RASHMI OBEROI | 14 OCTOBER, 2014
There are some incidents that stay with you all of your life and this is one of them. About two decades ago or maybe even more, I was fortunate enough to be visiting this extremely affectionate and charming couple who were very old friends of my grandparents and parents as well. Just watching this beautiful couple together had struck a chord in me and I knew I had to write about them. I had always made an effort to meet them whenever I was in Delhi. There are some ties that only get stronger with time and the bonds pass from one generation to the next.
“Kalu Mamu” is how my mother affectionately addressed this Gentleman Officer who was commissioned in the erstwhile Indian Army in 1931! He was only 91 years old when I met him during this incident - I say only as at that time he could still read without glasses and no one could quite beat his wit! He was always immaculately dressed with a scarf tucked in to his crisply ironed shirt. And even after recovering from a stroke, you could be rest assured that when it was time to leave, he would personally see you off right next to your car door when you visited him.
The best part was that Aunty was equally witty with a sense of humour to match but unfortunately hadn’t been so lucky in the health department. Aunty had been unable to speak or move around after her last stroke so I had been very anxious about visiting her and seeing her in that state.
On meeting her, however, she looked very regal with her new, chic haircut and was very much a part and parcel of the conversation around her. It had been easy to understand what she was trying to say as she had been reciprocating with sounds and actions. Uncle had been his normal self and I remembered that he had made me laugh within minutes. As usual, Uncle had made sure that my kids were supplied with unending ‘Coke and Chips’ and then went on to organize tea and eats for us. All of us had munched on delicious ‘pakoras’ and gorged on sandwiches and ‘mithai’.
I recall very distinctly, that it was during the time Uncle was narrating an incident of the good ol’days when suddenly Aunty had flayed her arms around and gestured to Uncle. She had pointed to her cheek and then to Uncle’s and that is when we noticed a tiny, spot of tomato sauce on Uncle’s cheek. Uncle had quickly wiped it with his napkin but not before we had all had a hearty laugh together! Aunty had continued to scowl at him with a shake of her head and a cluck of her tongue for a long time! “She’s still got an eye on me!” Uncle had chuckled in his usual gregarious manner.
That little gesture had made me realise just how devoted they were to each other and that no matter what the circumstances, one could never forget the basic essence of emotions that a relationship is based on and the simple gestures, responsibilities and everlasting commitment that comes along with it. This is somehow lacking in the present generation where everyone is seemingly impatient, always in a tearing hurry and well, not really interested in spending quality time in working on improving the finer things of life that hold a lot of importance. There are some things that one just does naturally and they come out from the core of the heart.
As I had bid ‘Adieu’ to Brig. and Mrs. M. K. Sheriff, I had felt very fortunate to have had the good fortune of being acquainted with the family and at that time had wished for a way to make time come to a standstill. Needless to say, both passed away a few years later but my memories with them remain etched in my mind and heart.