KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Neeta Kashyap Kapoor – August 20, 1957 – October 25, 2019
It came as a very great shock to receive the terrible news that Neeta had died suddenly, at home with Ajay, in the early morning of October 25, 2019. Anil has three siblings, and only one sister – along with the spouses we were a gang of eight. It was difficult to get us all together despite the fact that we were the only ones outside of India. The three families live in different cities in India, we live in Victoria.
However hard it might be, and however much time has passed between visits, we always try and come together when we are travelling, and Ajay and Neeta’s home tends to be the place that we all gravitate towards.
Neeta was not ‘in the picture’ when Anil and I travelled to India to have a second wedding in July 1974. There is a gap of six years between Anil and Ajay, and Ajay was married to Neeta six years after our marriage. We weren’t able to attend the wedding because it was arranged rather quickly in the summer of 1980 because Anil’s father was in very poor health and he wanted to have his youngest child married to give him peace of mind.
We had to be content with photos of the wedding, but we heard that everyone was delighted with the young bride and I looked forward to meeting her one day. Unfortunately, Anil’s father, the patriarch of the family passed away on Dec 24, 1980 just two short months before our son Raj was born. Our daughter Adia was born three years earlier, so Daddy, as he was known to the family, was not able to see either of our children.
Anil and I applied almost immediately to have his mother come to live with us in Canada for some time, and when the immigration process appeared to be stalled, I left Anil to cope with Adia who was nearly three years old, and took baby Raj to India to light a fire under the Canadian Embassy in Delhi and bring my mother in law to Canada.
After visiting with family members in Mumbai, I flew to Mhow to visit Ajay and meet his wife Neeta and their three-month-old son Tanuj for the first time. It was seven years since my first trip to India in the summer of 1974. I learned later that Neeta was extremely anxious to host her foreign sister in law, especially because they were living in a small military cantonment in a rural part of northern India, and their accommodation was very basic, it even lacked running water.
Little did she know that I was thrilled to get out of the big cities and see more of the countryside, or that the lack of indoor plumbing didn’t faze me in the least. I had spent two and a half years roaming around Africa before I returned home and met Anil, and I was more or less familiar with rural life. Neeta and I hit it off almost immediately; she relaxed once she realized that I was completely comfortable.
Neeta was the youngest daughter in a family of four children and by the time she came along, her father was a Colonel with all the perks associated with that high rank. She had married an army man, but Ajay was just a young captain and wasn’t entitled to the lifestyle she’d grown up in. It seems Neeta had to do more adjusting than I did.
My visits to India were few and far between in those early years when we were raising children. It was another ten years (1991) till I made a third visit to see my Indian family and that time all four of us were able to travel together. Anil and I suggested we plan a trip for everyone to gather together in Agra and tour Rajasthan for ten days.
We didn’t have a great deal of time during the Christmas school holidays so this plan meant that we didn’t have to visit three different cities, and everyone would be on holiday and away from work and household duties. As it turned out, all three of my sisters in law were schoolteachers (Manju, Neena and Neeta) so they were free to travel. There were 16 of us on the bus, roaming around the desert landscape, exploring temples and ancient fortresses; we had a blast.
However, with so many in the group, it was hard to get to know each other as well as we’d have liked to, and I came away wishing I’d spent more time with each of the women, especially Neeta. When we were visiting her in Delhi she was gone early in the morning so naturally we spent much more time with Ajay.
To be continued….