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Saturday, 30 November 2019

NaBloPoMo 2019: Day 30: The End

19th May, 2019, Sunday

Suresh, and I have just returned from the hospital with my father-in-law who has had to undergo some emergency test.

Bhargavi calls with the news. Amma is no more.

We go home, pick up Sanath, and reach my parents’ house in a record 45 minutes.

I walk inside. The Vishnu Sahasranamam by M.S. Subbalakshmi is playing in the background. Amma has been placed on the floor. I stand in front of her, clasping my hands in prayer and then go inside looking for Appa and hug him. He’s surprisingly calm. As is everyone else in the house.

We knew this was coming.

From the past two months, Amma’s health had been steadily declining and she had been praying for mukti from the discomfort. Till her last coherent moment, she had a japa on her lips.

My cousin Athri says we must remove the ornaments Amma is wearing. I step forward to do it. Athri holds up Amma’s head, and gently, I slide out her mangalyam. Athri turns her head to let me unscrew the studs adorning her ears. I insert my hand gingerly into her left nostril to unscrew the nose ring that’s still shining on her nose.

I move to Amma’s feet, and slowly pry out the toe-rings. This body is now lifeless and devoid of sensation, but my mind, still thinks of this frame as “Amma,” still does everything gently, not wanting to hurt her even a bit.

Unknown to myself, I have begun reciting aloud the Vishnu Sahasranamam in tune with MS. Athri is staring at me, maybe checking if I’m breaking down and need help. But I’m fine – after all, am I not Amma’s daughter?

Kaushik and Sanath and other relatives carry Amma out of her home to the car waiting downstairs. Today, she can’t refuse the help.

All her life, this dear mother of ours had always insisted on doing every small day-to-day task on her own. Not once asking for help. Only during the last few weeks, she had become completely dependent for even the most basic of needs. She used to feel bad, not about her discomfort, but about creating extra work for her daughters.

As I’m writing this blog today, I suddenly remember an incident from the Tisca house. I was around 14 years then, Komala 11.

It was in the late evening. Appa had been hit by some youngster speeding on his bike. Passers-by helped him home, but his leg was rapidly swelling, and he was in severe pain. It was a huge shock for Amma, Komala and me who were the only ones at home. I think someone called the doctor, and Amma was running around – placing a pillow to raise Appa’s leg, giving him a cold compress, bringing water ….

I had never before seen Amma so disturbed. She was loudly chanting all the shlokas and stotras she knew, non-stop, as she fluttered around. I was embarrassed to hear her doing this in front of all the strangers there. Like a typical teenager, I even found myself irritated by it and wanted to tell her to stop. 

But I got called outside, and the moment passed.

Little later, Amma had calmed down. And in thinking back to my irritated moment, I suddenly realized that this, calling out to God, was her way of dealing with the stress. Who was I to interfere because of the superficial reason of ‘What will people think?’

On May 19th, 30 years later, I found myself using the very method Amma had used, as an anchor, to stay calm through the crisis of losing her.

Amma’s favorite song, was tallaNisadiru kaNDya tALu manave By Sage Kanakadasa. You can listen to it here

This is the translation by Chakravarthi Madhusudana.

Fret not, O Mind! Be patient
He will protect everyone, there is no doubt about it.
Who was it that tended and watered the tree
that grew on a hill top?
As He is responsible for your existence,
Firmly He will look after you, have no misgiving |1|

Who was it that fed the animals and birds
that roam in the forest?
Just like your own Mother, He will take the onus
to care for you without fail. |2|

Who nourished the worms and insects
that were born on a stone?
The lotus-eyed Adi Keshava of Kaginele
will protect everyone, there is no doubt about it.

As I end this blog series on Amma today, all I can offer is a prayer to the same Adi Keshava to take care of Amma’s atma as it proceeds on its journey ahead. And to bless us all with the same kind of faith in Him that Amma possessed.

The spidery Kannada scrawl is Amma's contribution to a Japam Book in which I was writing. She barely had strength to sit for 5 minutes, and yet, she did, and painstakingly wrote a few japams.

Note: This post I wrote in January 2019 is also about Amma's faith...


  1. I was crying through this post as I visualized Amma's last day on Earth. Somehow somewhere I had got attached to Amma and along with her to your whole family. Though her physical presence is no more on this Earth, am sure you will always feel her around all of you and within you. Hats off to you for writing this and hats off to the mother who gave birth to and raised such marvelous daughters,🙏

  2. This is heart wrenching to say the least!!! You took us through the entire scene. Can very well imagine what you must have gone through during this entire month penning it down! Hats off Anu! Kudos!

  3. ������ No words to express my thoughts while reading your articles about your parents. Really Iam moved by the bond you have with your parents. Great madam. Wish you all the best.������

  4. I teared reading this. Emotional recount of those moments. 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  5. I too had tears while reading this. Written very well Anu. Proud of you.

  6. Those difficult moments.....You have so vividly described..... I was taken back to that day when I did the same for my mother in law... 🙏🙏🙏
    Brave was your mom... She has left behind her legacy the form of you and your sisters... love you all

  7. Highly touching and moving blog
    Here again the writer has ensconsed
    Her mother's soul. Suresh Hubby


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