I tell myself that you would have clicked through on your birthday, and not finding a post, been miffed a little. Which is fine, since miffed is many times better than, for example, custard apples. Good for many reasons. That is why the posts on this blog at least have dates. Belated birthday wishes!!
Your Thammi, my mother, because of whom I have a birthday and because of which you have a birthday, spent all her Augusts in Hyderabad. It was her way of being with you on your birthday. This year too, she and Dadu had planned to be here. She was a rock star if there ever was one. She died in the early hours of July 28 after a brief illness. Even though she was so sick that she needed to be taken out on a stretcher, she made sure she was dressed in her best, and even asked the ambulance attendants to take a picture on their phone so we could see later how she went.
You can find out more about how she journeyed on in Tipu kaka's post here. She made sure to write about her life so you can learn about her when you are older. Her first book is called When Your Granny Was A Little Girl and her second book, about Dadu's mother, is called Mother-In-Love. She was 79 when she died, she started writing when she was 76, and she still had a couple of works in the pipeline.In the days to follow, we slowly began to see how her absence had meaning on so many different levels.We had a very nice send off party for Thammi, with people remembering her through song.
This August, Devank turned two. Mia and Chandreyee joined via Skype, while Tipu kaka was with us in Hyderabad. We had moved earlier to an apartment in Brahmanwadi Begumpet that would be a little more comfortable for Dadu and Thammi, and all of us had looked forward to having the two of them be with us. So that sucked. She was within each one of us as we cut a cake in front of her picture. It was one of those happy and sad moments at the same time.
Tipu kaka and I along with our families miss her a lot, as do the hundreds and hundreds of people whom she touched in myriad, important, life-changing ways, but Dadu misses her the most. Your Dadu, my Bapi, was Iron Man of my childhood, and it is hard to witness his grief. Time heals most things, and we pray he finds healing in the time he has. But enough already of all these terrible things. Thammi will be carrying on her mission of embracing all in her journey towards happiness for all. If there is a waiting room outside heaven (or hell or immigration or wherever one goes after dying), she has probably got them all chanting their obeisances to the mystic simultaneity of cause and effect. Or maybe she is chuckling with glee at all the Facebook love coming her way.
But this you and I know, she is at work. Being boundless joy. And that each of us are now enlisted to build the citadels of peace she laid the foundations for. To live courageously, upright and without regrets.
|Thammi's last photograph as she was getting ready to travel to Hyderabad|
Death has fascinated thinkers and artists through time and a lot of great writing and films can be found that use death to tell a story. There is also a lot of "morbid romanticization" assigned to death that most of us are better off without. Religions and cultures often explain death in contrasting ways, and it can be confusing sometimes, sometimes outright an annoyance. Buddhist thought offers some of the most rational understanding of death and dying. Come to think of it, the only people who obsess about death are the ones who are still living and have no first hand information about death as an objective experience. In another sense, death is really about how you live, what you choose, and the way you conduct yourself. An excellent overview can be found in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.
I am now the night manager for a business, taking care of clients and their troubles. It is work, and many hours of it, and it is made worthwhile for all that I come home to each daybreak. I go to sleep knowing that there will come a morning when we will be together. Thammi will be the happiest that day.
Your copies of her books are with me. You can have them any time.