This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 32; the thirty-second edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following BLOG A TON. The theme for the month is ‘An Untold Story‘
There he lies on the floor. Cold and dead! The man who was responsible for everything concerning me, as a child. From buying my clothes to taking me to the dentist, ordering my birthday cakes to covering my school books! ‘Kaku’ – My uncle!
I look around to check who all have reached already. Quite a few! There is my aunt from Jamshedpur, with her impish looking husband and her son who’s about five years older than me. He never managed to finish college. My older Uncle is sitting in the room to the side. Talking in hushed tones with other’ important’ men of the family. Going over all the arrangements, I suppose. The bedroom door is closed, from inside comes a heart lurching wailing sound. That must be ‘Kaki’ . The pile of slippers outside the room, tell me her sisters are inside, taking care of her. The small verandah in the backside holds other relatives. The mamis, taijis, mausis, their husbands and grown up sons and daughter in laws sit on a large woven mat. Some genuinely upset, others exchanging family gossip, waiting for the proceedings to unfold. My older aunt from Calcutta is also there. The one who lost her husband when her children were still at college. Dressed in a printed chiffon sitting on the floor near the body, she steals glances at her well dressed son, Ravi Bhaiya. He has done well for himself. Its evident in the way the others gather around him, while he shows them photographs from his recent vacation in Bali. Hanging on to every word he utters!
It’s a special trait of my family. They listen to anyone with money. If you don’t have money, you don’t know anything worth listening to! Seems to be the general consensus. Perhaps that is why no one ever listened to ‘kaku‘. He never really had much money. He was the ‘Man Friday’ of the family. The one who did everyone’s bidding. He took my sour tempered grandmother ‘dadi‘ everywhere she needed to go. Maintained her accounts. Spending long hours bent double, over her books checking and rechecking them. Trying to rest the never-ending doubts in her ever suspicious mind. Whether it was an aunt’s father in law’s funeral or another aunt’s mother in law’s impending surgery or any of the other numerous occasions that come up in large Indian families. ‘Kaku‘ was the one, to make long trips in rickety buses, to far off towns to mark the family’s presence.
And there were many such occasions, considering the family consisted of four sisters and four brothers. ‘Kaku’ was the youngest among all. But because the older brothers were too important to be laden with mundane family responsibilities. All the useless, time-consuming, tedious tasks that no one wanted to do, fell to him. And he did them uncomplainingly. I wonder if he did them because he had no choice, or he was too simple-minded to realize that he was being exploited.
I always felt bad for him. pitied him even. This uncle of mine! Youngest among his siblings. Not well-educated like others. Always doing ‘non important’ jobs to scrape a living. His wife, my ‘kaki‘ from a humble background married into a large landed family. Always going out of her way to ‘adjust’ and ‘impress’. cooking endless meals and maintaining a jovial face amidst the endless taunts poured upon her by a demanding mother in law and inconsiderate sisters in-laws. They both raised the protective instinct in me.
Soon after ‘dadi’ died, I got married and left home. After dadi’s death the relationship between ‘Kaku‘ and me shifted somewhat.
“Beta! I need some money, the shop is not doing too well”. He called me up one day! The next time I met him I pressed upon him a considerable sum. “Here ‘kaku‘, use it! “
“‘Beta‘, there is a golden opportunity in the market. A very well located shop that if I can put the deposit for, will give me a handsome return” “The Fixed deposits that dadi left you, can I borrow them, I will return them later” . The fixed deposits were a very large handsome amount. Gifts that my grand-mom left my sister and me, worried about our future. ‘Dadi‘ near the time of her death had become more and more worried about us . her two grand daughters with no parents. “Ok kaku! You can have them. I said with a heavy heart. “I promise I will return them as soon as the shop starts doing well!”, he said
Unexpectedly the shop did do well. Within a year and a half it flourished into a four level showroom.
“I have bought a new car” Kaku called to inform me. On my next trip I found shiny new ACs and LCDs in all the rooms, of the house.
Soon after another call – “I have bought a big car! Scorpion”
Followed by another call soon after
“I have bought a piece of land in a new project on the highway “
It seemed like ‘Kaku‘ had finally found his place in the world.
And then the call early morning. “Kaki sobbed, telling me Kaku has had an attack again”
I did not need to ask what attack. All of us are too familiar with Kaku’s attacks – The doctor classifies them as neurotic breakdown. Whenever life throws something at kaku that he finds himself incapable to deal with he takes refuge in the attack!
” A client ditched me, I have lost all the money. What will I do now! How will I make my children study? ” – That when I went to see him , after his nervous breakdown. I felt like asking him, why he didn’t save when he had the money? Why did he not return what he owed us instead of buying fancy cars and ACs. But I don’t . Instead I say “You don’t worry. You get well. I am here. I will make sure your children study well”
And then the ‘Kaku’ in the court room – The one who sent legal notices claiming accounts of the very money he had used.
Later the same afternoon, he came to see me. “It’s not against you . I know the money is with me , but I have to do this to make the others pay up.” Referring to his long-standing dispute with his siblings.
“But why drag us into it” I want to ask. Why? after all that I have done for you, Why slander our names?”
But all I hear myself say is ” Its ok Kaku I understand!”
why do I always give in to him?
Why believe his stories?
Why do I feel like I am responsible to shield him from his own stupid actions and faulty judgements?
Why do I always need to protect him?
Always keep his secrets! pay for his mistakes?
maybe because he taught me that early in life.
When I was four or five.
And I slept in his bed and heard his stories…
Secret Stories that were never to be told to anyone…
No matter how much they creeped me out. No matter how defiled they made me feel! No matter how they left me a wreck – emotional and mental!
Those that only he and I knew.
And now that he is gone. The secret stories that are mine alone.
Mine – to struggle with! to have nightmares about. Mine to be ashamed of! Mine to hide from the world! Mine! To take with me to my grave. The Untold Story – that must never be told!
Hindi terms used in the story
Kaka/ Kaku – uncle, father’s brother
Kaki – Uncle’s wife
Dadi – Paternal grand mother
Beta – Child
Mamis – Mother’s brother’s wife
Masi – Mother’s sister
Taiji – Fathers older brothers wife
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