Mumma, I try to keep myself busy with things to do but every time I pause, I still think of you. When you left us, my grief knew no bounds. I felt completely devastated. I am glad I decided to stay connected with you for all of these days, recollecting your memories. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I knew it would be worth it. All this while it felt like I was with you, talking to you everyday just like we used to do before October 15.
This journey of staying connected to you does have an end, but it is the journey that has mattered the most. It was a journey to deal with pain that I did not expect many to understand, as it was not their journey to make sense of, it was mine. Manoj and the kids were with me all the time, helping me recall interesting anecdotes, picking pictures from archives, suggesting edits to my scribbling and just being with me in all of this. Having said this, there was a part of me that knew I’d have to deal with most of it alone. I also got a few people to join in sharing anecdotes in the last few days and discovered and rediscovered many fond memories of you.
I recall I used to tell you how I wished I could share each and every experience of yours – including the deadly health condition you were in, and you used to get annoyed. While this sharing was not possible, I know that you are no more than a thought away and will walk beside me unseen, unheard, but always near. I hate missing you and not being able to do anything about it. Missing you and not being able to see you is the worst feeling ever. I wish you were here or I was there or we were somewhere together!
All these past 76 days, I have talked to you about your strengths and qualities. Mumma, your life was not easy, being born as a woman more than seven decades ago in India. This was a time when women did not have rights, were not expected to have their own identities or stand up for their dignity. A woman’s life was typically run first by her father and her brothers, then husband and later in life, by her sons. I know you went along with this rhetoric but you still held your head high and tried to hold your ground as much as was possible. Your strength grew in the moments when you thought you couldn’t go on but you kept going anyway. There were times I noticed that you were giving in and these were the times when I felt even more close to you and tried my best to motivate you to be yourself and not give in. It worked sometimes and not so much at the other times. But I can say with a sense of pride that you tried your best each time. I also recall how when I used to support and encourage the girls in the family to try out new things in life, asking them to be themselves, being confident in whatever they do, wear whatever they like and have fun without bothering about what others have to say. You used to lovingly say to me that “ तूने घर की सब लड़कियों को बिगाड़ दिया है, (you have spoilt all the girls of the family) by encouraging them to do things that were unheard of in our family like drinking alcohol, wearing short and trendy clothes, going out for late night coffees and traveling alone to unknown places and much more. Yet, at the same time you always supported me quietly in all of this realizing that the world is changing and we have to move along with it. I feel that this freedom of choice made our girls stronger and gave them the courage to face the world with confidence. I know you were so proud of all our little girls who have become beautiful, confident and empowered young women. Today, as I conclude this journey with you, I promise that I will continue to encourage them to walk untrodden paths and carry forward your legacy of being progressive. I will make every effort to ensure that women in our family have control of their own lives, be it psychological, physical or financial. They will have the freedom to think and decide for themselves. Due to your unexpected and untimely departure from this world, I know that you left some tasks unfinished that you discussed with me, I hereby undertake to work on getting them done as you wanted them done.
Of all the gifts life has offered me, you, Mumma were the greatest of all. I will hold you in my heart forever. चरणस्पर्श (warm regards) and a final adios on social media to you…