Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Remembering Ma, 10 years after..

This Diwali was like any other - but I couldn't shake off the thought of that Diwali 10 years ago, when we had to rush my mother-in-law to emergency at Manipal. On the way there, she kept saying, she might not survive this bout of "Amavasya" hospitalization. Her mom passed away on an Amavasya and she was somehow sure she would too. We came back - very sober, very reluctant to "celebrate". We burst a few crackers for formality and called it a night.

Although she survived that Amavasya night, she passed away exactly one Indian month later on the Amavasya following. She held on to her life so she could meet my brother-in-law one last time - till he came down, she battled hard. Not many immigrant kids are lucky like that - to find closure and be around when a parent passes away, but she made it possible for him, she wouldn't let go without him being around. 

After he came down, she, in fact recovered enough to spend about a week at home with his family and all her grand-kids. As soon as he left to attend to some work in Hyderabad, we had to rush her to emergency again the following day and that was the last time she was ever home. 

Ten years later, every time I see her picture or think of her, the only thought that crosses my mind is, she should have lived at least a couple more decades. She worked all her life and looked forward to retirement and spending time with grand kids. In fact she used to tell Rohan, that when he starts school, she would pack lunch boxes for him just like she used to for her boys. This morning Rohan said, Amma, she never got a chance to pack my lunch boxes. She never saw me go to school.

She should have lived, she should have been healthy and happy and lived at least a couple more decades. The last few months were tough for all of us, seeing her wither away, lose all her strength and consequently becoming miserable at her own lack of ability to perform even simple daily tasks - for someone who always was going about here and there, it really irritated her confining herself to one place the whole day. Adding to that dialysis thrice a week on top of her already weak frame - it was just painful to see her go through it all :( She wanted to do so much, she couldn't do anything, she really wished to be gone rather than live like that - she even said that ever so often.

One of the nights before we rushed her to emergency the last time, I was giving her an oil massage to ease the pain in her legs and when I was done, she said, you have done so much for me, I will come back and be born to you. When I see my younger one, I feel, she kept her end of this promise. I did really want a boy so she even became one to make me happy :)

She was one of my very vocal supporters and never spared any words when it came to praising or comforting me. I really miss that. Every promotion, every milestone, every achievement, first thing I wonder, if she was around, she would have said this and been so happy. We could have celebrated so well together. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

One of her last blogs - we all miss you Ma..


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Yesterday I returned from hospital after treatment fully exhausted , tired and hungry .Divya served me hot delicious lunch affectionately inspite of her busy work schedule ,Icouldnot stop myselffrom saying annadata sukhibhava .Ofcourse daily we have hot meals but when u r hungry and weak it makes alot of difference .GOD BLESS HER .

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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

20 years

Today, it has been 20 years since I first moved out of my parents' home. From a "safe" environment into a totally unknown country and life. 

I really do miss Madison some days - I never imagined I would get nostalgic about a place that I have not many fond memories of. Those days were always filled with stress over finances, managing my entire life in my hands, uncertainty about the future, shaky employment situations thanks to 09/11 and what not. Not much time to focus on education which was purportedly the main reason I was there.

Yet, Madison was a serene, calm and a charming town - sometimes I look up the place on Google maps just to see those familiar streets, old homes, university buildings, terraces, Union buildings etc. Such a laid back place and if not for the winters, I would have loved to live there longer - Madison in particular and Wisconsin in general. I just HATED the winters though. I couldn't wait to move to sunny California, when I did in 2005. 

It is always a sentimental day for me. Although I moved back home in 2008 and spent far less time in the US than in India of the 41 years of my life, and it no longer relevant to any milestones or counts, it is still a strong demarcating line between a cocooned, secure life to a totally independent, self-reliant one. It taught me a great deal and I do think I managed reasonably well. I realized strong life lessons in those 18 months of pursuing my Masters which I would probably never have, had I not left everything behind. The strongest one which I still swear by "You cannot put any price to peace of mind". If something provides peace of mind and is within affordable range, it makes zero sense to not spend money on it. Money is nothing if it cannot afford you certain basic and attainable privileges. Even as a student struggling to make ends meet, I made sure to spend my money where my peace of mind was. 

I have many bad and in the later part, even more good memories from my life in the US. I tell everyone proudly, how, where most women migrate to where their husbands live/work, Subhash migrated to where I was because I was not mentally prepared to give up my fight to reach financial stability and eventually move back. Even on days when I would feel like giving up and moving back and  getting married comfortably and settling down here, he would say, it would always be a regret that I should never have to hold in the first place. And he wouldn't let me pick that option unless I was desperate and there was no other way. For this, I am always thankful.

Finally, I wrapped up that chapter, married, financially well-off (at least compared to when I started), with no job search needed afresh and happy to move home after 7 years. With ZERO regrets about whatever life had thrown my way. All in all a journey well worth it and well lived :)

 A day where I also thank the many people who made it possible for me. My family, of course, but that neighbor who sponsored funds to show in our accounts so I could get a visa and my cousin who willingly parted with 10K USD (in 2001, it was a *LOT* of money) to pay towards my tuition. Wisconsin was an expensive school. I did manage to rotate the same 10K for two semesters; getting a tuition refund at the end of each before I was finally on the UW Engineering rolls as a TA in the third semester. I finally returned it to him in 2006 - he refused to accept it before I had a stable job :) It saved me a lot of additional stress about money and finances..

13.5 years and counting - not having gone back to the US after I left it. The goal is to travel to as many other places in the world as I can before I have to go back there for personal or professional reasons. And definitely to make the first stop at Madison - where it all started. Someday, maybe in the distant future :) Thanks to this pandemic, a change in jobs didn't entail an otherwise mandatory trip to the mother-ship :)


 

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

40 - the decade that went by..

I wrote this piece when I turned 30. About the decade that went by. Significant in its own way and very much "sinusoidal".

In the upcoming 30s, I was expecting a lot flatter curve - and it delivered.

I lost my mother-in-law at 31 and gained her back in the form of my younger son at 33. I do believe he is "her come back" as she promised before she left..

Rest has been smooth sailing. Settling in - raising kids, moving two homes till we finally ended in the one we live in, finally changing jobs after 15 years and so on and so forth. It has been eventful, happy and content. And yet, never in spikes. And I love it that way.

If my teenage self saw my 40-year-old self, I think the teenage version would be inspired and would want to emulate the 40-year-old version. Enough said :D

Looking forward to being the same, and staying equally spirited through this next decade!!