She was a distant relative, a widow. When I had my first baby, my mother-in-law brought her from our village to help me. Everybody called her “Mohana izza” which means Mohan’s mother in Kumaoni dialect of Uttarakhand. Mohan was her only child. I never heard anybody calling her by her real name. Apart from her fields she had no other source of income. My mother-in-law would help her financially whenever needed.
She was a very simple and cheerful lady. She lived with her son in a small house in the village. In her village whenever someone used to come from city to a house, that family would distribute sweets in the neighbourhood. On such occasions she felt very sad because she had no one who would bring sweets for her. This was one of the reasons she loved and respected us so much. Because we would give her the chance to distribute sweets in her neighbourhood. Though she was very poor, she was always thankful to God for whatever she had. She never complained about her situation and was very optimistic.
Whenever we visited our village she would make sure to give us a bag full of produce from her farm in return of the goods we brought for her. She always kept the best rice, the best raagi flour and the best of everything from her fields, for us. Earlier I would get annoyed with all this, because in Delhi we have a small family and it was always very difficult to consume all of the farm produce. On one such occasion my husband said to me, “Don’t say no to her. She has only these things to give us. Accept it happily. See the gratitude, the elation on her face. Don’t deprive her of it.” I realised my folly that day. From then on I never said no her and relished her glee year after year.
With time she got her son married. Now she became busier with her family. When her first grandson was born, her happiness knew no bounds. During that time when we met her, she told my husband, “Devar ji (brother-in-law) see, from my one Mohan I have now two Mohan’s. My life is complete now.” After meeting her I realised that in our quest for material success we forget to relish the real happiness of life. She taught me such a beautiful lesson that day.
I learnt many life skills from her. Her simplicity, her positive demeanour changed my perspective of a wholesome life.
Few years ago when she was not keeping well we went to see her. My husband gave her son some money for her treatment and I asked him to send her to my place after getting her medicines. I looked after her for two months. Before going back to her village she asked my husband to maintain the same relationship with her son always.
Soon after she died.
Last year we went to our village for our annual visit. We sent goodies for her son’s family. While coming back, from a distance we saw a person waving at our car. This time it was her son, instead of her, with a bag full of farm produce. Life had come a full circle.