One thing life has taught me is that people enter and exit our lives for a purpose.
My earliest memory takes me to the one person with oodles of grace and that was mom who gave of herself in every which way wholeheartedly. It annoyed us no end. She willingly allowed herself to be exploited by clever friends with nary a crease on her brow- now that is grace. Another person I was blessed to know was our family” employee Dajiba” more like a brother really- he oozed amazing grace. Purportedly he claimed that divinity manifested in his body with such strength that he could cure with mere touch on forehead when he called upon IT after an hour of prayer. How many of the gathered throngs he cured are anybody’s guess but he transferred upon his slender self all the numerous childhood fevers and nosebleeds I was stricken with. He declared that he was stronger than me and could weather them fine. I never questioned and ran off to play while he writhed in pain and mom plied him with numerous cups of ginger tea etc… Later it was impressed upon me that I should have borne this “karma” myself and not allowed another to physically suffer thus on my behalf. He exited from our lives when mom left us. That mom reached home was amply conveyed to us by divine manifestation.* -will not digress here. Now come to think of it- maybe mom and Dajiba knew one another from previous lifetimes- he never offered to help with her illness- guess he knew better.
One other memorable incident that comes to mind is about the intriguing relationship between my cousin’s mother-in-law and their young hired help. This boy was so attached to that lady that when she passed away –he jumped off the roof and gave up his life rather than live without her. We were all shaken to the core. Such “bond” between an employer and employee cannot be pigeonholed. It left an indelible imprint on my mind.
One unexpected but welcome event that did occur upon mom’s passing was the unstinted love extended to us by an aunt (dad’s younger brother’s wife) who had never ever shown any interest in us before. It took me a while to realize that it was as pure as it was genuine. She filled the gap somewhat that mom had left behind. What motivated her to do this beats me but it was so welcome. On and off we spoke, connected with one another when ever I visited India. She left us last month. She had this amazing grace which shamed my initial cynicism. She genuinely wept when life served me lemons and celebrated when it came up trumps. No one else did that for me. Even though much older, she celebrated the child in her and we had some truly fun times travelling together in India. We chortled and cackled like two kids rather than grown ups when she shared some of her rather harebrained antics away from the prying eyes of her “bahu” *and daughters. May she RIP. Really miss you “chachi”. To be contd…. (* bahu= daughter-in-law)
Amazing Grace (personal journey…2)
One person who features as numero uno fairy godmother in our lives is/was mom’s younger sister. Cinderella’s fairy godmother cannot hold candle to this one as she was the living breathing real McCoy. She added whipped cream, glaze, glam and dazzle to our otherwise humdrum lives seamlessly without even trying. I have never seen such understood deep love among siblings. It was that perfect. We simply basked in that glow. Thank you masi. She was amazing grace personified. A 24 carat brick in letter word and spirit. Such people value add unobtrusively in a rather nonchalant manner. She was that rare bird.
One person that also begs mention is that seven foot Nubian dark iterant monk who stopped by for a meal at our place inBombayon his way to the holyHimalayas. His towering stature that impacted more was his aura that glowed from his person. I felt rather blessed in his presence. He left an indelible footprint in my mind. He placed his hand on my head and showered me with blessings. In my hours of grief and agony I hugged that blessing to myself often in recollection and took heart. We had two lamps fromKashmirwith carved faces. I often visualized that monk in those faces and experienced solace.
That about sums up our Bombay years in this regard.
One lady who carved a place in my heart is my middle sister’s mother-in-law. She had such a large heart that it had room for just about everyone. She was simple in worldly ways but genuinely good hearted. She filled the hole mom had left behind more than amply with her amazing grace and love. Yes, I have experienced amazing love in many unexpected places and many faces. She never made me feel unwelcome in my sister’s huge joint family.
One person who came into my life as a give n take deal was Josephine Ferraro. Truly a remarkable person. She took me under her wing- and gave me a to and fro ride from work in the wee and late hours without quibble. Her listening capacity and love shored up my neediness amply. Initially I paid her but later on she refused to take anything from me. She was there like a rock during the uncertain days of our lives when we were caught in the sudden downward slide due to market‘s economic depression. She is very much in our life even today and considers my son as her grandson and his kids as her gr8 grandkids. Just spoke to her (Dec. 26, 2011) and she told me she carries the babies’ pictures in her pocketbook. I truly feel blessed.
In New Delhi,India
Have experienced many miracles and visions and what have you- whether they were self induced stupor(ed) or real is anybody’s guess but I felt uplifted and fresh with new hope. By nature I never give up and never stayed down for long.
A negligent doctor injected something lethal and my husband fell fatally ill. During those harrowing days in the hospital inIndia, do not know from where, a father and son came into our room and brightened it with their selfless service and gift of laughter. The father actually sat on my husband’s bed and massaged his head and feet with infinite love. It filled me with a state of shock mixed with wonder. Being finicky by nature it would’ve been repugnant for me to do likewise. The love and light in his face was Amazing Grace personified.
They left with their recovered kin soon after but before leaving he gave me his full address and phone to contact in case of need. I thanked him with wet eyes but never called him. During those days, even the Nepali help who had been in my past employ bandied together and offered their help 24/7. My husband and I had always treated everyone just the same as we did our own child most of the time. Hence they too gave back their love in full measure when it was sorely needed. I am truly grateful for that. During those years, we had been robbed and I’d lost a chunk of my valuable jewelry among other things besides valuable electronics and cameras et al.
In India, often the eunuchs come around and invoke terror and alarm in people because if you do not give in to their demand for money, they roundly curse you in coarse epithets. Such a group landed at my doorstep as well. I opened the door and faced their sing song demands stoically and then beckoned the leader to come close. I told about how I’d been robbed and how my husband lay in the hospital fighting for his life- He/she immediately changed his belligerent stand and became soft and misty eyed and then placed his hand on my head and blessed me with everything he could muster. He told me I have much happiness in store and to never lose heart. He filled my despairing heart with new zest and fighting spirit. I salute that eunuch for his genuine amazing grace.
After the eunuch episode, I lost my husband and became a widow. Found many helping hands but most came with invisible strings. I longed to fly solo- soaring freely without any encumbrances but being a widow in India is never a piece of cake. It can be pretty awful. Pity can scotch one’s spirit to cinders and one dies in inches. Somehow I felt I’d landed from the fire into a frying pan or vice versa. I felt forsaken by my inner beloved.
My faith was sorely tested but I hung on nevertheless. The option of checking into an ashram never had any appeal for me. I missed the freedom I had enjoyed in USA. I longed to return. Help came from a most unexpected source and things fell in place and I returned to USA.
The day I was leaving for USA turned out to be truly memorable. During last minute shopping, I espied a tiny image of my beloved deity “Krishna” and I entered the jewelry store to purchase it. But the store owner refused to sell it saying it was their “resident store deity” and hence could not be sold. I offered a large sum to no avail. Disheartened I left the store dragging my feet. Suddenly we heard someone running after us. It was the store owner who shouted, “Please stop”. Then proceeded to give me the deity and said, “ HE wants to travel with you to USA”. I was taken aback. I failed to ask how he had come to that conclusion, instead gladly accepted the “deity” and with a huge smile on my face proceeded to the airport. This deity accompanies me everywhere on all my journeys away from home base. In case I forget to place it in my purse, we usually have to return for one thing or another. I have learnt my lesson well and now pack it first when leaving town. This is HIS amazing grace. I always feel blessed now.
In conclusion I have to acknowledge the ready help extended by both of my bosses when I had surgeries scheduled and my husband was in India. They picked me up and waited patiently when I was done. Is this amazing grace or what I do not know. It was selfless.
I also felt comfortable enough to call Supriya( an efriend/daughter) and share my anxiety with her and she poured some horse sense in me and forced me to rush to my surgeon doctor instead of bleeding from burst varicose veins and wasting time in phone chatter. I thank my “Krishna” to have her in my life. She is a blessing as well. Last but not the least I must thank both malathi dechiraju and meghana Joshi(two efriends) for selflessly putting together my two books of poems by generous offer of their valuable time. They truly floored me with their magnanimity. That is also grace! One person who meant the world to me was Vickie Chiong- a Cuban Chinese office colleague. She added so much meaning and substance to my life. her friends grieve for her to this day myself included. Here is my eulogy for Vickie Chiong:
To try to qualify or quantify what she meant to me
Is to try to pin down the will-o-wisp that was Vickie
She was a pint sized ball of pure effervescent energy
A master in aikido, reiki and other healing arts
Her generosity knew no bounds as she gave of herself freely
Her helping hands imparted instant relief to many aching limbs
Her occasional inscrutability came from her oriental origin
And her practical quirky earthiness made her fun to be around
Her presence in my life brought a nice richness to my persona
And I can emphatically say the gain was all mine, just mine
She had no bone to pick with anyone, least of all, her destiny
And she sailed through life sublimely, taking all in her stride
She was only four feet tall but could tackle any hefty person easily
Her diminutive looks were as deceptive as the depth of her spirituality
She entered my life like a breath of fresh air and managed to show me
Myself, for what I really was inside out so that I could measure up
I will miss her dreadfully but know full well that her spirit will always
Encompass all her loved ones giving courage and acceptance, with grace
Go forward free from pain, dear friend even though we will miss you
But know full well that you now reside in blissful greener pastures.
Yes I am truly blessed and there is a reason and a season for everything. People do enter and exit from our lives as ordained and not a second before or after.