Balu Kaka – from the point of view of his niece.
Kaka (my father’s elder brother) was my first mentor. My father used to be away in field area due to his service in the Army, and Balu Kaka filled the gap. He was like a father to me. We all lived together in a large joint family in Neel Sadan, which was the house belonging to my grandfather, Bhausaheb.
Balu Kaka was an intellectual. As you can see from the photograph on the left, there was a brightness in his face, a twinkle in his eye.
He had a library full of books on all subjects, including philosophy. I remember fondly the hours I spent with him discussing ideas, philosophical theories of Western, Indian and Chinese philosophers. I devoured all the books he had and we would talk about each book for hours! I was in school, and Balu kaka opened my mind to thoughts which not many school going children are exposed to. We discussed everything under the sun…religion, politics, relationships.
He had a great sense of humour and a sense of fun. I remember that when there was a wrong number on our landline he used to pretend to be that person and chat just for fun!
There are early childhood times with him which I don’t remember clearly, but my parents and aunts have told me as to how he used to take care of me when I was a child. And he used to take me to school on his red scooter on occasion! I am told I used to be deliberately late so that I would miss the school bus and he could take to school!
He had a very nice mustache! Knowing how fond I was of him, sometimes the relatives from my mother’s side used to tease me about the mustache, trying to be funny, and I used to flare up and defend his mustache!
He encouraged me to write. He read all the stories I wrote. Most of them were silly science fiction stories…I am amazed as to how Balu Kaka read them patiently, gave me his critique and suggestions!
My first ambition was to be a writer of fiction. I became a journalist instead. And now a hand reader. But the love of writing remains. Writing has always played a big part in my life, and it helps me in my hand reading too as I write reports and also maintain a website.
Kaka helped me get admission in the working women’s hostel in Colaba, Mumbai.
I was not there when Balu Kaka passed away in Mumbai, much before his time. In his fifties. My greatest regret is that I never told him how much I loved him and how important a part of my life he was. In some ways he shaped my personality.
Today is his birthday. And I wish him peace wherever he is.
(Written by Nita Jatar Kulkarni, daughter of Sudhir Jatar, Balu’s younger brother)
Related Reading: Balu from a daughter’s perspective.