Remembering Maa

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I was brought up in a typical Indian joint family household. Both a boon and a bane. Many hands to shield me from the wrath of elders on the warpath and just as many to chastise me for various misdemeanours! Creating mischief required that much more planning, what with so many beady eyes trained on me. Needless to say, that spurred rather than deterred me.

 

There was always someone to play with, someone to vent to, someone to learn from, someone to prank. So much was absorbed subconsciously, about life and living and conducting oneself in general.

 

None more so than from my Bari Maa. She was my father’s eldest brother’s wife, and was Maa for all of us … her children, her nieces and nephews, her grandchildren, her great grandchildren… just Maa. And a mother’s love is exactly what I have been gifted by her all my life. After I got married, every time I came home and went to see her, a smile would light up her face with the words, “Tu aa gayi. Abhi yahin rukegi na. Apne sasural mein nahin na”. (You’re come. You’ll stay here for a while, won’t you. And not at your in laws). That warmth, that joy with which I was welcomed never failed to move me to tears. Marriage changes so much. The home that was once your world, where you learnt to walk, to run, to dream, to build castles, is still home, but only until the time a smile lights up the faces of those living there upon seeing you.

 

On one of my visits to India, it was Maa who came to receive me. The moment we sat in the car, she took out a little tiffin and opened it. “Itni door se aayi hai, bhook lagi hogi tujhe” (you’ve come from so far, you must be hungry) running her hand on my head. “Tujhe samosa achha lagta hai na, abhi kha le, phir ghar jaakar theek se khaana kha lenge”(you like samosas no, eat some now. We will eat properly once we’re home). Her experience of airline food was not satisfactory to say the least. And the idea of my having spent so many hours at their mercy was most dissatisfying for her. Needless to say, those were the best samosas ever.

 

Age has a way of catching us unawares. Each time I saw her after a gap of months, she was a little slower, a little more withdrawn. Aches and pains were constant companions. But, she continued her regular walks up and down the long corridor running the length of our home.  Where once it was firm steps accompanied by the jingling of her chaabi ka guchha (bunch of keys), now it was the rolling and tapping of her walker announcing her to all on the way. And if by chance I hadn’t greeted her before settling down with someone else, woe betide!

 

But the remonstrations slowly began to have tinges of resignation, as internal ailments washed over. She became more solitary even the midst of company. Happy to have people around her, but equally content to be by herself. In fact, at times, the chatter of others became just noise, as more solitude beckoned. Death, when it came, was a release for her. She had borne immense grief in her life with the loss of two of her children and of her husband. Maybe, now there is more peace for her as she joins them.

 

The period of mourning has had all of us cousins reminiscing about her and about our childhood. We sit nursing cups of tea in our hands as the rising sun slowly fills the house with warmth. A time when Maa would be sitting in the Mandir doing her puja. Now it’s only Panditji’s voice which drifts over. How much has changed. How much will now further change with her passing. There are so many precious memories tied up in our childhood home, in our elders. It makes you face the starkness of death, of the unrelenting passing of eras as time refuses to wait for mere mortals.

 

I can hear the distant giggling and screaming of our childhood voices running around her wing of our home. We totally had the run of the place! We still do, but now wistfulness and sadness is what we see. Soon our present reminisces will also be reduced to a distant memory. But, the love, the warmth, the sense of belonging will not change. We have been generously bestowed with it all of our lives, how can we not continue to nurture it. It would be a travesty to fritter it away.

 

That is the true legacy of Maa. The one that is infinitely precious.

 

The last time I met her was not too long back. When I had walked in her room, her nurse had begun to ask her if she remembered who I was, as her memory was fading. Immediately, she said scolding her, “Pata hai mujhe. Yeh meri beti hai, Ruchi. London se aayi hai mere paas.” (I know. She’s my daughter, Ruchi. She’s come from London to be with me)

 

I did come again, Maa. But you were not there. To smile for me. To welcome me home. To bless me. To insist on giving me envelopes of your love. To say, “Tu aa gayi … Yeh meri beti hai”.

 

Loving words that I will never hear you saying again. Ever.

 

~ Ruchi

106 thoughts on “Remembering Maa

    • My love,

      Words fall short after reading this touching piece. I have cried many times over, every line, every word I feel those unsaid emotions that are deep inside of you. Maa is looking over your shoulder, reading every word and is so very proud of this tribute. I know, I am.

      Thank you for sharing this piece with everyone, it’s a reflection we can all relate with having dealt with loss in our life. It is never easy to move forward, but we do by keeping our loved ones alive. Like you just did sharing your memories with her. This piece is reminder how our elders have always watched over us, and will continue to till the end of time. And we should cherish those precious moments, never take them for granted. One never knows what tomorrow will bring…

      May Maa rest in peace and be free from the pain she had been suffering with. And may you, my dear friend, find the strength and courage to live with her memories that will never be forgotten.

      Love you loads always and forever and hamesha!

      Liked by 12 people

      • Love you for being my strength throughout. For listening and putting clarity in my head when I needed it ❤
        Our memories of our loved ones give solace and remind us of the values they inculcated in us. As you said, that will always remain with us.
        Love you so much 😘

        Liked by 10 people

    • Ruchi, thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your Bari Maa. You are very fortunate to have had her blessed presence in your life, to have experienced her unconditional love, her warm hugs and her profound wisdom.

      I am sure she is very proud of you, her Rani Beti. Her countless blessings will always be with you as she lives on in your heart as your shining star, your guiding light !!

      Liked by 3 people

    • There is no parallel to a mother’s love, her generosity, her ability to give endlessly without the want of receiving even a little back.

      Ruchi, I know you must consider yourself fortunate enough to know a woman like your Badi Maa, to know her love. She may have traveled to a better place, but she lives in the little things you do, and in the sweetness that permeates memories of her and anything she may have touched.

      A beautiful tribute Ruchi. I may not have known your Badi Maa, but I’m sure she’s proud.

      Liked by 7 people

  1. The warmth with which you wrote this has been transferred to my heart as I remember my Mumma. An epitome of love and a figure fighting for the rights of children. She was always there for me, praying for me and praising me everywhere in front of every person that her daughter is going to qualify the exam next year. She didn’t stay to see her pass that exam with flying colours and crying her soul out just to see that smile on her mum’s face. This brought back memories, so thanks for this. Brought some tears and many smiles! Unknown about the fact of being married and getting that loving feel, but being away from home in hostel has always set to bring in similar feelings to my heart. May you have the strength to face this and revel in her happy and caring face more than her phase of fighting death and weakness. Take care 😃

    Liked by 10 people

  2. Amidst tears I send you hugs and kisses.. What beautiful tribute to very beautiful Badi Maa.. She’ll always be with you ..feel her love and warmth in the Suns Ray’s.. That breeze will be her soothing your soul and shielding you from pain ..the brightest star in the sky will reassure she’s happy and at peace xxx

    We too have a big mom in our house ( she is my mom the eldest of 11 siblings and mother hen to all) xx

    Liked by 9 people

  3. Ruchi,

    Like others have already said before me, this moved me to tears. Is it your amazing words, dear girl, or the overarching human spirit and the common thread that links our myriad souls….this is an ode to anyone who was particularly close and passed away. Truly poignant. I am drawn to the thought that today I have as many people in this world with me as I have on the other side. I lost my father when I was all but 14, on the cusp of womanhood, and very close to my final grade 10 board exams. I remember the trauma as vividly as it was yesterday, the whole community, teachers et al, got together to make sure I got the required tuition and help to get through with decent scores. My mother proved to be a rock. Today long after he breathed his last, his thoughts, the values he inculcated in us, the memories, his favourite music, an old forgotten phrase or movie….so many things come to mind in snatches never leaving me completely alone…

    The reason I bring this up here is to share that death and loss are emotions every human being has gone through at some point. We are only left with fleeting memories of their human experiences. And while people might say, time is a great healer, and similar such gobbledygook…the truth is this – they never come back, their thoughts and your best moments with them stay with you….perhaps that is all we ever have as mortal beings here.

    I was so clearly able to picture your badi maa…so many people like that you might have run into in the course of your life, isn’t it? Such a lovely piece of writing…the nuances of old memories, forgotten places, sharp and quaint! Good one, girl!

    Best,

    Anu

    Liked by 13 people

  4. It was so touching ruchi….. I am a very introvert person… I can’t express feelings with so much love I actually feel for them… But when I see this type of love it make me overwhelmed with feelings… Great tribute dear… Awesomely written ❤

    Liked by 6 people

  5. Very emotional Ruchi.

    For people like me who stay so far away from Motherland and own kith and kin, every visit a scare builds in me when I see aged grandparents or close relatives.

    Just in May when I went to attend a wedding in the family, never imagined that it would be the last time I would be seeing my grandmother.

    She passed away within a month after that and now what we are left are only memories of her.
    What hurts the most is probably the fact that when she was almost on her death bed, I could not go and see her just once.

    Hope your Badi Ma’s soul rests in peace. She might be not around physically, but the seeds of love she has sown in all of you, will always grow.

    Liked by 8 people

  6. Very Heart Touching

    Being far away from the family can understand how much we miss them especially Maa’s warmth. Now reading this tribute towards your Maa makes me want to relish each and every moment whenever I visit and spend with my family. Had few tears while reading this.

    Hope your Maa’s soul rest in peace and She will be happy whereever she is seeing you happy and content with your family.

    Thanks
    Chinnulu

    Liked by 5 people

  7. How exquisitely you’ve writen this RuchI.
    Even though this is all about your memories and feelings….its like you have written on my behalf ( barring the specifics)
    I was in tears and had to stop and take a moment.
    Brings to mind that song by Roberta Flack

    Strumming my pain with his fingers
    Singing my life with his words
    Killing me softly with his song
    Killing me softly with his song
    Telling my whole life with his words
    Killing me softly with his song

    After 17 years in New Zealand, home is still in India.

    Even though the joint family of childhood is no longer in one place and the cousins are scattered around the country and abroad, the memories and connections remains to warm and occasionally sadden the heart.
    And the virtual world is a poor substitute for the personal interactions, the hugs, the laughter, the touch…..

    My Maa was my grandmother – we called her Maa copying our bhua’s.
    She was maa to everyone in the building, all the kids of the 7 families called her that. At any given meal time we’d have 4-6 extra people in our home. Everyday felt like a party.

    Thank you for making me recall some beautiful memories.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Monica, thank you for sharing your memories and for sharing this lovely song.
      The bonds we forge in our childhood is what stays with us always. My cousins are also now married in different cities, but when we get together we’re exactly as we were growing up. There’s something about being in our childhood homes and being with the ones we’ve grown up with that makes us shed our patina of adulthood.
      Your grandmother must have been a wonderful lady to have left you with such lovely memories and values. ❤
      Virtual hugs are never a substitute for the real thing, but I'm sending you one with a lot of warmth 🤗

      Liked by 5 people

      • I agree 100%, RuchI.
        the years just fall away….lol

        I took my 2 boys to India for a family reunion of sorts in April this year – they were flabbergasted at how I was with all my cousins.
        They don’t get that feeling of extended family having been born and brought up here halfway across the world.
        I sometimes wish they could experience it.

        And adulthood is merely a patina as far as I am concerned -the smallest excuse sufficient to shed it. 😄

        Coming back to your writing – I hope you realise that your tribute to your maa is more than just that…when it makes readers like me reminisce and relive cherished memories.
        So thank you.😇

        Liked by 4 people

  8. I’m sorry for your loss. But what a blessing to have someone so special in your life that makes you feel like the center of theirs! “The home that was once your world, where you learnt to walk, to run, to dream, to build castles, is still home, but only until the time a smile lights up the faces of those living there upon seeing you.” How true! It’s those memories that get us through life one day at a time.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I have no absolute words to describe how wonderful this piece is.That was a heart touching piece and one many of us could relate to. To have our loved ones distant from us is painful in itself and realising that the distance is still going to be there is an ache in the heart.Though memories fade, it never leaves you. In reality, we hope that those memories fade for our own selfish reasons to move on as they put it, but it is never really fading away. We are forcing ourselves for the ‘motivated forgetting’ as the psychologists suggests. And yet we fail to do so too.

    Family is special. And it is really hard for those memories to remain just as memories. Many of us still live in the trauma of having lost our beloved ones. Sometimes it is easier not to forget them. Sometimes having them near to our thoughts gives us strength- like they are with you. Though they are not physically there to call us , ‘dear beti’, we know that they are there with us.

    Thankyou for sharing this wonderful piece.May your Maa be proud of the person you’ve become. And may all our Maas be proud of their children too.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I too have a Bari Maa, my dad’s eldest brother’s wife, we call her Badi Mummy, a mom for all of us!!!! All 16 of us!!

    Not having paternal grandparents for me meant, she was the eldest maternal figure of the family, and the one whom I can count on to save me from the results of endless mischiefs done!!!!

    Though we didn’t stay together, every year we had to visit their place and where living without mom was not feasible for me, I used to be Happy to stay with her without my mom!!!!!
    Miss those days, no one to scold, only spoiling, Good knows how many things she has taught me, even thought she herself did not study much!!!!

    And the best part, though age has caught up with her, though she has seen and lived through many things, many incidents, she is Still the same!!!!

    Right now, I live away from home, in a different city, but the city in which my Badi Mummy stays, the only reason I am able to live in this city, so far away from my family!!!!

    Though I was never in a joint family, but all of us lived nearby, I know it’s not the same, but it’s almost as good!!!!
    And right now my Badi Mummy has gone back to home and I am missing both my mother’s!!!!
    One who made me what I am,
    And the one who spoiled me and made my childhood what it was!!!!!!
    Love you both(Though I am sure you guys are not going to read this)!!!!

    The best part as you said Ruchi, when they introduce us, the happiness on their faces and pride in their words!!! Makes every pain nothing!!!!

    Thanks for sharing such beautiful thoughts!!!

    Take Care!!!

    Soon the pain will dull, leaving only the happy memories and a lump in the throat!!!! The best way to remember anyone who leaves!!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Was busy all day, Ruchi, and just checked my mail before going to bed. My first thought at seeing that you posted something was to displeasure that you didn’t inform me that you posted something on your blog.
    But then I read it and all the anger flew away. My eyes are wet and my thoughts are with you. I am a little angry with myself for not knowing that you lost your Maa recently.
    She seems to have held an ocean of love within her. No wonder you miss her so much. Our loved ones go away and only their memories remain. And those good memories bring a smile to our lips when we think of them. That is their biggest gift to us.
    Lovely ode to the memory of your Maa. Loved it.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Oh ruchi, Iam very sorry to hear about your loss
    Memories of such blissful childhood are the ones which we hold on to at times of such losses
    Iam truly touched by your tribute –

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Very touching I remembered my grandmother she was a noble soul and always welcomed me with open arms on some occasions u miss them more but it is a part of life jo aata hai usse jana hi hota hai thanks ruchi for the beautiful update

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being (Carl Jung.) So befitting of this woman you describe here Ruchi.

    A mother, whose mere shadow can cast its love as light and whose definition is more than just shared DNA!

    So very beautifully written Ruchi, your writing brings with it a silent plea to a introspection and for that I thank you.

    It wasn’t that long ago that I too lost my uncle (my father’s youngest brother) and your reflection brought to fore the love I too, received from so many in my life. For that, I thank you.

    As time marches on, I now look forward to these moments you describe, when the past is longer than the future and when shadows of life cast their long silences.

    As always, the grace in your writing and in your thought brings a moment of beauty and happiness in my life. For that, I thank you.


    –M

    Liked by 4 people

  15. So heart touching but very well written!
    Love and warmth of Maa never fades away and always remain with us throughout our life, wherever we are…I am really sorry for ur loss dear.. Take care of urself and all ur near and dear ones..and always cherish the beautiful memories made with ur maa…
    Lots of Love…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day.
    Unseen, unheard, but always near; still loved, still missed and very dear…”

    Dearest Ruchi … I have no words to express what I felt reading about Badi Maa from your perspective … that was so beautifully written … brought many tears and gave me goose bumps … I think we all have a Badi Maa in our homes be it in the form of an Aunt … an Uncle … a Grand-mother or even a sibling … that person has the ability to keep the family united in someway or the other making them such an integral part of the family that if and when their sojourn on earth is over they leave a great void behind which nothing and nobody can ever fill up … the heart always craves for a fleeting glance … a touch … but alas we only have memories left behind …
    So we should thank God for the beautiful time we have had with them and remember them fondly for all the love we got from them and make it last a lifetime …
    Be brave and God bless …

    Liked by 3 people

    • My dearest K, you give solace to me with beautifully inspiring and soothing words. Thank you. This virtual world has given me friends whose care and concern has touched me so much. ❤️🤗

      Like

  17. Ruchi dear…..I’m falling short of words after reading this beautiful touching piece dedicated to your Bari Maa. Even as I am typing now tears is automatically pricking out of eyes and flowing down. Each and every line is touching my soul!!!! I can feel the depth of your emotions while you pen down this piece. She is certainly looking over you and am sure she is proud of you.
    Beautiful tribute and I pray that her soul rest in peace.
    Lotsa love and hugs for you Ruchi….take care dear.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. My eyes welled up with tears reading this soul touching writing of Urs~a tribute* to your ‘Badi Maa’.I know it’s not just a writing, its UR true love & Respect tht U have 4 your Maa which U have penned down in words so beautifully & as Jigs di had said; every word, every line welling up our eyes speaking all ur unsaid emotions, lov & respect 4 UR “Maa”*
    Di I know the pain of losing ur loved ones is unbearable, words or time can’t heal them. This heart wrenching pain will always going to remain but her blessings & the happy moments u have spent with your ‘Maa’ will always be giving U the Positive vibes & Courage Forever♡
    All I pray May your “Maa” soul rest in Peace & she will be so happy & proud seeing you Ruchi di, just like I feel blessed to have your & Jigs di (the 2 gems) presence in my little world ♣
    It may have fewer times that we both interacted but as far as I came to know ▶ Ruchi Di U R one of the most Humble, kind, strongest & wonderful person I known.
    Love & Respect U frm the core of my heart & Thanks for sharing this heart touching writing , reminding us the value of our loved ones♡
    Take care Di with lots of LOVE ♥
    Yours -Anjali.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. My heart wrenches as I write this. what a beautiful ode to our Maa s. Blessed we are to be daughters of women who inspire us even when they are not around us close by anymore. I am what am only because of my Amma and I am sure so is the case with most of us.
    I read this as I return back from an overseas trip that I and my sister took with our very aged mom, her first overseas trip. It was a difficult trip as she was not comfortable with the travel, was in a lot of pain unfortunately; but after a long time it gave us a few moments like it was ages ago in our home…just us and our life. Evoked mixed reactions, this trip, sadness at how we are unable to be with each other like before alongside thoughts that we got to these few days with our Amma without the pressure demands of other family commitments
    Time has gone by, my Amma has become frail & fragile, gone is the strong woman who fought many odds to bring up her daughter’s. Broke my heart to see that we got so wrapped up in our lives, that we could not have made such trips much earlier.
    I promise myself as I end the trip to give her more time, be more patient and do stuff together that we all did back then together…talk about those days just go back to the damp soft cotton sari that smelt of kitchen.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. We get embroiled in life at the expense of living don’t we. Assuming our loved ones will always be there. This brought tears to my eyes “just go back to the damp soft cotton sari that smelt of kitchen“. I wish you are able to do just that my dear 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, heart touching piece with us. I’m sure your Badi Maa must be proud of you. She will always love you no matter where she is.
    We all miss our loved ones but I don’t know how life teaches us to move on after a loss.
    Remember the good times spent with your Maa. She is always looking after you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  22. How did I miss this beautiful piece?

    That was one emotional piece.

    You are lucky to have such a loving Aunt, that was no less than a mother to you. Very few get to have loving motherly affection from others.

    What we can do now is prayer for her, I m sure you would be going that continuously.

    She taking Samosa to welcome you shows her loving and caring nature.

    I m sure you would have learned and inherited such love and affection from her.

    I remember reading something fron Jigs about your character. That was a proof that you have enormous love and affection to give just like your maa.

    She sure would be proud of you. Specially you being a loving and caring persong just like her….

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This was such a beautiful tribute! You have such beautiful memories. Every line you wrote just touched my soul.She’ll be looking down from the heavens,proud of you and blessing you. Really my eyes got teary. May her soul rest in peace.
    You were lucky to have her in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ruchi di,

    Your banners are undoubtedly the best! This one is surreal to say the least. The sunset has such a deep significance. Here I was thinking it is a tale from Khushi’s perspective.

    Isn’t life a tale? We are playing our respective roles to the fullest, day in and day out, toiling hard. Memories are formed unknowingly along the way by the medium of clicking pictures, recalling golden days, celebrating moments. It is only when a person disappears from the picture, we are bombarded with their absence in the very instant. The impact felt is immeasurable. Indeed, time can stand still. It rather seeks permission from the devastated to slowly plunge the brain, ultimately leading one to introspect. In due course, one even gets to equate the lost one to God, become the guiding light. A person’s life is nonetheless, determined by the impact of the memories they leave behind. Bari ma has left everyone here speechless with an everlasting impression! We do not know her, have not met her, yet can feel what YOU feel in her absence. The power of your writing is because of the strength she gives. Her memories allow you to cherish her, glorify her. Some term it as a blessing!

    A mother’s love is never enough. God’s best creation is not nature, but nurture. Have we not heard numerous tales of sacrifices she makes? When Bari ma traveled to the airport to receive you, it showed her strength. She could have taken rest at home. It is the bond that is compelling enough. I am never going to forget what Samoses might mean to you, here after. When a person is aging, they do not realize that every moment spent with them could end up turning precious for the child. They take things by stride, rather.

    Last but not the least, a child is a parent’s reflection. What clearly is magnified, is the personification of the affection Bari ma shared and always will. It is a testament of the abundance of warmth and love she possessed and does even today. Her motherly instincts are distinct, the fervour is unmatched. I can definitely imagine Jr being brought up with the same care, and if not with even more.

    Innate feelings are instilled, memories are jogged, smiles are brought, tears are trickled – It is an emotional roller-coaster ride, thanks to your strong demeanor.

    Bari ma has made her way into our hearts forever,
    Zeffy

    Like

  25. Ruchi truly a heartwarming tribute to badimaa
    Maa s love is unconditional
    They think that we are just infants even when are mothers ourselves
    They are irreplaceable
    I miss my Amma, she is pain, due to her recent fall / hip surgery
    Couldn’t be with her becos of travel ban
    Hope to be with her soon.
    Tc

    Liked by 1 person

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