When I was five, Patti, you told me a story. We walked together in the passage outside home at 773, and as you plucked those beautiful white flowers that today for me are the equivalent of your hands. You told me about Savitri and Satyavan, about how Yama, the God of Death, took Satyavan’s life. Savitri loved Satyavan too much to let go of him – and so she ran right behind Yama until she caught up with him at the end of the world. This baffled Yama, you told me, because this was a point where no human had been. He was amazed at her courage, and gave Satyavan back to her.
|There is no place better in the world, Patti, than your arms.|
That day, Patti, you asked me a question.
Will you run like that for anyone?
Yes, Patti! I told you. Enthusiastically.
Anyone I love, Patti.
Will you run for me?
But I failed you, Patti. I really failed you. I didn't run fast enough. I didn't run and ask back for your life. Instead, I stood rooted at the spot like a dumbfounded idiot. Yesterday, at 9:50 AM, you asked for water and drank some. You looked at me in the eye and you told me you were going. And in the next second, your eyes looked heavenward, bright and wide open. Your face was aglow. A beautifully radiant calm had descended on you. You were with your mother, while me and mine were shocked numb, asking what you had done and why you had gone. I couldn’t leave your side, Patti, my body was racked with sobs and my mind was plunged in ice. I’m hurting in a place that feels pain beyond any balm. I hate it, Patti – I hate it that you were gone in a second, leaving a void for a lifetime.
Each day when I fought my way into the ICCU, I would come in the hope of seeing you fit enough to come back home with me. I would feed you morsel after morsel in the hope that you would be alright soon to feed me with your lotus hands. I would sing in your ears in the hope that you would come home and take me to music lessons like we planned. I would hold your hand and tell you that you were strong, you were fine, and that you didn’t need those machines. You took those words, but you went in the other direction, Patti.
I want to ask you why you left. I want to ask you why you didn’t stick around to be with me for the milestones to come. You were not allowed to do this to me Patti. You were not allowed to do this. But somewhere from deep inside me, I hear your voice in my head. I hear you saying that you are in a happy place, a place free of pain, a place free of the torture that so many different turns in life gave you.
Some years ago, when you were with us at home on your birthday, we decided to give you a party. Guests of all kinds came – your friends, my friends, amma’s friends, appa’s friends. I remember how beautiful you looked that day in that red saree – the very one they tied on you when you left yesterday. How ironic, Patti, that the very saree you wore on your birthday was the one that you had on the day you... Later, you told amma and me, you watched a program on television where a self-help coach told viewers to write their happiest moments in a diary. You said you had only one to write about: that party. Patti, you were so simple, so lovely, so wonderful – I wish we had given you more moments of such joy and more.
You went through the toughest of times – whether at the hands of those that were privileged to be born as your children but forsook you, or at the hands of the miserable world of exploitative corporate money-making hospitals. They poked you beyond recognition. The blood blisters in your hands, the pain you silently endured, the stifling masks they strapped on you – Patti, you are brave. I felt so helpless, so helpless watching you suffer. If only I could have taken your pain and flown far, far away...
Patti, when I came home, the void hit me so much. Seeing you lying there, seeing them carry you, seeing the smoke billowing out of the chimney and knowing that that was all that was left you – along with an urn of ash... there is so much pain, Patti, and as one of my lovely friends told me, Pain is also Love. I love you Patti, like I loved you every day of my life.
I am wearing the ring you gave me one summer day in the puja room in Bangalore. It was in 1999, and it still fits me, Patti. I will carry you in it, with me, everywhere I go. I rummaged through your shelf today. Closure, I think I was seeking. But I doubt it will come the way I want it to. I saw the notebook that we sat together and put down all your “internet” notes in – what an intelligent lady you were, huh, Patti? You mastered all of those Apple gadgets, had your own Facebook profile and Skyped with me like a pro. I have so much pride when I think of that, Patti, it was such an honour to be the one that taught you these things. I remember how we made the dining table our office. My work was to pretend to work. Yours was to Google me and other people, occasionally playing Jewel Quest and listening to Kathas and Kuchcheris online. When I looked into your cupboard, Patti, I saw a battered copy of Stories of Hope there. I wrote a book this year. And you read it. Bit, by bit, you read the whole thing. For me, even if the book never sells, it will always be a bestseller because YOU read it, because YOU held it in your hands.
Last year, I lay down next to you to sleep. It struck me how beautiful you were, Patti. Those lines criss-crossing your face, each had a story of its own to tell. When people told, and do tell me today that I have the same nose as you, and resemble you, my heart soars. To be told that I look like you? Patti, no crowning in the world is comparable.
You never articulated your pain, you never told us how much worry you kept bottled in you. But you did keep so much within, silently suffering and unrelentingly courageously at that. You were always intent on keeping your worries within, never wanting to trouble another person. I wish you had spoken out Patti, too many people walked all over you when you barely deserved such shoddy treatment.
Your own daughter forsook you, Patti. I don’t know why she didn’t speak or even care to find out about you. We know what you went through at the hands of the others. They had the undeserved privilege to be born in your womb. My heart swells with pride when I see Amma. She was your best, you brought her up so well, she walked with you till the end. Though Santosh, Appa and I didn’t have the privilege of being born in your womb, I will tell you today that we are YOUR children, and we saw you as our Amma.
A street-side fortune teller once told you, Patti, pointing to Amma, saying that she was the one who would feed you in your last days. Blessed as we were, Amma and I had that privilege.
I yearn to lie down in your lap, Patti. I yearn to hear your voice. I yearn to fall asleep beside you, with your hands patting me. I yearn, I yearn, I yearn.
Please watch over me, Patti. Please be my guiding star.
I love you.