My mother-in-law, an epitome of love and compassion

Those were the early days of my transfer from Goa to Mysore, after serving in different stations like Shillong, Lucknow, Vijayawada and Goa. I loved Mysore pleasantly because of its natural charm and beauty…. the fragrance of the jasmines, magnificence of the palaces, broad and wide avenues, lip savouring snacks and many more attractions fascinated me. More than anything, my relatives were living closer i.e., in Bangalore, which was only 150 kms away.
We had rented a double bedroom house which had the glory of both front and back garden spaces…. full of flowering plants like rose, hibiscus, jasmine and the sacred Tulsi. Fruit bearing trees, such as, papaya, pomegranate, custard apple, mango, neem and jackfruit added to the delight . The curry leaf tree was a basic requirement and the generous sprinkling of the leaves added taste and flavour to my dishes. No other station, as far as I can recall had all these fancy pleasantries to be cherished.

My husband who was terribly sick , at that time, had one constant demand that his mother should come and live with us. He expressed his earnest desire of the company of his mother by wooing me gently and patiently, soothing me with the sweetness of his words. He often said, “Amma is a sober, loving strong lady and a perfect homemaker.”. Though I got used to hearing this several times in a day, I had my own apprehensions and was jittery . Confusion and indecisiveness to arrive at a wise decision bothered me because I had a lot of things to look after. Both, my professional and personal lives required undivided attention and frankly it didn’t seem easy at all to balance .

Prakruthi, my daughter was only ten years old , at that time. I was responsible for her growing up years too! She needed constant assistance and guidance and it was only natural. I dropped her for music and dance classes, helped her out in project work and looked after her requirements as she was still in school. The assignments of the school kept us busy throughout.

Meanwhile, my husband had gone weak, white -faced, emancipated and was absolutely unable to look after himself. His chronic diarrhoea kept me active and on my toes….cleaning, swobbing and disinfecting rooms. He had no control over his bowels which was both saddening and embarassing for both of us. Bedsheets were changed almost once, twice or thrice a day. Apart from gastroenteropathy, he suffered from other diseases too. His right eye had completely dead vision, while, the left eye had faint vision. Moreover, the feet had developed cushions that didn’t support him in walking. At home, he managed somehow, but when he stepped out of the house , he required my support. There was no stability in the fingers and toes were falling off. He lost three of them eventually which was painful. I had to surround him with love, warmth , care , concern and a lot of attention.Amidst the desperation of the household drudgery and the time and attention required by my husband and the little one, I dreaded my mother-in-law’s arrival. My mind would always be plagued with an unknown uncertainty…working and questioning… how can I manage everything? Since it was my husband’s great desire to have her with him, I couldn’t say a no. That would create an uneasiness for us both. I gladly decided to be optimistic and let life charter it’s own course.

But once her presence was felt at home, things changed drastically and miraculously.Everything appeared different and many things gave way to a new beginning. She showered her unconditional love and affection on all three of us. Her patience and sweetness under affliction were admired by all.


Although she too suffered from backache and pain in her feet, even then she ensured that the kitchen and puja room were sparkling and flawlessly clean. I guess, the foliage outside were fortunate enough to receive such tenderness and care.It was usual for me to be grim and dismal on account of the circumstances.In a while , I overcame the struggle and my outlook towards life became challenging. It seemed, as though, I was a new ME……ready to deal with life in the best way possible. My mother – in- law’s positive attitude brushed past me to a large extent. My husband felt comfortable, secure and happy. He had a lot more stuff to share with his mother.Those were priceless moments. His ailments vanished, as if , never to return in this life time. I could witness the tremendous change in him, physically and mentally. Every day after finishing her house hold chores, she lay looking outside the window for my arrival, so that we could have lunch together. That was so gratifying for my soul. She brought fruits, snacks, biscuits and Cadbury chocolate for my daughter with her petty cash that she used to receive as rent. She was amazingly graceful who dressed immaculately at all times. Her short stature and grey hair added to her cheerful personality. She wore a smile constantly that lingered till the end of the day. My husband carefully inherited her dressing habits!! As she took endless pain to see us happy, my apprehension and fear dissolved and I started adoring her. This was a pleasant discovery which nurtured my pain and made me stronger.

Both my husband and mother-in-law have left us leaving an everlasting legacy of love, compassion, goodness and generosity. I shine in the nostalgia….moments
gifted to me in the light of the day to remind myself that such treasures create the essence of life. Life has to move on and we would be guided with love and compassion.

3 Comments

  1. There’s total submission in your endurance. Balancing and keeping yourself intact even when the turmoil rose and erupted. It is difficult for many.
    A good lesson learnt.
    Overwhelming for me to have touched each word of your strife . Enriching myself to yield to difficulties on which I have no control.
    A big salute.

  2. The aura of a great soul has the magic to heal and to bring happiness in others lives and this has again proved by reading the behaviour of your mother-in-law. Rest in peace her noble soul.

    Sahana Mam, reading your part in the story, I must say that you are an epitome of courage, patience and sacrifice.

    I salute to your unbeatable spirit and perseverance. God bless you Sahana Mam

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