Threshold Septuagenarian and beyond
Old age Blues
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Mine is yet a far journey to look forward and tread as the first celebration of the age, for we the Newars, commonly known as Jankwa takes place reaching an immediate destination of 77 years 7 days 7 hours 7 minutes and 7 seconds of life. So, reaching the milepost of 70 the first goal ahead for the time being - to make that far while we do not know what all is there in store or that lies ahead in life. Further ahead - a thousand moons on reaching 84 years, 4 months, 4 days, 4 minutes and 4 seconds to celebrate Sahasra Chandra Darshanam and two-three others as one advances in life with his/her age. Ageing gracefully is what we all have to do and accept whatever life gives. This what we did out of the green Jyamir that went waste as it ripened yellow to orange in colour to make fresh tangy juice - very much like lemonade. When life gives lemons, I, otherwise, take a handful of peanuts that keep you munching the best out of it - health supplement you need at this age. Days enjoying the sunny side for that free dose of Vitamin D basking in the glory of the past that the Black Hill has to offer as I try unfold each but not with that much ease and comfort. Perhaps, age is catching me up fast!
Muma arrived from Gangtok to be with us well before Dashain. She was earlier here few months back but had to go back. She had left the place when it was no longer possible for us to leave her alone though she had pulled on bravely quite long after Buba passed away in 2003. When we had to go to the USA in 2010, she stayed with Anita where she loved to continue due to grand-daughter Binnie taking every care that she needs for health reasons. This time home-coming was after a long gap. On the way she was happy visiting the Pacheykhani Kothi and find its present condition from the family there. These days she enjoys work inside and walk outside with evening to share some memories old and thoughts new, often about how family members near and distant fared - good and bad. She also enjoys doing what she likes best - making jam out of guava and delicacies like anaras, gujhia, selroti besides trying to make what was once the pride of Rhenock Kothi Kitchen odalko roti by substituting odal with the root buhari Sunita brought from her village. She loves to eat sweet achar made from Lapsi and green mango. In fact she was the brain behind all sweet things coming out of the Kothi Kitchen as Shailesh Pradhan of Sumbhuk House was once telling me - how his father recollected sweet memories of their fortnight long stay here with Rai Saheb Ratna Bahadur Pradhan seeking wise counsel for their family partition in 1944. With the kind and amount of sweet delicacies and salted savouries they had enjoyed to quip whether Rhenock Kothi also had started some sweets factory besides the flowers from The Chandra Nursery and orange squash factory they run with fruits grown abundant in the Black Hill even to reach Calcutta market through Rangpo Mandi and Gailkhola train-line those days. She, in fact, had recipes from cookery books and was equally flair with knitting/crochet as well since her father used to bring books and other materials needed!
We have a few octogenarians in our family and the eldest of all is in her 90s. She is Jamuna Maya Bajai, who moved away from the Black Hill and lives on her own and in the house she owns in the Pashupatinath Temple area of Kathmandu. She is being looked after by the tenant upstairs with daughters visiting sometimes. Bidhan Mama, like we all family members, was blessed to have her celebrating Sahasra Chandra Darshanam few years ago at Gangtok. Anita visited her recently to find Bajai in sound health as we did last year. Dambari Sanima is in the Brahma Kumari Ashram at Mount Abu. When she was in Gangtok last summer, we missed her meeting by a few minutes. By the time we reached the place, she had already left for Kalimpong to meet relatives there. Next, falling in the lower bracket of 80s are Muma, Thulo Maiju and Sanu Maiju besides Sunder Mama, Keshab Mama and Kazi Mama. Not far behind is Ramesh Daju and Manohar Mama entering the threshold of octogenarian.