Sathibai akka - a final goodbye
by Paresh Shah


Sathibai akka passed away early in the morning on Sunday Dec 8, 2002, in Vashi, New Bombay where she was visiting her brother. Being in Bombay at the time, I was able to go to their home to pay my last respects and also attend the funeral.

Here's some sketchy information I was able to collect based on what one of her relatives told me (please note that it's possible that some details may be incorrect/misunderstood, for which I apologize; it did not seem prudent to ask too many questions of the relatives at such a time).

Apparently she was fine almost upto the very end. In fact, on Saturday evening they had even attended a party. Early Sun morning (arould 6:30am or so), she coughed up some blood. She collapsed on the way to the hospital where she was declared dead. I was told she did not suffer much.

It was a terrible shock to see her in that state. She had always been so active and alert.

We left for the crematorium around 4:15pm. Shashi Marballi ('78) was also there. Someone from RVS (probably Dr Shirali) was expected to arrive later that evening. The whole affair was peacefully and gracefully conducted, just as she would have liked it.

As I sat on the train enroute to Vashi, my mind was filled with memories of RV and Sathi akka. She was the one who conducted my entrance test (in 1975) for admission to RV. I was very nervous and I remember her being kind and encouraging. And it helped me overcome the jitters.

She was also my first class teacher (5th standard, 1976). Transitioning from a city school to RVS, I had skipped half a year and was hence behind the rest of my classmates in some subjects (specially Math). And yet, somehow it did not feel like a big deal because she never made an issue of it. Instead she gently encouraged me and gave me time to catch up. She also allowed me to confer with other students in the middle of a class lecture, when I didn't understand something.

I remember visiting her many years later (in 2001, I think). I was invited into the Xanadau where all boys dream of going -- Senior Girls Hostel. Her room was of course prefectly arranged. And soon, it felt like I had never really left RV. She recalled events from my time as if they had just occured. She remembered everyone of my long line of family RV-ites (and there have been many!).

She even remembered my mother's name. That was truly astonishing because my mom had come to RV only once, in 1976, to drop me off that first time. And I didn't know that Sathi akka even knew my mom. And yet, 25 years later, she was able to recall her name without the slightest hesitation!

This image of a kind, gentle lady with a phenomenal memory and concern for people is the image of her that I carry with me.

RV has lost one of it's most enduring personalities.

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