Ajoba is 83, 84 or 87 years old. He says he is not sure. At number 14 he was the last child of the Nigudkar clan. He says at that time there was nothing much for entertainment so people made babies. During his times there weren’t any hospitals or records that were kept. There was a room in his big bungalow which was used for child birth. There were two women with not many surgical appliances with them who would be the doctors responsible for the delivery.

My great grand father was a big man in Gwalior. He was a collector and earned 500 rupees a month. Ajoba says that he had a very princely childhood. Being the youngest he was his mother ‘s favorite. He was pampered. The maid in his house would retire to sleep only after she had massaged his legs in the night. He was her favorite too.

Ajoba has a forearm as big as that of Prakash Padukone’s. It’s huge. I ask him what is the secret and he tells me, it’s because of the  buffaloes. He was in charge of ‘milking the buffalo ‘department. They had 3 buffaloes in the backyard. I have tried milking a cow once and all I got was a drop of milk and one kick. He says he got 15 litres of milk from them. Milking a buffalo for years together is the reason for his big forearm.

Ajoba was rockstar looking, with a wide chest and a flat stomach. He showed me a picture of him sitting on a horse, ” I tamed him. He was so wild, though I was wilder. ”  he says with pride. When my grandmom came to meet him for the first time he had no clue that she was coming. He worked as a librarian in a college library, and was posted to another town. ” oh! What a sight she was. Long hair, that saree. I fell in love right there. As she had come to see me I made her the traditional poha and tea as I lived alone then.” Aaji says more than how he looked she was really impressed with the poha and a very clean kitchen. ” For a bachelor  living alone it was spotlessly clean. The poha was so tasty. ” she says.

Ajoba is an exceptional gardener. He had a huge collection of flowers on the terrace of his house.  As a kid when I went to Gwalior in the summer vacations I would watch him taking care of those plants and also try and help. Together both of us would spend hours on that terrace. Ajoba had to leave that house a few years ago  as he had to shift to a smaller one bed room flat. He terribly misses his garden till date.

For a strong man like him, there is one major weakness. He hates hospitals and thinks every doctor is a fraud. When my mom as a young kid broke her hand she had to be rushed to the hospital. Ajoba accompanied her. The doctor took out a big injection and told my scared mother to relax. When he poked my mother with that big needle all of them heard a big thud. Ajoba had collapsed looking at all that blood, and that injection was the last straw. His animated version of that incident is much funnier.

Ajoba has every paper cutting of mine, filed safely back home. He has framed one of my cutting and kept it in his show pieces. For a man who has lived  in a relatively smaller city all his life he is extremely liberal. He always has an ear for my views on things, he argues and listens to me. Recently when I wore a nice dress, Aaji and mother both looked at me with a little unease. ” Don’t worry about them. You look like Deepika, so beautiful.” I am sure he has no clue how Deepika looks,  he was never fond of movies. I gave him a hug anyway.

Recently  I came back from Parbhani after playing a tournament. I told him about how dirty and filthy the city was. It was a garbage dump and people lived in inhuman conditions. Their wasn’t any drainage system, and there were pigs all over the city. I told him how helpless I felt looking at the hopeless situation. ” Don’t worry so much. You have to fulfill your destiny first and only then can you help someone else. Your destiny is not picking up a broom and cleaning Parbhani. Though I am sure you might have inspired a young girl to pick up a racket instead of a broom. One has to do what one has to do. Your job is to play, do that well.”

When I hear stories about parents being disowned by their children it really surprises me. This older generation is a definite asset to our lives. There is  wisdom, love, and so many stories to learn from. I love my rockstar Ajoba, why wouldn’t I ? He knows how to use an IPad for god sake and he is 83, 84 or 87.

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