter in law of Ved family. All this happens before I was born. As a teenager, I remember seeing remnants of their elegant lifestyle and heard the stories of their opulence. Their serving food in silver utensils, owning buildings in prime areas of south Mumbai. Their home frequented by rich and famous from the world of Hindustani classical music, politicians and business community. Both Saraswati - goddess of creative arts and Parvati - goddess of wealth blessed their home. Mai Maushi became a witness to the heady days of glory and also slow but definite downhill of fortunes that were to set in. Her image of Diwali days of wearing yellow gold brocaded nine yard saree with 'pearl studded nath' in her nose, smile and humility etched on her face, welcoming every guest with sincerity and gracious hospitality is now part of my memories of ' Pitru Sadan' , an iconic symbol of lost glory and opulence. As the years rolled on, everything in that home dwindled except her lovable and gracious nature.

The last we met was a month ago and i knew she would not survive for long but somehow she managed and pulled herself to go through Ganesh Chaturthi. Inflicted with memory loss, no strength to stand on her feet or consume food, she was at the mercy of her children who did their best to manage her health. When we left the home, after meeting her, she coaxed her children to bring her to the first floor balcony to bid a final good bye to us as we walked past the main porch. Both of us knew this would be our last contact and it turned out to be so.

When Mai Maushi looks back, she will have solace that her children looked after her well, gave whatever they had with their meager resources and more importantly showered her love, respect and dignity. I wish I could carry even fraction of her selflessness, lovable nature and generosity. It is ironical that Mai Maushi chose to merge her identity with 'Anant' on the day of Anant Chaturdashi, observed as a day to acquire lost Opulence. Unlikely, Pitru Sadan would ever gain lost opulence or past glory. History will only record through large portraits of Raja Ravi Varma that hung on her wall and mute tanpura that has stood in showcase over many decades.

We shall miss you Mai Maushi. May your soul be at peace as you have always been all your life !!

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