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The Long Good Bye – A Tribute To My Dear Mother: Dr Pramila Pathak

I am 35, Mom was 75. I begin a new phase of life as mom ends her time on this planet.

My mother Dr. Pramila Pathak passed away last month on February 18th, 2016. She was 75 years old and lived a peaceful, healthy, religious life. But I am sad. Selfishly, I wanted her to live forever… or at least as long as I lived so I could remain a kid without admitting to adulthood.

They say that to die is as important as to be born, that the one is merely the completion of the other – and that death is not merely the end of life, but is a crucial part of life. Having watched my mother die last month, I know this to be true.

No one told me about the physical pain I would feel from losing my mother. The umbilical cord that connected me to my mom has been brutally severed and the world as I knew it is no more. It has become a chaotic jungle that I must try to navigate and find my way, but there is no map and I’m without a compass.

As much as people say losing a parent is natural, and it happens to everyone, losing your mother when you’ve barely left the nest is absurd. I feel orphaned.

Pathak Family

I’m still coming to terms with what happened. Mom was always my safety blanket growing up, as many mothers are. Of course as I grew older I became more independent, and in many ways I started to look after her more than she did me. But one day to wake up knowing that someone who has always been there, isn’t any more, is about as devastating as life gets, besides facing your own mortality.

I know what it means to watch your mother die. I know what it means to have a mother who, when she gave me life and helped me to live outside the womb, taught me from the very first days of my life all the way up until and beyond her last breath — when she taught me what it means to die, so that perhaps one day I can also do it well. The lessons you gave me are as priceless as the sacrifices you made to get me to where I am today.

Although grief is a black hole, endless and vast. Sucking you dry of any emotional reserve you might think you have. Especially people my age whom have yet to lose someone important enough for them to realize what utter crap “Time heals all wounds” is.

3 Months Birthday

But life goes on…  Slowly we learn a new way of having a relationship with your loved ones. I can’t call her when I want to, but I can recall her in my mind. And I always know what her answer would have been to any question I could possibly ask. She raised me to know those answers. I don’t need a telephone to hear her voice. I can hear it clearly in my memory. I can’t see her. But I can close my eyes and visualize her. I still talk to her, although not always out loud.

Mummy and I were really close. I was an only child with mom. We also share many similar personally traits, including compassion and sensitivity. A lot of what is me is because of my Mom.

My mother was a petite woman, but there is nothing small about her legacy, or the impact she had on others. It is a strong, beautiful, vibrant, legacy. In life she was in a constant state of motion. She was a whirlwind, never stopping, or slowing down. That kind of energy keeps moving out and beyond. Even at this age of 75, she could fill the Sudoku faster than me every day or beat me in Hill Climb racing score. Be it Facebook or Skype, her desire to learn the new technology and get awestruck by the many possibilities it offer, was her favorite pass time.

Riffi O Brien Richard

When I reflect back to her life – I see it filled with compassion, love & peace. Having done a PhD., she served as the Principal of Singari Bai Girl’s Inter College, Agra for 31 years. During those times, she touched & inspired many lives. She took care of her 3000 students in school just like a mother. She seemed invincible Mom. She never quit & she truly practiced what she preached; “to never give up” as she told me so often.

Thank you Mom for giving me the freedom and space to dream. You always said, “do what makes you happy, Goldy. You’ll never be happy doing something you don’t like.”

And I always thought I’d have more time. There are still so many things on my list that I want to do with her, and I always thought we’d do them “someday”. I always thought my parents would get sick, we’d spend time together and then they’d pass away. I thought they’d be “old”, would have lived a full life, and I’d be okay with the separation. I didn’t expect to feel like my heart was being ripped out of my body.

I know that love never dies, that our loved ones are with us always, and that the memory of my mother will live in my heart forever. I also know that life is short and we never know when we’ll have our last opportunity to say the things we want to say, until the moment is gone.

So, if you want to say, “I love you”, go say it now. If you need to say, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you”, go say it now. Go do the things you want to do with those that you love – now. Don’t think that you’re too busy or that you can do it tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come.

P.S :  THANK YOU everyone for the many wishes & comforting words through emails, tweets, Facebook posts and phone calls… your love and support during this difficult time mean a lot to me!

Dr. Pramila Pathak

 

Here’s a little Hindi poem written down in hours of grief…

 

चली गयी तुम… बस ऐसे हे उठकर ….

न कुछ कहा… न कुछ सुना…

न पीछे मुड़ कर देखा एक बार

खुद के बनाये हुए उस साम्राज्य को…

अपने पोते की निश्छल हंसी भी

न रोक पायी तुम्हे ….

और न रोक पाया वो ३७ साल साथ अपने सुहाग का…

कैसे इतनी निष्ठुर बन गयी तुम ?

 

कभी सोचा कि ….

तुम्हारे बाद  बेटा अब रोज़ शाम को

किसके पास बैठ कर पूरे दिन का हाल सुनाएगा ?

कि तुम्हारी बहु अब किस से पूछेगी कि

मम्मी कल खाने में क्या बनेगा ?

कौन बैठ कर साथ अब न्यूज़ देखेगा डैडी के ?

और कौन धीरे धीरे झूला झुलायेगा तुम्हारे पोते को ?

 

वो रोज़ सुबह नाश्ते के लिए

मेरे पीछे पड़ना तुम्हारा…

और वो रोज़ मेरा झुंझलाना कि –

” मम्मी तुम्हे सिर्फ खाना सूझता है…”

अब कोई नहीं पूछता कि

मैंने नाश्ता किया कि नहीं…

अब कोई टेबल पर

तबला बजाना नहीं सिखाता तुम्हारे पोते को…

 

कहा तो था तुमने…

कि मेरा कर्त्तव्य समाप्त हुआ तुम पर …

आत्मनिर्भर बनो अब…

बन तो गया था मैं !

 

किन्तु इतना सक्षम तो नहीं हो गया था … मम्मी

कि सह पाता तुम्हारी देह का बोझ भी अपने कन्धों पर !

 

याद नहीं तुम्हे…

भूल गयी हो शायद तुम…

कि पूर्ण नहीं हुआ था तुम्हारे कर्तव्यों का पथ …

कि कई कार्य करने थे तुम्हे अभी…

 

कि हंसना था अभी और सुन किलकारियां अपने पौत्र की…

ऊँगली पकड़ कर सिखाना था चलना उसे भी

जैसे मुझे सिखाया था कभी…

खुश भी तो होना था तुमको,

देख कर उसका मुंडन…

और रखना था एक अच्छा सा नाम उसका….

 

क्या इसीलिए आत्मनिर्भर बनाया था मुझे ???

 

जाना ही था तुम्हे… तो चली जाती तुम…

किन्तु थोड़ा इंतज़ार …. थोड़ा सा बस….

थोड़ा धैर्य तो किया होता…

तुम्हारा हर आदेश माना था मैंने…

माना तो था !

 

पर ये आदेश तो कभी दिया नहीं तुमने मम्मी…

कि संभाल लो ज़िम्मेदारियाँ मेरी भी अब…

उठा लो मेरी देह का बोझ भी अपने कंधो पर अब बेटा !

बताओ तो सही… कि कब दिया था ये आदेश मुझे…

 

क्या था ये मौन आदेश तुम्हारा ???

 

समेट तो लूंगा

बिखर गयी इस माला के मोतियों को मैं…

वचन है मेरा !

किन्तु बेरुखी तुम्हारी

तमाम उम्र सालती रहेगी मुझे…

तमाम उम्र !!!

 

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