The first thing I remember from my growing up years is not about either of my parents, but it is about the dominating presence of a lady like none other. I don’t use the word ‘dominating’ in a negative light here; I use it because she was just that huge of an influence in the lives of the people around her. Anyone and everyone who knew her would define, remember and look at her with respect.
It has only been twenty hours since she breathed her last, but to me and anyone who knew her, it has been a twenty four hour marathon of thinking about and reflecting on how she touched our lives. At this moment I’m filled with regret about not spending more time with her, not being there with her as much as I should have, or could have.
She had a fulfilling life, of that I have no ounce of doubt. All her offspring well-settled and happily married, all the grandchildren grown-up, doing well, and she even got to see her great grandson!
Married as a teenager, she took on responsibilities, which today, even at 30, I haven’t been able to. Mother to six sons, raising a family that big, was surely not a cake walk, neither financially nor emotionally or physically. But she was relentless; up until her last breath, in fact. The finances weren’t great but she did what she could by earning bread for the family with what she knew and could do, by literally selling bread (khaman). We’re talking about the 60s and 70s here, so you can imagine how big of a deal it was, for a lady, with six sons, to be earning.
She took care of us, the grandchildren, while my mother and her other daughters-in-laws (five out of the six of them) went out to work and be equal in their roles of being a spouse, a parent and a responsible person in their respective married lives. That might sound normal for most of us today, but remember that this was 40 years ago, when life after marriage, for any woman, irrespective of her education and age, meant her world being limited to the kitchen and the children. My admiration and respect for her went a notch higher when, a few years earlier my mother told me that it was actually my grandmother whose reference had helped my mother get her first job as a teacher.
My memories of her and with her are many, right from her (along with my grandfather of course) coming to live with us, to us visiting them (her and my grandfather) during festivals, occasions or whenever I was visiting my hometown. The one thing that stands out about these meetings with her is how, till the end whenever I went to visit (these visits were usually lunch or dinner at their place), she would never fail to make green chutney, only because she knew it was my favorite. That I like to have it alongside my meals was and is something only she and my immediate family (my parents) knew.
Yes, I miss her immensely and will continue to miss her for the rest of my life. She has left behind a void that can’t be filled. I will remember and think of her almost every day.
But, I’ll remember her most for the ‘green chutney’ because she made it for me! That might not seem like a great thing to remember her by, but it is the thought and caring behind it which speaks volumes about the kind of person she was. Loving, thoughtful, always full of love and always keeping the needs of others in mind.
Here’s an ode to a lady like none other I have ever met!
You’ve been a phenomenal wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother