“Maaye ni mein kehnoon aakhaan
Dard vichhode daa haal…” – Shah Hussain
[Mother, with whom (but you) can I share
The pain of my separation]
Ma, mum, mommy, mother, maadri, amma, om, umm – one does not need a label to define motherhood. When most vulnerable, one instinctively reaches out for the sanctuary of a mother’s embrace and gets acceptance, forgiveness, caring or simply the comfort that she understands and things will be fine. Each mum is special. Each breath we take every day is a testimonial to their wonderful creation.
This Mother’s Day, I am turning my Blog over to two special persons for their reflections on two super mums.
Our granddaughter first got introduced to her maternal great grandmother when she visited Canada for our son’s wedding three years ago. Then two, our granddaughter commented that there “are too many nanis” but bonded with her “P Nani” (nani – maternal grandmother) “who is old”. Several months later as she and her mum walked past a seniors’ residence, our inquisitive granddaughter was told that old people lived there. She then asked what did they do in this home and her mother said they just sit there and talk to each other. The two years old child immediately remarked, “Mommy, I think P Nani must live there!”
Recently, our granddaughter called to thank her P Nani for the books she had received for her fifth birthday. They carried on a conversation with the child assuring the octogenarian that she certainly remembered her and their time together. Since then, the only thing we hear from my wife’s soon to be 90 years old mum is that S remembers her and that she specially called to thank her! It does not take much to bridge a span of 85 years. I have locked this episode in my memory, as just thinking about it lifts my spirit.
My mother waited 9 years to see her grandchildren after we moved to Canada. As a grandfather myself, only now can I feel her heartache and better empathize how she must have longed for that reunion which was a long time coming. She died under tragic circumstances several years ago and this is how our daughter remembered her “dadi” (paternal grandmother) in her moving eulogy:
My Dadi was a woman who embraced life, peace, and compassion. As I began to write this, I found myself seething with anger, confused and enraged about why life’s unfair twists happen to those who least deserve them. But then I stopped and thought – no, Dadi wouldn’t want me to be angry. And so, I continue and attempt to maintain a peaceful mind, in the way that Dadi did in much of her daily life.
I recall her first visit to Canada – a cool Canadian summer after my first year of university. Her eyes smiled with affection as she embraced us after five years. It was this summer that I truly got to know my Dadi, learn about her life, and she about mine. We spent hours sitting around discussing various topics; she would relay stories about her satsangs and I about my first year of university. She would sing me bhajans that she often sang with her satsang community in Delhi. And of course, she made us her famous aate ka halva. During the preparation, I would be sent to the other end of the house to determine whether the “khushbu” could be smelled, since the aromatic intensity plays a big role in the depth of the halva’s flavour. Dadi made the best halva out of anyone I know. We went for numerous walks around the neighborhood; I would insist that she wear her shawl – the temperature of Canadian summer evenings differs greatly from Delhi’s scorching heat.
And that brings us to 2003. In between the three years that have passed since Dadi’s visit, I occasionally talked to my Dadi on the phone, constantly bugging her about when she would visit. Her response was always “But it’s your turn to visit me”.
I grieve that this visit won’t happen. I grieve for my father’s heartache for losing his mother. I grieve for the person who was desperate enough to take her life. And in all my grieving, I try consciously to grieve in peace. My Dadi embodied peace. There were many moments when she told me to just say Om and let everything go; and so, I believe she went in peace. Her soul is what will live on, it will carry over. As she herself put it, “the body doesn’t mean anything – it is merely fleeting”.
I end with an excerpt from a song by lyricist Prasoon Joshi. It is a moving cry of an apprehensive child who, on being forced to leave his mother’s care, is hoping that she might still hold him back if he tells her how he feels about her, while also seeking to reassure himself that she must surely know this.
“Mein kabhi batlaataa nahin
Par andhere se dartaa hoon mein Maa
Yun to mein dikhlaataa nahin
Teri parwaah kartaa hoon mein Maa
Tujhe sab hai pataa, hai naa Maa
Tujhe sab hai pataa, meri Maa” – Prasoon Joshi
[I never say this (to you)
But, I am scared of the dark, Mother
By the way, while I do not make a display of it (but)
I do care for you, Mother
You do know, don’t you, Mother
You do know, my Mother]