Louis Aja was man of small physical stature, but of formidable mental strength which showed in his stubborn defense of his religious and philosophical beliefs. He had no formal schooling and except for his broken English, no one could tell. He gained his wisdom over the years from his own experience and those of others and used everything he learned to fine-tune his charisma and charm as he aged. His sense of compassion was refined by his care and dedication to his sickly wife and this compassion was borne with an intense pride which lit up his face whenever he was observed caring for her.
This calm and humble old man known to everyone only as ‘Louis Aja’ was one of the gentle souls who were never heard to say an unkind word about another fellow being. Because of a back injury a long time ago, he walked bent over at the waist and as he aged, his stoop was more pronounced until in his later years he was totally bent over from the waist. Even with all of this, he was never once heard to complain about his misfortune or his pain.
His dedication to Pandit Budhram Mahadeo was well known and very evident by the reverence and devotion he showed in Papa’s presence. In his everyday life he showed this as he tried to put all his Pandit’s teachings into practice.
He was a tailor by trade and sewed many of the ‘Kurtas’ and ‘kurta pants’ that the members of his Mandir wore. The youths would go to his home where he would take their measurement and lovingly sew their religious garments to precisely fit their growing frames. His calm, peaceful demeanor almost demanded that everyone responded in kind to him and he was much loved by everyone, especially the children. His voice was soft and gentle and complemented his kind and generous personality. He was never heard raising his voice in displeasure or anger to anyone.
Because of his selflessness, he was the self appointed caretaker of the Mandir facilities and made sure that all materials, from the ‘dhoop’ wood used in the sacred fire to the ghee, spices and flowers, were available in time for services on Sundays or for any mid-week special occasion. The brass utensils used in the rituals of the Mandir were washed and kept at his home which was always open to all. Even on days when the Mandir was not used, he came in to open the windows at sunrise and closed them at dusk.
When the ‘backdam’ dams or trails which the tractors and people used to access the rice fields would be flooded out by rainfall, even though he did not use these trails, Aja would take his shovel and walk the 4 mile length of the trail, fixing where he could by shoveling as much as his frail body would allow.
He was quiet, almost saintly in his demeanor and rarely spoke, but when he did, they were words of kindness and caring. This was our Louis Aja. He embodied dedication and loyalty and used not words to tell how to be, but his actions to show how to be. He became the epitome of caring, kindness, and compassion.
Written By Jag B Mahadeo - From 'The Heart of The Sun'