Sep 16, 2008

Mohammed Uncle - II

Mohammed Uncle - first part here
My Mohd uncle is no more. He taught me to drive……and stood me when I started instructing him how to drive more efficiently. Some how I think he was the best with older cars like Ambassadors, Fiat (Premier Padmini) etc. As the new cars came by, he never adjusted his driving to suit them and I felt the cars were man-handled.

It was by chance, I spoke to him just a few days before he passed away. I was driving to work that morning it struck me all of a sudden that whatever I was able to do then, was all due to him. He had in ways helped me feel independent and grow up to be the woman I am. Both he and I have so many times taken pride in telling people that I learnt to drive a car without having an ‘L’ board on. I know its nothing great. But given that I grew up in a small town where not many girls drove cars, it appeared a feat in itself for us. My father spoke to him once a month. But somehow he had not called him that month and when I called, he was very happy. People at his household are surprised that I call him from Bangalore. They are accustomed to my dad’s calls, but don’t quite know why the ‘periya ponnu’ (the elder daughter) of the ‘SS sir’ calls. They don’t know the relationship I share with him. Mohd uncle was very happy to talk to me. I chided him for not making it to my daughter’s first birthday. We’d celebrated it with parties both in Bangalore and Coimbatore. I had come to know later that he had been admitted in the hospital during that time and that’s why he couldn’t make it. Still, I chided him for falling sick at the wrong time.

The name Mohd uncle brings back so many fond memories. How my father used to be so comfortable to leave us both (my sis and me) in his company. How much he trusted him. I don’t think he failed us, ever. We knew of the driving lessons he gave his kith and kin in our car, the frequent pick-ups and drops that happened. His friends he regularly called on, on his way back or to our school. These things, when I grew up to be aware, irritated me (us, rather). But, the other drivers were worse – they stole petrol, they lied, misused resources…..Somehow, even if we’d tried to console ourselves with such ideas, we knew he was the safest, the most loyal and the best guy of them all. He wouldn’t work elsewhere too. We slowly matured to overlook the petty issues that never meant anything to us, materially.

Mohd uncle was almost Tam-bram. My grand parents of both sides, who are very staunchly Tam-brams also loved him. He bought us sweets for Id and Ramzan. He reminded my dad about that month’s Amavasya, or other poojas or functions. He was my dad’s personal secretary, almost. He would’ve safely filed away in his memory, even a passing comment on a wedding-to-attend and bring that up, exactly at the right time. He never came late. Always on time, huffing and puffing on his bicycle. I now think how much we take our current employers for granted, in the name of working flexi-time. My dad has never had it and Mohd uncle never knew it. He had to rush us to school every day and he would never miss that for anything in the world. I remember the days when I used to get worked up when we used to be ready and he wouldn’t have come yet. I know we took him for granted – now I realize a driver like him would be very hard to come by.

Mohd uncle and I conversed in Hindi. That’s how my Hindi is conversation-standard. Otherwise who in Tamilnadu, in a small town like Coimbatore would’ve encouraged that. Besides, having studied in a Jain school, some friends also helped improve my language. Coimbatore as a city has a lot of Northie population (Marwari mostly) and many of them understand Hindi, though many do not speak fluently. Well, all said, my Hindi is still broken, though I manage myself quite well everywhere with this.

Mohd uncle was very protective of us. I remember the day when a friend of mine at the CA institute wanted to borrow some notes from me, spotted Mohd uncle near the premises and had asked him if he would pass on a note for me. Mohd uncle got suspicious – recall movie style love-letter instances – interrogated him and got him to write whatever he wanted to in a paper he produced. After Mohd uncle gave the note to me, he waited till I opened it, read it and translated it to him and he was sure that was true by looking at me closely (to find hints of a lie)!! He then had narrated the entire incident to my dad to be doubly sure of things. My dad had to assure him that it would’ve been a genuine note from a friend. My dad came back to tell me this and I was riled at being spied on, but had a good laugh and was moved by his concern. Then I knew, Mohd uncle religiously reported all our activities to dad, which enraged us as teens, but now it seems okay.

All this time, I have never said something to him. That he is special to me, to us and that we love him.

I have so much more to say about him, my Mohd uncle…..May his soul rest in peace.

1 comment:

Ramya said...

Rest In Peace Mohammed Uncle.....