Good bye Ama Ji, see you on the flip-side

For her grandchildren, Ama Ji was a star - a businesswoman, a home maker, a philanthropist, the many people and personalities that she comfortably embodied
Author with his grandparents
Author with his grandparents Author

For the writers, who write about their family members, one of the enigmas, is why should the people be interested to read about someone, who was not known to them.

My grandmother Ama Ji might not have been a big name but the qualities that she embodied were extra ordinary in every sense of the word.

Therefore, this piece is less about her and more about the characteristics that she possessed. She possessed a set of fast disappearing qualities that the world today has started to forget and needs to be reminded of.

I have grown up watching Ama Ji in the multitude of avatars. She was the granddaughter of the famous Zaldar-e-Kralpora who enjoyed the luxury of being in the Maharaja’s coterie. He had land in kilometers and his diktats were followed by the people in the locality.

He was the man in authority much before the dawn of democracy and rule of law dawned over the valley of Kashmir. Unexpectedly Ama Ji was more inclined towards the great Sher-e-Kashmir about whose ideals Ama Ji was fond of.

The ideals of truth, empathy and struggle for the good. It was in her father’s home where she grew up and learned the finesse to deal with the challenges of life. As was the tradition in those times, she was married off to my grandfather Aba Ji at a young age.

In many ways her life took off after marriage when she had the complete autonomy to envision a future for her family. I have often been surprised to know about her grit to create a way for the vistas of success that nobody but she could see.

Her first and foremost priority was to help my grandfather complete his education. My grandfather was still in school when the saga of these people having resolved to build a future together started.

He remained focused at acquiring education in different places over the period of twelve years while the kindest Ama Ji remained at home to overlook house hold chores and think how she can claw up the family’s status in the economic and educational sense.

Eventually Aba Ji got into the government and began his career as local administrator in Drass, the world’s coldest place. It was Ama Ji’s extraordinary kindness and networking skills that warmed up the place.

The affection, the civility, the mannerism are just the adjectives that do no justice with Ama Ji and her extra ordinary legacy.

She built such relationships in Drass that when the assignment of Aba Ji ended in just six months, hundreds of people in vehicles bid them a farewell by accompanying the star couple to the bus station.

That was the start of a long bureaucratic career that Aba Ji overtook and Ama Ji over saw. Ama Ji was kind, large hearted often seen helping people at home who could not afford to go to Aba Ji’s office. She was in many ways the unofficial secretary to Aba Ji.

When Aba Ji took over the reins of Budgam district, Ama Ji was his closest confidante. A guide, philosopher often advising him how to use the office in alleviating the suffering of people.

The district saw extraordinary improvement in the delivery of public services. Aba Ji used to be in his office while Ama Ji would spend her days in the official Bunglow receiving people from the district and making notes so that she could discuss them with her husband on the dining table.

Ama Ji did not occupy an office, nor was she a recognized activist but her vision and work towards public welfare was more what could be expected of a common woman. It’s also when the couple planned to venture into multiple agri business – poultry and dairy farming which helped them to build a massive wealth which later financed their children’s education.

Ama Ji was never weighed by the status she held, never hemmed in by the wealth she along with her husband possessed. She was light and simple and unconscious of the differences that have divided this world into narrow domestic compartments.

To me personally Ama Ji was an epitome of affection and bravery. In the January this year, when I and other colleagues of mine led an anti delimitation report rally in the heart of Srinagar, Ama Ji had seen me leading from the front on Facebook.

In the evening she called me up and said, “ Me Wuchmak, Me Dop, Nov Sheikh Abdullah Aav”, ‘I saw you, I thought, new Sheikh Abdullah has come”. I was happy to hear that.

Ama Ji moved on from this world on 19th of June. I held her hand as she went away. Hundreds of people thronged our residence to mourn with us. People whom she had helped to build a life or the people with whom she had run into a causal evening.

She was an institution- and to know her one meeting for anyone was enough. As the fifteenth day of her passing away comes close- I desperately miss her. I feel anger that time moved on while leaving me frozen on the first day.

Who allowed these fifteen days to pass. As I recall the days spend with her, the pain cuts with the force of a blade. More painful is to see time speeding on while leaving us behind in an isolated sorrow.

It’s like being suspended in a deep dark abyss while everyone else walked out to the light. However, it’s time to move on from the sense of personal bereavement and focus on the challenges that stare at us in her absence. Ama Ji’s life taught me that we cannot resign ourselves to pain perpetually.

Every day cannot succumb to a dystopian vision of the world. She would never approve of it in whatever circumstances. Ama Ji will continue to live through her children, grand children and great grand children. I promise to preserve her legacy and honor her memory.

I will miss her. For me her heart will always be Frank Sinatra’s stage- her soul a choir of thousand humming lullabies- she will be the woman in Arethre Franklin’s songs- Ama Ji- a woman who smiled the people to happiness. Good bye Ama Ji. See you on the flip side.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir