It Has Been Now Three Years , My Mother !

It was third death anniversary of my mother on January 28 , 2011 . Three years back on January 28 , 2008 she died in Jabalpur. I still remember the day vividly. My memory refuses to obliterate that day from my psyche. I was sleeping in my Mumbai flat and my telephone rang very early in the morning. Early morning calls are always frightening. You feel that something might be wrong somewhere or there is a tragedy lurking in the vicinity. It was a call from my younger brother from Jabalpur. He told me that he is going to hospital as Amma had suffered heart attack. I talked to my mother . She clearly told me that she is not going to return from the hospital. She was wailing because of excruciating pain. I assured her that everything will be okay and went to sleep. Little did I realize that it was my last talk to her. She was admitted in the hospital and from there she never returned. She suffered first heart attack in October 2007 and recovered completely , so I was sure that she is going to be all right once again. But it was not to be. In the afternoon I got a call from my brother that I should immediately proceed for Jabalpur. I took the next flight to Nagpur and took a cab from there . After a night long  journey. I reached Jabalpur early morning and found her dead. I found her body lying on the ground, as if she was fast asleep. Only indication of a calamity was the blood that was oozing out of her ears and nose . Other wise she was calm as if  enjoying her deep slumber.

By noon all my brothers and sisters came and we took her for cremation on the banks of Narmada at Gwari Ghat. It was bitter , cold , grey and windy afternoon and when , according to Hindu rituals , we uplifted her body to be dipped in the cold , chilly waters of Narmada , I hesitated for a second. What if she catches cold ? What if she shivers ? But nothing happened . After several rituals I lit the funeral pyre and with the rising flames the last remnant of my guardianship was gone. I lost my father when I was 22 years old. That day I lost my mother,  when I was 56 years old. Yes I was old . Yes I was mature but as flames started consuming her body I watched everything in helpless , melancholic state of mind and I knew that now my flanks are defenceless. Baba, Maa , Babuji and now Amma , all are gone and I have to live my life henceforth without them , without their love , without their care. I am going to live and those who would have easily and happily died for me are now gone.

[ This photograph was taken by me in February 2007 , when we went for a pilgrimage to Madurai, Ramesgwaram and Tirupati  . It was her last pilgrimage.]

When I look back and try to visit her life , I am amazed. There was nothing extraordinary. She was uneducated and belonged to a poor family. From a tiny and obscure village called Marufpur, District Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh she came to our family based in a village called Sonbarsa , District Gorakhpur [ now Deoria ] , Uttar Pradesh. From abject poverty to wealth, from uneducated, Bhojpuri speaking family to highly educated one , for her it would have been a severe cultural shock. One thing all the youngsters of the family don’t know about her is that she was an unwanted bride. She was not welcomed in the family with warmth and joy.

At this juncture while I write this blog, I should and I must admit that she had unabashed preference for me. She was totally biased in my favour. No mother on earth ever ignores her children and she also did not ignore her other children but it is a known fact of the family that she used to give me preferential treatment. Later on when my younger sister Neelima was born her attention was diverted towards her a bit. She was her last child and that too a girl child, so she used to pamper her a lot. But still I was the prefered one. During my childhood, it was a source of glee and ecstasy for me. I used to feel proud that I am a chosen kid of destiny and that my other siblings are children of a lesser God. But now I feel ashamed. As I am getting older and have family of my own, I feel that whatever my mother did was in a way wrong and that I enjoyed it , was even worst.

I tried to find out an answer for her behaviour , but I always failed. Few days back , when I was writing script of my Bhojpuri directorial venture ” Aber” , I suddenly found the answer. I was writing characteristics of the mother of the hero of my film and I visualized my mother’s situation.  Because of her background and because her own existence was at stake in her new house, she must have felt threatened. In the dark , unlit room of our Sonbarasa village house, where there was no support coming, not a soul was accommodative, not any sign or signal of acceptance was in sight , no glimmer at the end of the tunnel was visible , she must have felt inferior compared to other ladies of the family. It must have been a lonely and fierce psychological battle for acceptance and respect. When I was born, it was not only the birth of a child for her, it was the advent of an heir, a male descendant in and for the patriarchal and oligarch family. The respect and acceptance which was missing, came almost running to her. And since it happened because of me, she must have looked at me as a god send opportunity. And for this very reason she remained biased towards me till her last breath.

It is a known family secret that compared to all of us , my younger brother Devesh served her more. So it would have been natural for her to feel special attachment towards him but due to her early year’s lonely and fierce psychological war at the dark and spartan room of our Sonbarsa house, her feelings for me never changed.

[ Here in the above photograph I am standing and my younger brother Devesh is in her lap . Location – First floor verandah of krishna Kunj – our Deoria House ]

I have never been a very extraordinary son to my parents in any way. Devesh served our mother in a much better way and was with her at the time of her death . My third brother , Atul was always with our father and was with him at the time of his death.  I cannot come close to them as for as serving our parents are concerned. To be honest I was just an okay son. Not great , not worst.

{ At the bridge which connects mainland to Rameshwaram. February 2007 ]

In The Rameshwaram Market with My Son

It is now three years since she is gone. My umbilical chord with her was snapped at the time of my birth. My emotional chord with her with remain intact as long as I will live. But the physical proximity is certainly missing. I am not going to see her or meet her again. And after my death , it is going to be like two drifting pieces of wood in a mighty ocean or two floating atoms in the galaxy. They can meet occasionally or accidentally but there is no affinity, no relationship , no attachment.

This is sad but this is life.




2 Responses

  1. sir, speechless ! a truely heart touching experience.. thanks ! may her soul rest in peace !


  2. […] Interesting account here by an Indian about his mother’s cremation […]


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