I met her for the first time when we visited our friend after our wedding. My friend's mother - she came across as a friendly, loving and caring person. Even then she was sick. And their family was facing quite a few problems. But she was so full of concern for us and with so many questions she kept the focus on us.
Coming to think of it what impressed me so much was her zest for life. With a naughty smile and wink she urged us to enjoy life and be happy. Her love for her husband and son was very touching. I observed their general conversation and wondered whether it was for real. I should confess that I even thought they were faking it. Not a hint of negativity - just bubbling enthusiasm. They made me feel special.
My visits were few and far between. Everytime I saw her, her health had deteriorated a bit; but amazingly she seemed stronger and happier. The disease that ravaged her body could not touch her spirit.
Once she showed her amputated leg without any embarrassment. She crawled to see us off that day. I never felt any pity for her. She was simply beyond needing anyone's sympathy.
One day my friend called and in his usual chirpy voice enquired about my daughter and then asked for my husband. Something was amiss. I did not enquire about his mother as was my wont. I somehow knew she was no more. Though I tell myself that she suffered so much pain that death should have been a welcome relief for her, I still think, how could someone so full of life, die?
I remember the last time I saw her. She could not walk as both her feet had been amputated and she was undergoing painful treatment for her renal problems. Yet as usual she kept the focus on us. Her health was very poor - she was in terrible shape - but she received us with a broad smile. She kept bombarding us with questions about our life. Oh how was it possible for her to think about others, when she was in such misery.
I later learnt that she spent the last 28 days of her life in hospital in severe pain. I asked my friend whether she turned bitter or angry towards the end. "Nope" he replied in his inimitable style - "not a grumble or complaint." I was curious to know what kept her so strong. Was it her faith in some supernatural being. No, he said, it was her faith in herself. She just loved life a lot. That in effect summed up her vibrant personality.
I am glad I came across such a lively character in my life. I only hope that I exhibit atleast a fraction of the determination and courage that she did, when life turns unpleasant and when my body is ravaged in the evening of my life.