Grace and dignity

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Sydney’s Indian community is mourning the loss of a much-respected and admired member, Asha Chopra. She is survived by her husband Dilip, son Vikram and daughter Sonal.

Asha Chopra and daughter Sonal

Asha was 64, and in good health until recently when she went in for a routine health check. Some low level heart complications were found, but a brief hospital stint turned traumatic as her health deteriorated drastically.
The Chopras moved to Australia in 1988 with their two young kids.
Asha’s family was her heart and soul. They themselves talk about her as the ‘backbone’ of the family, ensuring all was well at home so they could pursue their many passions outside and flower to their fullest. At school and at work, she was keenly involved in every aspect of their life, and they are grateful for the pillar of strength that she was. Her sensible, practical advice, always delivered in her trademark gentle, non-intrusive manner, was worth its weight in gold.
Daughter Sonal remarks that her name, Asha, was perfectly suited to her. Hindi for ‘hope’, it was what she gave most to her near and dear ones. She constantly edged them on, in her calm and tender manner, towards bigger and better things, such as Sonal’s participation in the first-ever Miss India-Australia pageant (which she won), son Vikram taking over the family business, or husband Dilip’s passion for local government.
Asha’s unbounding love and warmth made the Chopras a very close-knit family. If food is another expression of love, their beautifully appointed Pennant Hills home was forever filled with the aroma of her delightful cooking. Ingenious in her ability to modify age-old recipes, she contributed regularly to Manorama, the Hindi housewives’ manual that our mums swore by, back in the day. She was just as adept with her needlework: Sonal and Vikram remember the excitement with which they, and their many similar-aged cousins, wore the garments she sewed for them as kids. It was the simple things in life that appealed to her.

From early on, Asha devoted her life to her family, opting to be a homemaker so that she was always around for her kids as they grew up.
Yet it was easy for a woman of her skills and energies to find expression for her own self elsewhere – she soon took work at home as a family day care service provider.
Providing care, whether as work or as a passion, had always been second nature to Asha. Back home in India, she had been actively involved in charity work, especially with disabled and aged care. She was a keen Inner Wheeler, and her work saw her become the President of the Allahabad Inner Wheel Club. In characteristic humility, Asha spoke little of her charitable work, even with foundations here in Australia, because she sought no accolades for what she believed to be her duty towards her fellow humans.
In the early 1990s, when the young Chopra family moved to Mosman, Dilip found himself increasingly inclined towards politics. A young politician named Tony Abbott, then representing the area in Parliament, became a friend. The Chopras found a friend also in Phillip Ruddock, who would go on to become Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs and later Attorney General. Through it all, the Chopra family counted him as a close friend, and continue to do so to this day. Asha’s wonderful cooking and warm hospitality brought the Ruddocks to the Chopra household on many occasions.

Perhaps it was not surprising to Asha and the kids that Dilip would take the plunge into public life. Asha stood staunchly beside her husband as he was elected to the Hornsby Shire Council as Councillor, where he served from 2008 to 2012. It was a rare instance when she was not seen with him, whether during campaigning or afterwards, as she arranged and managed his many public events. Indeed, Dilip has said on many an occasion, his time in politics was possible thanks largely to her unstinting support.
Asha loved her life in Australia, having lived here over 25 years, and took particular pleasure in showing off her adopted city of Sydney to visiting family and friends from India.
She will be remembered by the community as a person of grace and dignity, and as someone who dedicated her life to her family.

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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