Celebrating Ma; My Shakti, My Warrior Queen as you would have guessed is a sequel to this blog post from last week. It was written when my family and I were going through a truly testing time, amidst which; by God’s grace, we were holding our ground and staying optimistic. It wasn’t easy to stay that way, given the fact that the doctors had given my mother just a few hours to live. Those few hours got prolonged to a week- fortunately or unfortunately. Fortunately because we were able to spend time with her, tend to her and shower her with so much love; unfortunately because she suffered so much pain and agony, that it broke our hearts every moment.
Ma passed away exactly a week back, last Monday, 5 February, 2018, 9:59 PM. Her loss is irreparable and irreplaceable. Now I understand what it is to lose a parent, and I’m so glad my last few years with her were so blessed and beautiful.
Today I do not mourn Ma. In fact I “Celebrate a Life Well-Lived.” I celebrate her indomitable, courageous spirit. I celebrate her strength to fight Cancer for four and a half years, valiantly; despite the fact that it was discovered in it’s last stages. I celebrate her legacy of love, passion, and unresolved commitment to learn every single day, irrespective of age and time, left by her for my daughters and me to inherit. I celebrate the woman who kept her home meticulously oraganised and spick and span and was always so very house proud. I celebrate her green thumb, because of which the awe-inspiring flora and fauna that surrounded us all the times of our lives. I celebrate the wholesome food she fed our bodies and soul. I celebrate Ma, my Shakti, My Warrior Queen.
We gave her a teary farewell on 6 February, 2018, dressing her up just the way she would have loved to. She was a style diva who had a beautiful wardrobe of a wide array of delicate, stunning sarees. We dressed her in one of her finest, from recent times. I painted her toes her favourite maroon, a nail paint my nine year-old just gifted her early January. Her lips smiled back at us with the radiant, red lipstick, as she was carried out of her home for over 17 years, in Lucknow. It was a heart breaking send off, but the fact that she was so loved and cherished became more and more obvious, in the guise of the innumerable people who came to offer their love and tribute and the calls and messages we received.
On the early morning of Wednesday, 7 February we drove down to Benaras from Lucknow for her asthi visarjan (immersion of her ashes) in the holy Ganga. That had always been her wish. After all she was born in this holy city, that happens to be the world’s oldest too. She wouldn’t have liked us to mourn her for too long, so we cherished our day, gave her a happy send off into the river, amidst the chants of a few priest. My brother, as a humble tribute; got his hair tonsured at the ghats and also performed a three-hour long puja. We had a wholesome lunch by the Assi Ghat and returned home after watching the mesmerising Ganga Arti.
The next day we performed a Shanti Path/Chautha in her memory. Friends and family came from far and wide. Our hearts were filled with so much gratitude for the love and strength that people poured into our beings.
I returned from Lucknow on 10th February, Saturday, reluctantly I must say. My father had lost his best friend and companion of fifty-six years and it pained me no end to leave him behind. But he refused to accompany us, as he needed his own time to mourn her loss. He wanted to do up “Sangini” their home, especially his room, as Ma would have it no other way. She would get very upset when she would see my father, the absent-minded scientist’s room in a mess. I went to watch Mughaleazm, the theatre performance, by Feroze Khan; the day I returned, as a tribute to Ma. It was one of her favourite movies, and as a kid I had watched it with her multiple times and cried when Madhubala was cemented into the wall by Akbar. We had even gone to watch the coloured version, many years later after that. I cried when I heard Anakrakli croon Pyaar Kiya too Darna Kya, as Ma used to sing along with that song. But I also cried tears of love, and celebration, for a beautiful life that she spent, spreading kindness, love, compassion and cheer for all the people around her.
She is now one with the divine, surrounded by cherished family she missed and who were gone. I’m sure she is reading this and smiling her beatific, radiant smile upon me.
Long live Ma, My Warrior Queen. And we shall meet someday for sure. And that I promise you.
My posts have been irregular and erratic, owing to various personal circumstances, as you can see. Have been pretty much under the weather too since last week. Hoping to limp back to life, read: blogging; slowly but surely.