The year was 2015. Sometime in September, as I reckon. I was sitting face to face with the lady who I had not seen for such a long time. A lady who had made so much difference to me when I was growing up. Between her and her husband – Bose-Kaku, I can certainly certify that there has been no other elderly parents who have loved me more other than my own parents.
Two effusive sentiments emanated from her that day thru our tete-e-tete. Her sense of pride in what I had made of myself and her sense of pride in what her son had made of himself. Coming to her son – that would be best friend from school days – Avijit Bose.
Both his and my parents have had their share of ailments thru their old ages. Fortunately for me, my parents have my own brother and sister close by and I go every three months to see them (well, when Covid was not around). But Avijit – thanks to the constraints of the medical profession – does not have the luxury to visit his mom that often. And he is the only child.
In spite of having to deal with all the physical challenges (she could not even go down the stairs to the ground floor – and no, the building had no elevators) – she seemed to be immensely proud and content of being a mother whose son has succeeded in life. Notwithstanding the fact she lost her husband a few years back and is totally dependent on domestic help, her sense of purpose was totally fulfilled by the fact she got to see her son establish himself and have a beautiful family. With an outstanding grandchild, I might add.
I reckon it was Thoreau who had once proferred – “Live your life, do your work, then take your hat”.
The call from Perth, Australia this morning was to let me know that Mrs. Bose had taken her hat.
I was in touch with Avijit in Australia on a daily basis getting updates on his mom – stuck in a nursing home in a small place called Uttarpara near Kolkata. I can only begin to fathom what he must have been going thru – trying to remote control all her care by phone – stuck in Australia. Both of us were warily optimistic of today – this was the day she was supposed to come home. Oxygen cylinder clipped to her nose and all. She was going to need help breathing for the rest of her life. But she would have been home.
That was not to be.
Too many memories are flooding my mind right now. None as overwhelming as her unconditional love for me. A level of guilt has started creeping up too. I go to see my parents every three months. Perhaps I should have made a few detours to see Bose-Kakima a few more times.
And yet I know, if I ever expressed the myriad of feelings I am going thru, she would have reprimanded me – like she used to when I would say two rosogollas were enough when she would insist I eat all the sweets she would offer me when I visited her – that I ought to celebrate her life, not mourn her death.
And what a life to celebrate! From the humblest of beginnings (I happened to get to know her past from her brother and two sisters – of who, only one sister is surviving), she lived to be the most independent person I know. And, to repeat myself, raise a wonderful son.
Bose-Kakima, in our and your son’s country, it is customary to say “Rest in Peace”. If you can still hear me, I say – “Rest in Peace – if you will, but keep an eye from up there on your son and me – you must!”