My Mother – My Daughter

Posted in કાવ્યો by saryu on October 1st, 2014


My Mother-My Daughter

My mother, Bhagirathi, was born in 1916 in a very small village in India. Her mother, Kastur, a very gentle wise woman, followed all the traditions as a young bahu, a bride of the village. When my mom Bhagirathi was one year old, her mother had to go to some other village for a visit. She was very sick when she returned to her village, but as custom required, she would not pass through the village sitting in a bullock cart, so she walked to her house. In a few days she died. My grandfather was an herbal medicine doctor. He later realized that she had died of pneumonia. Only one year old, my mom Bhagirathi and her siblings were raised in a joint family with other cousins.

My mom’s family migrated to a bigger city when she was a teenager. All through the ups and downs of her life she had felt her mother’s presence. But she was sure when she had the unplanned arrival of my younger sister, Uru. My mom was a working woman and a major wage earner. So after having my brother and me, she was not planning to have any more babies. At the time of my sister’s birth, I was seven years old.

As far as I remember, my mother seemed in some special serene mood in the presence of my little sister. I vividly remember Uru being very much interested in what our mom was wearing. When mom would get dressed up to go to school, my sister used to observe her fondly and comment, “Oho! Bhagirathi looks very good!” My mom would smile and say, “Thank you, mother!”

We were never photographed before. One year, my cousin’s husband came from Mumbai with a camera. That was the only occasion when our family pictures were taken with my four-year-old sister. Those pictures turned out to be a very precious memory.

We took an extremely unlikely trip when my sister was four years old. My mother had left their village a long time ago and had never gone back to visit. There was only one uncle and his son in the village. The son’s first wife couldn’t have children. She had died under mysterious circumstances, and my mother’s family had suspected some mishap caused by the uncle and his son. When that uncle showed up to our house with an invitation to his son’s second wedding, I was sure that my mom would never even consider going. But I heard her saying “Yes,” and with our cousins, we all went to my mom’s village. My little sister was very much engrossed in observing everything that was going on. She was a little sick, so she was hardly interested in food, but she would sit in my mom’s lap or next to her and quietly look around. My mom was surprised by her interest and interaction. Uru was looking around with poise, and my mom was amused to see her. After we returned home, I heard my mom telling her friends that she was not sure what had compelled her to go for a visit to her village after almost twentyfive years, and how my sister was quietly happy in her village.

A few months after our visit to the village, Uru got a fever. My mom thought it was just a little sickness. But by the second day her health got worse very quickly. Two doctors were consulted. My brother was apprehensively urging to the doctors do something more. It was very obvious that our little sister was an angel of my brother’s heart. It seemed like a special connecting chain was binding them snugly. Uru lay there peacefully on her bed. There was no agitation on her face.

It was a tranquil evening. We were all around her bed and saw her close her eyes for the last time with a smile on her face.
Doctors could not revive her.
My little sister went to be with the heavenly father. My parents were devastated. It was heart-wrenching for my brother. I was too young to analyze my feelings, so I cried with the others.
She was with us for five years. The joy and peace she brought to our lives–especially to my mother’s life–seemed like a miracle.

The last time I was with my mother in India, Mom said, “I still feel Uru’s warm presence around me. My intuition says that my mother had come to me as my daughter. It helps me to rejoice in those five years of her life.”

                                    Feelings do not follow the logical rules.
Intuition–the God-given gift–is elite and exceptional.
A fortunate few are given a tender heart to soothe
And some stay dry without . . . .

Saryu Mehta-Parikh.  Austin, Texas. 2014.

     Inline image 1                             My Sister-Urvashi

One tear drops from the corner of my eye,
Oh! With this song, the memory revives.

We couldn’t bear to hear the song  any more
For my  five-year-old  sister  was  no more.

She used to sing, “Kakadupati raaghav raajaa raam”
Instead of  “Raghupati raaghav raajaa raam.”

One day  she  was  there, melted  in  our veins.
Then  she  was  gone,  leaving  us  in  pain.

We have  missed  her  a  lot  throughout  our  lives.
Relived  with  this  song  special  moments  of  those  times.

This was the only picture of my younger sister and me before she died at the tender age of five.
A film-song from the fifties, rekindled my memories.  Saryu

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