She is the eldest in the family now, Mridu di. Since childhood she has been such an influence not only on me but on all the members of the family. A doting daughter, a born leader, a strict disciplinarian, a tough task mistress, a no-nonsense- approach-person, a popular teacher, a get-goer against all odds and challenges and above all a very pleasant, amiable, loving human being-in fact simplicity personified. She is one of the best I have ever known.
As kids we were her UTs (under trainees) with motivation of being elevated to POs (probationary officers). She would teach us basic manners like giving a seat to elders, greeting, how to eat and how not to behave and behave in company, when to get up, the schedule to follow which would include rigorous physical work like wash clean the brick paved house early in the morning, physical exercise, pursuing a game, cycling, re-doing almirahs at regular intervals and above all studying hard-this being a no-compromise-element come-what-may.
We used to secretly refer to her as 'Hitler' (not Hitler didi as that would simply dilute the impact of Hitlery regime!). When she was married to Akshay who is serving as doctor in Germany, we smiled that Hitler is going to the native roots. If any one landmark that one is to underline which brought about metamorphical change in her was this-her going to Germany. She struggled with language and environs initially but there, too she is a popular and sought after company amongst spiritually inclined friends and persons full of human kindness and rich sensitivity.
Not a single day I can recall since 1990-the year she got married when we have missed a call from her. Her time sense and intuitive power is so perfect despite her being in different time zone that we feel always surprised when its her call from Germany enquiring our safe arrival. Many a news of friends and relatives we get via Germany. Hats off to her diligent caring and personal touch she gives to everything.
She has kept alive the family tradition of writing letters inspite of the phone calls on daily basis and she writes beautiful epistles. Her daughters Mira and Shivani, too have inherited this art. Bless them. We feel small for not replying on one pretext or the other but her generosity continues to shower ignoring our shortcomings.
She was the first to get a proper washroom and regular kitchen constructed in our old house at Abohar. The family circumstances didn't allow her to pursue career in medicine which I feel, still continues to be a passion for her. I feel bad that I refused to take Science stream when she insisted but hope she would have understood and forgiven me for this disobedience as studying Chemistry, Physics was really not my cup of tea. We notice such shine of pride in her eyes when she tells us how well Mira and Shivani are doing in their studies though she has shown absolutely no intention of forcing anything on them and that they must study whatever they choose to do.
In those days of penury I once took out a 25np coin from her purse and she could know as the money in the purse was counted. I really regretted and apologized too. Today I owe all that I have and all that I could do academically to her because notwithstanding the monetary constraints she sent me to Panjab University to pusue MA in English with an eye on my future. Thank you, didi. But for your generous support I would not have been what I am-self reliant, independent, confident in career.
When we lost our father in 1981 she shouldered all his responsibilities with Neelam didi. After loss of our Mom last year, she seems to have taken on the task of mothering us. We can never really be alone, uncared for, bereft with her around and her presence and affectionate touch transcends all physical distances.
Thanks Mridu di for coming all the way to attend the book release function and making me feel so special. I am grateful, indeed and I love you.