There was a weird energy in the house today. A sad gloomy one. As a part of the daily routine from the past two years, my daughter in law Sneha measured my BP but panicked as the reading repeatedly reflected as ‘error’. Something like this had never happened before. Dreading for the worst she called the doctor who confirmed that my time here is up, that finally my battle with this deteriorating state was coming to an end, that my organs had started to fail and it’s just a matter of few hours now. Sneha had burst out into tears but composing herself she put up a brave face and began consoling my son Vikas, asking him to be strong. He sat besides me, holding my hand all the time, not taking his eyes off me even for a second. In his touch, I could feel the same fear and insecurity that I felt years ago when he held my hand tightly as a little boy whenever he was scared of anything.
As was another daily routine, on returning from school my grandson came running to my room, excitedly announcing, “Dadi, dadi it’s finally CID today!!!”. CID was the acronym coined by him and his friends for Children’s Independence Day. It was his last exam today and autumn break was the next in line. He sat and spoke to me about his day, how his exam was and also shared that his friend Akshay got a sound scolding for trying to borrow a pencil during the exam time. He shared everything with me, always! Calming him down Sneha said, “Rohan, I have to tell you something important” . She hugged him and making him sit by her side she explained to him that I would be soon leaving them. As a mother she had to prepare him for this. My heart broke when I heard Rohan crying badly. After all it was a huge amount of information for a little boy of 9 years to process and accept. He slept with me each night putting an arm around my neck and holding my ear lobe. I never understood why but that was his ultimate position to go off to sleep within 5 mins of lying down.
My younger sister Anu came running the moment Sneha informed her about my condition. She wanted to be by my side too when I would finally breath my last. I could hear all of them, I could sense their presence, I could sense their sadness too but the most difficult of it all was that being in a state of semi coma and being totally paralyzed, I could not get up from the bed to hug them, to give them strength, to comfort them, to tell them not to worry, to tell them that this is how it is, that death is but inevitable truth of life.
I had been addressed by so many names in this journey, experienced so many relationships, had been fondly called as Laado by my parents, Rajjo by biji and bauji ( my in laws), Rajni madam by my husband, Mumma by the love of my life – my dear son Vikas, Maaji by my dear Sneha and lastly the most precious of all , ‘Dadi’ by my Rohan who was a part of my soul. Relatives and neighbors addressed me by terms such as beta, bhabiji, Aunty ji, Mathur Aunty and so on.
Today as I lay here quietly, observing and feeling all the overwhelming emotions of my loved ones, my whole life was flashing through my mind in a fast forward manner and I was slowly disentangling myself from this role, preparing myself to leave all of it behind. Even in all this, the picture of me that stayed close to my heart was of that little girl who was fondly called Ladoo by her maa baba, who was loved the most, unconditionally and wholeheartedly. Subconsciously throughout my life I have only been that little girl within who had to adapt, adjust, change and grow as life unfolded and responsibilities demanded. The image of a smiling little Ladoo wearing a pink frock with a green belt, having two pigtails tied with green clips falling on each shoulder, that’s the vivid image of myself that would go with me as I bid adieu to this life and it’s journey to cross over to another world for some rest until I would be assigned a new role to perform again in a new screenplay, given a new life to live and new memories to create with the only applicable condition that at the end of my performance I would have to leave behind on the stage all that I held so close to my heart throughout !
– Sonali Bakshi