My grandmother, Ramabai Kamat passed today in my native place of Honavar. She would have been 90 next week.
The ups and downs experienced by Ramabai Kamat in her long life make for very
interesting reading and provide details of status of women at the turn of 19th
century in rural India. She was born into a poor family, and was named beggar
("Bhikki") after a vow taken by her father, who had lost infant
children successively. She was educated only till 2nd grade, and was married at the age of
eleven into the joint family of Kamats. She raised eleven children, and many
many grand children. She has been the senior most member of the family since the
1960s, and enjoyed respect, love, and adulation by all.
We called her Kaki (literally meaning Aunt -- one of the banes of the joint
family was that the children referred to adults by their established titles. By
the time Kaki bore children, her title was established in the Kamat household as
'Auntie'), and Kaki was an expert housewife, a famous cook, a tender citizen,
and a village pharmacist. In my childhood (in the70s) when the healthcare was
not yet easily available in India, people from far way neighborhoods would come
to our house seeking Kaki's medicines. All those medicines were home-made, a
skill passed on to Kaki from her mother. Kaki would grow many of the herbs in
our garden, and keeping the cows away from them was one of our responsibilities
Kaki's many recipe's will live, she having passed them on to her daughters.
Her huge vocabulary of Konkani language words, sayings, and songs (India has a very strong tradition of oral education;
Konkani is a spoken language anyway;) have been documented by my mother and will
be published soon (the book has been dedicated to Kaki). While it is not
obvious, Kaki is the model of many of our photographs on this site -- using a
stationary knife, using a coin-sized mirror to apply kumkum, churning the
butter, and as the center of a joint family.
Goodbye Kaki. Thank you for serving the family for seventy-five years. Like
Bappa once said, "we are happy, safe, and prosperous today, thanks to
the divine credits (punya) earned by you!"
Obituary of Ganesh Burde, my grandfather who passed away earlier this year.
Obituary of my father, who also passed away this year.
Konkani Woman at Work
|(Comments Disabled for Now. Sorry!)||First Written: Wednesday, September 25, 2002|
Last Modified: 9/27/2002