Precious times with Mamiji

Mrs. Rama Kapur

Born in 1940, New Delhi

Rama Kapur was born on the 3rd of April to Mr. and Mrs. Sondhi. In those days the doctor came home and the baby was born. I call her Mamiji (the wife of one’s mothers brother). She has been my most favourite and beloved aunt since the very beginning. Most loving and caring, I was all of three when she tied the knot with my uncle, Col.R.C.Kapur – a thorough gentlemen who served in the army and with utmost fervour and carried out his duties to the T. “No Compromise” was his principle in life.

The Sondhi household was on Barakhamba road, New Delhi, where Mamiji her two sisters and two brothers, along with a whole bunch of cousins, uncles and aunts, lived harmoniously in a joint family.

A major life event ….

A major life event, as Mamiji put it, was when she got married. It was like the uprooting of a plant to a world totally new to her. Mamiji  was very young and found it difficult to adjust initially but nevertheless, she spread her love and sweet nature like the branches of a tree and won over one and all.

Filmed and edited by Taruna Hooda

Joyous moments in various stages of life… 

The most joyous moment of her childhood was when she received the first prize for her Kathak performance, by Gen. Cariappa, who later was appointed the Chief of Army Staff. Indian culture played an important part of her upbringing and a dance and music teacher was appointed for the youngsters in the family.  She learned dancing for ten years at Sangeet Bharat Academy which now is the Triveni Kala Sangam, a very prestigious Institute. After the dance class, she recalls summer afternoons spent with the family in the courtyard, sucking on sweet mangoes. Then came the much awaited monsoon, which was incomplete without hot mouth watering malpuras (pancackes made of wheat flour,semolina,and lightly flavoured with aniseed, cardamom and whole peppers) .To top it all this was served with a creamy rice pudding well liked by all. It was wonderful watching Mamiji relish these childhood memories during our conversations.

Mamiji thoroughly enjoyed shopping at the famous Chandni Chowk market for the upcoming weddings in the family. The thought of wearing new clothes on every occasion for the wedding that stretched over five days was most exciting. As a child, I would often go shopping with her. It was a fun experience as we would have breaks for hot pakoras and bante walla nimbu paani – a lemon drink which was bubbly and most refreshing.

Mamiji has always been a family person so her most joyous moments have been spending time with her granddaughters and daughters – Payal and Puja who have been with her through thick and thin, particularly, when Mamaji was posted to non-family stations for months together. She was most thrilled when her daughters got married to the most doting, caring and refined gentlemen. Whenever I meet Mamiji there is a sparkle in her eyes when she talks about her three granddaughters, and how their presence gives her utmost pleasure. “They are my life,” she says. Her grandson in law is someone whom she really dotes upon,”He is a gem, gentle natured and loving,”said Mamiji with a smile.

The most challenging time in life and how it was overcome….

The hardest times in Mamijis life was when she lost her sister and dear husband. After the demise of her elder sister, who she was very close to, Mamji felt it would be impossible for her to make friends again – with anyone. Naturally, leaving of a life partner was a great setback. It was Payal and Puja, her daughters, who stood by her like pillars during the times of grief. Mamiji had stopped dressing up and caring about herself after Mamaji passed away but was cajoled by her daughters and sister in law who brought her back on track and soon she realized that life was worth living.

Something special that makes the heart beat with love, now……

Be it her most joyous moments, the special moments of her life, now, or her desires – they all revolve around the well being and deep emotional connect with her family. Her lovely grandchildren, of-course, have a special place in her magnanimous heart.

The present desire….

A lady full of affection, Mamiji has always wanted her children to be around her. Having faced hard times, she cherishes being surrounded by her daughters, son-in-laws, granddaughters and grandson-in-law. Her utmost desire being, to see everyone happy, healthy and living life to the full.

A message for all….

“Show a lot of love to each other, be one and give to the world the best you can”, said Mamiji.

On talents, individual qualities and sharing….

As  a child,  Mamiji spent endless afternoons in their huge garden, fascinated with the innumerable colours and shapes of flowers that nature had to offer. As you enter her home, you are welcomed with blooms and greens of all kinds. She maintains an enchanting garden and is a woman with green fingers nurturing the most beautiful flowers. Her garden is a reflection of her own motherly nature. Mamiji often drops in with some striking looking beauties and says “Kangan I kept these saplings for you”. Some of which are the Ipomia which has beautiful little blue flowers, and Artimesia which is a type of lavender. I must say they seem to radiate the love she grows them with.

Along with playing cricket with cousins as a child, Mamiji took part in skits and plays which were put up for the parents. They even had the elders dole out money to buy tickets for the shows! Apart from reading and listening to music she is most passionate about cooking. Mamaji loved entertaining friends and family and they had an open house. Lavish dinners were laid out by Mamiji, each dish being as sumptuous as ever, as she would cook up the most exotic recipies with utmost skill and passion. The whole family was in admiration of her culinary talents and this is how she won everyones heart. From her pickles to elaborate dinners – there is an array of recipies to be learnt from. A sweet and sour chilly pickle which I have picked up from Mamiji is an ongoing  favourite with our family. Pickles of every vegetable available, were laid out on the table – including those made with mutton, fish and pork. Mamaji loved them and Mamiji obliged and made sure there was an inexhaustible stock.

From her teachers training course, to her knitting and stitching, Mamiji is a lady of many talents. To me, she is a friend, a mentor and a gaurdian. I have always been very close to her – from the kitchen to dropping my cousins to school and from having adrak walli chai  (ginger tea) to radishes in the sun together over long conversations – all of which I enjoyed due to her affectionate and doting nature. In the years she lived in Nizammudin, we often went for picnics to the Humayun’s Tomb and had peanuts and juicy oranges during winter months, under the warm sun.

Mamiji is known for her sweet tooth. Sweets are a passion with her – be it confectionary, chocolates or gulab-jamuns and jalebies. Once, when I visited her I carried her favourite jalebies along, and before we realised, in our chatter and catching up, they were devoured and gone. Looking back, Mamiji recalled that she had a heavy price to pay owing to her sweet tooth. She shared a little incident of her childhood with me. When they were young kids her cousins were playing “doctor-doctor” and bribed her with a chocolate. While she gorged on her favourite treat, her leg was actually being cut with a blade, and all of a sudden she felt the pain and realised what had happened. All for sweets, the scar still remains!

Mamiji, as I see her, is most virtuous in her dealings with people and has a very giving nature. When her elder daughter had a set back due to a cancer, Mamiji stood undaunted – never losing hope, defying her softheartedness. To her surprise, Payal, her lionhearted daughter – equally courageous, never lost her lively positive spirit. Like mother like daughter.

Mamiji, is very generous . She has been contributing to several charitable institutes. Her gentle yet strong personality has inspired many of us. With her benevolent nature, she lives life to the full and her family and friends are her world. No wonder, the deep bond between us and my great excitement in doing this little exercise with her.

The picture above is right after I got married. Deepak and I had gone to visit Mamaji and Mamiji as part of the wedding customs. As we went through the old albums, it brought back sweet memories to be cherished, always.

– Kangan Badhwar

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2 Comment

  1. Shubha Bose. says: Reply

    Beautifully written for a beautiful person. Rama Bhabi, as I call her, is a wonderful human being.

  2. Mamiji was my first confidante! An adult who was not an adult but a friend! At the age of 15, when you need answers to so many questions, Mamiji was always there. I could discuss anything with her, without feeling shy or awkward. She was not judgemental only loving, caring and unassuming. A super person who has always lived and cared for others before self. A personality that matured and became the best every minute. When you thought she couldn’t do anything more to make you love her that little bit more, she would surprise you yet again! WE LOVE YOU MAMJI, you are the best.

    Kangan you have managed to capture her pure heart and spirit….. but yet there is much more there which can not be put into words.

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