Day 76

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Mumma, you had three daughters in law coming from completely different family backgrounds, speaking different languages (mother tongue), having different temperaments and with different professional training. You loved us all equally like your children. I feel like the three of us are the children that destiny forgot to give you.
Today’s tribute is from one of us who has been loved by you immensely as your daughter. For the last 25 years since Simmi was welcomed to the family she has been your guardian when it came to keeping you well and in good spirits. She also played a huge role in giving you courage to fight the deadly health condition that you tackled in the last few years. You loved to talk to her daily not just to be informed about what’s happening in life in general but also to be comforted by receiving answers to questions that no body else could answer. Sometimes she had to answer difficult questions but I guess that only strengthened your relationship with her and brought you two closer
Her tribute below is a testament to the very special bond that you two shared.

“Mamma ,
All three of us have been truly fortunate to have had you as our mother in law. You’ve always been so open hearted and progressive. In fact you were more of a mother and a friend than a mother in law. It is very difficult and painful to accept that you are no longer with us. This void can never be filled and the loss so huge that words fail me. Day 76.jpgI remember when I said bye to you on the 15th night, not for a moment did I think that this was my last goodbye to you. You were unwell but we were all sure you would sail through. None of us could anticipate that the end was so near. It was shocking and traumatic to be told in less than an hour of leaving you that you had suffered a cardiac arrest and were no more. The regret of not being by your side will for ever remain with me.
You and I really grew close during the course of your illness. I would look forward to travelling to Delhi from Bathinda to accompany you to Referral and Research Hospital either for chemotherapy or follow-up. You would have so many questions pertaining to the deadly cancer you were afflicted with. I tried to answer most of them being a doctor but there were few I chose not to answer since they would have unnecessarily disturbed you. However there was one question that I had no answer to. You once asked ” why me?” Are Diabetes and heart ailment not enough ? I guess God knew you had the guts and courage to fight them all. You never ever gave up Mamma. You fought till the last day to emerge a Victor and a true champion.
I would like to narrate an anecdote to prove what a gutsy lady you were. So this happened last year when you, my mummy, Aditi and I were in Bathinda for a short trip. Pankaj insisted that we all accompany him to Bikaner as he had some official work to attend to. We had to catch a train next evening for Delhi. The train was to leave at 5.15. so we reached the station at 4.45, well in time . As we reached the station a train which was going to Delhi started moving. We mistook it to be the one we were supposed to catch and complete pandemonium broke out . There was confusion, chaos and panic..We were told to just run and board the train. Imagine दद्दा (paternal grandma) and नानी (maternal grandma) boarding a moving train. It took us five minutes to catch our breaths and the same time to realize that we were in the wrong train. Lucky for us that the next station was close by so we all deboarded and hurriedly caught a tempo to go back to Bikaner station. In the mean time the station master was requested to delay the train for a few minutes as we were on our way. He said he could not hold on for more than five minutes.To our utter dismay on reaching the platform we saw that this train too had begun to move. We somehow managed to board the last coach which happened to be a general compartment. So in a span of half an hour we boarded two trains both on the move. Kudos to दद्दा and नानी to have accomplished this feat. You were 76 years old then, frail and weak from the illness but nothing stopped you from catching that train. You are and will remain our hero, forever inspiring us . Your loving presence and your endearing smile will be missed by all of us. Praying that you will continue guiding and watching over us from the heavens above.”

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Day 75

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Mumma, today’s tribute is from Pallavi, the youngest and your favourite granddaughter. She was the dearest to your heart, especially as she was the one who got to spend the most time with you as your roommate and partner in crime in Delhi. Your love for Pallavi was unparalleled, whether it was sharing your only पराँठा (Indian stuffed bread) with Pallavi on the Nepal trip, or offering her the first pick of your heirloom treasures, she was always your most beloved grandchild. Knowing Pallavi the best, you fondly said was “इसके तो तीन ही शौक़ हैं – खाना, घूमना और सोना” (she loves just three things – eating, going out and sleeping) and that “यह तो क़िस्मत की धनी है (she is rich in luck).” May your blessings and good wishes continue to be showered on Pallavi. Here is what your Pallavi has to say to you:

“15th October 2017 was undoubtedly the worst day of my life because that was the day
when you left me. I’m still not able to believe that you are no longer with us. I never
ever thought that this day will come so early, अभी तो हम पाँचों में से किसी की शादी भी नहीं हुई थी (none of your 5 grandkids had even been married yet). As the youngest member of our family and the only single child, I always wanted a sibling and you were the one who said ‘why do you want a sibling when I’m here and you literally proved it. We used to fight, play and love each other like siblings. Day 75.jpgFor me you were more like a sister than a grandmother. Now, as you are no longer with me I am actually living a life of a ‘single’ child and you have no idea how much I miss you. You were my roommate, my selfie partner, my partner in crime, my support system, my motivation and definitely an inspiration. You have taught me so many things that I cannot thank you enough for. I still remember whenever I used to fall ill you used to say ‘तू तो जल्दी हार मान जाती है, देख मैं कितनी strong हूँ’ (you accept defeat too soon, look at me, I am so strong) which used to give me strength. Your mantra was ‘TO NEVER SURRENDER’ and I promise, I never will.
This is the first new year without you. It is completely unbelievable for all of us to accept the fact that we no longer will be able to see and talk to you. Whenever I enter our room I realise that you are no longer waiting for me to come and switch off the light and TV. I used to say goodbye to you whenever I left for college but now when I turn back you are not there, you are not there to wish me good luck for my exams. I miss those times when I used to take a break during exams and you used to say,’ कोई ओलमटिटी कर के आ जाएँगे तेरे दो चार नम्बर’ (you will surely get a few marks with your hanky panky methods). I miss those times, when you were not able to sleep and sing कबीर के दोहे (couplets written by a famous poet Kabir), and I used to fight as I wanted to sleep and you wanted to sing. But now I promise I won’t fight with you or stop you, please come back and sing those songs for me, please. We had made so many plans that are now incomplete without you. We we’re supposed to get a pet puppy, we were supposed to go to Bali….
You were the closest person one can ever be to me. Is this actually true that I will never be able to talk to you? I won’t be able to love you?
Shubham is incomplete without you. Not only Mehra परिवार(family) but every person who has met you even once misses you like anything. God has done the worst thing to us by taking you away. It’s really tough for us to pass every single day without you. If there is any way to get you back we are ready for it.
Keep an eye on me and show me the correct path, give me strength to deal with all the difficulties and problems which will be coming my way. I promise I will achieve
everything you wanted me to, but then you also have to keep your promise by coming back to me in the form of my baby, as you were my baby. I have tried to express my love through this, but obviously this is not enough as we have uncountable memories of you which cannot be expressed in words. All I wanted to say was, I LOVE YOU and I MISS YOU, you will always stay alive in our hearts and memories, FOREVER”.

Day 74

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Mumma, you dreaded this grand daughter of yours for her fury and temperament. Yet you adored her for her sweet, witty and open nature. Aditi used to be called तीखी मिर्च (hot green chili) by you. I recall how you enjoyed talking to her and then used to narrate all the interesting conversations to me on our daily phone calls. Your narrations would usually start with “मरी बता भी सब देती है…इतना मज़ा ले ले कर..”( sweet girl..she doesn’t hide anything..and tells all in good spirits..). I recall how I could hear laughter and happiness in your voice whenever you talked about her. She made you smile all the time. Here is a letter from your Addu.

“Dear grandmother,

As I wait at the airport to catch my flight to Delhi, it hits me that Delhi won’t be the same anymore without you! I didn’t realise that calling you up and saying “Dadda I am home! कब मिलने आ रहे हो? (When are you coming to meet me?)” and your classic response “अभी आ जा! क्या खाएगी? पुलाव बना दूँ।(come right way. What will you eat? Shall I make Spiced rice?”) will be one of my most cherished memories now! One of the things I will miss the most hence forth.Day 74.jpg

But because you asked me to always remember you with HAPPY memories, here goes-

There was a drastic change in our relationship as I crossed my teenage years! From looking at you as my grandmother, it moved towards finding a friend in you and then there was no stopping!

How much I miss, your laughter when I would crack those silly jokes and those lessons which shall remain with me for life!

You made me believe that life is beautiful and that success must be celebrated no matter how small or big!

Whether it be you dancing in the rain with me or wanting to go to India gate on days you weren’t keeping well, it all exemplifies how much you enjoyed your 77 years on this planet! Your love for life can be summarised in your last words to me which were “बेटा pray करना की मैं ठीक हो जाऊँ। (My child, pray for me so that I get well).”

Dadda, my love for you is immense and I can never thank you enough for believing in me each time I did not! Not to forget, your genes that I shall forever be grateful for! 😀

I know for a fact that you are spreading happiness wherever you are and that you will continue to shower your blessings on us.

Love always
Your granddaughter!”

Day 73

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Mumma, as we embark into the new year with a hope to create more magical moments and unforgettable memories, this note is from Peihu, the सबसे सीधी सुशील लड़की (the most simple virtuous girl) as you called her. You believed in her, you encouraged her and you loved her immensely. In her words:

“Daddu-ji you were my favourite story-teller. Growing up, every night that you were in the same country as us, you committed to telling me a bed-time story, no matter how tired you were. Day 73.jpgSome had morals, some were silly and some recounted complicated Indian mythology, but they all had one thing in common- a grocery list embedded into the storyline somewhere. To explain- when dadda got sleepy while telling a story, cuddled up with a grandchild in the dark, she often deviated from the core plot, and started listing off things we needed to buy- आटा,टमाटर, खीरे (flour, tomatoes, cucumbers). At this point, I gently jostled her and whined “दद्द्द्द्द्द्द्दा”(daddaddaaa) she would snap out of the grocery dream and back into the bedtime story without missing a beat. It was a hilarious and surprisingly consistent occurrence during our nighttime ritual. Despite these brief sidetracks, your stories were full of wonder, excitement and life lessons. You told and retold them to me so many times, I still remember each word for word- the monkey and the alligator, the boy and the roti flipper, the monkey and the queen, the frog and the crane, and many more. I will make sure these stories are not lost with you. I miss you and falling asleep to the sound of your voice drowsily reciting fables and shopping lists.”

Missing talking to you mummy and getting your आशीर्वाद (blessing) so much today, on this 1st day of the new year.

Day 72

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Mumma, today this heartfelt tribute comes from your darling granddaughter, Parul, the stellar performer amongst the family kids, ideally an example to follow kind of girl yet lovingly called बिगड़ी हुई लड़की (spoilt brat) by you. This dedication written by her brought tears to my eyes. It is true that between the earth and sky above, nothing can match a grandma’s and grand child’s love.Day 72.jpg

“I’ve attempted to write this tribute to you about a dozen times. Each time, I’ve failed miserably in doing justice to penning down something that conveys my feelings in their simplest and truest form. Believe it or not, I even attempted poetry but alas! I have none of your wit or humor. After thinking long and hard, I reached an important realization that has also helped me better understand and come to terms with my grief at not having you around me physically. While I will always be in awe of your indomitable spirit, your sheer will to live, your malleability to people and situations alike, and your ever-beautiful soul, what is most dear to me, and what I will cling onto, most dearly, are the memories that keep you alive in my everyday existence. One of my favorite memories of you is from my graduation ceremony from law school in Bangalore earlier this year. You had made it a point to ask me for the link to the live webcast of the ceremony. You had also ensured that you had it all set up on your iPad well in advance so that you could watch me get my degree from your bedroom in Delhi as your health did not allow you to travel to Bangalore. As I stepped onto the stage, it felt so nice to know that you were watching over me, as always – quietly, from a distance, without any judgment or comment but with utmost love and affection. It is ironical that my most vivid memory of you is from a time when you weren’t even physically present with me, but I’m not too surprised. Being able to make your presence felt from across seas and landmasses has always been your superpower!
Something else that ensures you make frequent appearances in my thoughts is your love for ताश (playing cards). Ever since childhood, I remember looking forward to vacations when we would visit Delhi and you’d introduce us to fascinating new card games. Some of my favorite, in order of complexity, were – पत्ते पे पत्ता (Patte Pe Patta- a card game where each player puts one card on the pile on each turn and the player who deals the second matching card gets to keep all the cards in the pile), ग़ुलाम चोर (Gulam Chor-the one who is left with a Jack at the end of a series of tasks loses and is invariably made fun of!), तीन दो पाँच (Teen-do-panch- a game involving sequences of 3,2 and 5 cards), सात आठ (Saat-Aath- another game involving sequences of 7 and 8 cards) and my most favorite, Bluff (where the one who gets rid of all their cards the fastest, more often than not by employing stoic deceit, wins). Each time I chance upon a deck of cards, whether on display at a curio store in the touristy area of a new city I visit, in the personal kit that airlines sometimes hand out or an old deck gathering dust in a drawer at home, I think of you. I am immediately transported back to those post-lunch ताश sessions when all of us would sit in a circle on the bed, carefully hanging on every word that came out of your mouth, as you explained the rules of a new game to us. More recently I remember being so confused in a curio store in Rio about whether a deck featuring a picture of Christ the Redeemer or one with the Copacabana Beach would be the perfect gift for you from Brazil. And while I still haven’t fully come to terms with the fact that I won’t get to buy cards for you anymore, I’m glad I still have all the good memories to think about, each time I spot the pack of 52 plus two Jokers!”

Day 71

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Mumma, you have held your grandchildren’s tiny hands for a while but you have held their hearts forever. Starting today, for the next 5 days they are opening up their hearts to you. This first one is written by your so called घर का चिराग़ (light of the clan), Meizu. You have loved him since the time he was born and he has loved you all his life.Day 71.jpg

“Dadda, over the past few weeks we have heard of the many ways you were ahead of your time. From playing video games to using computers, cell phones and iPads, to travelling all over the world, you were truly a trailblazer. For me though, what really sets you apart as being a visionary is your tolerant attitude and open mind. Even though you were a lifelong vegetarian and teetotaler, I relentlessly made jokes harassing you to join us in eating our chicken biriyani or drinking a cold beer. You took these jokes right in stride, suggesting that you would definitely join us in enjoying these vices in your next life. You were never offended or angered by our pestering, and as has been recounted recently, even remarked at the naturally vegetarian nature in which alcohol is created, suggesting that you were truly looking forward to trying it out but only in your next life. Similarly, while you yearned to see your grandkids “get settled” and find a सुशील (virtuous & lovely) wife or husband, you became very open and accepting to my jokes that I had many girls in mind to marry of all races and religions. While others were opposed to even the suggestion that someone from a different caste or darker skin tone would join the family, you warmed to the prospect of welcoming brides and grooms who are completely outside the norm. This progressive attitude of yours will continue to stand as a stellar example for generations to come. We miss you immensely but will be continually inspired by you as well.”

Day 70

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Mumma, starting today, the 70th day of this tribute to you, I will be posting notes written for you by your children and grandchildren. The first note has been written by your most mischievous kid, Manoj, who recounts your memories as follows-
“I coined the term BOSS for you and this is how you were addressed by me for over 35 years. You were loving yet strict – to make sure that we boys would be at our best behavior in the presence of others. Day 70.jpgYou were our shield from Papa and would alert us on his mood. You would know exactly what was the best time to ask for something like going for a camp or asking for an expensive thing to buy. With Papa’s career as a sports journalist and his extremely busy schedule, including frequent trips within India and overseas, you were the one who attended our parent-teacher meetings at school. These were mostly with my teachers as I was the academic weakling in the family. Until 10th grade, I would barely get passing grades in almost every subject. Every semester you had to listen to my teachers complain that I didn’t concentrate in class and I would not say a word when asked any questions. The teachers would ask you to speak to me only in English at home. Boss, you had no other option besides nodding and agreeing to all the recommendations. However as soon as we reached home, I would get a piece of your mind and a BATA चप्पल (flip-flop). Both you and I would then cry together. I, for the Red Marks of “Courage” on my back and you, for losing your temper. It was only later that we got to know that I had dyslexia. My English spellings were and continue to be the worst, even today. In fact, this revelation came to us only recently after watching the movie – तारे ज़मीन पर (Tare Zameen Par, a Bollywood Movie). We realized that all along, in the school years, I had this learning disability which prevented me to write proper English. I have to admit that even today I seek help from the kids and Lavina with the spellings of common words.
It was your constant struggle to make me study and prepare for exams, which you never had to do for Pankaj or Lali. I dedicate my success in life to you, Boss. Your love and encouragement was the fuel that made me do things that seemed impossible and the best part was that you did not expect any great results. This gave me the space to take life easy.
I remember you making my favorite कढ़ी (Kadhi – an Indian delicacy chickpea flour curry) on the days I would get a good beating from you. When I noticed that my favorite kadhi had not been made for a few weeks, I would joke that you should flex your hands on me even if you have no reason so I can get some treats from you.
I also remember putting you in so many embarrassing situations with my mindless and imbecile comments. I have the habit of thinking aloud and saying whatever comes to my mind which landed me in numerous awkward situations but you were always there to cover my back. No matter how old I get, I will always yearn for your unlimited, unconditional and infinite love.”