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For twelve years she was my mother, my friend, philosopher and guide. Being a homemaker, I had spent more time with her, than my husband. We shared anecdotes, jokes, experiences, almost anything under the sun. A very poised, well mannered as well as friendly, well educated (She had done M.A in Mathematics), well read person she was. I used to admire her, for her beauty, for the way she handled difficult situations, for the fact that she was ever so forgiving. Having lived in Madras, Kolkata and Assam during her youth, she cooked yummy food typical of these states, in addition to the Maharashtrian delicacies, as well as soups, pastas, porridge etc. Of course we had our own differences, but that did not come in the way of our cordial relationship. She loved to travel and had been to each and every state of the country.
Last year she was on a tour to the south along with a group, that also included her sister. The day she reached Ooty, she called me up from there. It was my daughter’s 10th birthday. She wished her and both of them had a lengthy chat. She had promised me that she will get me a mysore silk sari, as it was my birthday the next month, and I had said I wanted it in red colour, preferably. She told me that she was going shopping immediately after.
My daughter’s exams were going on. The next day I received a call from her. She said she was feeling a bit unwell. Her feet were swollen and she was feeling breathless after she walked a little. I immediately called up her doctor, who said that there was nothing to worry about and advised her to rest. Knowing the hyper person that I am, she reassured me that she was fine and probably needed some rest. I was very anxious during the entire afternoon. And after 2 hours or so I received THE call. It was her sister. She had called up to tell that my mother in law was no more. She had a severe heart attack and passed away on the way to the hospital. I was shocked. I did not know what to do, to cry, to scream or what. The first one to whom I broke this news was my daughter. She cried inconsolably. My neighbours rushed in to console us. I called up my husband, my brother, my parents, my best friend. All of them came over immediately. The next few hours went in booking tickets to Bangalore, packing bags. We couldn't even mourn and be with ourselves as we had to rush to Ooty.
My daughter missed her exams, stayed at my mom’s place and we flew to ooty. My husband’s cousin accompanied us. Having experienced the worst day our lives, getting clearance from the Ooty police to perform her last rites, exhausted mentally and physically, we returned home on the third day, to carry on with our lives.
And she had gone, leaving us all behind. Every now and then, I remember her. How she enjoyed family meals, how she encouraged all of us to do whatever we wanted to. How she enjoyed all the family get togethers with my parents. I also miss our lengthy conversations, her diet tips and what not!
Then one day I was reading about our revered former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, right after his sad demise. The article mentioned that Kalam saab left for his heavenly abode, without being a burden on anyone, without having to suffer. He departed doing what he loved to do.. imparting knowledge to students. It dawned upon me, that the same applied to my mother in law. She left us, leaving behind beautiful memories, doing what she loved… travelling. The place God chose for her to start this journey was nothing less than paradise… There is a beautiful marathi song, which says 'jo avadato sarvana, tochi avade devala,' as in the one who is liked by everyone, is liked by God as well. That is definitely true for her. I know she is happy in heaven, as she always was, when she was on earth.
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