Ajji – Literally means grandmother in my mother tongue Kannada. In Karnataka old ladies are just called Ajji, they are not addressed by their names. This little tit bit out of the way , I can tell how exactly the character of Ajji came into being.
I grew up with a lot of stories, stories my grandmother told me, stories of kings and queens, of war, stories of good and evil and so much more. In most parts of India the tradition is to pass on the stories of Mahabharatha and Ramayana from generation to generation, a tradition that is fast dying. I heard the stories my grandmother told me, entering into my own reverie and recalling most of the stories even now. I have two very different Grandmothers, one was full of stories, soft spoken, loved to eat dosa and the other was strong willed , artistic and confident woman who loved plants and to cook.
This character is a mix of both. Ajji is strong willed, loves to cook, loves to walk and most of all loves nature, she loved listening to and telling stories. She is kind and helpful, she is also determined and strong willed.
I also grew up reading a lot of illustrated children’s books , which most definitely shaped my imagination, I loved anything that was illustrated , mainly Russian Fairy tales like “Vasilisa The Beautiful” and other stories a collection by Alexander Afanasyev, illustrated by Ivan Bilibin and Amar Chitra Katha and even the Indian Comic Tinkle. I was mesmerized by Beatrix potter’s books which made me fall in love with watercolours, even before I knew what watercolours were.
I would like to think that Ajji is a healthy mix of all of these things I have loved growing up and still do.