I thought of opening another window this time around, albeit quite personal. On this day a year ago I lost my elder sister. She was differentially abled and led a complete life thanks to tireless efforts by my mother. My mother was an exceptional person in her own regard. Having lost her physician father of repute very early life, she educated herself in Hindi, inspired by an encounter with Mahatma Gandhi. She translated the works of many of the famous writers in Tamil (including Kamba Ramayanam) into Hindi. She was bestowed with the Sahithya Academy Award in recognition of her monumental contributions.
As a mother she had a huge challenge to bring up a disabled child. When the medical profession urged my mother to abandon all hopes for her daughter, she single handedly strove to make her life meaningful. She took suggestions from physiotherapists and improvised innovative methods to make the child walk and talk. She educated her at home to read and write and she became proficient in more than one language! It was an arduous task and a lonely struggle at times. Over a period of time, my sister became aware of her own hidden prowess: she had a remarkable memory…of places, persons. We often turned to her archival memory, when our recollections failed.
After my mother’s demise two decades ago, our bond with my sister deepened in ways that we never imagined. Every night unfailingly she would come, give me a hug and a cuddle to say good night. Since both myself and Ahalya were working, she took charge of the household, managing and maintaining things in her own personalized ways. She would remember each of our students who used to visit us and enquire warmly about them. She would have met them years ago and they would be surprised at her recall of even their minute personal details.
She breathed her last, this day last year, at home. Her life gently ebbed away…
The household still feels empty a year later but filled with her memories.
More than a sister, she was our daughter and the loss is poignant.
Your heart was never disabled
Your love was boundless
Your warmth infectious
At the center of our hearts
Or more eloquently in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Silently, one by one,
In the infinite meadows of heaven
Blossomed the lovely stars,
Of the angels