Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In Memoriam

My aunt passed away this week, after being ill for a number of years. She was constantly going to the hospital for dialysis every three days, and she lived in the middle of a forest village! When I went to visit her in India after a number of years, I was shocked to see how remote it was, and what it must have been for her to live there, surrounded by trees and animals, with no hospital anywhere in the vicinity. I spent the night there with my mother in semi-detached quarters, which were connected to the main house but had its own entrance. The experience was frustrating, because I got little sleep because of the animals my mother perceived to be dangerous, and they were there just on the other side of the door. For a short night and early morning, I really stepped out of my comfort zone.

My aunt’s life was quite different than my mother’s; the former was born more than ten years before my mother was, and was made to get married at the tender age of 15, which was quite normal at the time. My mother told me that before she was pulled out of school, she was an excellent student. Years later when my mother faced similar pressures, she had the advantage of birth order and her mother’s support to continue with her education to become a nurse, and eventually settle in the United States. Through my aunt’s words and actions, it was hard not to notice that she felt left behind.

I was not close with my aunt; I had only ever met her three times before in my life. What I know about her is from my mother, who didn’t really know her either. She was only three when my aunt was married, so they never shared sisterly closeness. What my mother does remember is how opinionated she was, and what an excellent memory she had, even at the end of her life. In the end, I am glad she is is no longer suffering and at peace.

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