Yesterday I lost my Maternal Aunt. She fought a brave battle, not of her choosing. She always kept telling me that it was getting better and not to worry. I recollect that I woke up much earlier than usual that day and out of habit, looked at my phone. There was the usual 30 odd messages from various Whatsapp groups. One of them had a simple message that told me that she has passed away and they were arranging to prepare her for the funeral. Just like that, those words in the cellphone had a chilling impact.
I did not feel sad. I felt happy for her because she would no longer have to suffer the pain. I also felt happy for her because she crossed the threshold that everyone knows is coming, but secretly fears. I felt nostalgic because she was my favorite maternal aunt. She was the third of 5 daughters and one son.
I was the first grand child in the family and my aunts doted on me. When I was little, we used to visit my grand parents often. My aunts were young then, some were working and a few were in school. My youngest aunt and uncle were in school. For all of them, I was an object of affection. My aunts would take turns feeding me. It was an elaborate ritual of having to take me to the balcony and distract me with stories about the moon or the traffic passing along the road. They had to distract me and trick me into eating my dinner.
This aunt of mine was a generous and kind soul. Right from the start, I remember her as always be smiling. Even after a difficult day at work she would be cheerful, courteous and amicable to everyone. When I was in my early teens, she used to live in Dubai. I had once requested that when she came home for vacation, she should bring me a cassette recording of Mozart’s 40th symphony. Among a thousand things, she remembered my request and got me the cassette. To this day I have the cassette and play it every once in a while. She got me my first video game and I played it until it broke.
As the other sisters got married, she delayed her own marriage so that she could continue to support her family and educate her younger siblings. I was very bitter when she got married. The thought of my aunt going away and me not being able to meet her as often seemed unbearable. However, days went by and I pursued my career, got married, moved all over the country. She taught my wife how to cook some dishes that I like.
Over the last couple of months her whatsapp replies to my queries became shorter. Then finally her replies stopped. I sent a final goodbye message to her account and wished her peace.
Like waves that start strong and roll across the sea majestically and subside as they hit the shore, generations in family grow old and like waves they head towards the shore. Along the way they leave memories bitter sweet and legacies. We also are on our journey towards the shore and how we live will determine how people remember us. Rest in peace.