A distant uncle of mine, so close to my dad that both shared the common name by prefixing CHHOTE (uncle was the younger one, hence, chhote) died last week in Delhi. We had known the family ever since we were kids. We are four brothers and a sister. They were opposite i.e. four sisters and a brother.
Uncle was working for Auditor General’s office, had humble beginning in his career as an Auditor and by sheer hard work reached respectable level in the bureaucratic hierarchy. ‘Simplicity, austerity, how to make both ends meet’ if ever there was a book of this title, he could add a chapter or two by what he followed through out his life. An example, I recollect, he would cut a cake of soap into two halves the other half to be used only after the first half is no more usable as he believed, this way the soap lasts longer. Also he will dispense tooth paste or tooth powder himself to kids early morning, morning after morning. He gave best of education and married off all his four daughters to fairly decent grooms. The only son whom my aunt will carry in her lap out of affection and display her prized trophy got everything in silver platter. VIP of the family, he was treated also like one by the family. I used to wonder that he (boy) is old enough to walk why my aunt still carries this over sized boy - word ‘chubby’ got added much later to my vocabulary. We hardly knew of discrimination, if any, between son and a daughter. The boy was admitted for his graduation to the college nearest to uncle’s house i.e. across the road. Even then my uncle would be there on this side of the road anxiously waiting for him if he was late even by few minutes. Though uncle was dead against any woman working, but it was his lot that he got a working daughter- in-law.
Two years back, my uncle (retired 15 years back) fell unconscious in a temple never to regain his consciousness. He went in coma and became a comatose. His death, last week, in a way, though cruel to say, delivered him from his sufferings. My uncle never had any bad habit except, perhaps, two cups of tea in a day: 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. by the clock. He had to suffer and live like a vegetable for two years, nay, for 730 days and nights. My poor aunt was totally shattered during these long two years due to, one, helplessly seeing her husband die inch by inch and still hope that a miracle will bring him to his normal self, two, by the callous attitude of this VIP son.
The VIP whom aunt would not let go from her lap even when he had become fully grown, able to walk boy declared that he would like to have a separate kitchen. Residing in his father’s (uncle) house, it required a big heart to make such an unreasonable demand and bigger heart on the part of my uncle to readily agree to it. Imagine, under one roof two kitchens! Poor aged and ailing aunt. Tantrums, contempt and indifference of son and his family grew so much that my aunt was silently praying for an early death of my uncle. Now that my uncle is cremated, I hear, son has ambitious plans for his father’s property of few crores made single-handedly through the sweat of his brow.
In this entire scheme, my aunt has a place, my uncle would have never wished for his worst enemy.