Words of wisdom on my Mother passing away

The last post I wrote was in January, 6 days after my mother passed away. It is February 19th today and finally I have the motivation to put words on paper.

I miss her...but I don't also.

My son says, "Amma she is not in pain now, she is happier, why do you miss her?"

My daughter says " Amma, think I am Paati and give me a kiss, you will feel better"

It brings tears to my eyes.

I think of her at so many spaces in my life now; at different times with different emotions.
I never thought of her as much when she was with me. We can never be prepared enough for a loss.

Last friday we had friends over for dinner and my father was with us, in fact the small gathering was to say bye to him, as he was leaving back to Chennai after a short stay with us.
I missed her then.  She would have made a dish and then nagged me to take out the cups she had given me for my wedding, 15 years back! If I brought out a new set, she would fidget and sigh at me, that I was wasting money on buying stuff in spite of having old ones that I hardly used.

It was heart wrenching to see stacks and stacks of sarees, neatly arranged in her almirah. Packed into polythene covers and assorted according to usage. Each saree in a plastic cover, can you imagine?! Fastidious, meticulous, organised and clinical in her approach to most things. She was a stickler for perfection and it made me swear off doing anything perfectly for life (what a fool I am!). I could not go through the pain of sorting her things, and left it to my braver, more pragmatic sister to take care.
Yet her sarees that I brought back with me, I take out at every opportunity to wear and feel...it feels like she is near. I feel her presence then...

My daughter, son and I spent the first 5 days after her passing away, huddled together under the mosquito net in sultry Chennai. Days of normal activity telescoped into nights of hushed whispers and discussions. They had seen her struggle with Cancer and knew her pain. So they never questioned why, but always wanted to know; what now, where now?

"Where is she now? What happens when we die? Will you die like your mother?" they asked me

"I only know that she is inside me, in my thoughts and memories" I told them, for I had no other answer to give.

"You know Ma, in Egyptian culture it is believed that every person has a Ba that lives on after the person dies" said my daughter

"Ba, what's that? I only know Paati's name is Pra-Bha" I said, trying to make a joke of the  heaviness that had fallen around the three of us.

"Ba is the soul that lives on...as long as we remember her name, her soul will never die, it remains forever alive, not dead. So as long as we remember Paati, she will live on"

I was taken aback at these words of wisdom that she was able to transfer from a book she had read, to a situation that required her to respond in such a way. I carry her words with me forever.

I leave you with a story so similar to what transpired with us. It is an African tale that I came upon, that just goes to show that every knowledge that is contained in this world is a story, it is but the seeker who has to find it:

 The Gift of a Cow Tail Switch

A West African Tale

A great warrior did not return from the hunt. His family gave him up for dead, all except his youngest child who each day would ask, "Where is my father? Where is my father?"

The child's older brothers, who were magicians, finally went forth to find him. They came upon his broken spear and a pile of bones. The first son assembled the bones into a skeleton; the second son put flesh upon the bones; the third son breathed life into the flesh.

The warrior arose and walked into the village where there was great celebration. He said, "I will give a fine gift to the one who has brought me back to life."

Each one of his sons cried out, "Give it to me, for I have done the most."

"I will give the gift to my youngest child," said the warrior. "For it is this child who saved my life. A man is never truly dead until he is forgotten!" 


  1. Thanks so much for sharing Sowmya.....very poignant, moving, touching....touched my soul. Proud to have known your mother...a big hug to Uthara for her words of wisdom..."Ba" will stay with me too now somewhere, in the hope that it will come back some day and give me strength when I need it like you.

  2. The tale reminds the saying ....'After all,its the Love that remains.... in memory that no one can steal'
    Heartfelt condolences for the grieving kith & kin -karthi

  3. So sorry to hear of your loss, Sowmya.. i seem to have missed your earlier post too...:( my heartfelt condolences.. cherish the memories of ur mom that u have.. for that is the form in which she will stay within u, and the kids too... as the lovely story said, "u are not dead until ur memory lives on"


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