When Ammachi passed away on the evening of 13th July, my Booa (aunt) and Bade papa (uncle) had no relative around them. All they had were neighbors who were Hindus, Jains and Muslims. When Ammachi breathed her last, my Booa simply refused to believe so. Since the doctor couldn't be called at home, all of those neighbors along with my Bade Papa carried my Ammachi to the hospital where she was declared dead. The body was taken back home. Meanwhile, the Catholic sisters and the father at Carmel Convent School, where my Booa worked, got to know about Ammachi's demise. They immediately came to our house. They gave Ammachi her last bath, embalmed her, and clothed her in saree. Before departing, the Father prayed for us and one of the sisters accompanied my Bade papa and the neighbors to the mortuary. .
The day after, Saturday, we hurried to Booa's place at Ghugus, only to find her surrounded by neighbors. Staying right in front of our minor quarter are Kalyani Didi and Mahendra. We never address uncle and aunty by their names. For us they will be Kalyani Didi and Mahendra's papa and mummy. My booa saw Aunty crossing the road to come to our house and check on booa, for the zillionth time that day. My booa said, "I don't know how she manages to come to our house so many times. They are Jains and they are particular about houses where people died". So when she came, my Booa asked her, "Arre aap itni baar humare ghar aana jana kar rahe ho. Aisa chalega to aapka to aaj nahana band hi nahi hoga. Bohot kar liya aapne humare liya. Bohot takleef utha li. Itna kaafi hai". To this she replied, "Arre teacher! Yeh ghar to apna hai. Amma bhi apni hai. Pani ka kya hai. Uski koi kami thodi na hai. Jab chahe naha lenge. Aur vaise bhi humne pooja ka ghar band kar diya. To takleef ki to koi baat hai hi nahi". Staying next to us are Brahmin Hindus from Uttar Pradesh. A couple who now are grandparents, stay with their 4 sons, two of their daughters-in- law and three grandchildren, whom we fondly call Mama and Mami. As soon as Mami saw us, she came to our house, sat with us and broke down as she said, "Amma chali gayi". .
. 📸: Clicked by my uncle, Shabu George. . (1/4)