RIP Mayaji: A royal lady of great refinement, depth and compassion


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By Rekha Bhattacharjee

September 5 saw the passing away of a dear friend, elder sister who passed away on her birthday, on Janmashtami, at the age of 79 in Sydney. Jogmaya Narpat Singh, or Mayaji, as we called her, was a very refined lady with great depth and compassion.

First met them in 1972 when Bhai Saab – Raj Kumar Narpat Singh – was posted in Sydney as Air India’s Australasia Regional Manager. Again they came for his last posting before retirement in 1980-85 as the Regional Manager of Australasia and SE Asia. Bhai Saab was offered the top post in Mumbai as the Commercial Director of Air India just before retirement but he declined. He retired and the family settled in Sydney.

Bhaisaab was a suave and an elegant ballroom dancer!  I still remember a party in 1972 that ended with couples taking turns on the floor. He noticed me not dancing – practically swept me on to the floor to the music of my favourite Blue Danube!

Unassuming as she looked with her constantly covering her head with her sari, gentle voice and a soft smile, Mayaji was a powerhouse of talent. Daughter of the Maharaja of Orissa, Mayaji, after convent school, studied at home with private teachers, not continuing an academic career officially but pursuing educational influence at home.

Her book on Poems – “Life’s Rhythms” – incorporated both her mother land and her adopted country. A truly multicultural poet with an array of verses on practically every important event, visit, historical sights, monuments etc she covered it all. The flow was uninterrupted!

Jogmaya Narpat Singh was a member of the Society of Women Writers of NSW. She was also a tremendous cook. I still remember her birthday we celebrated in the 1970s! Her preparation of gajar halwa’ was superb! (And those days Sydney did not have Indian shops to buy sweets)!

I used to urge Mayaji to write for the Indian Post newspaper (of which I was then the editor) and she did every month. I only had to mention a topic – she always came up with a piece. I use to be inspired by her talks – mostly we did over the phone and I will always be so grateful for a poem she penned on me for my 60th birthday.

Karan, Rani, PV & Manjit have all settled in Sydney – saw the last of her grandchildren enter university this year. Mayaji. we will miss our talks we had from time to time and will fondly remember you

My wish at least was fulfilled when I organised Mayaji’s book launch by our famous singer Kamahl at our place with all who’s who of Sydney

Mayaji was to receive an award in the State Library for her contribution to Multicultural Australia. The award ceremony was on September 9 and – ironically – her funeral is on that day.

RIP Mayaji. We celebrate a life well lived – for your eternal journey I quote your favourite poet Rabindranath Tagore:

The ocean of peace lies ahead of me
Sail the boat, O pilot
You are my constant companion now.
Take me in your lap…
Along our journey to the infinite
The pole star alone will shine.

Giver of Freedom
Set me free.
May your forgiveness and compassion
Be my eternal resources for the journey-
May the mortal ties fall away,
May the vast universe
Hold me in embrace,
And with an undaunted heart
May I come to know the Great Unknown

Rabindranath Tagore

 

 

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