Saturday, December 24, 2011

One month already.

Today we concluded two days of religious ceremonies for my mother-in law's first month anniversary. One shanthi puja and two "masikams" as we call it. For the first one year, it is a monthly event. The adage is that the soul travels in steps (majilis) to its final destination and what we provide every month, makes for their meals at each step. I cannot believe that I've already gone from having dinner with her every single night to providing meals to her soul, so fast :(

After everything was done and the purohits left (they came in from Hyd), we just sat down, my father in law and I, and were thinking how it has already been a month, when we saw the time, it was exactly to the tee - 2.45 PM. One month ago (the Indian calendar's one month coincided with the Roman calendar's one month this time) on the same date and time, my mother in law passed away. Sometimes it feels very long ago, sometimes it feels like yesterday. Swinging emotions. It has been an eventful month for sure though, with lots of things happening, lots of things learnt, lots of things done. We feel like adults now, performing last rites and death-related rituals, with people coming and staying at our place etc. I was telling Subhash, we need to expand our inventory in terms of kitchen utensils and bedding, we have officially moved into my in-laws' league. Too early, too soon :(

One debate we have been having is whether or not we should do the monthly rituals at home. The first month and the 6+ month one are important, and except for those, Subhash's dad says (and rightfully), that it will be a lot of work to do it every month at home, we should just go to the nearby Raghavendra Mutt and do it there. But I want to do each of them at home. For a very special reason.

When my father in law's brother died, his sons did the monthly event at home, every single month. The older cousin is a CEO and the younger one is one of the top executives in his firm. Both busy, working guys. And my mother in law used to tell me that she felt so good seeing them doing the rituals at home every month. And she said this multiple times, over the few years it has been since. The older cousin got all the yearly dates ahead of time and would plan his travel around them (he travels a lot) so that he would be in town when the date came around. And I think she particularly loved it, that sons, who were so busy, in this age and time, took the time to do it this way. If my mother in law is indeed on the journey to her final destination (and that is what our belief system is), I am sure she will be happy, proud and content that her meals are also coming from home. So at least I have emulated the cousins in the first step, taken all the dates ahead of time and put them in my Outlook. Now I hope I have enough strength and favouring circumstances, so we can get this done properly, every single month, at home.

We see her in everything at home and sometimes it really tugs at the heart. I had to prepare the madi sarees yesterday and I only have silk ones so I had to pull out a couple of her sarees and both Subhash and I were sighing at the sight of all her clothes. Here was a person we were living with, day in and day out, talking to, looking at, eating with, and suddenly, it is just thin air, no person. I still look in the fridge every day and see that dabba of chutney that she made, and wonder where she is now. I have never experienced anything like it. Grandparents, uncles etc have died, but we never lived with them constantly, they were never part of our day to day routine so it was sad but in a distant sort of way. This, on the other hand, is right at home, affects our very daily routine and it is not easy to get a grip around it. For a long time to come, this is going to linger and hurt.

I hope you had a good and satisfying meal ma. Unfortunately, you are not around to tell me how much you loved it :(


Anonymous said...

other son also has to do in US?

Anonymous said...

Not to hurt anyone in particular, by making such comments do elder people hope that every son should be doing last rites at home only.isn't it additional onus in this age with smaller families. what if D-I-L has her periods. isn't it additional onus on her?

Anonymous said...

I never got to know you personally...but you seem so close to me through your blog...I really wish you are able to do the rituals the way you want it...I really feel that you should write your heart out till you find some peace...not that you would ever want to forget her...just being at peace with her absence (or her remote presence)...The few times that I have lost people I loved dearly...I could never bring myself to cry my heart out once for all and let the pain leave me....something within me insisted on living that their memories everyday bit by bit...and this is the way they continue to live on I guess...

Anonymous said...

You did your best when she was alive.You treated her like you would treat your mom.You cooked, stayed, shared all precious moments when she was alive.We are sure she died very happily and peacefully fully knowing you and your husband will take care of dad.So doing or not fulfilling(due to circumstances ) should not bother her or you shouldn't get upset if you cant do them.(yes of course you might want to do them with all your might).
Taking care of a dying person is more Punya than doing after life rituals. my 2 cents.And being a understanding mom that she was , she will understand

Anonymous said...

This is where we actually learn the real loss.

Pradeep said...

The lord is good. The thought is important. What happens circumstancially is out of our control.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous No 2 (Dec 24 9:56 PM wala): This is the general world view - Parents to Children is Love and Children to Parents is Onus!

Anonymous said...

Your F-I-L is very caring and understanding.May be he is right in someway.It can be a very daunting task with all the madi and a young baby , career to take care of.How did you manage the madi with a baby

Vani said...

You are doing so much whole heartedly.Not many DIL's do such activities with so much shraddha .inspite of ur work+baby+being alone you are ready to take additional tasks .nice keep it up. we have something to learn from u

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 6 wala :
I don't think anywhere I mentioned that doing last rites is additional onus.

My own mom who had very poor health did the last rites for her Mom-In-Law(who wasn't even the biological mom for my father,he was an adopted child) with perfection, what with wearing wet sarees and a 10day ritual. And the mom-in-law was the most illogical woman I have ever come across what with asking a lady(my mom) who had barely delivered a baby to observe madi and cook food for her. All I meant was that Hinduism has some rigid customs , and sometimes even very elderly people had to do strict last rituals whether their health permitted them or not. You think a pregnant woman can wear a wet saree and stay hungry and do the rituals. You think a young mom nursing a baby can stay hungry and do the rituals?

All I meant is that we follow some practices in the name of faith which has come over from generations.

I know families where last rite rituals is a breeding place for more bitching/gossip and the dead person is the last thing on the mind. I have seen brothers ask sisters sign property docs barely 10 days from the death , all this in the middle of 10th day ceremony.

So all I say is do only when your heart wants you to do it fully, when you regard the dead with utmost respect(as divya is doing). else please leave it aside.

Anonymous 2 "wala"

DivSu said...

Wow! Never expected so many comments on this post. Thanks everybody! I am very moved There is also some interesting debates going on:)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous No 2: Let me elaborate what I said. The normal feeling of people in general, while doing any job - whether it is a rational task, or a faith based ritual - is one of "love" if it is to do with their children, and is of "responsibility" if it is to do with their parents.

The sub-text in all the examples you mentioned is "onus", because those tasks were to do with parents / parents - in - law. If identical religious rituals were to be done for the well-being of children, under similar physical conditions (wet saree, staying hungry), the feeling would be one of "love" and not "onus". This is my observation as well as personal experience. Anonymous No 6

Post a Comment