My wonderful parents
You never know the meaning of parent until the time you lose one. You then have to step into shoes too large for you, with a void in your heart that's even larger. And hope that you can pass on to your children some or all of what you have learnt from your parents.
My late parents were a wonderful study in contrasts. My father was slim and light, my mother plump and jolly. They had once gone for treatment to Vellore Hospital, he to put on weight, with a high calorie diet, she to lose it. Their meals with suitable calories would arrive and a half hour later, the empty plates taken away, but the treatment did not seem to work. For, as he did throughout his life, Dad would spoil Mom by letting her dip into his meal!
So deep was their affection and their dependence on the other that Mom followed him to their Heavenly abode within four months. I am sure he must be spoiling her there as well.
My father was one of the kindest souls I have ever seen. He would be willing, and go out of his way, to help others. He would, quite literally, never hurt a fly. He will always be remembered fondly by all for this. He also had quite a remarkable memory. My parents had, during a trip aborad in the late 40s, made friends with a young couple in Swizerland. After a brief period of communicating through letters (long before emailing made such a pleasant pastime redundant) they lost touch. The young couple, however, remembered them fondly, for both were immensely likeable. Some 45 years later they visited India and, through the telephone directory, contacted us. My mother couldn't place Sylvia but my father delved into memory lane and instantly recalled when and where they had met 45 years ago! From my father I learnt the value of the goodwill created by helping people, the meaning of humility and the spirit of kindness.
My father was always very encouraging of his children. From an early age he inculcated in me the habit of reading and also encouraged me to take up sports like tennis and snooker. He insisted on sending me to a boarding school, a decision I am most thankful to him (and to my sister, who egged him on) for. Else, as the only son I would have become an intolerably spoilt brat! This decision enabled me to learn how to be independent and think and fend for myself. My father had gone to Queen Mary School within 48 hours of the birth of Tanushree, my daughter, to register her name. So, thoughtful of him, for it enabled us to be free of the worries of school admission. He was always thoughtful and caring.
From my mother I learnt the value of joi de verve (the joy of living). She was full of life! She told stories and jokes, including on herself, which would keep her audience rapt with attention. She had a heart of gold, never holding a grudge against anyone or anything. She didn't know a word of English when she got married but you would never guess that she had no formal education in the language; she taught herself. She loved socializing, though my father didn't, so she would go with my wife, Jyoti, to family functions.
My mother doted on Jyoti! I recall the time when, after the marriage, Jyoti was going to her parent's house in Bhopal for the first time. Mom rang up her father to ask him to look after her daughter in law! Never would a father have got such a request, to look after his own daughter! And when her grandchildren, Tanushree and Veer, arrived, her joy knew no bounds. She had two more people to shower her immense love on!
She loved singing at weddings, along with her six sisters, from the Sapat family. At one such family wedding her older sister was nursing a headache with an ice bag and my mother offered to scrub oil in the scalp to relieve it. However, instead of hair oil, she mistakenly picked up a bottle of shampoo. Imagine her sister's face when, dressed in wedding finery, she had a foamy scalp! But such was my mothers good nature that no one minded such incidents.
I do miss them as do lots of relatives and friends who knew them personally. They may not be with us, but they will always live in our memory and in what they have taught us on life, and how to live it.
To describe my parents, Indumati and Ravindra Mulraj, is next to impossible - they were unbelievable in their simplicity, goodheartedness, lack of worldliness. Their eagerness to extend affection and help to all and any that came their way was amazing! Those who knew them will laugh when they will think that I am speaking about characters in a piece of fiction! Two people, less alike, and yet with so much in common, having such totally different temperaments, would be difficult to find. That they could spend 54 years in - if not exactly conjugal bliss - in a state of co-dependency is difficult to believe. My Mother was fat, childish, and full of fun and laughter. She had a huge heart so full of love that she couldn't thin. He is suffering from chronic depression, and an overwhelming desire to serve. They competed in the extent of universal goodwill!
They taught me the value of being non-judgmental, open, friendly and useful. They never preached, and rarely punished. Their innate goodness imparted basics which were, perhaps, all the stronger for being unspoken.
I frequently found their overwhelming affection oppressive, and even maddening. I feared that their spontaneous affection may be an imposition for some. People's live are often too hectic for them to appreciate a casual letter or phone call from an almost forgotten connection. I realized the error of my apprehension after they left this world, when so many people attended their prayer meetings. They spoke of how much they had appreciated the unselfishness of the love they got from Induben and Ravindrabhai, and how much they would miss the occasional phone calls and letters.
My parents were simple people, who achieved no particular success in life. However, when I listened to the very genuine emotions narrating their experiences, I realized that my parents had done little things that made a real difference. I started to wonder whether -ultimately-giving genuine love and extending help in little ways, is not more important than achieving great things? It distresses every sensitive person to see the charade prayer meeting are gradually turning into. I felt proud and moved to say that the prayer meetings held for my parents were quite different. It is my pleasure and privilege to have had such humane parents. This translation of 'Bharatiya Sanskriti' is being offered by my brother, as an offering of love in their memory.
My Mother had total faith in her Guru, Swmai Akshandanandaji Maharaj. My father also had tremendous faith in him, but his faith paled before hers. They were both blessed by him. It is thanks to them that I was introduced to the priceless treasure of Maharajshri's talks and Grace. I know that both my parent will - in whichever plane of existence they may be - rejoice at this living offering. I know that the mantle of their benevolence will continue to spread over all who loved them, and all they loved. I also have faith that Maharajshris Grace will be experienced by all who read this little book on a subject that is of increasing interest to us and the younger generations.
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