Some lovely childhood memories close to my heart are the summers spent with my bua or atya in Rajasthan. Never felt the scorching heat....and that was more because of the uninhibited affection showered on me and less because of the nimbu paani and faalse ka sharbat that she made.Needless to say we were each other's favorites.
Clinic,shifting,marriage , kids,the excuses of not being able to visit her became so called priorities for me and she slowly resigned .Occasional phone call made her happy, at least that is what she said and I believed. Life in Metro continued until I was informed that she was on her death bed ,-cervical cancer,terminal stage,no hope! Had the worst migraine attack in years that day as I slowly absorbed the news.
By evening I was outside her hospital room,(after fifteen long years) mustering up the courage to enter,fighting tears welling up in my eyes and then I heard laughter ,excited sounds ,some more laughs,giggles.. singing, coming out of the room. Wrong room!! I thought,and retraced my steps when a visibly embarrassed ,red in the face, Prem kakaji rushed out ."Good! go meet her and hold and rub her palms till I return will you?",he said. I entered and decided to take the matters in my hand till I was there,how could they make the hospital room into a..a..lounge, or. ..or..a clubhouse for God's sake I fumed.I walked into a roomful of young,strangers,average age 20 yrs who were completely oblivious to my presence and continued their activities and light hearted banter. Before I could utter a word,I glanced around and what I saw will remain etched in my memory for the rest of my life.A young girl,was changing the diaper of the skin and bones of my badi maa with a song on her lip,another was busy making her hair,another ponytailed teenaged boy was neatly disposing soiled diapers and the giggles were for a wrap around skirt that was being designed for their granny!!Will save her the trouble of sliding up her old traditional skirt slip and sari.
I was sighted by then by this bunch of nieces and nephews,and I was ushered close to the bed .I held her hand and tears started welling up again.. not allowed, I saw someone signal with her finger.She did not see me,she probably heard me,but she sure felt me...as she spoke after two whole days of silence..her first instruction to have mehendi applied to my palms as I was getting married and had come to seek her blessings before taking the wedding vows.
She was already lost in time and space...
...and these kids were only trying to make things better for her..like making her believe that she was in her home,surrounded by her family,just the way she loved,..full of love,laughter,lot of touch,feel..
Quick maasi,we have to go get mehendi done,buy shagun sari for you,and be back as soon as possible to show her.I meekly followed ,they were in charge,and were damn good at it!On my way out I saw a big poster that said-'MAIN PREM KI DIWANI HOON'.She had lately become too attached to her brother,our Prem kakaji and would allow only him to hold her hand and rub her palms,and if he needed to be relieved and someone else took over,she would feel the different touch and start chanting Prem..Prem..until he took over again. That explained kakaji and his hurried exit!! The kids were merciless when it came to teasing him or anyone for that matter.
She did not respond when I showed her my mehendi,in fact never spoke again till I left and passed away ten days later.My only consolation is that I met her before I lost her.As for the what the young bunch taught me,well that is something I shall always cherish..
1. I will think twice before I label any teenager irresponsible
2.I will try not to go by appearances (umm... little difficult ,but promise trying)
3.I will not judge people. ( did I imagine that smile on my daughter's lips?)
Watching seemingly careless youngsters, care..another one of simple pleasures