— Eulogy to my mother!
January 24, 2017, I am on a late evening flight to my home town. Every time I took a journey to my home town, it would be nostalgic, it would feel like going back to my final destination, my final abode – a destination of my roots, of anchorage, of peace, of solace, because it meant going back to my mother, the person responsible for my existence, the person who gave me a feeling of permanency, of eternity, of ancestry…But today, it was different, very different! Today I was going back to pay my last respects, to see her one last time before she is buried, I wasn’t sure how I would react when I see her and she will not respond, she will not get up to embrace me, to kiss me, to smile at me – a smile that would go so deep into my soul and give me an eternal peace. Her eyes despite having become droopy due to age still had that freshness of a new born child and the compassion through the tears could alleviate any pain, no matter how big…But this time she will not respond. I know I am taking this flight that will take me right into my home town but somehow feel I do not have a destination…I am lost!!!!!
I reached my home – the place I was brought up, the house that I always thought would be my final abode. I walked across streams of people each giving me a look that made me feel like the destitute, the unfortunate, the miserable! I walked right to the place where she was resting and the first reaction was to bend and kiss her expecting her to embrace me in return, but… she did not move, her body was cold, she did not respond, it was hard to believe that this thing called death had snatched her away from me, while just a few days ago I had taken the same trip under totally different circumstances, when we had all gathered 8 of her 9 children she had given birth to. She had responded totally differently, she embraced me, kissed me and despite asking her to remain in bed and rest, as she had by now grown very weak, and would be exhausted by even a little bit of an exertion, she got up, held my hand walked across to the sofa in the living room, sat beside me and very proudly posed for the cameras. She looked so cheerful and contented, she was very happy to have her children with her who had been living in different parts of the world. There were weddings in the family and we had all gathered to celebrate and she was always in the forefront leading every activity and every ritual. It was now the turn of her grand children, she had raised all her own children, provided them with the best of education, had them married and settled, seen her grandchildren and great grandchildren too.
My parents loved children, they had 9 of their own and I was the one right in the middle, and as a child I hated that feeling! As a child, in my naivety, I thought I was always the odd one out and left out and did not get the love, affection and attention that the others received for being the elder ones or the younger ones. I grew up with this stupid notion that I did not matter or mean to her what others meant; little did I realize at that time that the only unconditional love that does not differentiate between children is the parental love! But back then, I guess I was naïve and I must admit I always stayed a little aloof, a little to myself and was honestly, definitely not her most obedient, loving and caring child, the way some of the others were. I do truly regret that and it also hurts, but as you know, ‘the past can hurt, but you can either run from it or learn from it!’
I was totally devastated when I reached my home for her funeral, albeit her age and her medical condition had started to have its toll on her and the last time I was with her just a few days ago, I could sense that her end was near, but little had I realized that it was this near. In fact, I was to return a couple of weeks later for an official meeting and on my flight back I wrote in my journal that when I come back for the meeting I will spend some quality time with her as there would be lesser people around her then. But I did not share this information with her before leaving and that is yet another thing that I regret, because one of her biggest anxiety was that after the wedding all her children will leave and go back into their lives and get busy and she would again be left all alone, perhaps for a reasonably long time before we could all gather again. Had I shared my plans with her, knowing that she was an extremely strong lady and an incredible fighter maybe she would perhaps have stayed on in anticipation of the meeting, maybe she would have had something to look forward to in the recent future, may be, just maybe…….or maybe not …..but let me at least feel good for a moment that it would have made a difference! So I did have these regrets of not having shared everything with her, not spoken to her much, not spent time with her enough, and when I went for her funeral I was totally devastated because the bitterest tears shed over graves are for the words left unsaid and deeds left undone, I was overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, regret and morose. For three days I was totally devastated, I could not sleep, eat or even think straight!
But then, thanks to my wife, I got a chance to reflect on my mother’s life like a flashback, we looked at every phase of her life, her childhood, her early marriage, her relationships with her parents, her siblings, her husband, her in-laws, her children, her extended family and every person who ever interacted with her. My goodness gracious…….. what an incredible person she was? Wise like a hermit; compassionate as a saint; pure as nectar; strong like a mountain…..she was a fighter, she was courageous, she loved life and her spirits were always high & soared like an eagle, she reached out to all and sundry like an ocean – she was magnanimous, she was benevolent, she was gentle, she was kind, she was patient, she was persistent, she had integrity and she had character!!!!!
Her courage would match that of a Thatcher on any given day; her optimism that of a Wangaru Mathai; her vision that of a Steve Jobs; her excellence that of a Picasso and her trust……Oh! My God, she had the ability to make not just her near & dear ones but people from every walk of life ‘see her love behind her anger; her sorrow behind her smile and her reason behind her silence’.
This reflection and analysis of every phase of her life just gave me a fresh perspective towards life and on the fourth day when I visited her grave, I sobbed like a child and cried like an orphan baby (which I am now), but I made her a promise, I made her a promise…..that I will, moving forward, stop acting like a wimp; it is said, you can be a victim, or you can be a leader, but you cannot be both, and she for sure did not raise me to be a victim, if I behaved like one it would be an insult to her, so…..so I made her a promise that I will be strong like her, live by the values that she lived by and taught us, I will live by her compassion, I will live by her benevolence, and I will live by her generosity, I will take her living to a different level altogether, I will work to make a difference in other people’s lives like she did, I will live to make the world a better place, I will embrace life, I will love humanity, like she did, she lived a great life, it is just that not all great lives are seen by the world or are flaunted on the celluloid, nonetheless, they are great lives!!!!
So now I am on a mission, I have found a new destination….join me if you wish to!!!!!