Mamaji

Here is a picture of the fab four that are running project why at present. You may recognise the three musketeers standing, but the fourth, sitting on a chair is someone I have not talked about much. And yet he has been keeping the project afloat and cruising since its very inception. Every one knows him as Mamaji. Mamaji means mother's brother in Hindi, and Satish has been like a brother to me more since I lost my parents. I could not have survived the myriad of formalities that follow the death of an individual and it was only because of his help that I could overcome all that was needed to be done. When project why was a bare thought in mind, the first name that came to me was his. I felt a little shamefaced when I realised that I had never written about him in the numerous blogs that trace the project why story. And it is not just his role in pwhy but his life story which needs to be told.

I first met Mamaji almost 30 years ago when he started looking after my father's financial issues: insurance, investments etc. My father's bank manager had introduced Satish to him and somehow Papa liked him from day one. Papa was very intuitive about people and rarely warmed up to anyone at the first sight, but he did with Satish. In those days Mamaji use to come on a bicycle from the boonies and he later confided in me that he owned one shirt and had to wash it every night. Those were the days of terylene drip dry shirts. Many of those reading this blog would not even know what they looked like. Anyway Mamaji use to to pedal across the city and I must say was a far cry form the rotund man he is now. He looked after Papa's affairs meticulously though he had one huge defect that made Papa very cross. That huge defect is still very much there but it is part of who he is, his unique identification number. That defect is that he is never on time, and by on time I do not mean a few minutes or more but it could be hours. Papa on the other hand was a true diplomat who always reached on time. I cannot recall the number of times we have circled around houses where we were invited before ringing the bell at the given time. This is something I inherited and totally out of sync with a city called Delhi where the expression 'fashionably late' acquires a new dimension.

I also cannot recall the number of times Papa delayed his afternoon tea as Satish was supposed to come at let us say 5pm. The pakora (fritter) batter was ready, the vegetables cut and the oil on low heat. 5 would become 5.30 and mama would urge him to have his tea. remember there were no mobile phones in those days! But the gentleman that he was would not. Mamaji would arrive at  6 or even 6.30 and Papa, who would have spent the previous hour cursing  and pacing as he was a man who could not bear hunger would not, as one would expect get angry at the young man who was all sweat, apologies and smile, but would welcome him with a big smile and a loud 'get the tea' meant for the kitchen staff. It must have taken mama and I a few more waiting sessions to convince Papa that he should have his tea and snack at 5 and we would make some for Satish when he came. I think Papa admired this young man who was honest, hard working and sincere. I also think the Heavens do stand by such souls as Mamaji graduated from bicycle, to two wheelers, to car and then cars! What is remarkable is that he never compromised on the values he respected.

I think Papa did have a talk with Satish just before he died and asked him to stand by me. He did and the reason why I could walk effortlessly into Papa's shoes, was because of him. And he was the person I felt I could trust to stand by me when I decided to start Project Why. I could never have handled or handle the complex paper work administrative and financial, one has to comply with to run a charity in India.

Mamaji still comes late but we all have got used to it. When he tells me he is five minutes away, he could be miles away, I sternly ask him his exact location and get a truthful answer.  One of the reasons for this annoying habit of his, is that he cannot say no to anyone. And spite of being late he always delivers what he has promised. To me, he has been God sent as I could not have run pwhy without his presence and help.

True he can be brusque at times and lacks  savoir faire and such social graces, but his other qualities make up for his lack of tact. What he does is always for the good of any situation and one cannot ask him to sugar coat the bitter pill.

I have great admiration for this man as I know how much he struggled in his life and the price he paid to get where he is. He could be an inspiration for many, but today's young want to get everything and get it fast.

For the past two months, he has stood like a rock next to me and handled all the ludicrous paperwork needed to get Ranjan his treatment. I do not know how many trips he has made to the airport to get the credit notes that are needed to benefit from Ranjan's Air India insurance! I would have given up, but not he and the nicest thing is that he never looses his smile.

 True he can be infuriating at times, but which younger brother isn't!