Skip to main content

Tribute to a Perfect Woman, Of Angelic Light

This morning did not begin like every other day. Because I do not start my mornings crying. But today was different.

Father called me and informed me early morning, "Chechi (his older sister) is gone." That is all he could bring himself to say before he kept the phone down.

This is Shantha valima, my father's sister. Kerala's 'Gana Gandharvan' Dr. K. J. Yeshudas was her most loved student. From high school itself, he used to call her 'Shantha teacher' and he used to say that she is the closest he had to his mother. Such was her unconditional love towards everyone.


Then my sister called. We cried, shared memories of our childhood vacations with our loving aunt. When we began talking, we couldn't stop. Because we had so much to share from the love she had brought into our lives. Continents apart, but we cried and cried.

But we also understood what Father hadn't said with that call. That she wasn't just sister to him. She was his mother, literally, raising her younger siblings like her own children. Not a day has passed by when Father hasn't told us about the sacrifices she has made for his welfare. Of how she would get him ready for school, cook and pack his tiffin and take hold of his hand while walking him to school and much more.

As the meaning of Father's words slowly sank in, I recalled fleeting scraps of conversation about a young woman who had the courage to study hard, excel and choose to work at a time when women chose to sit at home. My aunt Shantha Kumari got her Master's degree in Malayalam along with a B.Ed. The finest of Malayalam poetry and prose came to her naturally for such was her mastery over the language. She worked and managed motherhood almost single handedly and remained a mother figure for her siblings who looked up to her for practical advice and timeless wisdom. 

Must say, there's something heavy and unpalatable about the news of a loved one's death. The words sometimes feel like wood. They don't sink into your mind easily. You grapple with the weight of what has hit your consciousness. And then, when you simply sink down into a rubble of heartbreaking sorrow, you know that the words have finally crashed into your life, acquired the sepulchral meaning that only eternal darkness can convey. Then your mind absorbs the absolute oblivion. 


The floor beneath my feet seems solid just as any marble entity should be but the tears that ran down my face reminded me that a human being's emotions can run as pure liquid. As memories flooded my mind, I began to cave in to those timeless moments. Of family prayers that were conducted in a spirit of one family's sense of togetherness. Of countless family trips that had the scent of a loving aunt's painstakingly prepared delicious food with the tastiest pickles in the world, of family conversations at the dinner table where laughter had none of the social artifice or  pretenses that it has developed today among extended families.

Woman of Angelic Light

I cried for myself, for my family members who are plunged in grief and for a bygone era that had passed away with my loving aunt - the one and only valiyamma (paternal aunt) in whose home I have probably lived in for weeks and weeks during my vacations, eaten the most delicious meals and under her roof, I have slept soundly and peacefully without a moment's worry that I am not in my home. If something upset me, she would be the first person I would share it with. If i wrote something, she would be the one to read it first.Her home and her heart were my refuge in those days. She 

She - who constantly encouraged me to think, dream and write in a literary sphere and had ensured a constant supply of notebooks for me to buy and write in during those vacation months - is no more.


But now when she rests in peace, my mind is in a real mess, knotted up in a million memories of her inner strength, faith, serenity and all encompassing acceptance of destiny and of relationships that ebb and flow.

Looking back, I realize that what I respected most about her was her compassion and her strong aura of spirituality. Life hadn't been easy at all for her. But she always had a smile and a hug for all of us, never showing us a glimpse of anger or complaint. She had the strength of character that is so incredibly rare. She accepted everything in her stride and never complained about destiny's cruel twists that often came her way. Her strength came from her unflinching faith in God and her love for her family members. 

Now the day outside has just swung into action. The signs of life and activity seep around me.  
But somehow my tears just don't stop now. They fall through a torrent of childhood memories. The grey colored sky outside brings to life the permanence of ashes that we transform ourselves into even before we get a last chance to say goodbye to those whom we love or those whose lives we have touched.

Around me, the windows to my room remains closed and the sun is hidden from my tear stricken gaze. Somewhere it is as though silhouettes of memories were circling high above my head, settling nowhere, scattering glints of pain in the far horizons of memories.

I know this now with certainty: I loved Shanthavalima very deeply. More than words can say. I pray: May her soul travel ahead in absolute bliss and peace. 

My Humble Tribute to a Perfect Woman
The humblest tribute I can offer for my aunt is one that I am now borrowing from the immortal lines penned by my favorite English poet William Wordsworth


"A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller between life and death,
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly plann'd,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.

The perfect wife, the perfect mother and the perfect woman have merged together today leaving me with one portrait of hers to hold, cherish and treasure for the rest of my life. I may not have made her proud of me at any point of time but slowly with time, I hope that some day from above, she will bless me for the love that I am sending out to her through the energy of these words.  My parents, sister and I are remain forever grateful to her for her constant blessing in our life and she lives forever in our hearts. 


Comments

- Sugar Cube - said…
May her soul rest in peace!
Mélange said…
Touching Swapna..Life is message here..
RIP !
@Sugar Cube - Thank you reading this and also for the prayer.

@Melange - So true. Thank you for reading this post.
Haddock said…
"I hope that some day from above, she will bless me for the love that I am sending out to her through the energy of these words" ..... you know something, this is something I always believe in. Our life goes smoothly just by the blessings and guidance from our elderly who are up above there.
@Haddock - Good to hear that you share belief. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

This post on Kerala's caste system has not been written with an intention to ridicule or glorify any caste as such. I do not ever judge or like to be judged on the basis of my caste. I do not support any form of caste discrimination because I know exactly how it feels to be treated differently because of one's caste. It isn't a great feeling.  

First Question is always "What is your Caste?" In Kerala, one of the first things you are bound to be asked by even new people you've just met is, "What is your caste?"  This is not a tirade against any caste but my experience, personally. And just for information, I have never used my caste name 'Menon' to this day. That is something I have learned from my father - who has never used 'Menon' in his name because he believes his destiny is shaped by values, vision and actions, not  by his caste.
As some one who is a Menon by birth, I can also tell you frankly that it often feels like a curse to be…

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. 
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he became very enthusiastic about chanting the mantras. Following this, my mother taught him the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and he took to …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Earth Angels have amazing super powers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions &  becoming invisible at will
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in this world. But y…

Gayatri Mantra as Panchamukhi: Get it right or let it go

Most people do not understand the importance of chanting the Gayatri mantra because they are not aware of its power. It is only when I began to read Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings that I learned how sacred and powerful the chanting of the Gayatri mantra is.
The Vedas represent the breath of God. The Gayatri mantra is the very basis of the Vedas. Try not to undertake chanting the Gayatri mantra as a light endeavor or as a hobby. It has to be chanted with faith, discipline and purity of mind and body. Be steady with your sadhana if you want to reap the spiritual dividend associated with the Gayatri mantra  and never once hesitate once you decide to do it.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that the Gayatri Mantra is referred to as Pancha Mukhi, the Goddess with five faces that represent the five pranas or life forces. Here's more on it.


Chant the Gayatri Mantra correctly: Pause Five Times Here are some important things to keep in mind while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

1. Wh…

World Book Day: An Introvert's Perspective on Books as a Refuge

Books and bookshops have always been a part of my life. 
As a child stranded between cultures far too often, it suited me to find refuge in the world of books. I didn't know then that I was an introvert, but it was clear that my escape into the world of books was one of both necessity and protection. 
Books protected me. Back then, children of my age who considered themselves to be ''cool" would never sit next to me if I was reading a book - which is exactly the protection I wanted for myself. I wanted to be left alone.
As a habit since childhood, I carry books with me everywhere. It particularly helps when I travel - I can forget about my tensions and also get rid of strangers who try to open a conversation with me when all I want to do is escape into a book.

Books have been my best companion ever since the early years when I learned to distrust people's intentions - what they said had little to do with what they eventually did - and this continues to baffle me. But …

Say a little prayer for me in the language of love

Recently, I saw the blurb of a book which asked, "How many of you (Hindus) have seen the inside of a Muslim home and how many of you (Muslims) have seen the inside of a Hindu home?" The question provoked a spark of anger in me because I do not view relationships through the prism of caste, community or religion.

However, I understand what the distinguished writer was trying to say - we are so insulated in our ways that even when we talk about tolerance, we still don't dare step beyond the boundaries of our community, caste or religion. 

When I say this in North India, I am told, "You have only read about Partition. You haven't lost a family member or seen a tragedy unfold before your eyes - it's easy for you to talk like this." Maybe...

However, one of the many advantages of having grown up outside India and then during my teens, in Kerala, is that I never learned the social distinction between "Hindus"and "Muslims." There was never &qu…

Mahashivaratri: I'm loving it!

When I was a child, Mahashivaratri bhajans used to be conducted at home. It meant 24X7 work for my parents, especially my mother. But this is the one festival that we loved to get ready for. 
You had to prepare in advance for hosting so many people overnight. They had to be comfortable yet alert because no one who stays can be allowed to fall asleep unless they are unwell or on medication. So, if there were aunties who wanted to take a ten-minute nap, I would time it and call them exactly in ten minutes!
The joy of watching grown-ups make a fool of themselves over getting few more minutes of sleep cannot be underestimated especially when you are ten or twelve years old!
Perhaps it is those beautiful growing up years that make it difficult for me to stay away from an all-night vigil during Mahashivaratri. I can't stay away from it no matter where I am, even if the following day is a working day. This year too, I attended the Mahashivaratri bhajans at the Sai Center, Lodhi Road, and I …