My cousin, my mom

There’s something special about Saroja, my eldest cousin, and her husband, who was reverently known as Prof BVK. Saroja was, doubtless, the most caring, intelligent and charming lady that I knew right through my childhood, more so when I stayed with them during my under-grad years.

The fact is — I was truly in awe with her hubby, the distinguished engineer, educationist, principal, dean and walking encyclopaedia on a host of subjects, who was also my mentor like no other. This was, perhaps, the best time of my pedagogic life.

The best part: Saroja was more like a mom to me than first cousin. She took care of almost everything as she did for her own three bright, also brilliant, sons. It touched me greatly when someone asked the genial professor, years later, about his children, and he responded pronto by including me as part of the family — a son, no less.

My stay with them was indubitably a delightful learning experience—what with academicians, artistes, musicians and others visiting the professor on a regular basis. Their conversations were free-flowing, animated, interesting, also inspiring, and sometimes challenging, or argumentative.

Yet, in the midst of divergence, there would be no trace of anyone throwing dignity to the wind. When there was a lull on certain select days, I would have the privilege of being the only audience for the professor, ever so willingly listening to him on topics that were always riveting — be it science, philosophy, the mind-body construct, hypnosis, and the mysterious, viz., past life and existence beyond nothingness. It was akin to spur-of-the-moment, impromptu, expansive sessions — encompassing of a smorgasbord of information and knowledge, tapped, plotted and absorbed in one’s mindful compass, or radar. It set up the whole progression of my extended education — enriching my yearning for reading and writing in the literal sense.

For a shy, self-effacing lad, during school and college days, staying with them was just like residing with my own parents and home. The times were different, yes — but, what set them apart was their unpretentious, yet sophisticated metier of refined expression and surplus empathy. When my cousin and her hubby would go out of town, or abroad, they would make sure that I had no difficulty whatsoever — be it food, other expenses or anything else.

This wasn’t all. There was a plethora of fascinating lessons I ‘swotted’ for life — without being peremptorily ‘coached’ — while living with them.

I feel blessed today for their profound, summative quintessence nourishing the syntax of my soul with meaningful intent.