My dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar,
The inevitable has happened: Ba has left us and has gone to join her Sajana(સજના)! What we should remember is that she lived to the ripe age of 94. As a good friend put it, ‘She had a good inning’. She had no major health issues which was a result of all the 94 years of healthy living. Her last few months were difficult, but thankfully that was for a short time. She is now in a peaceful place and with her other loved ones.
We were all involved only in her latter stages of life but she had loads of memories and lessons to give us. For this we shall think of her for many years to come and hence her second death is far, far in the future.
One of the most important lessons I, and therefore you too, learnt from her was: Discipline
Ba took great care of herself. A person with high discipline treats their body like a temple. She always ensured that her clothes were clean, ironed and well matched. She hated having unruly hair and so always took her time to oil and comb her hair immaculately. To Ba, hair was the epitome of one’s appearance! A mind-set that reveals the reason why many of her comments were about people’s hair. Did you know that even up to the age of 94, she had never coloured her hair. There were many other rituals that she followed religiously. Daily moisturizing her body, grooming her face, and showering are just a few examples. All this discipline definitely paid her dividends…she always looked much younger than her age.
Ba was a stickler for routine. The discipline of routine is the foundation of good time management and efficacy. She kept a good routine of waking up, going to sleep, keeping set eating and drinking times, exercising, etc. One reason why the clock was so important to her. The last time she was in hospital, she requested the nurse for a clock and was given a faulty Swiss Mondaine! So much for her time keeping. Living in the land of watches, strange that she did not wear a wrist watch until quite late in life….and that too with a tiny dial(alas not Swiss). Fortunate that she had very good eyesight. Ba also liked her calendar, albeit with the additional Gujarati information. At first glance the Gujarati calendar looks very complicated, but when it is unraveled, the amount of information on it is immense. The Gujarati calendar, is a lunar calendar where each year is almost 15 days shorter than the western Gregorian calendar. Hence in Gujarat we are in the year 2077. As this calendar is influenced by the lunar movements, each month is divided into two, 15 day segments. Each 24 hour period is also divided into 16 time zones(choghadia ચોઘડીયા) where some zones are auspicious and some are not. Still staying with the subject of time, your zodiac sign is ascertained not only by the date and time of birth but also by the positions of the constellations. In the Hindu calendar each zodiac sign is also associated with Gujarati alphabet(2, 3 or 4) which are meant to be used to name the new born. Sorry, but we named you out of choice and not according to your Hindu horoscope.
Ba had good habits. A disciplined person works hard at developing good habits. Like many other disciplined people, Ba developed many of her positive habits at a young age. This was probably her boarding school education and life. She was an avid reader in all subjects and in many different languages, Gujarati, Hindi, English and though she had minimal knowledge of German, she did end up watching a lot of German television. Besides other topics, she loved watching programmes on history, geography and nature. She could outdo anyone on general knowledge!
Much to our exasperation, Ba never succumbed to temptation. Avoiding temptation is the ultimate goal in discipline. She only ate her favourite type of chocolates and avoided cheese dishes, no matter how tempting they looked. My exasperation came from having to avoid cheese in my cooking, especially as we live in the land of cheese! Very often we would find her watching German cookery programmes making meals using huge chunks of red meat. She would comment, ¨There is such variety of meals in the European kitchen.¨ Not that this ever tempted her to eat meat….she was a vegetarian till the end!
It was sad to see her forced to let go of many of her principles in the last few years….unruly hair, easy ‘nightgowns’ instead of sari, letting outsiders tend to her hygiene routines, eating whatever was served , and many such limitations. Ba found this very frustrating. Scenarios of the aged life!
Knowing about all her disciplined habits will demystify the reason why, a mirror, an eye-brow plucker, a comb, and a time piece were so vital to her every day existence. We think of her every time we come across any of these items.
In these times of Covid-19, Ba was fortunate to be among her loved ones in her last moments. She had always emphasized that she would not want to live her last days in a home or hospital and no matter how much she was suffering, she wanted always to stay at home! Only the hour before she took her last breath, Dad and I were agonizing about needing to take her to the hospital. She took that decision out of our hands! She left us to join Daddaji. In her departure, she made it possible for us to spend quality time together after a long time and especially in these times of Covid-19. You all gave her a very poignant farewell. Here is a link to all your lovely words for Ba during and after her funeral service: Komal, Anjli, Amar and Himanshu. Let us keep her memory alive and remember all our unforgettable times with her in her last years. Let us endevour to prolong her second death for as long as possible.
Bye for now, stay strong, stay healthy, stay happy and let us keep celebrating Ba’s great life for years to come.
With loads of hugs and kisses