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July 31, 2023

My Mother Died – AGAIN

What is it to be a motherless daughter? So many of us belong to this club. None
of us covet this membership. It is a club and a membership so many of us could
do without. But here we are. Members of this club. Some of us have no control
over who made us members, and some of us willingly accept membership.
The author Kristin Hannah in her book Summer Island, says, “A daughter without
her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep
into her bones. “
When we all lose a mother, the loss is profound and has a significant impact on an
individual’s life. Loss happens in multiple ways- death, separation, abandonment
or divorce. The range of emotions we go through are deep and lacerating. Grief,
anger, confusion all adding to our emotional and psychological well being or not
so well being.
In my life, mothers have come and now my last mother has gone. Each time one
of my mother’s passes I am stricken by all these emotions all over again. Four to
date. And that is all I can handle.
When the woman who raised me, loved me and adopted me, my maternal
grandmother, was the first to pass, I was shattered and broken. More so because I
was so far away and could not be there and more importantly, she was my
anchor, my home and my home was now lost to me forever.

When you are raised in a large family with uncles, aunts, and cousins, a
motherless child is always trying to fit in, trying to be one of them, pretending to
be one of them, pretending these uncles and aunts were your parents. As much
as my grandparents loved me like parents, in my little mind they were still two
generations away. I needed parents who were young, who were vibrant and who
were able.
This made me develop a connection with some of my aunts, which none of my
cousins ever had. I was fortunate, my mother’s sister took me under her wings
whenever she could, and who I think is the inspiration behind me wanting to be a

journalist like her. She was encouraging, she listened, and she understood. When
she passed, there I went into an abyss again, mourning a mother figure in my life.
I don’t think many will understand what it feels like to have your motherless being
ripped up so many times.
The third to go was my birth mother. Someone, who I never knew. Someone who
I knew existed but that was it. I did not think I would feel what I did when she
passed. Not many condolences came my way, because you know, she was not
really my mother. There were others in the hierarchy line who had more right to
grieve her than I did. But the grief, is there, right? What does one do with that?
The sense of loss that you cannot express, you just bottle it up and try and keep
the lid as tight as you can.

Today, I lost another mother. This loss has hit hard. Hard because, she was the
constant presence in my life while I was growing. Tuitions, birthday parties,
sending lunch to school, Church, family gatherings, Odissi dance recitals, food,
rickshaw rides, Gaurang Sahu’s rasogolla and puri tarkari, balijatra, so many
moments of the fabric of my life linked to hers.
Talk about feminism and patriarchy? she was the first in the 1960’s to shatter all
those so-called norms. From raising her three kids almost singlehanded, and
having a tailing orphan most of the times, she was the epitome of strength. The
first woman I have known, who built their home from scratch brick by brick. The
first person who took me out shopping and let me buy what I wanted to. When
her kids had left home and I was still around, she would come pick me up and we
would go on rickshaw rides all around town. It is no wonder that as a seven-year-
old, when I wrote letters home, from boarding school, I always asked about her in
my letters. And I know why, now. You will always be on my mind.
What does one do with these memories? How does one mourn again?

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