My mother, Devi, was something else. Nice to a fault. I’d always get a bit mad at her for insisting on looking at only the good aspect of everything. Me – I tend to be boringly practical – but hey, it turned out to be a nice balance. You see – mom was married at 13. She had me when she was 17. My father, who migrated to the United States, never returned to us, insisting he had only one life to live, and would live it the way he wanted. And so – after some pretty horrible times at her in-laws’ in Delhi, mom came back to her mother’s place in Mumbai.
Thus began a much better time for us – mom completed her schooling, which meant the 10th Std exams through private study. She then opted for a career in teaching, with the support of her own school teachers (she and I went to the same school (Little Flowers, Andheri, Mumbai) and we also had the same teacher! who was also my Godmother).
Mom was part of a sibling brood of 10 – of which there are now 4 surviving. My uncles (4) doted on me. Mom often said, when people sympathized with her about being a single parent – that she was very lucky, because she and I were enveloped in love thanks to her status.
Mom was an M.A. M. Ed, worked as a school teacher, headmistress and school principal spanning her teaching career of almost 40 years. As they say, once a teacher, always a teacher…and so, after a major mishap when she had a fall in 1994, I forced her to quit working and encouraged her to start her own little school, which she did and enjoyed running, tremendously.
After I married in Feb 1997, my husband, Dr B Sury suggested mom should live with us – and so began another phase in our life. Vidur was born in Nov 1997. Then followed a glorious 12 years for mom. She loved kids – and having her very own grandson was all she could ask for, she said. She spoilt him silly, but also taught him excellent values.
The last four years were not very good for her, in terms of health, but somehow she bravely coped. When she was rushed to the hospital on Feb 3, 2010, with difficulty in breathing, she was still thinking about us, Vidur and various little mundane things. She wanted to wait in the ground floor, because she didn’t want to inconvenience the hospital staff, making them carry her down. On Feb 8, 2010, at 10.45 am, she breathed her last.
Everyone associated with her will always remember her with love. As per her last wish, we donated her body to St Johns Medical College, Bangalore. She didn’t believe in ‘last rites’ and thought they were just crap, and insisted that when she was gone, we should donate to charity and the needy. “Why waste money on useless rituals for the dead?” was her feeling. We are carrying out her wishes.
I always find it very hard to think of my mother as ‘old’ or ‘elderly’. Whenever anyone referred to her with that word, I would think they are talking about someone else. It is probably because we practically grew up together, strengthening our bond into far more than the mother-daughter to friends. I often told her that if there was another birth, she’d better be my daughter.
There is no doubt at all that her soul will watch over us, with love, and rest in peace.