My Mom would have been 75 years old today. Happy birthday, Mi!
When I lit the lamp this morning, I looked at the tiny pic of you I’ve snuck into the frame of the Venky*. I looked at your smiling face and smiled back. I do this every day but today is special.
I smiled thinking about how you would have made your birthday all about us, instead of you. You would cook special things, do things for us and generally keep the day-long party going.
I understand now that was your way of having a good time. I am sorry I scoffed every time you talked about the joy of doing things for others. The joy of cooking delicious stuff and watching people enjoy it. The joy of making others happy. I am sorry because I now experience the same joy–exactly as you predicted.
Thank you, Mi, for being such a wonderful example to me.
I also smiled thinking of how I would annoy you by hugging you when you lit the lamp and interfering with your prayer by saying silly things. Now, when I pray for the people who are in my life as well as the world in general, I feel the unshakable faith you had in your own prayers and began the day doing that, no matter what.
Thank you, Mi, for instilling faith in me.
By the way, at exactly midnight yesterday, we were all scrambling to wrap up what we were doing. Then Sury called Vidur and me. Of course, I assumed he was going to give us the gentle lecture about going to bed earlier, but there he was, standing with a sweet expression on his face, in front of your photo which he has placed above his whiteboard, waiting to sing happy birthday.
My eyes filled and my throat choked up. This is your tenth birthday without you. Sometimes I panic when I think you’ve been gone for 10 years! But I somehow managed to control myself and sing along. Then we hugged each other. I did feel a little guilty that it wasn’t me who had suggested this, but you know, I am talking to you in my head all day and I am a little selfish and possessive about your memories.
As I got ready for bed, I remembered how, during one of the times we were broke, we made a set of idlis and stuck a birthday candle in one and sang happy birthday. Then we made it a habit to do that even when we were better off.
Thank you, Mi, for teaching me to enjoy the little things, no matter how little they were.
You know what I miss most? Us waking up early in the morning and enjoying our first coffee together in the balcony, enjoying the cool breeze, whispering as we sipped our coffee as if we were sharing secrets, when in reality we were just discussing the menu for the day or something equally routine. But those routines were precious to us and we loved the planning.
Thank you, Mi, for making me believe in the magic of routines.
You will be rather proud of me right now, I think, even though you might want to smirk and say I told you so. You were right—I do enjoy cooking even if I vehemently denied it decades ago. I do enjoy experimenting and I find myself surprisingly creative.
Thank you, Mi, for always knowing me better than I know myself.
Today, we are under lock down due to a worldwide pandemic and when I run out at the call of the vegetable vendor passing by, I remember those days when we struggled through the last ten days of the month and bought vegetables for all of 5 rupees – two onions, two tomatoes, one potato and some greens thanks to the generous vendor. He would give you a sprig of coriander because you thought it was critical to every meal.
Now, when I pick veggies from the cart, veggies priced at 100-140 rupees a kilo, I think of those times. And remember how you would smile and say, this too shall pass.
Thank you, Mi, for being optimistic and teaching me to focus on the silver linings.
I really wish you were with us. My heart feels heavy to think you would have turned 75 today. I always imagined you at this age as a sprightly 75, physically frail but mentally sharp, ruling us lovingly but rather firmly. Your strength kept us strong. And now, your memories do that.
I wish you were here to see Vidur growing up. I still marvel at how he is now 22—seems like just the other day we brought him home from the hospital. I guess every parent feels that way. I am grateful you were around for 12 years of his life—and I know it was through sheer willpower even though the doctors gave you only six months to a year after your ILD diagnosis.
Thank you, Mi, for showing us anything is possible with determination and discipline.
Even when your doc insisted you needed surgery to save your spine which was on the verge of snapping after your lung TB segued into Pott’s Spine (spinal TB), you were brave enough to go through the two-month complete bed rest recommended by the orthopedic to see if surgery could be avoided. And you recovered fully. Alas, it was your lung collapse that let you down in the end.
When you turned cyanotic, we were alarmed. We were asked by the doctor we had called home to rush you to the hospital. We couldn’t get an ambulance right away. And you, being you, said we could go downstairs and wait for the half an hour before they were due to arrive as we used to have scheduled power cuts those days. You didn’t want to give them the trouble of carrying you down the stairs from the second floor.
Thank you, Mi, for teaching us to be kind regardless of what the situation is.
We will always mourn your loss in our hearts, but we will also celebrate our precious memories of your presence in our lives for as long as you were there. And these will tide us through for as long as we live.
We will always celebrate your kindness, your sense of humor, and your cheerfulness and optimism—no matter what life threw at you.
Happy birthday, Mi.
Words can never express what you mean to me. You are my BFF.
Thank you for being my Mom.
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of inspiring stories, verse, quotes, anecdotes, reflections, easy meditation, thought-provoking questions and humor.