Little did I know it would be my last conversation with my mother…
She had sounded her cheerful self that morning.
“When do I get to see your book?” she had asked when I told her I was finally done with the writing and editing of ParenTeen.
“Very soon Ma,” I said smiling as I visualised her glee to see the book in her hand as my gift on her 80th Birthday, a couple of months away.
I assured her I would be completely at her disposal when she and dad came over next month.
As we chatted over 40 minutes making a list of things we were to do during their much awaited trip- the delicacies I would treat her to (she was such a food lover!) that achaar I’d never realised I would suddenly be interested in making or the traditional songs I needed to relearn from her_ I never fathomed it would be my last conversation with my mother.
An hour later, she suffered a massive brain stroke and was gone after a brief struggle in the hospital.
I had been noticing the failing health of my elderly parents for quite some time, being painfully aware of the impending truth that lay therein.
But when she actually passed away, it felt as if the umbilical cord had never been severed.
I went numb.
For months I would absentmindedly reach out for the phone to call her as part of my daily morning regimen.
Till date, the mind craves to hear that excited, refreshing voice, always the first one to wish ‘Happy New Year’ or ‘Happy Birthday.’
But then, I made a conscious decision not to mourn the loss of the biggest cheerleader of my life, but to celebrate the life of my mother_ a powerhouse of energy, talent and goodness.
In fact, the foundations of my parenting values were laid by my mother, the multi-faceted personality that she was- a trained classical and folk singer, dancer, a radio and television artist who dabbled in drama and acting as well. She played more than five instruments- from sitar, to harmonium to tabla (a rarity for girls of her times), dholak and the flute.
An epitome of humility, she remained a constant learner and performer till her last breath.
Music was the centre force of her life as well as the family she so lovingly nurtured.
She ingrained the incredible power of music not just in her four children but also in thousands of students and parents whom she taught as a guru for over 60 years.
Another important quality that personified her was her passion to help others, often to the point of losing her own sleep.
Apne liye jiye, tau kya jiye (What’s the point of living just for yourself) was her constant refrain even as she reminded her children never to count their good deeds- Neki kar dariya mei daal (Do good & forget it)
She may no longer be with us in this world, but her lessons and pearls of wisdom act as the guiding light for all four of us in raising our children or being a better human being.
Most importantly, she remains the core of influence that has helped me understand what it means to be a dynamic parent so deeply connected to their children, at whatever age they may be in.