Final Farewell of Saroj Prasad
Mere Saroj Ke Apne Vichaar
Mere Saroj Devi ki jindgi kahin phoolon sey saji thi to kabhi wo kaanton par bhi chali thi. Jo bhi tha wo apne jindgi aur unke sabhi apne logon sey bahut pyaar karti thi. Parmaatmaa mein unka vishwaas atal tha. Kai baar jab ham apne lekh karne baithtey thea toh kabhi hamarey lekh kavita ban jaatey thea toh kabhi ham unko kalpit kahani bana detey thea. Jo bhi hota tha wo hamaarey niji vichaar hotey thea. Inhi romaani samay mein meri Saroj ne mujh sey na jaaney kithey hi apne dilki baaton ko bataaya karti thi. Unke ujjwal antar aatmaa mein na jaaney kitney sundar, achhey aur sachhey vichaar bharey rahtey thea. Aaj unke hi karkamalon aur vichaaron sey ham bhi kitna badal gaye hain.
Apne vivah ke chaalis varshgaanth par unhon ne hamse apne pyaarey shabdon mein bataya tha ki wey apne jeewan kaal mein na jaane kitney rishton ko nibhaaney ki koshish karti rahi lekin na jaaney unko aysa kyun lagta tha ki wey apne kisi bhi rishtey ko bhali bhaanti nibha nahi saki thi. Unko iska bahut dukh tha.
Usi samay main ne apney jordaar shabdon mein unko bataya tha ki aysi koi baat nahi hai kyonki wey ek ati uttam putri thi, ek bahut safal vidyarthi thi, ek bhaktimaan sakhi thi, ek pyaari bahen thi, phir ek priyetam patni bani aur jab wey ek mamtaa sey paripurna maa bani toh wey ek behadd bharosey daar naani aaji bhi ban kar apne sabhi naati potton ka dil jeet liya tha. Par mere sabhi aaswaasan ke bawajood bhi meri Saroj ke mann me iss Vishay par bahut maleenta thi jisko wey mere saamney baar baar prakat karti rahi. Mujhe na chahtey huye bhi in sab ko sunna pada tha. Lekin main ne yeh kabhi bhi swikaar nahi kiya ki mere Saroj mein koi bhi khot ya kami thi. Wo paripurna devi toh thi hi par unka mann aur bhavna ati uttam aur mann bhaawan tha.
Meri pyaari Saroj kahti rahi aur main chupchaap suntaa raha aur phir karta bhi kya kyonki unke shabdon mein utni mithaas rahti thi. Unka kahna tha ki jab wey ek paawan aur sulakchhan putri ka farz adaakarti rahi tab unko laga tha ki unke sabhi karkamalon ko kisi ne purey roop sey samajh hi nahi paya tha aur wey ek adhoori beti ban kar rah gayi thi. Unko yeh jaan kar bahut dukh hota tha ki wey apne pujye maata pita ko purey roop sey khush nahi kar saki thi kyun ki unki shaadi ho gayi thi. Wo chah kar bhi apne maa baap ki purey roop sey sewa nahin kar paayeen thi.
Apne shaadi ke baad na toh wey apney saas sasoor ki khushi ban saki aur na hi apne kolej ke priyetam pati ki purey roop sey ardhangni hi ban paayi thi. Unko lagta tha ki wey apne laakh koshishon ke baad bhi ek adhoori patni hi reh gayi thi. Wey apne pati ki sabhi maangon aur chaahaton ki bhali bhaanti purti nahi kar paayi thi thathaa iss ke liye unko bahut dukh dard hota raha hai.
Jab unhon ne apne chaar honhaar bachon ko payda kar ke un ka sahi parwarish kiya tab bhi unko aysa laga ki wey ek achhi maa bhi nahi ban paayi thi. Naani aaji ki to baat chor hi do lekin wey ek safal vidyarthi hote huye bhi apne jeewan mein koi khaas safaltaa nahi paa saki thi. Yeh un ka anumaanit kathan tha jisko main ne kabhi bhi maanney ke liye tayyar nahi tha aur lagataar inkaar karta raha.
Main ne unse shaayad hazaar baar kaha tha ki un ki jeewan mein sabhi bhi safalta aur karam bejodh rahi hain jis ka koi mukabla hi nahi hai. Wey ek ati safal adhyapika thi aur do vishwavidyalayon sey teen teen digree kar ke sab ko dikha diya tha ki wey kitni hoshiyar aur nipurna vyakti hain. Kai ati uttam high school ki Head of English ka pad safalta purwak nibhaayaa tha aur phir ek senior lecturer ban kar na jaane kitne naye adhyapak adhyapikawon ko tayyar karaaney mein apna sahyog diya tha. In sab aur ayse kitne annye safalta ke namoone sey kewal ek hi matlab nikalta hai ki wey ek ati safar aur honhaar vyakti thi.
Inn sabhi maayushiyon sey unke vajood aur saksiyat par bahut gahera chot pahucha tha tab unhon ne hamse kaha tha ki wey apne jeewan ke kuchh antim ghadiyon mein kewal ek saadharan aurat hi ban kar rahna chahti thi. Unke liye sabhi rishte naate jhoothe aur swarth sey bhare deekhney lage thea. Wey dharma ke sabhi paakhand ki bade jordaar shabdon mein khandan karne lagi thi. Unko wahi log achhe lagtey thea jo sabhi shubh karam kar ke apna jeewan nirwah karte thea. Wey apne jeewan ke antim teen saalon mein sabhi pyaar mohabbat ko banawati samajhne lagi thi aur ek sanyaasani ka roop lekar jee rahi thi. Unke iss vyaktigat ikchha sey ham santusht toh nahi thea par unka kadar karna hamara farz ho gaya tha.
Lekin apne nidhan ke ek do din pahle unhon ne kaha tha ki unka astitwa yahi kahne laga hai ki wey ab ek achhi aurat ka farz bhi nahi adda kar paa rahi thi is liye unko ab iss duniya ko chorney ka samay aa gaya tha. Yeh sab sun kar mere dil aur dimag par jayse bijli gir padi thi par main unko samjhaataa raha ki ayse vichaaron sey koi fayda nahi hoga. Unke dil ke daurey ke baad ham ne unka sewa karna apna farz hi nahi par apna patidharam samjha tha par wey mere sewa karney ke bhav unko achha nahi lagtaa tha.
Jab unhon ne yeh kaha ki ab main kya karoon tab main ne us din bahut laachaar ho ke unse yeh kaha tha ki Darling, aap mein koi khot nahi hai aur kewal mere liye hi nahi par mere sabhi bachchon ke liye aap ek mahaan lakhsmi, maata, aaji, naani hain aur mere liye ek ati sushil aur sundar saubhav ki sati savitri patni rahi ho. Aap mein kabhi bhi koi kami nahi thi, na rahegi kyon ki aap ka sahi roop saraswati devi aur lakhsmi devi se bhi uttam rahi hai. Kami aur khot toh ham mein thi. Mujhe maaf kar dena. Khamoshi aur shaant bhav hi unka sahi latchhan raha hai. Iss liye wey sabhi kuchh sahti rahi aur kabhi kisi sey koi shikaayat hi nahi kiya tha. Wey jayse andar hi andar ghut rahi thi aur ham sab unke antar aatma ka peeda ko pahechaan hi na sakey.
Meri in baton ko sunkar unke chehre par ek vyangaatmak muskaan aa gaya tha aur wey mujhe wahi bhav purna pyaara sa aalingan de kar sone chali gayi thi. Doosre din subah saat baje snaan karne ke baad jab wey mere paas apne kapde pahanney ke liye chali to wey mere baahon me apni dam todd di thi. Main ne kai koshish ki unko sambhalne ke liye par unka dil aur fefada dono thak gaya tha. Ambulance wale aaye aur unko aspataal pahunchaaya par unko koi dawa ya duwa bacha na saki. Brihaspatiwar ke subhah sadhe das baje unka praan pakheroo pramaatma ke supurt ko gya aur ham sab awaak ho ke dekhte rah gaye.
Main ek damsey bikhar ke tadap ke rah gaya aur aaj bhi unke madhur yaadon ko liye kisi tarah ek jinda laash ki tarah jee raha hoon. Shayad yahi mere pyaar ki saja hai ki main sesh jeewan iss kaid aur aag mein jalta rahoon. Lekin main unke sabhi uttam vichaaron aur sundar thata madhur khayaalon ko le kar apna jeewan bita raha hoon.
Unke jaane ke baad ham ne na jaane kitne kavitayen, lekh aur chalchitr unke naam sey rachey aur banaye hain. Yahi sab mere jeena ka rah dikhate rahe hain aur mere liye duwa aur dawa ka kaam kar rahe hain.
Subah hoti hai, din chadhtaa hai, raat hoti hai par unki yaad mere dil aur dimag sey jaati hi nahi hai. Yahi toh mera sacha pyar hai unke liye aur main apne bache jindgi mein unki hi pooja aur araadhnaa kar ke bitaa doonga.
Log kahte hain ki samay balwaan hai aur dhirey dhirey main unka viyog, judaai, tadap aur bichad jaane ka peeda ko bhool jawunga lekin unko yeh nahi maloom ki main ab apne priyetam Saroj ke aatma ko apne aatma ke andar basa ke jeer aha hoon. Wo ab mere saath hi raheti hain aur main unse wartalaap karta hi rahta hoon. Yahi ab mera jeewan hai. Main apne Saroj ke liye jeeta hoon aur unke hi liye marunga tab mujhko shanti milegi. Mera aur merey Saroj ka purna milan hoga tab hamko mukti milegi.
Final Farewell for a Faithful Friend
Saturday 16th March 2013 11.00am-1.30pm
FINAL FAREWELL FOR SAROJ KUMARI PRASAD
At the Centenial Memorial Gardens
So much has been created so carefully and skilfully with so many appropriate vocabulary on the life and achievements of this beautiful soul, The Pretty Lotus, Our Saroj that the readers are bound to get a very true and authentic feeling of the normal, spiritual, compassionate, successful and completely contended living of the angel of the Prasad Family of Bellbowrie.
In essence this is only part of the whole picture and story of this brilliant and superb personality. In fact she deserved much more love, tributes, accolades and honours than this brief and tiny publication.
One thing is certainty though. We have made her immortal and she is now an Amar Aatma which has reached Nirvana and attained complete bliss, salvation, mukti and moksh. Her soul is now part and partial of Paramatma and there is no reincarnation for her because she truly believed in the principles of truth, beauty and goodness of humanity,
We hope that the readers of this publication can add their own contributions to make her life even more brilliant, meaningful and rewarding.
These fifty-six thousand words spread over six hundred and fifty pages are definitely insufficient and inadequate to properly display all the inherent and hidden qualities, history and propensities of The Pretty Lotus, Our Saroj but at least these are a good starting point.
Rest In Peace, the Pretty Lotus.
SPEECHES AT FINAL FAREWELL
All the speeches that were presented at the final farewell are transcribed here with some editing. This is presented as a loving tribute and a fitting memorial ceremony for Mrs Saroj Kumari Prasad- 15th August 1940 – 14th March 2013.
Introductory remarks by Saroj’s youngest brother, the Master of Ceremonies Bipin Sharma.
Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I am Bipin Sharma Saroj’s youngest brother. On behalf of Dr Ram Lakhan Prasad and his four children Praanesh, Praneeta, Harshita and Rohitesh together with their respective family members I would like to welcome you all here to help them celebrate the life of the most beautiful person known as Saroj Kumari Prasad. I thank you all.
It was my sister’s wish that I officiate at this final ceremony.
Saroj was born in 1940 shortly after the start of World War 2 and like a strong soldier she had a lot of fighting spirit in her that helped her to overcome the many challenges her life presented her in the last 72 years. However, although she has lost her life’s battle there is a win in that she now has got freedom from all the pain and suffering that she had from her illness that she endured.
Saroj lived a remarkable life, one that inspired us all greatly. She had a very happy demeanour and was always very patient and generous with all her affections.
She never displayed any anger or impatience and was a very forgiving person in all the circumstances. If she did not agree about anything her eyes will say it all, without a word spoken. It was that thick stare that she gave with those widely opened eyes and we would know that we were in trouble, including my brother in law. This must have been the skill that she mastered from her long days of school teaching.
Saroj was always happy to part with her knowledge whether it was sharing her cooking recipes or her life time experiences with her friends and strangers alike. What Saroj enjoyed the most was spending quality time with her husband on every opportunity she got.
Let me say that the quality of service that my brother in law, Dr Prasad provided his wife, my sister was a fitting picture of a true love story. I am very proud of my brother in law for having the courage under these difficult circumstance today to put his hand up to deliver the eulogy for his wife. I will now call upon Dr Prasad , Saroj’s husband to deliver the eulogy.
Eulogy for Our Saroj by her husband Dr. Ram Lakhan Prasad
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, family members and relatives.
This is the saddest day for our family because we have lost our most precious treasure, my wife SAROJ PRASAD, our children’s loveable mother and our grand children’s most deserving grand mother.
I had the golden last opportunity to take that last journey with my Saroj from the funeral house to the Centenary Memorial Gardens and in this hour I silently conversed with her and I felt that she was patiently listening. I poured all my pains and sorrows and asked for forgiveness for any wrongdoings that I may have caused her in our 50 years of fruitful family life. Silence from her side was taken as agreement. I felt so much relieved.
Even if we made all the trees of the world into pens and turned all the water of the oceans into ink we will NOT be able to adequately present all the qualities, skills, talents and experiences of our Saroj but let me say a few words about this lady who was the centre of The Prasad Family for over half a century.
My wife Saroj was such a wonderful woman that the whole world loved her. I’m not sure I can really express just how much I will miss her but it is definite that I will miss her tremendously for the rest of my life.
Not only was she a devoted and wonderful wife but she was my life. She was among other relations a loving and compassionate mother, a perfect grandmother, the best friend, a professional colleague, a quality teacher and a resourceful lecturer.
Saroj’s unmatched abilities to make everyone feel comfortable, secure and loved were her greatest strengths. She firmly believed in giving without being asked and receiving the best accolade for all her accomplishments, words, deeds and thoughts.
It has been nearly 50 years since we married and I look back over those years with so much happiness. She made me what I am today. She became my wife and enriched my life but she had the sharpest knife to cull out all my evils, my short comings and my weaknesses. She was always full of truth, beauty and goodness of humanity and revealed many divine human values.
I remember the first time I saw her - I saw her at the College Library on a Tuesday morning and since then all my Tuesday mornings became my most beautiful times of life because of two reasons. One was her unforgettable mystic smile like Monelisa and the next was her simplicity that generated charm and beauty of a type that is hardly found in any person. This was my Saroj, specially made for me. But this Tuesday turned out to be the worst day of my life when she collapsed in my arms.
I was too shy initially to even look at her and hold her eye contact, but I did look out for her exuberance and glory every morning so much so that my whole day became meaningful. Eventually we clicked, fell in love, and our friends began to anoint us as “a pair made for each other”.
Saroj was always such a lady of my life that I had a lot of respect and honour. She was not only well mannered, charming, compassionate, very understanding and polite, but always quick with multiple worthy remarks and many wise contributions.
Her joviality and excellent human nature always attracted people the moment she walked in any environment, and no one could forget her pleasant manners, her dignity and contagious smile.
Born and bred in Fiji, Saroj always had a passion for the ocean. In her early life with her family she enjoyed the walk on the beaches of Naitonitoni in Navua where her father worked as a sub accountant.
When we had each of our four children -Praanesh, Praneeta, Harshita and Rohitesh, she was not only delighted with them but named every one of them with 8 letters. She said she would prepare each one of her children for life with eight excellent qualities of human beings.
She would make them Academic, brilliant, courteous, dexterous, effective, faithful, graceful and honest. She made sure that while as a trade unionist I trotted the globe she made our house into a home full of hard working and intelligent children.
Undoubtedly, Saroj was a wonderful mother to our children and I loved to watch her shower her unconditional love and laughter on them. As they became teenagers, I saw how they always went to her for advice – even if they did run off and do the opposite, as teenagers do. She was always there to pick up the pieces and sort things out. They respected and loved her deeply for this.
Saroj was always a hardworking, giving and a supportive lady. She was awarded medals for being an Outstanding Teacher and lecturer, the best student and an effective leader in the community. Not only was she committed to her profession – working long hours that would put me to shame and drive me insane – she was also committed to giving back to the community.
Giving to her friends and relatives the art of excellent cooking and reliance. Giving every one the idea of sharing and caring. Giving all people the sensibility of sincere service.
She always encouraged us to be faithfully and fully involved in life – she brought out the best in us all.
She would always say, ‘You can’t rest on your laurels, Darling ! You must keep forging ahead and make the best of everything”.
She tamed me from an angry young man to a peace loving husband and an understanding father. Her human quality of selflessness touched many lives across the globe. A trait of this magnitude we love to treasure and celebrate for the rest of our lives.
She was my soul mate and my inspiration – my steadfast rock that helped me through thick and thin. Saroj supported and loved us all, and was always there to help navigate us through life’s challenges.
Saroj may be in heaven now, but I know she is looking down at us with a big smile on her face saying, “Forge ahead – make the best of your remaining life – and I’ll see you soon. We have work to do up here, too.”
Saroj was a remarkable lady of deep understanding who always held her head high and gave endlessly to those around her. She did not only give us her love, her life and all the needed lessons but she made us what we are today.
Born in Nasinu in 1940, the time when the world was at war, she became a fighter for social justice and peaceful co-existence. Her real religion was humanity for she did not believe in the division within mankind or any unnecessary ceremonies for living a peaceful and complete family life. For her, everyone was not only born equal but should be treated equal. She followed this philosophy well and regarded much of religion and unnecessary religious ceremonies as a waste of time, money, resources and substance.
The moment I set eyes on her, I knew she was the one for me. An exquisitely beautiful lady I had ever seen and she reminded me of a variety of Goddesses from our religious books – her poise, her grace and her beauty were second to none.
Our courtship was difficult and non existence as we had to overcome distance. I was working in Vanua Levu and She in Viti Levu of the Fiji Islands but I was determined to make her my wife and I am glad that I did for she tamed me and constructed a perfect path for me to follow.
Saroj and I came from different backgrounds: I was brought up on a farm of Sabeto and had never ventured out into the city, while Saroj had grown up in Suva city at the Dudley Boarding House.
However, when the two of us met we created our perfect world, our happy family life full of flavour and fruitful outcomes. We complimented each other perfectly and got on well like peaches and cream.
After getting permission from her father to marry her in 1963 I was the happiest man alive. I still remember how beautiful she looked sitting with me as my bride (my dulhin) in the mandup at Nabua in Samabula on 19th January, 1964. Her big brown eyes and her cheeks flushed with excitement, her proud parents doing the kanya daan and all the family members, friends and relatives eager to bless our union of souls.
In July last year when Saroj became gravely ill, we were all truly devastated. She was always fit and strong, and on the ball. She had so much to live for and so much love to give. She never liked any fuss being made of her, and would chastise us if we, as she would like to say – “flapped” around her too much. She was so used to caring for others that she couldn’t accept reciprocity of fuss on her.
Saroj! My beautiful, sweet, darling wife, you are at peace, and may God bless you. You are in heaven and I am in hell and the twain would not meet any more. I will treasure your soul with the hope of joining you soon. I love you very dearly.
Ladies and gentlemen, she was a great listener of music and this made her even more melodious and pleasant. Her favourite songs were Chal ud jaa re punchi ki mera desh hua begaana and Jeewan ke safar mein raahi milte hain bichad jaane ko.
So the pretty bird has flown away because this world became unnecessary for her and her journey of this life was to meet us, make us what we are and then depart. She has just done that.
Thank you my darling for being the power behind us to give us the needed love, peace and guidance.
We will celebrate your truth, your beauty and your goodness forever. May God Bless your soul.
Finally to my beloved let me express my love poetically.
Darling, I loved you freely without restrictions.
I loved your understanding without doubt.
I loved you honestly without deceit.
I loved you creatively without conditioning.
I loved you always without reservation.
I loved you physically without pretending.
I loved your soul without wishing for anything.
I always loved your being without wanting.
I loved you then, I love you now and I will love you forever.
Ladies and gentlemen thank you very much for sharing our sorrows and grief with us and giving us comfort.
Speech of Dr Donna McGrath.
Introduction by Bipin :
Saroj had many friends in different circles- close family, extended family and her community service in the neighbourhood. One of her close friends from the neighbourhood Dr Donna McGrath has agreed to share her thoughts about Saroj today. I call upon Dr McGrath to say a few words.
It is my privilege to be able to speak about my dear friend and neighbour Saroj who lived across the street only a few metres away from us. I met Saroj twelve years ago after my own mother had died. Saroj very quickly became a second mother to me and a grandmother to my two sons Andrew and Sam.
She was always interested in what we were doing and celebrated our achievements with love, compassion and gifts on special occasions. We still remember her special dishes such as the crab curry. The wonderful aroma of Saroj’s cooking was a delight and left a mouth watering torment as it rose up the hill.
We always looked forward to our special celebrations to get together and share our wonderful experiences. My family very quickly became part of Saroj’s family because she had such a vast capacity for love.
Two special memories remain with me that show how best I was because Saroj loved me. At Ram and Saroj’s 40th wedding anniversary Saroj introduced me to Harshita, the only children of her that I had not yet met, as her eldest sister. When we travelled to Fiji with Ram and Saroj she told her favourite sari shop owner to give me special price because I was her eldest daughter.
These two occasions among others gave me great joy because I felt surrounded by her love. But it was not only on family level that Saroj and I had a special connection. Saroj lent me many books and movies because she knew that after I had read and watched them I would discuss about what I had learned. So in this way she opened my eyes to many different cultures.
Saroj was very knowledgeable about world politics and we discussed the failings of many leaders who did not seem to care about people. So even though Saroj was retired she remained a wonderful teacher and I am grateful for the great knowledge that she shared with me.
Saroj and Ram and their children and grand children together with their extended family members have enriched our family life and we count our blessing everyday that they lived across the road from us.
I will miss my friend’s gentleness and wisdom and I will carry her memories in my heart always. Thank you.
Bipin then asked the two daughters of Saroj to speak. One of Saroj’s wishes was to have her four children to share their memories on this day. She was very proud of each of her four children and they were the corner stones of her life. I will now call upon Saroj’s daughters Praneeta and Harshita to share their memories and stories about their mother with us.
Presentations of Saroj’s two daughters Praneeta and Harshita.
Dear Amma, today I am here to say goodbye to you to say thank you. Thank you Amma for always supporting me and for being an ultimate model for me to lead a humble life. You were an amazing woman who taught me believe in myself, look beyond the horizon and forge ahead with pride.
You gave all your children every opportunity to become whatever we wanted to be and this freedom gave us joy to build our future. What impressed me most though was how capable my Amma was in performing every task for the family as well everyone else. She made her life shine with a brilliant teaching career and her interest in playing a game of scrabble was admirable. Her love for crosswords was unique.
Amma was kind and very understanding but strict in raising us and making us move ahead. Whenever we were naughty in her eyes she would threaten us by saying, Taji ke aando ham batayega, and that was enough to put us on straight and narrow paths again but she never told Taji about our misdeeds because she had her own ways of dealing with them.
Amma put our hopes and wishes ahead of her needs and aspirations to let us grow with absolute freedom.
I will definitely miss all her unique styles of cooking and her phone calls to me every morning to make sure that my kids were alright and had gone to school at the right time and with the right things. Then she would ring again in the afternoon to find out if the kids had arrived home safely.
But most of all I will miss her heart to heart conversations with a cup of coffee at the shopping centres. Our mother was a kind of woman I always wanted to become; strong, confident, passionate and never be afraid to be herself.
So today I won’t say goodbye to my Amma because I know that she will live in the hearts of everyone, specially my children Jayden, Hamish, Harrison and Grace and Shalendra and me. Amma I love you.
My dearest Amma, I wish all good things did not have to come to an end this way. As much as I understand the sadness of her passing away I know that she has found a peaceful existence. Amma you are now at peace with yourself.
Amma you were true inspiration in my life and your presence was so evident in almost everything I did. My thoughts and behaviour are a true reflection of your positive influence on me. Your ideas and presence will be with me forever. I will always miss your charm, your wise words and your guidance to make me think more clearly.
I owe you so much and I owe so much to you for who I am today. Thank you for being so compassionate and patient with me. I pray that in all our future life you always come back as my mother.
I know you will be missed by Anjali, Sonali and Naresh. I miss you heaps Amma. I miss you very much and I know that you are resting in peace.
Presentations by Saroj’s grand children- Jaya, Hamish and Sonali
Anjali, Meera, Jayden Nitish, Elliott Rohan and Charlotte Asha and Harrison and Grace.
The Grand Children Spoke with a lot of emotions. Bipin introduced the grand children as follows. Saroj was also very proud of all her eight grand children. She loved her time with them either at her place or their home. Today three of her grand children, Jaya, Hamish and Sonali have agreed to share their thoughts with us.
I thank everyone for coming to pay their last respect for my Aaji. I am sure my Aaji would have loved to see so many of you coming and saying so many good things about her.
When I think of my Aaji I am proud to remember and treasure so many of her wise words and great thoughts. I loved her cooking. I liked the books she would share with me and then discuss the stories with me. I loved to see her playing scrabble with Ajaa till late at night and winning almost all the games with high scores.
My Aaji’s work in the kitchen and at the dining table was always perfect and I will never be able to witness that any more. Then the other things that make me proud of my Aaji are her positive attitude and how she always looked at the good aspect in people.
Aaji loved us all but she had a special place in her heart for my younger sister Meera who was her angel and so were all of us. She would not want to hear any odd things said about her grand children because she adored them.
Although she is not here any more we have her positive attitude and pleasant nature with us. Despite so many problems around us my Aaji had so much hope and faith in everything and every person.
These and many other aspects of her life would be treasured by me at all time. If you remember my Aaji as I do, she was a happy person wanting to keep everyone happy and wanting to do everything possible for others but herself.
So let us celebrate her happy memories instead of a sad one. Thank you.
My Naani was a great woman. She was caring, kind, gentle and loving. I will remember her always as a person of great skills and ideas.
I was told that during my childhood I lived with my parents at my Naani and Naana’s home. My Naani would bathe me, clothe me, feed me, look after me and play with me. I feel as if she is still with me and looking after me.
My Naani was an amazing cook and I have great taste of the food that she cooked for us. I have great memories of the time when Naani took me to Fiji. My Naani shared an incredible responsibility for me because my mother was not there. Naani would not let me be out of her sight for even a minute and kept a keen eye on my every move but still made me enjoy my trip very much.
This was her love and responsibility for me. She was a classic tour guide for me in Fiji and I loved every minute of her company.
My Naani used to tell me many relevant stories and introduced me to all the relatives. It was through her tender care that I came back a lot richer in experience from Fiji.
Although now I would not be able to walk up the street to her home for a chat or a meal or to just be with her, she will live in my heart and mind for ever.
Naani, you are so much treasured by all eight of your grand children and we will never forget the great time we spent in your loving company. We will never forget so many things you so willingly taught us. We love you Naani. May you Rest In Peace.
Today we have gathered here to celebrate the life of a lovely lady, my Naani. She was a very kind and gentle person who made us happy and proud at all time. I have spent some wonderful times with her and would like to share some of them with everyone.
My love for her is great
It will never end, not ever
Not even when I try
We will never forget you
No matter what we do
When you fly back
We will be waiting for you
You listened to me when we talked about everything.
I have never had a chance to say I love you.
You have never complained and you were always kind to listen to us.
My Naani has been there through good and bad times.
She was very supportive and helpful to everyone.
I could not find anyone in the world who had any bad thing to say about my Naani.
Today I have lost a true friend, My Naani. Good bye.
Rest In Peace.
Bipin introducing Robert Sharma
Saroj was the eldest of the nine siblings in the Sharma Family and that made her the leader of the pack. She received the utmost respect from the other eight. I always recall that every time I was with her and met someone new for the first time she would always say pointing at me to that person, “He is the youngest of us nine and I am the eldest.” She took a lot of pride when she said that. This statement was always made with a lot of love. To represent the Sharma siblings our third eldest Robert would like to share some of his thoughts from the memory lane.
Friends and Family, Good Morning and Thank you. I would like to pass on a few messages of sympathy and condolence from various people.
Firstly, Arvind my younger brother and his wife Dhan with their family from Vancouver have sent their message of sympathy.
Secondly, Surekha and her family from Toronto have extended their condolence as have our friend Marv and Carriane.
During my 68 years of life my sister Saroj was there to give me all the love, support and care I needed. She was there to hold my hands to take me to my primary school. I had pleasure in taking her Tilak to invite my brother in law to get married to her and I even went with them when they went to Levuka for their honeymoon.
When I was leaving Brisbane to work in Canberra I was worried that I will no longer be near her to give her the company but after retirement when I returned to Bellbowrie, she was the happiest person.
Saroj was the best sister, mother and friend. On behalf of the Sharma siblings we would like to say thank you for being the perfect part of our family.
To my brother in law I would like to say thank you for being the perfect husband to our beautiful sister. To the bereaved family we stand here supporting them in their sorrow.
Bipin introducing Saroj’s two sons Rohitesh and Praanesh.
During her last few days Saroj started writing her diary and designing her final days. Today we are following her wishes to organise her final farewell. She wanted her two sons Rohitesh and Praanesh to keep the Prasad Family intact and look after her husband. I call upon her sons to speak.
Good afternoon everybody and thank you for joining us to celebrate our mum’s life. Let me start off by reading a message from my Vijen Kaka from Los Angeles.
“My dearest brother, my only bhaiya, My family with a very heavy heart sends you our deepest sympathy for the loss of your most precious treasure, my only bhabhi.
She is no more but this is not the end of the bond of Bhabhi and Dewar relationship because there are many fond memories that we have accrued over the years. The irony is that when one leaves us for ever the impact is great on the ones that are left behind. She is gone but our selfish lives are shattered.
Those of us who knew my bhabhi would have observed that she always placed the interest of others before hers. She was so caring that often she overlooked her own health conditions. This quality was manifested deep in her life.
When I was sick recently, she surprised me with her visit to LA despite her own illness. Only six days earlier she had her own health issue but travelled this far to witness my conditions and comfort me. I was moved and became sentimental to ask her, “Bhabhi, you were so weak with your recent cardiac procedures so why did you have to come so far to see me?” Her reply was, “Vijen, I have done a lot of research about your condition and if anything adverse happened to your life I would not have forgiven myself.” This tells us further what kind of human being my bhabhi really has been.
My family in LA is fully mindful of the sorrow and pain the Prasad Family is going through now. This is very tough time for all of you. To my brother, Praanesh, Praneeta, Harshita and Rohitesh remember we are the fruits of the same tree and we are there for each other. We love you.”
We also received a lot of messages of condolence by emails, phone calls, letters, cards and posting on social media from various parts of the world such as Hong Kong, USA, Canada, UK, NZ, Malaysia, Fiji and interstate in Australia. We sincerely thank everyone for their kind thoughts, words and messages. We were moved with the gestures of relatives in Fiji, Canada, USA and NZ who organised prayer meetings for my mum and we also thank them for their prayers, blessings and thoughts.
I guess being the baby of the family I have many fond memories of my mum who kept forgiving me for my mischievous behaviour for the last 42 years. However, Amma I simply want to say thank you for the proud privilege of being your son. Thank you for all your guidance, support, inspiration and love during the most tumultuous time of my life. All she wanted was my happiness.
Amma, I am very happy now and more importantly you need to know that Taji, your life partner, your husband, your life and your soul mate is not alone. We are all here with him and for him.
Goodbye Amma. You will live forever in all our hearts. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen,
My name is Praanesh and I am your last speaker here today and I thank my family for allowing me to say goodbye to my mum.
I am grateful for my Mala mausi who is here from California and Rakesh Sharma for coming from Melbourne at very short notice. I also thank Vimla mami for the note of regret and sympathy I received from her from NY. Vimla mami and my mum spent their school years together and she knew my mum even before my dad knew her.
What a beautiful day we have put on to say farewell and bid goodbye to my mother. My mum taught me so many things to set my life. She taught me how to live my life, how I interact with people, how I behave and how I organize my life. I am what I am because of my mum’s teachings.
She taught me how to press or iron my clothes when I was eight years old and from that day till today no one has ever ironed a shirt for me except me. My mother taught me to cook, to clean and to shop. She would take me to the market at five in the morning and help her choose things for the family.
All these have made me set for the rest of my life. For those of you who know me well I love to go to the different parts of the world and shop at different markets to find new things. My mother gave me ideas to do these things with greater ease and understanding. She introduced me to all sorts of ingredients.
My mother was a great reader. She even tried to teach me the value of reading and somehow she is still trying her best to instil a love of reading in me today.
For each crisis, for each trouble and for the ways I look to improve my life I would always refer to what my mum would do. When it came to such things as how to communicate with people, about humility and about how to express my love I used her as my reference guide to enrich my life. I liked the way she spoke from her heart. She has set my life so well that her legacy will live on forever.
Ladies and gentlemen my mum had this knack of making people feel like that they were the most important when they were with her. Some of us who had the fortune of being hugged by my mum would know what I mean when I say that my mum did not give you little idi bidi hugs. She gave us huge hugs that filled us with joy and love for the life because there was truth and meaning in all her hugs.
For my mum arguments, quarrels, negativity, pessimism were all foreign concepts. As we reflect our last few days since her passing away we were trying very hard to find out if there was anybody she was actually angry at and we could not find anyone, except perhaps my old man. So who was she at loggerhead with, who did she fight with or argue with, we could not find any answers to all these.
We all felt great to be around her because she gave us the energy, she made us laugh and she filled us with optimism. After spending a few minutes or hours with my mum you left her feeling on top of the world. After being her and meeting her no one left my mum feeling negative. She always made you feel on top of the world.
In keeping with her trying to teach me how to read and write well for so long I am sure she would not mind a thought that I have stolen from an anonymous source.
"Miss Me But Let Me Go"
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little-but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me-but let me go
For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone.
It's all part of the Master's plan
A step on the road to home
When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
Miss me but let me go.
Mum, you were a true champion in my life and I will miss you. Goodbye mother.
Concluding Remarks of Pandita Usha Rai
Ladies and gentlemen, we have just heard a small prayer asking God to guide Saroj’s soul.
We have come here to say goodbye to Saroj, to farewell her but we have to remember that the soul or Atma is immortal. According to Hindu scriptures, the Veda and the Geeta, we believe that the soul is immortal, it is everlasting , it changes form but it can not be destroyed.
The soul and body work together. They co exist and one cannot exist without the other. Whereas our body is perishable, it can be destroyed, the soul cannot because it is immortal and is passed on according to the deeds (Karma) the person has performed in his or her life time.
Death is the separation of the soul from the body. While the soul moves on the body remains with us and it is our duty to cremate it with respect and dignity and that is what we are doing today. The soul is the energy that drives the functions of the body and once this energy goes the body becomes cold and we know that a person has died.
The body is composed of five natural elements- earth, water, fire, air and sky or space. When a person dies the fire from the body goes and the body becomes cold. Next the air goes and the person is unable to breathe. What is remaining here is earth and water that will integrate into the space after the cremation.
The earth part becomes the ash which is taken to the river or sea and the circle begins again. We recite vedic mantras to integrate all these elements back to their original form and find a new place for the soul. That is what we are doing here today.
We are grateful to God for making Saroj a part of our life. We were fortunate to know her in many relationships. Although she is not with us physically her fond memories will live on forever.
So we conclude this final ceremony with prayers and will soon conduct the cremation. This is the Antim Sankar and antim means final or last and there is no ceremony after this for the body. Of course, to give peace to our sorrows and pains we can conduct a hawan at home as we wish.
Om vishwani deva savitar duritani parasuva
Yad bhadram tanna asuva.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
The Master of Ceremonies Bipin Sharma concluded the program with these words
We can farewell Saroj for the very last time and perhaps the most fitting way to draw an analogy is to look at the favourite board game of Saroj Scrabble. The game of scrabble is like the game of life. It has its ups, its downs and its bonus moments. Both the game of scrabble and the game of life ultimately reach a conclusion. We have reached an ultimate conclusion where many fond memories of Saroj and her love will live with us forever.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF SAROJ KUMARI PRASAD.
- Brilliant primary school student at Dudley House Suva 1946 to 54
- Primary School Captain.
- Exceptional High School awards at Dudley House 1955 to 1958
- High School Head Prefect.
- Overeas Junior Cambridge Certificate 1956.
- Overseas Senior Cambridge Ceritificate 1958.
- Selected to be trained as a teacher at NTC 1959.
- Elected as Vice President of the Students’ Council.
- Appointed Head Girl 1960.
- Chief Librarian at Nasinu Teachers’ College.
- Awarded Principal’s Prize as an Outstanding Student.
- Received Outstanding Award as a Trained Teacher 1961
- Taught at various primary, seconday and tertiary instituions.
- Appointed as Assistant Head Teacher 1968.
- Awarded Fiji Government Inservice Award to study on scholarship at USP 1973.
- Completed Bachelor of Education Degree 1976.
- Appointed Senior Teacher at SGS 1977.
- Promoted as Education Officer Schools’ Broadcast 1979.
- Promoted Senior Lecturer English at NTC 1980.
- Posted as Head of Department Languages Khalsa College Ba 1984.
- Posted as HOD to Nadi College 1987.
- Re-appointed Senior Lecturer at Lautoka Teachers’ College 1990.
- Granted Australian Citizenship 1995.
- Appointed Senior Teacher with Education Queensland 1996.
- Completed Bachelor of Teaching-Early Childhood QUT 1998.
- Appointed Group Leader at Child Care Centre 2000.
- Retired from all work and services 2002.
These were some of the important achievements of Our Pretty Lotus. Her greatest achievement was as a successful mother of four children and a pleasant grandmother of her grand children. Of course, she was a devoted wife and a faithful friend.