My grandmom. She passed away today.
She had 93 long years. She lived a happy childhood – second of 5 sisters and 1 brother in a happy household. She married happily, to a handsome man, in to a rich family. She lost almost everything in partition, turned into a nearly penniless refugee far away from home, her families split across states. She brought 5 children into the world, but lost her husband and the eldest to the country I live in. They needed to earn to get the rest of family up off their knees. She raised her kids, educated them, got them married, moved towns, made a new house, had grandchildren, saw them grow up, move out. She had her husband return home, to finally live with her, after 30 years. She, they, fell in love again. They lived a few happy decades, again. Then he cheated her again, dying in his sleep while she was terminally ill. She was always the stronger one. She survived, she strived, she smiled, and kept her huge family together. She’d been ill for over 8 years. She’d been first declared “about to die” 5 years ago. He’s been gone 7 years.
Her eldest left too, slipping away from her while in this cold land halfway across the world. She couldn’t see him, in death, like in much of her life. Yet, she lived on. She didn’t fight anything anymore, but she never understood giving up either.
Today, finally she left us. Long after most of her body had given up. Long after many of her senses had stopped working. Long, long after the doctors thought she would go. Long after we went from dreading her death, to celebrating her life.
They’ll be happy together, up there. Sharing jokes, scheming, gossiping, hugging when no one’s watching.
Thank you, Mama! For being the strongest person I’ve known. And for being that, living like that, with a beautiful smile and an unparalleled spirit. For saving me from dad’s beatings, and papaji’s scoldings. For spoiling me with your pinnis and paronthis. And for that ₹100 and mishri you quietly placed in my hand every time I left home.
Enjoy, wherever you go, Mama. And give papaji a kiss on the cheek from me.
I just took Chewie outside for his pre-sleep wee, and a thought crossed my mind…
What if ghosts are real, and Mama’s ghost is hanging around in the backyard, angry that I haven’t shed a single tear for her? What would I do if she appears before me?
There’s only one thing I’d do. Hug her. Hug her tight, and plant two kisses on her soft cheeks. And quietly whisper to her, “Love you, लाले की जान!”
On one of the good days some time ago…