Friday, November 4, 2011


For  one  fleeting second, I put myself in her shoes…..

                    Her story begins in a nondescript village  in Palakkad in Kerala. Born in a reasonably well to do Iyer family , as tradition demanded, she was married off at the tender age of 14.( even 10 years added to this number did not equip me mentally to accept the intricacies of marriage hood!)
                      Doing the mundane household chores in a large joint family, lending her helping hand in drawing water from the well, cooking, grinding and serving was the order of the day and this would have taken a massive toll on her body. Early motherhood resulting in abortions added to her untold misery .Well this may have been the first physical scar on her. Life is a seesaw with ups and downs and the birth of two lovely children brightened up her life. The middle ages saw a downturn in her health as she developed uterine problems finally resulting in hysterectomy. Soon she developed arthritis in her legs and body showed signs of slowing down .This may have been scar number two.

                      But she pulled along popping pain killers and the like as life had to go on and she was the pivot. Her daughter got married and settled abroad. Duties and responsibilities beckoned her to take care of her grandchildren. This docile lady cocooned in her own protective shell , unexposed to the harsh outside world travelled abroad alone to be with her daughter when she needed her most. The strained relationship that her husband had with her daughter – is that scar number three I wonder?

                       She came into my life in the year 1991, I vividly recollect the day when this fair , charming, rotund lady with a bewitching smile held my hand for the very first time . On my wedding day , I was put in a spot of bother as she along with her three sisters stood together in resplendent silk saris and dazzling diamonds looking strikingly similar!

                       The events that followed my marriage for 5 long years remains a blur and a blot on my image and this delicate darling was caught in the crossfire – helpless , feeble and defenseless. On the one side , her domineering husband, who drew the line , the obstinate, unyielding  me on the other, maybe  yet  another  scar!

                        The saga of her story continued like a stream gurgling and following the course of destiny, donning many roles that of daughter, wife, mother, mother- in- law, grandmother and the latest feather in her cap , great grand mother!

                       She lost her husband, a partner for more than half a century and the ship which was sailing smoothly suddenly seemed to be in high seas tossed on the waves, directionless, leaving a void in the deep. This vacuum silently created havoc in her brain and this was to be the next scar.

                      From her I understood that aging is more psychological than physical. The 70 age barrier that she set for herself had severe repercussions on her mind and body . Once she crossed this threshold , things started going topsy turvy- she became incoherent , disoriented, unfamiliar with her surroundings , amnesiac and lost her bearings. I was shattered with this development , more so as I had been a mute spectator to the sufferings of her father who suffered from Alzheimers during the fag end of his life.

                      A series of consultations with top notch neurologists followed , who put her through lot of tests and scans that did not pinpoint the root cause of her ailment . The doctors refused to conclude that she was also a victim of Alzheimers as the changes were so very sudden and dramatic. The subsequent treatment steadied the vessel but fluctuations in behavior continued. Her mind graph had several points plotted which showed a volatile curve , at times near perfect and on other occasions going awry. Mood swings, hallucination, aggressiveness, losing the sense of time, place and identity, confused and possibly the shortest retention of memory. The nerve cells refusing to send messages to do even routine things like walking, eating, obscuring her, it was as if something was eclipsing the central processing unit, making her unaware, unconcerned and unmindful!

                     Now, it is a period of uncertainty, triggering lot of welcome activities or slipping into OBLIVION  as her  dutiful son  my husband , meticulously takes care , controls and protects. YES , this fragile , gray haired , skeletal frame is my mother- in- law , definitely not a matriarch but a demure, dignified and down to earth personality who not only taught me the nuances of cooking but plenty of patience ,perseverance,  hard work  and humility.
She was once upon a time a plumpy woman with razor sharp memory , a voracious reader ,taught my children Kannada and math tables, could recite shlokas to appease all the Gods, presently in a world of her own , bereft of emotions, not knowing night or day, with figments of imagination and illusion.

It is immensely tough and a mammoth task  to be a care taker and whenever I lose my MOORINGS, I just slip into her brain…..   



  1. Lovely post! My mother in law with whom I shared a wonderful relationship also had alzheimer's. I lost her last September. I started blogging after her death. My first post - the world of women is about her.

  2. Hi Sunita pls check your dashboard - have read couple of your other posts & left a comment too.
    maybe you didn't notice

  3. beautifully written... Loved it... :)

  4. The word usage is simmered to perfection... Nice post... Beautifully penned... keep writing... keep delighting :)

  5. Very very profound thought. Loved reading it.

  6. Thanks to all you guys for stopping by and giving your inputs :)

  7. It is with deep sense of grief and sorrow that I let you all know about the sudden but peaceful passing away of my mother in law on the 21 st of Nov - this post was written days before her death and is now a solemn dedication, an eulogy.

  8. A wonderful post Sunitha Mami. May Her soul Rest in Peace.


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