Posts Tagged ‘death’

“Mami”…Mrs M V A Sastry, 031119

December 3, 2019

She passed away on 3rd Nov 2019.

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Photo from Prakash Sastry’s FB page

At first, when Usha called up to say that her mother was sinking, I felt very bad…I was leaving that evening for Madhya Pradesh, and was returning only after a week. Sure enough, when I returned from the forests, to a place where my mobile worked, I got the news that she had passed away.

I went down with viral fever, which recurred; this prevented me from attending the Vaikuntha Samaradhana, too. I felt really miserable. I wanted to hold my friends’ hands at this moment…to take comfort from them as much as to comfort them in their hour of loss.

But now…I feel better about it. I remember Mami, not in the sad state of her health…but as a very strong pillar of her family and circle of friends. Let me reminisce…

At the beginning, of course, Mami was, to me, only “Prakash’s mother” and “Usha’s mother”. It took me many years to realize what an excellent homemaker she was, and what a great “sahadharmini” for Mama. Their flat was always neat and spotless; there was always something that she would offer visitors She herself, was the same. A spick-and-span saree, hair tied neatly back in a plait, with perhaps a few flowers in her hair; face bright with sindhoor…and always, always, always, that welcoming smile on her face. Such unstinting affection. My heart overflows through my eyes, and I hear once again, her calm “Enna Deepa! Eppidi irukkai?”

What a great homemaker she was. She sent Usha for veena lessons, Prakash for violin; she watched with very quiet apride as they both became proficient. (In fact, I still feel that I rarely have heard the kind of “naadam” on the violin that I heard from Prakash.). She was patient and loving to Bhaskar, too, and his being “special”, though it must have been quite tough for her, never saw her complaining or wishing that things were otherwise.

She supported Mama through his career; they never changed their simple living and high thinking. At every gathering, you could see her, well-turned out….and that affectionate smile.

I never thought to ask her about her life before marriage, or how she managed, coming to a very strange city all those years ago. For me, she was like a mother or an aunt…a wise, mature person, who always managed.

When they moved to Bangalore, they had intense difficulty with the flat they had booked, and she silently supported Mama through the years of struggle before they could move into their own apartment. I have never heard her complain. “That’s the way it is!” would be her pragmatic comment.

She was an excellent cook. One of my great favourites was her “gasagasa” payasa…I used to joke about the ganja in it, and she would smile. She was never one to talk a lot, or laugh uproariously…but she always enjoyed the company of others. Did she sing herself? Did she learn any instrument in the time before she got married? Who were her parents? Oh…I never found out all this…I regret that now.

I got to know her more as a person (rather than “Usha-Prakash’s mother” after they moved to Malleswaram. Even then, when arthritis gave her a lot of knee/leg pain, she tried to bear it stoically. She took care of Prakash’s children while the parents went to work.

All through the time that Usha and Prasad went through severe health travails, she kept up her courage and hope. I remember telling Usha just before her major heart surgery at Vellore…”You will be out for the count, and fast asleep! I have come here more to be with your mother!” Which, of course, elicited another laugh from both of them. Usha’s daughters were a source of delight to her, too. She would smilingly share some small anecdote of their mischief.

Bhaskar’s passing away, and the manner of it, was the kind of tragedy that only she could have handled. What it must have cost her in terms of worry and emotional trauma..I can only guess. But she took that blow, too, that Fate dealt her. Dearest Mami, what a load you have carried in your heart…

When Mama died, something inside her seemed to crumble. That cheerful countenance was less so. But the affection never varied. I count myself so very lucky to have had that kind of unstinting affection and love, most of my life, from her.

Mami, I miss you more often than I would have thought possible. You taught me so many values in life, without a single sermon…you were the living example. Simplicity, competence, and wisdom…you were the epitome of these qualities.

So I am glad that I remember you as I last saw you…in full possession of your faculties, offering me some sweet which you had made.

I know that your suffering has ended, and that you are in a much better place now, looking down on us and blessing us. Why, then, are my eyes filling with tears?Why do I feel bereft?

Life has made me wary of rituals, so I am not unhappy that I could not attend the samaradhana or the homa that your children carried out in your memory. But your memory, and the memory of those happy, halcyon days in Calcutta…that is where you will live forever, smiling, your love reaching out to me, making me a carefree child once again.

Pouring out…ghee and grief

August 16, 2019

The young daughter pours the oblation of ghee into the sacred fire of the “havan”…and her tears pour down her tender young face.

My own eyes fill as I see the sorrow of the toughest part of growing up. If Agni and Swaha do not take her love up to her father, surely those twin streams of salt and grief will do so.

IMG_6042 Outpouring of ghee and grief, Blr, 160819

Animal rescue..and afterwards

July 30, 2019

As I stepped into the shower, I noticed a tiny little bug crawling along the ledge where I keep my soap and shampoo. As the water started splashing around, I suddenly realized that a waterdrop had quite inundated the tiny creature. Full of compassion, I used my fingernail to delicately lift up the bug to the vertical wall, where the water would drip off it.

I wondered if I had damaged it, and waited anxiously for a while, looking at the motionless little thing. After a while, it slowly began to crawl up the wall. Brimming with happiness at this animal rescue, I stepped out of the shower stall. Wrapping my towel around me, I walked out of the bathoom, quickly swatting a pesky mosquito.

P N Akhila, 301054-231118

November 27, 2018

When I married and moved to R K Nagar (Rama Krishna Nagar), Chennai, I underwent a lot of difficulties…the usual ones with an arranged marriage. I made friends with Akhila, who lived opposite…and truly, her affection (and generally sweet nature) carried me through those difficult years. She was exactly 7 days younger than I am.

Later, she took up a job, married, moved to Hyderabad…our contact was more sporadic, but there was never any change in our love for each other. She managed her job and her home, brought up two very sweet daughters, and dealt with many blows with her usual gentle courage. I managed to visit her in Hyderabad, and we met when the family was in Bangalore, too.

On an impulse, I’d emailed her to “update” and just before her 64th birthday (30th Oct), she called, explained about a serious illness, and sounded as cheerful about that as she’s always done about everything else. I sent her birthday wishes as usual, and was totally shattered to get a reply a couple of days ago from her elder daughter, saying that she’d passed away on Nov.23.

I have always called her “doe-eyed”. We were two women in two different, busy worlds, and yet we found chances to meet and keep our loving friendship up…I wipe the tears that roll down my cheeks, and carry on with my daily chores. This is life…the mundane soothes, masks, and trumps over the emotions.

My dear, dear Maankannu…my life is much poorer without your sweetness. 64…no age to go…but we have to answer the call, when it comes. I will regain my smile in a while…but right now…I miss my friend, who was almost a sister.

To a dead butterfly

November 1, 2018

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Oh, little one…why did you die?
Were you attacked by a bird
That wanted you for food?
Or did your energy just give out,
As your wings folded up for good?
With so many others about,
Your death throes not heard?
No answers.You lie there…why, oh why?
The stilling of life, the departure of breath…
The profound mystery of life…and death.

On the passing of Mythri, 100118

January 10, 2018

Every moment that I live,breathe, look, sigh…
May be someone’s last moment on earth.
So tough to understand this, but it is true.
More and more often, when I hear of young people dying
I wonder why there is no logic in life or death.
Why should I, having lived a full life, and with no regrets,
Not be taken, and a young life,
Full of talent, hard work and promise,
Not be spared to the world?
Why should old sere trees, their uses long gone,
Creak on, moaning of the past to the world,
While young saplings,which we hope will grow
And mature into giants,
Be cut down in a lightning swathe of random fate?
I do not understand life…or death.

A blank wall

December 3, 2017

When I think of Death, I face a blank wall.
I realize that I do not know Death at all.
Will I just stop? Will I cease to be?
Or is there, just further, what I cannot see?
Will I be born again? / As a human, or a worm?
Would I move in someone’s bloodstream…
A single-celled germ?
Would my spirit float free?
Would my sins be wiped out?
Would I live on, just not me,
Only when I got talked about?
Would I really exist, apart from this shell?
Would I ascend to Heaven, or just go to hell?
For the answers to these…
Upon whom can I call?
I can ask as much as I please…
No one knows Death, at all!

Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

Stages
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

The Nano graveyard

July 15, 2017

We went on a nature/birding walk to Kalena Agrahara today, and skirted the lake at IDBI Bank Layout. I was amazed to see several Nano cars parked, and rusting in the monsoon weather.

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There must have been about sixty of the cars, parked all around.

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At a conservative estimate of Rs.2 lakhs per car, that’s Rs. 80 lakhs just wasting away.

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I finally found this banner, saying that these cars apparently belong to this rental initiative:

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The problem in our country seems to be, not lack of good initiatives, but keeping up with them. I have tried to call this number to find out why so many cars are rusting…and could not get through. I will try again on Monday (which should be a working day.) ┬áBut meanwhile…would it not have been better to just donate these cars rather than let such an investment waste away in this fashion?

“Oh…this is a new AirBnB effort!” said my friend Rekha-Ram Lakshmanan, from St.Louis, when he saw the cars. “No,” I riposted, “This is CarBnB!”

What a sad state of affairs. Can anyone throw any more light on this failed initiative?

Minnal Shaffer, 190108

January 19, 2017

In front of the waving grasses in an urban park
Facing the calm waters
Lies a small brick, upon the ground,
That carries your name.
O dear one, my firstborn’s firstborn,
You went away before you even came into this world.
Souls of great ones, our scriptures say,
Do not have long to spend on this earth.
Coccooned within your mother,
You had very little time.
But you were here long enough
For us to love, remember, and cherish you.
You remind us how every live birth,
Every normal child,
Is nothing short of several miracles.
You were a lightning flash that touched our lives;
But,like lighnting, you had great power
To open our eyes to the fragility of life.
Your home in our hearts is eternal,
As is that of every being whose lifespan is small.