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Tribute to a Perfect Woman, Of Angelic Light

This morning did not begin like every other day. Because I do not start my mornings crying. But today was different.

Father called me and informed me early morning, "Chechi (his older sister) is gone." That is all he could bring himself to say before he kept the phone down.

This is Shantha valima, my father's sister. Kerala's 'Gana Gandharvan' Dr. K. J. Yeshudas was her most loved student. From high school itself, he used to call her 'Shantha teacher' and he used to say that she is the closest he had to his mother. Such was her unconditional love towards everyone.

Then my sister called. We cried, shared memories of our childhood vacations with our loving aunt. When we began talking, we couldn't stop. Because we had so much to share from the love she had brought into our lives. Continents apart, but we cried and cried.

But we also understood what Father hadn't said with that call. That she wasn't just sister to him. She was his mother, literally, raising her younger siblings like her own children. Not a day has passed by when Father hasn't told us about the sacrifices she has made for his welfare. Of how she would get him ready for school, cook and pack his tiffin and take hold of his hand while walking him to school and much more.

As the meaning of Father's words slowly sank in, I recalled fleeting scraps of conversation about a young woman who had the courage to study hard, excel and choose to work at a time when women chose to sit at home. My aunt Shantha Kumari got her Master's degree in Malayalam along with a B.Ed. The finest of Malayalam poetry and prose came to her naturally for such was her mastery over the language. She worked and managed motherhood almost single handedly and remained a mother figure for her siblings who looked up to her for practical advice and timeless wisdom. 

Must say, there's something heavy and unpalatable about the news of a loved one's death. The words sometimes feel like wood. They don't sink into your mind easily. You grapple with the weight of what has hit your consciousness. And then, when you simply sink down into a rubble of heartbreaking sorrow, you know that the words have finally crashed into your life, acquired the sepulchral meaning that only eternal darkness can convey. Then your mind absorbs the absolute oblivion. 

The floor beneath my feet seems solid just as any marble entity should be but the tears that ran down my face reminded me that a human being's emotions can run as pure liquid. As memories flooded my mind, I began to cave in to those timeless moments. Of family prayers that were conducted in a spirit of one family's sense of togetherness. Of countless family trips that had the scent of a loving aunt's painstakingly prepared delicious food with the tastiest pickles in the world, of family conversations at the dinner table where laughter had none of the social artifice or  pretenses that it has developed today among extended families.

Woman of Angelic Light

I cried for myself, for my family members who are plunged in grief and for a bygone era that had passed away with my loving aunt - the one and only valiyamma (paternal aunt) in whose home I have probably lived in for weeks and weeks during my vacations, eaten the most delicious meals and under her roof, I have slept soundly and peacefully without a moment's worry that I am not in my home. If something upset me, she would be the first person I would share it with. If i wrote something, she would be the one to read it first.Her home and her heart were my refuge in those days. She 

She - who constantly encouraged me to think, dream and write in a literary sphere and had ensured a constant supply of notebooks for me to buy and write in during those vacation months - is no more.

But now when she rests in peace, my mind is in a real mess, knotted up in a million memories of her inner strength, faith, serenity and all encompassing acceptance of destiny and of relationships that ebb and flow.

Looking back, I realize that what I respected most about her was her compassion and her strong aura of spirituality. Life hadn't been easy at all for her. But she always had a smile and a hug for all of us, never showing us a glimpse of anger or complaint. She had the strength of character that is so incredibly rare. She accepted everything in her stride and never complained about destiny's cruel twists that often came her way. Her strength came from her unflinching faith in God and her love for her family members. 

Now the day outside has just swung into action. The signs of life and activity seep around me.  
But somehow my tears just don't stop now. They fall through a torrent of childhood memories. The grey colored sky outside brings to life the permanence of ashes that we transform ourselves into even before we get a last chance to say goodbye to those whom we love or those whose lives we have touched.

Around me, the windows to my room remains closed and the sun is hidden from my tear stricken gaze. Somewhere it is as though silhouettes of memories were circling high above my head, settling nowhere, scattering glints of pain in the far horizons of memories.

I know this now with certainty: I loved Shanthavalima very deeply. More than words can say. I pray: May her soul travel ahead in absolute bliss and peace. 

My Humble Tribute to a Perfect Woman
The humblest tribute I can offer for my aunt is one that I am now borrowing from the immortal lines penned by my favorite English poet William Wordsworth

"A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller between life and death,
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly plann'd,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.

The perfect wife, the perfect mother and the perfect woman have merged together today leaving me with one portrait of hers to hold, cherish and treasure for the rest of my life. I may not have made her proud of me at any point of time but slowly with time, I hope that some day from above, she will bless me for the love that I am sending out to her through the energy of these words.  My parents, sister and I are remain forever grateful to her for her constant blessing in our life and she lives forever in our hearts. 


- Sugar Cube - said…
May her soul rest in peace!
Mélange said…
Touching Swapna..Life is message here..
@Sugar Cube - Thank you reading this and also for the prayer.

@Melange - So true. Thank you for reading this post.
Haddock said…
"I hope that some day from above, she will bless me for the love that I am sending out to her through the energy of these words" ..... you know something, this is something I always believe in. Our life goes smoothly just by the blessings and guidance from our elderly who are up above there.
@Haddock - Good to hear that you share belief. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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