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Recalling a Woman of Substance

My brothers and I had the unusual privilege of having two sisters as a our maternal and paternal grandmothers (my parents are first cousins). When we were young we called them Secunderabad Mama (maternal grandmother who lived in Secunderabad) and Hyderabad Mama (paternal grandmother who lived in Hyderabad) ! Though so different in their manner and, to some extent, appearance, both these lovely women, who lived into their nineties, left their imprint on our lives.

Recalling a Woman of Substance

Today is my Hyderabad Mama’s birth anniversary. She passed away four years ago, in her 97th year. I was privileged to be with her during her last night at the hospital and consider myself a better person for the experience. Through the night, labored breathing and all, she kept inquiring about where the nurses, doctors and all of us would be sleeping, telling us to go and rest. I spied a tear in the eye of the doctor when she asked him if he had had his dinner! What better example could she have set me – one of putting others first at all times?

I recall Mama telling us with great pride that my grandfather (Papa) never took off his own shoes – she did that for him – that is how much she loved him, she said. In response, one of us said, ‘That wasn’t love, that was slavery!’ At the time, I agreed with the cousin who said that…but the passage of time brings wisdom.

As I look back on my memories of Papa and Mama – I cannot help but be amazed at her devotion to the man she fell in love with as a young girl. I can only imagine Papa’s frustration when he lost his eyesight . It must have been terrible for a man to whom words meant so much to be deprived of his ability to read. But then Mama became his eyes. Who can forget the daily ritual of her reading aloud to Papa and stopping to check the dictionary or the encyclopedia ever so often, on his request? Who can forget his constant cries of “Lena, Lena”? And I never once heard her complain through all this. What better example could she have set me – one of love and devotion to the man she had 15 children with?

Mama, despite her great love for Papa, didn’t spend her time moping around after he passed on. In fact, I am proud that she broke tradition by wearing a colored sari and her customary jewelry for his funeral. Then she spent the next few years traveling around the world – a jet setter in her 80s! What better example could she have set me – one of faith and hope?

As I look back over the last few years, I regret that I didn’t spend enough of time with Mama. One felt that the family home and Mama would always be there. Not once did Mama say anything about this. Yet, whenever my parents were out of town she would call everyday to check how I was doing. What better example could she have set me – one of unconditional love?

Today I celebrate the life of a lady from whom I learned that ‘faith, hope and love (and laughter) abide…and the greatest of these is love’.

Happy Birthday, Mama!


  1. Sashu... Sashu... November 20, 2008

    Loved this!!! Happy birthday to your mama!! something i would remember at some point or the other, this write up…!loved this!!!!

  2. Usha Pisharody Usha Pisharody November 17, 2008

    Tried to mail you to tell you that I shall be responding in about a week’s time [sorry, hectic schedule.. :)] at this space…Cannot seem to mail you at this id. So I just thought I’d drop by and tell you!Overdrive..:)

  3. Kanupriya Sindhu Ramrakhyani Kanupriya Sindhu Ramrakhyani November 10, 2008

    Lovely reading Corinne…and though my wishes are late but kudos to this wonderful woman! Travelling the world at 80s…too good!

  4. Ani Ani November 6, 2008

    awww that was so sweett :)huugggzzzsometimes all it takes is small gestures..

  5. Punam Punam November 2, 2008

    Hi Corinne, I’ve given you an award on my blog. Do visit me and put it up on ur blog.

  6. Usha Pisharody Usha Pisharody October 31, 2008

    Happy Birthday to this Wonderful Woman too! And from where she is now, she is still sending bountiful blessing to this dear Granddaughter, certainly!A very inspiring and touching read! You had me thinking, all over again, about my own grandmother, who passed on just two years ago, at the age of 94, of her vitality, her energy and her sheer indomitable spirit in the face of any and every kind of illness and problem! And she was blessed indeed to have all her ten children at her bedside, at home, as she peacefully passed on! I miss her!Brought a lump to the throat! You have written this with such love and fondness, that the reader cannot help but connect and be moved! Thank you!

  7. Indyana Indyana October 31, 2008

    Corinne…I was surprised to read about your parents being first cousins because my hubby too is my mum’s sisters son!Oh I just love women like your mama! What an example to all of us!!

  8. Indian Home Maker Indian Home Maker October 30, 2008

    Loved reading about your Hyderabad Mama. Yes we need such role models, God bless her soul.

  9. Punam Punam October 30, 2008

    Corinne, very few blessed souls are chosen to be the recipients of such love & devotion from their elders. As I said in those 10 things that I am sure of, their blessings are our real treasure.

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