Mi, I woke up today feeling rather tired, with a headache that begged my body to stay still and not move. As I lay in bed, waiting for the alarm to go off, I could make out the contours of the big poster on the wall titled “World’s No.1 Mom” and I found myself smiling at the image of your smiling face in my mind.

I recalled lazy days when you would sit by my bed, cajoling me to get up. I could almost smell the fragrance of your favorite soap and “vibhuti” in the air. I couldn’t help the tears as I remembered how you would tempt me with coffee in the verandah enjoying the early rays fo the morning sun. Sighing, I got up, folded my blanket, smoothed out the bed and began the day, in a rather contemplative mood.

Sometimes, I cannot believe that come September this year, I’ll be 52. How much you have shaped me as a person through every stage of my life! You taught me everything I know, while urging me to explore farther on my own. We grew from Mother-Daughter to close friends, yet you were always there for me with a smile and a hug and gentle advice – you never judged me!

my mother myself vidya sury

I couldn’t have asked for a better role model! As my personal expert on everything from health, fashion, relationships and personal growth, even today, I look to you for a sign although your physical presence is no longer with us. Your influence is strong and I consider myself lucky that I had a great teacher in you.

I love how you approached life – with such a positive attitude. “Do everything with love” was your mantra! I am guilty I didn’t always see your logic, but I am glad I listened to you most of the time! Is it any wonder that you are my first expert on everything?

my mother myself vidya sury

You taught me the importance of presentation. I always admired how neatly dressed you’d be, no matter what. You said, always look your best, whether it was to go shopping for new clothes or just to the market to buy vegetables. Sometimes I used to think, huh, big deal, but over the years, I realized what you meant. You were essentially teaching me self-confidence in a fun way! Never mind that I developed a solid fetish for clothes along the way, but the payback has been brilliant. I can’t help smiling when people identify me with being well-dressed, choosing accessories tastefully, smelling good and of course, envy at my ability to always be ready with a smile. You insisted we’re never really fully dressed without a smile!

You always encouraged me to go forth and take initiative, rather than wait for things to happen. I regret those rare occasions when I didn’t heed your advice. Yet you never ever made me feel bad about anything.

Lesson learned – Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

You instilled in me the value of forgiveness. I didn’t always agree with your logic, but I’ve understood its importance. I could never figure out how you didn’t bear grudges against all those people, our so-called family, for treating you so abusively. When I asked you, you just smiled and said, what was the point of holding hatred?

Lesson learned – forgiveness is for ourselves, permitting us to leave the past behind and move forward on the path of happiness and health

You were always my first expert on health. I was wistfully flipping through the pages of your diary, where you’ve jotted down numerous home remedy recipes for various ailments. My eyes filled up when I came across the pages where you’ve listed hair care tips with little notes to me. What a sense of humor you had! Today, as a type 2 diabetic, I am so grateful to you that I love salads so much. I miss how you used to make that large platter, arranged prettily for me to enjoy!

devi vidya n5 liftik

I think longingly of those days when you would nudge me out of bed at 4 am, to have coffee and then apply the concoction you had prepared the night before in my hair – you would insist on doing it so that my hands wouldn’t be stained. Then we’d get busy and two hours later, around 6 am, I would rinse it off and shampoo it. When I left to work at 8 am, you’d look on with pride as our neighbors commented on how glossy my hair looked. I am ashamed that I have neglected self-care for longer than I should have. Although I’ve pulled up my pretty pink “La vie en rose” thingies and am trying to get back into that routine again, I feel bad about not listening to you earlier. You always recommended a good head massage, a leisurely bath and a brisk walk as the answer to most problems in life!

Talking of la vie en rose, to this day I follow your advice on always investing in good quality underwear – nothing like the self-confidence that comes with wearing well-fitting clothes. What a huge difference it makes in our outlook and attitude!

Your diary is now my most precious possession – as I hold it close to my heart, your words hold me close.

I am trying to follow in your footsteps as I practice what you lovingly taught me….

…Never go to bed angry
…Always look your best
…Always wear a smile
…Always be kind to everyone
…Be generous
…Never hesitate to share what you know – knowledge does not diminish through sharing
…Look after yourself, only then will you be able to take care of others
…No task is too low while helping someone
…Give without expectation
…Learn to differentiate between want and need
…Every day, tell your family you love them. The same goes for friends
…Try your best to  be cheerful and spread happiness and love
…Celebrate the little things
…There is no shame in failure
…Practice gratitude and being non-judgmental
…Learn to enjoy silence
…Do not be afraid to let go
…Become your own best friend

…Live, and let live.

I miss how you’d write inspiring quotes on slips of paper and leave them in various places for me to see – my lunch box, taped to my perfume bottle, under the sugar jar, near the light switch, in the book I was reading or in the case of my current favorite cassette.

my mother, myself

I miss your constant encouragement especially on days when I slack off on housework. Then I think of what you might have said and try to motivate myself to take action, wishing you were around to cheer me on with coffee.

You never made me feel the absence of a father in my life. You were always there, holding my hand when I was little and ready to hold my hand later, whenever I needed it.

I am so grateful that you were with your grandson Vidur for 12 years of his life…and if I enjoy a wonderful relationship with my son today, it is entirely thanks to you for the  loving closeness we shared.

You’ll always be my first expert, my mentor, my friend, Mi.

my mother, myself vidya sury