And another year has whizzed by. I find it hard to believe that it is now nine years, Mi. Of course, you are in our hearts, encouraging us with your wisdom and humor, but it does not compensate for your presence. Yet, what can we do? Keep your memories alive, that’s all we can do.
April is such a special month, Mi! Your birthday. Festivals. April holds another precious memory! As I went through my precious box of letters, I came across the little card you sent me after I called you to give you the news that I am going to be a Mom, in 1997. I am glad I took a pic of it, because I think I may have smudged some of the words with my tears over the years.
This reminds me of the inspiring quotes you would write in the letters and cards you sent me when I was in the 6th standard, away from home in the boarding school. There was this one particular quote that stayed in my mind. Something about great people (focused people?) studying in the light of the street lamps–how they struggled to reach their goals. Years later, when I sat up late to read books, you’d always tease me about the impact that quote had on my life!
April is full of celebrations with Rama Navami and the Tamil New Year but the biggest celebration is your birthday. I am laughing to recall one of your birthdays when we were broke and resorted to making idlis and sticking a candle in one, then singing happy birthday. That became the broke birthday bash ever after! And you’d say it is only a matter of postponing the party to when our pocket was plentiful!
So anyway, yesterday was Rama Navami.
I have fond memories of Ram Navami but my favorite is the one with you and Vidur. I remember when he was just beginning to read, the two of you decided to read the cartoon Ramayana because he wouldn’t let you read the Sundarakandam from the Ramayana that you usually read over the ten days preceding the festival. You’d laugh helplessly at how quickly that finished! But oh, those proud moments of offering the prasadam of the day.
Why did we never take photos of those? Sigh. Had it been now, we’d have a photo for every moment like this! I guess that’s why the memories are beautiful, without the distraction of clicking photos! I am glad though, that there are lots of pictures of you and him together. Yep, a bit envious that we don’t have that many together, what with mostly being behind the lens.
I had the dilemma of whether to make payasam or chakrapongal. Some consultation later, decided to make paruppu payasam. I am sure you would have made both if you’d been around. In honor of Ram Navami, I enjoyed salad and neer mor. Forgot to get the raw mango which takes the salad to the next level!
I made the paruppu payasam yesterday instead of for New Year’s today, as Sury will be traveling and I figured it is better to make it when he’s around to enjoy it. Reminded me of when we’d push around festival days to our convenience because you believed that you need people to celebrate, not some date on the calendar. And now, that’s precisely what I do, too. Festivals are when the three of us are together.
We are celebrating your birthday by serving the kids at Seva Sadan breakfast today, Mi. There will be a sweet with the meal. I am also taking things to the kids at the construction sites around our place, just like you used to. I always admired you for carrying that bag of yours with something in it every time you stepped out of the house, to give away. I loved how aware you were of the people you saw or met when you were outside. Oh, the flower ladies remember you fondly and gratefully and always mention how you always took them things or clothes. Most of all, they remember how you listened to them.
These days, I grate cucumber instead of dicing it. I then mix it with curd and enjoy it. You’ve no idea how much I miss you when I make it—you used to enjoy it so much and appreciate every spoonful!
From you, I have learned to live in the moment, Mi. Appreciating the small things. I’ve learned to let go of expectations—from people and situations. Sometimes it is really hard, especially when the person appears close. I try my best to do things simply because they make me happy. I try to give, with no thought of reciprocation, just like Grandma and you did. Although, I am not completely there yet.
I know I’ve said this before, but I never associated the word “old” with you. And now, I sadly realize that you didn’t stay around long enough to be called old. You left us when you were barely 64, suddenly and unexpectedly, just when we were looking forward to your recovery. I also realize that you never acted old, what with your cheerful attitude and unconditional kindness towards all. I consider myself fortunate that we were not just mother-daughter, but also best friends of the best kind. I’ll never have another friend like you. As my mentor you always encouraged me forward, urging me to experiment and stretch out of my comfort zone.
When I came back home from the boarding school after the sixth grade, I remember how you enjoyed me singing this song to you.
Mother of mine, you gave to me
All of my life, to do as I please
I owe everything, I have to you
Mother sweet Mother of mine
Happy birthday, Mi!
My Mother is the most generous soul I know. Generous in life, generous in death. Her last wish was that we donate her body to medicine. We did, to St. Johns Medical College, Bangalore.