Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Maa

She was the last link to two-generation-old stories that I rarely inquired about. She and her family experienced the India-Pakistan partition for real.

Being born in 1993, the partition stories have always seemed like a surreal part of India that I have never felt connected to, regardless of its breathing, living existence even today in 2016. The history of our family has Maa's father being killed by a Muslim in 1947. With roots of Bauji in Haryana (Lahore), it is their history intertwined with the history of the country, that I, today, call Bikaner my hometown.

She was the last of her siblings to pass away. She was the last of her generation as I have known. She was 94 years and a little more than a month old on 22 February, 2016, before she breathed last at 11.45pm.

Her life operated in an era of her times, even in 2016. Hearing her talk about the times when gold was Rs 5, or tell the things discussed before her marriage to Bauji, between their parents; she was a living, breathing human being to listen to about the way of life ages ago, better than any book on the 30s.

Regardless of my abhorrence of most things traditional and religious, her nostalgic way of recalling the customs and life, typical of any recountance nostalgic, opened up a kaliedoscopic world much different than now, in front of my eyes.

A few instances when I could not contain my bafflement at her deep rooted beliefs in caste system, sexist ideologies and insistence on Geeta and Puran- her calm reply, "you won't understand", without any effort to explain or justify herself, is what makes me feel she had a full and happy life, now that I think of it. Maa did not give a damn about how stupid I or anybody else thought the customs are- she stood her ground firm, content and satisfied, without a need to gain somebody else's approval.


She would be missed like anyone with whom you have spent 22 years in the same house, without really venturing into the other's room, would be; with sadness at my lack of effort to connect, with an experience of a weird void in the house and life- for someone who has always been there, sometimes conversed with, and some times irritated at- with memories of playing Jackpot when I was in primary, she defining her cards "hopeless" for a teen-do-paanch card game, the sound of the jingle of the bell as she offered prayers to God at 7 am daily, when she came into the room to see the photoes we were seeing of Sonal's wedding, when she enjoyed a plate of maggi or a cup of coffee (her desire of having cold one rather than hot), when she inquired as to why haven't I met her yet, even with being back in Bikaner for about an hour; she is the person whom I can't forget for breathing one moment, and not the next- right in front of my eyes.

She is the person I identify as a generation I could not understand, and didn't make an effort to understand. Maa, you'll be missed for your eccentricity, for your insistence on getting things done your way, for your love of mingling with people, for your hallucinations of two thiefs stealing gold and stuff from your trunk, for your strength and determination that came across when you recounted running alone after a thief, pulling on his lungi. You'll be missed for your stories, for your love of food, for your love for life. You'll be remembered at Diwali, when every year you'd decorate the God's 'aala' before everyone gathered around it together to pray.

For whatever reasons, we happened to be related, and we happened to have lived in the same house- and for that, you were a unique part of my life that would be missed.

6 comments:

  1. very well written .
    Like your expression and honesty.
    Tony

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  2. Read multiple times till now
    Excellent write up:)

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  3. So well written. Sorry for your loss - a loss made more complex by our relationship with the person who isn't there any longer.

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm that is the reason I believe it still feels so surreal after 10 months..
      Thanks for reading, Sangitha.

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