Thursday, April 8, 2010


Date: 08.04.2010
Place: Mumbai

I was deeply moved by the support and sympathy that poured in after the demise of my mother. It is a moment that now seems frozen in time, reinforcing the eternity of time scales and the fleeting nature of human existence.

She was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth yet what set her apart was her compassionate nature and heart of gold. Even in her school days, she would bring over her school friends, the underprivileged and impoverished for lunch at the sprawling ancestral “Rose Bungalow” in Payyanur. This was the richest period in her life; her happy and idyllic childhood was shattered by the death of her mother at the very tender age of nine; could fulfillment ever be felt as deeply as loss? Thereafter she traveled with her father Sanjeev Menon, a senior Police officer all over Kerala wherever he was posted. Later when her father re-married she was sent to a hostel and in later years stayed with her cousins to resonate with anyone who has felt compelled to compromise their heritage, family and her…loneliness. After college she got married and set sail with her husband to the emerald isle of Ceylon where she started a new chapter of her life bringing up her brood with love and longing amidst the migrant melancholy of the situation…the immigrant experience.
Ceylon was very dear to all of us; we were well cared for and lived a happy life till we returned to India when ethnic riots tore the island. Then the real misery began contradictory terrains of poverty and wealth. Dad’s penchant for horse racing increased when he worked in various parts of the country, mostly where race-courses were situated. He led a roving shiftless life, working but never too long... she could not fall back on her ancestral property and landholdings as it was scarred by an act of treachery and dishonour, thereby depriving mom of her rightful share in her time of need. We began to live the life of vagabonds in rented houses, despite the lineage of landlords, continuous poverty dogged our footsteps in those days. It was Mom’s steely sense of determination that helped all of us to survive the hardships. She educated all of us and gave us direction and a new impetus with affection and love. With her around we had no fear of the future I feel sad for her as in those years she did not ever spend money on herself. Snatched from a shuttered life of extravagance and privilege, she had to live life like a commoner in her adult years. She always had a wistful faraway look when she remembered her childhood and past blue blooded days of glory. The years went by the children were settled, but she continued her work of charity to uplift the underprivileged. With the onset of her twilight years she wanted to stay all alone, quietly in Calicut amidst the sounds of birds chirping in the garden, a happy but lonely house, a terminal one. Here she reached a state of perfect equilibrium, yet the parting of her soul sent me into a benumbed reverie, an indescribable sense of loss and sorrow. At Varrakal beach where her mortal remains were immersed, amongst the waves receding ever so mysteriously into the depths of the ocean, the past trembled like a huge body of water crashing into the beachhead. Suddenly out of nowhere, a rainbow appeared bursting with radiance and colour on that rainy day. A celestial homage as she made her peace with the Neptunian forces, eternally out of our reach. The earth seemed like a dead planet, as we broke the ancestral membrane which had kept us suspended above the void, the umbilical cord was severed in all its finality. Later in an obscure corner of a remote galaxy, drenched in the surreal light of dawn, in the age old temple of Tiruvanaaya, by the side of the eternal river, the priests chanted slokas carrying the legacy of tradition and belief: a quest to explore ourselves—our roots and connections with what lies beyond. Somewhere else in the far eastern hemisphere of our planet, the symphony between two celestial bodies had begun,* culminating in a total eclipse, as darkness enveloped all our lives. Nothing can arrest that pain, sorrow and loss which heralded the end of an era!

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