Image source : fotosearch
" Kuch log ek roz jo bichad jaate hain,
woh hazaroon ke aane se milte nahin,
Umra bhar chahe koi pukaara kare unka naam,
Woh phir nahi aate, woh phir nahi aate "
These lines are from a well-known hindi song , whenever I hear these lines, I'm reminded of my Akka.
Losing a loved one is probably the hardest event in anyone's life, and it was in mine too, but not only because I loved Akka, or she loved me, but also because she was one of the most extraordinary woman I'd ever met in my life, and had a big impact on me. She showered me with love, like only a mother can, she spoiled me silly like only a grandparent can, she taught me life lessons like only a teacher can and she got me to trust her and confide in her like only a friend can.
My friend, philosopher and guide, today I share with you, the story of one of the most important person of my life......Akka.
Akka in marathi is a word used for elder sister, however she wasn't my elder sister, infact come to think of it, she was everyone's elder sister.
Akka was actually my father's paternal aunt (aatya) she was called Akka by everyone in the family and not just her siblings. She lived with my family from the time I was born till about the time I reached high school, so she was part of my life during my formative years, and had a big influence on me. My mom was a working woman, and so it was Akka who did all the daily caretaking, she was like a second mother to me, showering me with endless love, and even spoiling me rotten ( I still blame her for being a picky eater , because she spoiled me by promptly cooking whatever I demanded, if I refused to eat what was put in front of me). But more than that, she taught me life lessons I carry with me to this day.
She was a beautiful lady, and she had all the checkmarks of beauty considered desirable in Indian society, extremely light skin, light colored eyes, and a sweet and loving face. She was the most good looking of all her siblings, and, in her younger days had an air of confidence about herself because of her good looks (by her own admission). She studied until the 7th grade (it was the old matriculate level), and later had an arranged marriage in her late teens, her husband was a wonderful person, and they had a comfortable life. She was financially the most well off among her siblings, then unfortunately tragedy hit and her husband passed away at a young age . That day changed her life, she was suddenly a single mother or four children, (the youngest being a toddler), with not a lot of education and a lot of mouths to feed.
Life became a struggle, she lost her home, most of her possessions, just trying to make ends meet. Being a young good looking widow is never an easy thing to handle for women, but one can only imagine how tough it might've been for her all those years ago. At one point things got so difficult for her that she had to separate her kids up and send them to the homes of different family members as no one was willing to keep them all, (and at the time she didn't have the means to keep them all together with her), keeping only the littlest one with her, as a mother, I can't even begin to imagine how much it would've pained her to go through that. The ups and downs she faced made her life no less dramatic than a tragic novel....
Despite her unfortunate circumstances and struggles in life, she remained a positive person, cheerful and happy, spreading joy to everyone around her. She always tried to see the good in others and the upside of any seemingly bad situation. Her situation in life took away the attitude from her, and replaced it with gratitude towards life, for all that she still had, her health, the love of her kids, and others around her. She could have gone off the deep end and become a bitter and unpleasant person, it might have been easier to just be grumpy and blame it all on her life situation, but she was an embodiment of the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" ...because that is what she did everyday, she tried to find joy and happiness out of every thing around her, she took keen interest in everything from movies to politics to cricket, had an easy going nature, she and my mom got along so well, that many of neighbors actually believed that she was my mother's aunt, and not her aunt-in-law.
She had a particular fondness for me ( I like to think more towards me then my sister :D), she actually showed more love towards my sister and I, even compared to her own grandkids. I think that somehow, somewhere how my life turned out was because of her blessings. I mean ofcourse we all have the blessings of our elders, but even beyond that, I have a strong sense that she might have somehow affected how my life shaped up. She had urged me to take up the 16 somvar ( mondays) fast of lord shiva, which many girls do, in hopes of getting a good husband. Now I'm the least religious person you'll meet, and to top that I have issues with such types of rituals, which somehow portray getting a man as the ultimate goal of a woman's life, hartalika or teej, karvachauth, etc....and this 16 somvar is just another one of those. Yet, I somehow convinced myself to do the fast, I had absolutely no other intention from the fast, I did it purely because she had urged me to do it, and because she said that she had a dream that once I do this fast I'd get a good husband. Unconvinced as I was, nevertheless I braved through the terrifying prospect of staying hungry and thirsty (as it is a fast without food and water) for 16 mondays in a row.
Now this next part is unbelievable to me, just as much as it will seem to you, and I have no idea how, but the fact remains that I did meet my husband for the very first time, halfway through the fasts. I am someone who has no belief whatsoever in this sort of a thing, so it is completely baffling to me. Ofcourse my husband and I didn't get married right away, we dated for a couple of years, and during the fasts were on, there was nothing romantic whatsoever going on between us, but the fact remains that the first time we met, was during those fasts. It was infact, a few months later, after Akka's passing that things got serious between us, which is why I always have this nagging feeling, that if there is such a thing as god, maybe my akka pulled some strings for me, once in heaven, she had always been my guardian angel in life, so it won't surprise me if she is looking out for me, from up above.
I always regretted that my Akka wasn't alive on the day I got married, I missed her deeply that day, as I knew how happy she would've been to see me as a bride, and getting married to a man I loved. But alas !! she had already left her mortal self for her heavenly abode by then. I hoped that she was around in spirit that day and gave me and hubby her blessing.
Nothing could have prepared me for the surreal incident that I would experience a few weeks after my marriage. I think it was just about a month after we got married and one night I had a dream. Having a dream is not bizarre in anyway by itself, as most of us have them everyday, but it was the content of the dream that spooked me. I swear my entire wedding reception was recreated in my dream, down to the littlest detail, with one slight change Akka was there with me, blessing me and hubby, with a big smile and said to me that even though she cannot see me (she had lost most of vision later on due to cataract) she can feel my face and told me that I look beautiful and just how she had pictured me . Then she hugged me tight, and that's when I woke up realizing it was all a dream !!! I immediately called up my mother to tell her about this surreal experience, and she too was totally zapped by it, when suddenly she remembered that it was the day of Akka's death anniversary !!!!! No kidding !! My mother was convinced that this was no dream and Akka had indeed come down to bless me and hubby, and as big a skeptic as I am of such things, yet I too felt the same as my mother, the dream was too real to be anything else. To this day whenever I remember that incident, it puzzles me a little.
My Akka is no longer in this world, but she will forever be in my heart, and her memory lives on in my mind. I can only hope to one day be as beautiful, loving and wonderful individual as she was. I wanted to share with you all this very deep and important part of my life, just as a tribute to her, I can never repay her for all the love she gave me, but with this little tribute, I hope I can atleast respect the memory of that love.
Love you Akka.