Sardarni Beant Kaur (18 November 1939 – 16 November 2017)
This is how I would always like to remember Mom, strong, gentle, awe-inspiring, and cheerful. This photo was clicked on 15 May 2016, about 1-1/2 years ago before her death, on Mom and Dad’s 51st anniversary celebration at home.
Mom expired on 16 November 2017, just 2 days before her 78th birthday. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but we were all shell shocked when the doctor pronounced his verdict with the remark, “No use of taking her to hospital now.”
I was in office when I got the news. I rushed out immediately. It took me two hours to reach home. Mom was on her bed, eyes shut, covered with a blanket right up to her neck. My Dad, in between fits of weeping, was trying to inform as many close relatives as he could. I tried my best to console him, but he was still very distraught.
I still could not believe that she wouldn’t open her eyes again and smile at me, like she always did. I touched her hands and feet. They felt ice cold and sent a sharp stab right through my heart…
For some strange reason, I always thought Mom was invincible. She had, after all, battled with cancer and emerged as a winner. She was always optimistic, never complaining or grieving about anything, always trying to be her best. Even though she was now retired from her nursing career, her professional bearing, her courage in the face of extreme pain and adversity, her neat and tidy way of doing things stayed with her right till the end.
On the morning of the day she died, she seemed to be better than ever before. With her feet firmly planted on the ground, she had moved herself closer to the pillow and said, “Thank you” after I was done with freshening her up as per my daily routine. I thought everything was becoming normal again as it was Mom’s old habit to always thank profusely for every kind gesture, no matter how small…
Since it was already quite late and my husband was in Kolkatta, Mom’s cremation was fixed for the next day. My younger sister Dimpy and my brother-in-law Lalit, with the help of our neighbors, arranged for a casket to be brought home from the Gurdwara for preservation of her body till then. I was really touched to see the way everyone came out to support in every way possible.
As the hours ticked by, Mom passed through all the different stages with a quiet rock-like endurance and resilience that is characteristic of the dead. But even when she was alive, she had the same amazing inner strength that always inspired everyone she came into contact with.
With our family members around us, I clicked as many pics she as I could during the next few hours. It was my way of coping with the painful loss by doing something concrete and preserving something of her while she was still with us…Some of them are given below.
It was for the first time that I was an active participant in Sikh rituals related to death. The prayers offered at every stage served as a soothing balm because of their constant reminder to not grieve excessively as death is inevitable. Nothing is lost and nothing is created. After death, the body returns to earth while the soul moves into another body…
Mom is now no longer with us physically, but something of her and the values she stood for continue to inspire us. Her advice to me in particular, “Remain active, never stop working” will keep me on my toes for as long as I am alive…
Wish you a great after-life, Mom!
16 November 2017
Around 3:30 PM
Around 11:30 PM
17 November 2017
Around 10 AM
Ardas before cremation
Getting getting ready for cremation
A stark reminder: Irrespective of how much you struggle to achieve your goals in life, everything turns into ashes in the end.
20 November 2017 (Final day of Akhand Path)
End of Akhand Path…
Around 3 PM
Kirtan and final ardas in C Block Gurdwara…
Final get-together at tea and saying goodbye…