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 Parvati Bai (Goddess Wife of Lord Shiva)

Picture the sub tropics… the air is moist & fragrant… the threat of rain is always around the corner … the grass and the trees are much greener and brighter…. Mango trees are full of green sharp mangos and the rows upon rows of Karonda (Cranbury) & guava trees.  It’s so peaceful and quiet that my young urban ears would be missing the noise.  Still at 5:00 a.m. I would strain my ears to hear the temple bell. Sure enough it comes accompanied by my Nani’s (grandma) hymns. 

This is how I used to wake up whenever I visited my Nani’s home in India.  She lived far away from the urban jungle where I was growing up.  Everything was fascinating to me: the well in the corner of huge garden; the frogs and chameleon around the well; even the cows. My sister and I were always improvising new games one being to follow the row of aunts marching in procession and disturb their long line to see if they can find it again.

Those were the idyllic summer holidays I spent in my Nani’s home.  

Nani was perhaps 65/70 as I recall. Her morning routine would be waking up at 4:00 am, showering then praying in the temple inside her house.  It was the best part of the day for me. I would sit quietly, cross legged next to her and hear her sing and ring the bell.   Of course, my child mind was only interested in the Kaju, Kishmish (Cashews and raisins) that I would get as my prasad (Sacrament) afterwards.  Next I would follow her to the cow shed where she would check on them and someone would come to milk the cows. (If she was not present the cows would not allow the man to milk them.)  Then we would go to the kitchen and she would make tea for herself. Children were not supposed to drink tea. Instead I would get a cup of milk and soft fresh bread with homemade butter.  I always followed my Nani like the little lamb that Mary had.

Most evenings she would tell me stories. We would also sit together in the afternoon when she will be doing something. It didn’t matter what.  Everything about her was so unique for me.  Mostly her soft voice resonated with me when she would talk of her childhood.  Something dreadful like black plague happened when she was only 7 years old and the whole village was wiped out.  Her Aunt came and took her away when both her parents perished.  Soon after her princess like existence changed into that of Cinderella.  

In those earlier years she had to get up early and grind the flour on Chukki (hand operated flour mill).  It was the bane of women before machines started grinding grain into flour in India.  (A typical Chukki consists of approximately 40 pounds of circular slab of stone with a hole in the centre on top of similar slab at the bottom with an axle in the centre.  There was a wooden handle on the top stone and grain was fed in the central opening; it would pass through and move outward at the each turn of the Chukki, getting finer and finer as it spilled into the space of the outer periphery of the slab.)  It was hard, sweat-producing work to rotate the 40 pound of slab for an hour to make enough flour for the day’s bread requirement.  The irony was that in India unmarried girls didn’t do this tough work yet my Nani at the tender age of 7/8 had to.  She would do all the house work before she was allowed to eat and then there was seldom enough food left for her in the kitchen to eat.

It is a bit complicated to follow now…Fast forward a few years… she got married at the age of 15/16 and moved away from her aunt’s family.  I’ve always heard from my mother how gentle and supportive her uncle was.  My mother was adopted by her uncle and aunt (my Nani). They had three children of their own that didn’t survive infancy.  Perhaps this made my mother even more special for them.  My biological grandma was my Nani’s sister in law and they had a strong bond between them.  My mother’s uncle was popular for his philanthropic nature; people would come to him for advice and help. It’s okay if you got lost…sometimes you have to live a certain life to really understand it.

But this happiness was also short lived; he passed away when my mother was only 16 years old.  Rather than think about the difficult years that followed my mother still lives in a time warp and talks about the good times they had. My Nani had more than her fair share of ups and downs and whenever I think of her I receive resilience, nurturing and trust in divine source.  I heard from my mother that I was born in Nani’s house and that she was so caring she held me in her arms for many days because I would cry if left in the crib.  

My work as an Akashic records / soul’s blueprint reader lets me see what themes and purposes people are working on in their life time.  I saw my Nani as a pivotal sustenance in my unconscious. 

I found solace when I learned about her childhood. I thought if she can do it then what is there for me to be afraid of?  So what if I’m not as academic as my siblings; does it matter to all be alike?  I have my own uniqueness like her.  I love to take care of others and connect with them at heart level.

When I found myself suddenly a widow and under tragic circumstances I thought of her, (my mother’s uncle died of massive heart attack in her arms) how she coped and reinvented herself.  Surely, I could do the same.  I feel the flow of love in the world is circular and giving love to others constitutes only half of the circle.  The other half is receiving love.  To refuse love from others we block the flow of love in the world just as effectively as if we never gave love to others.  There is always intent to cultivate self-love, however, to love ourselves we must first accept ourselves, only what it is accepted can be love.

Thank you dear Nani for leading me to self-discovery, then self-acceptance, and ultimately to self-love.  

Contributed by (Adopted) Grandaughter, Pushpa Bansal


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