“I cannot grasp what Lord Krishna is trying to tell Arjun over here…” I told my mother handing her a copy of ‘The Mahabharata’, and eyed her sorrowfully in the living room one day.
My mother read pages after pages of the book. After ten minutes, she smilingly looked up at me and started explaining, “Pooja, this is very simple. Arjun is in a dilemma here. He is supposed to fight against people standing on the opposite side, but those people are none other than his blood relatives, his loved ones. ‘How will I fight them? How can I commit a sin such as killing them?’ he asks Lord Krishna. So, Lord Krishna tells him, ‘Arjun, you are not committing any sin. All you are doing is following your dharma. You are not killing anyone. Just as the body changes clothes every now and then, a soul changes a body likewise. The soul is immortal. It is never destroyed. It never perishes. It never dies. A soul always lives on. Fulfil your duty Arjun, and leave the rest upon The Almighty.’
“So, are we immortal?” I asked her.
“Of course we are. But by ‘we’, I mean the soul, not the body. Our real self is the spiritual self. The self which is devoid of all greed, illusions and delusions. And once we will accept and understand our spiritual self, nothing will be able to harm us.” She finished, hoping that I have grasped the core concept of immortality.
This incident took place two months before my mother’s soul left her body.
My mother breathed her last when I was standing in a line of students, awaiting a silver medal for my outstanding performance in the ‘Mahabharata’ exam. My relatives didn’t tell me about her passing away inside the auditorium where I received my medal, but the moment I reached home, I was promptly informed that my mother had lost her long struggle against diabetes and gangrene.
For a moment, I didn’t react. I couldn’t. Then something clicked. Realization dawned upon me. I will never see my mother again. I will never again be with a woman who cared for me more than she cared for herself. A woman who tied my plaits, even when her own fingers were swollen. A woman who fed me with her own hands until the last day of her life. A woman who never left my side. Not even when she was subjected to tears by her own family every day of her life.
A woman who made my dreams, her dreams. A woman who was my first love, and the only real love till date. That was enough to make my knees go weak. Tears flooded through my eyes. The days that came next were hard. I was stuck, unable to think about anything, to do anything. It felt like life was slipping away from my hands. It was then that the knowledge of The Bhagwad Gita came to my rescue.
As I revisited that day in my life, where my mother taught me about righteousness and immortality, I understood that I was not supposed to mourn her death. Since, in real sense, she had always existed, and will always continue to do so. So, what was it that was rendering me emotionally crippled? As if some miracle, some prayer answered, I was soon able to put two and two together.
The cause of my dismay was not her untimely demise; it was the abrupt ending of our relationship that came with her death.
When she was alive, in her physical state, I never behaved with her the way I should have. I continued arguing with her, making mountains out of molehills, even when she was bed-ridden and in agony. I never gave the respect that she always deserved. Not to say that I didn’t love her. Of course, I did. I just didn’t express it enough when I was expected to, supposed to, wanted to and needed to.
I’d kill to be thirteen once more. If I could rewind time, I would change everything. I wouldn’t waste a moment to express my love for my mother. I would try to understand her in a better way. Try to make her happier than she ever was. Even go to the lengths of protecting her from all evils. Maybe, if could travel back in time, I could have saved her from the impending tragedy that would eventually engulf many lives surrounding her.
To this day, I regret not having her by my side at important moments in my life. I regret not being able to see her smile when I finally brought my silver medal home with me, or when I passed my SSC. I regret not being able to see how she would have reacted if I would reveal my passion to write. I regret not being able to feel her hug at times when I would achieve a feat. I lament a lot of things, things that are better left unsaid.
But, if only I had a vault filled with happy memories more than sad ones with her, I wouldn’t be regretting her absence so much. If only I had told her how much I love her, I wouldn’t be feeling a hole in my heart right now. If only I had appreciated her when she was physically present beside me, I wouldn’t feel a deep sense of guilt that I go through at all times. Guilt of not fulfilling my part of our relationship. Guilt of not understanding the significance of having a support system. Guilt of carelessly treating an angel as some worthless trash. Guilt of not being a good daughter. Guilt of not being a good human being.
Someone has aptly stated, “One does not understand the significance of having an object beside them, until that object is ruthlessly snatched away from him/her.”
But, I am now learning to appreciate what I have by my side. I am now obtaining my redemption from the mistakes that I had unintentionally committed in the past. This is how we all function as a human being. We often take our loved ones for granted, rarely express our affection for them, and by the time we realize what a sour mistake we have made, it is generally too late to mend it. All we can do is stop brooding over our mistakes, and start learning from them. After all, why would we ever want history to repeat itself?