Monday, January 27, 2014

My Beautiful Aunt Vidya Rani Rai

By Manuwant Choudhary

My aunt Vidya Rani Rai passed away recently and she was more beautiful than Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee and Aishwarya Rai.

She belonged to another time when beauty was real.

So its no coincidence that she died just  a day after Suchitra Sen.

It was like God taking away all the beautiful women within a week.

Of course, she had battled all through her life..even heart attacks...several times in Patna..once in England and then she recovered fully from an angioplasty at the Bombay Hospital recently, came home...ate all the worlds food Italian, Mexican and the humble chaat..and then her kidneys failed.

Daughter of eminent physician Dr. Sheetal Prasad Sinha...Vidya Rani's life is better than what we see in the movies.

She married for love very early in life and she had not even completed her education.

My mausa (uncle) Janardan Rai wanted to be a film-star and he looked a bit like Dharmendra and he even went to Bombay once but later he returned to Patna and instead became a writer, writing plays for the All India Radio all his life.

My aunt had to make ends meet in a small town and so she joined Life Insurance Corporation as an agent and completed her higher education through distance learning and soon she was training LIC employees who were more educated than her.

Every morning over tea my mausa would read aloud the newspaper headlines telling mausi that if she did not read the papers people in the office would make fun of her.

He would call her Guriya (Doll), always ..till the very last.

They were so much in love.

Even when we were very small we would see her dress up and drive a blue ambassador to work.

She must be perhaps the first woman in Patna to drive!

And my father loved the idea that she drove around in an ambassador because every two years her company would give her a new set of tyres and father would just pick up her pre-owned tyres for his own car.

At the Income Tax Roundabout my father would invariably turn right towards Srikrishna Nagar...her home..for us too it was home...always welcome.

In those days too when there wasn't too much money mausi would be the first to buy a refrigerator - a very large one !

And my mausa would take his ambassador to buy fresh vegetables brought by boat from Hajipur across the Ganga (there was no Ganga bridge then)

My father and mausa got along well since both loved dogs and both loved to eat large quantities of vegetables.

Mausa liked his curd too.

They would both laugh loudly and share stories.

My father once told him  a true story about his elder brother's was a Zamindari story.

My father's brother's would be wife was from Rupauli Estate (a Zamindar) and it is said that when she went to school she would be carried on a chair by four servants and in the class she would be the only person sitting on a chair, the rest would sit on the floor.

So before the wedding a tailor arrived from Rupauli Estate and took measurements of all the children in the house and and said that they would each be given  a Zari Ka Coat (Gold embroidred coat).

My father and other children were so excited and happily went for the wedding.

But they never got the coat !

My mausa wrote a play called "Zari Ka Coat"...broadcast on All India Radio.

There was no internet then but the play got a huge feedback mainly from zamindaar families who all said they too had been similarly promised Zari Ka Coat !

My mausa passed away a few years ago and mausi told us he could not recognise people anymore...but whenever I entered  his room...he would recognise me instantly and ask me if my mom had come too.

My mother had a special bond with mausi....she was like her guardian and even when my mom studied at St. Joseph's Convent she would come to see her in school.

Said my mom, "The girls would get to know that my sister would be coming so they would all line up outside to catch a glimpse of `true Indian beauty'."

My mausi personified grace and elegance and was very modern.

Someone had gifted her an expensive cellphone and even a few weeks before she passed away she was trying to figure out all its 82 she loved Whats App and Facebook !

She loved her family...two sons Dr. Sishir Kumar in Bombay and Alok Bhaiya in Calcutta and three daughters Munna Didi in Bhagalpur, Poonam Didi in Patna and Nidhi Didi in the UK. And her lovely grandchildren.

Just a few weeks ago we met her and she prepared a perfect lunch for us.

She talked so lovingly but I guess she knew.

There was this large ditch in her lane for several years and judges and journalists had failed to get it repaired but she never gave up..she kept calling up the municipal commissioners.....

And five days before she died at Bombay Hospital, the Patna municipality fixed the ditch !

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