AustraliaToday marks 18 years of my arrival in Australia. Not by boat. By plane. Just in case you were wondering ūüėČ

I have spent more than half my life in this continent, or country? maybe Island? That is by far the longest stretch of time spent in any country I’ve ever lived¬†in.¬†When I put this in perspective, it blows my mind.

They say home is where the heart is – my heart is certainly in Sydney. And why shouldn’t it be, I have practically spent the¬†most crucial years of my life right here in this land of natural abundance.

Coming to Australia was not a coincidence. I had pretty much decided back in year 8 that Australia is the place for me. My fascination kicked off¬†during geography lessons at school while working on an assignment¬†about Australia. I nailed¬†that task. My map of Australia scored 100%. I remember telling my school friends¬†that one day I¬†will be off to Sydney on the national Australian carrier, QANTAS. I’m sure they thought I was deluded, wanting to live in a land half covered in desert with the rest in sheep & cows. Or at least that is how our geography book portrayed Australia – the big exporter of milk, cheese & wool, but that didn’t deter¬†my plans. Back in early 90’s¬†most people (mostly boys) were only interested in travelling to the United States. Australia wasn’t even an option. I must’ve been one of the random few (girls) exploring educational possibilities in Australia. The reason mainly was to run away from the endless marriage proposals coming my way – at the ripe age of 18 – marriage was far from my mind. While most girls around me were getting hooked, ¬†I was¬†searching for appropriate courses in the farthest place possible¬†on the world map – Australia ūüėõ

My application for undergraduate degree got accepted in Dec 1996. Now that I think about it, the Australian High Commission was very efficient back then, I got my visa in under 2 months. Wow!

I knew at the back of my mind that this is it – I will not be coming back to my family home. I packed my stuff, along with my naivety, excitement, adventurous spirit and prepared for the long haul¬†flight with…you guessed it! QANTAS. How’s¬†that for conviction ūüėČ

I guess if I had paused to think about the challenges I would face and how much I would miss my family, I would never have taken that first step – leaving home at 19 – travelling all the way to Australia – alone.

The last 18 years have been certainly challenging, but they have also made me rock solid as a person. I am who I am because of my experiences. It all wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my parents and that first crucial step – with eyes wide shut.

© as|fa



'A Mother is she that can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take'

‘A Mother is she that can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take’ – Cardinal Mermillod

Recently I read a fictional book about a land-line that connects to phone numbers from the past, making it possible to communicate with someone from that time. I wish I had that phone. There is only one person I would call. My Mother.

My attempts to ring home over the last couple of years, in the hope to hear her voice one last time have been futile. My deluded mind still believes that she is a phone call away. I will dial that number and she will answer the phone in her sweet melodious voice and call me by my nickname. It is hard to keep digesting reality. She is gone. No longer alive. Not in this world. Not with us. Dead.

Copious tears have been shed, shaming the vastness of entire worlds oceans in comparison.

No one prepared me for my mothers death. None of us were expecting this to happen. It was sudden. Nature has¬†robbed us,¬† especially her grand-kids,¬†with her being taken away well before her time. Grandmothers are supposed to be around to celebrate their grand children’s major life milestones. Starting high school, graduating from university, engagements, marriages and great grandchildren. So why were¬†we not deserving of¬†that privilege ?

Nothing can prepare you to cope with sudden death. It is not something that can be explained in words. You just go into auto drive and deal with the necessary rituals. My mother must’ve known that we were emotionally incapable to handle those rituals. Even in her death, she made it easy for¬†us.

The earth shattered after we had laid her to rest on Valentines Day, 2012. I was angry for many months with society. Life just kept moving on. While my heart & mind was at a stand still, society continued planning and executing on its social agenda. No one halted their life, even out of respect. Internally a battle was raging between me and the outside world. How can life possibly move on for everyone else around me? How could people be focussed on their own insignificant daily issues and social plans when such a major tragedy had unfolded in my life? The poison inside me spread relentlessly and I made no attempts to diffuse it. The epiphany, when it finally struck, of this situation being a singular battle was confronting. It was my problem and mine alone to resolve. I had to conjure up the strength to deal with it, one tear at a time. And there was monumental strength that required conjuring up. How else can one stay strong when your family was in constant emotional distress? How can one stay strong when your father cried himself to sleep each night? How can you keep your family united when the thread that weaved the family together was no longer there? How do you stay strong while your siblings cry out their hearts? I withheld my emotions. Internalised it. Swallowed the pain. The world was not going to cry. That was the bitter truth. The harsh reality.

We never had that conversation, mum & I. She hardly¬†spoke about death. Only that she wished to die young, so she wasn’t a burden on anyone and a painless death, as her tolerance threshold was low. She could’ve wished for a long and healthy life and God would’ve listened, because he was certainly listening when she wished to die young and pain-free. It is hard to write but I pacify myself with these thoughts – that she was ready to go – she knew it was her time – she had completed her worldly duties – she had raised each of us and helped us stand on our feet – she had seen us through the first of our¬†kids. She was satisfied. Her soul had consumed the lessons it had to learn from this world and impart to it. To expect more from her would be selfish of us. It is¬†probably better¬†that she passed devoid of pain & misery with dignity intact.

I sometimes wonder what mum went through when grandmother passed away. She didn’t say much and I didn’t ask. My grandmother suffered¬†in her old age until she finally succumbed to her ailing health. I can say with absolute certainly that mum¬†feared suffering the same fate. Mum was good at keeping her feelings to herself, she would consume all her worries and sorrows without sharing it with a single soul. Her only shares were random hand written thoughts on ad hoc pieces of paper, in¬†her mother tongue, a¬†language which none of us¬†can read.

I never even coerced her with conversations to discuss her vexes¬†and that guilt will stay with me forever. The Guilts. There are plenty. It hurts more because I know in my heart that those pangs of guilt that I have been feeling ever since 12th Feb 2012, were needless – I could’ve rectified every single one if only I made the attempts. But the truth is, I never expected she would die. I took her presence, her prayers for granted. So my shock awakening was very much deserved.

I wish I understood earlier her method of showing love. She was never expressive. Her love came in the form of her silent prayers for us, in her attempts to make us independent, in her expectations from us to be the best, in her relentless drive for us to achieve better in life than her, in her worries of us losing our way, in her extra staunch faith in God to make up for the lack of faith we had. What can I say, it only took her death to make me realise the intensity and enormity of her love for us. I wish I had that magic land-line to convey my emotions.  This awakening is a little too late.

We assume that depth of love is directly proportional to its demonstrated quantity. We are wrong. We are so pitifully wrong.

Her every element lives on within us. All three of us have inherited some traits that will forever remind us of her. Our children are and will continue to be her reflection.

We will think of her at every new chapter in our lives. We will miss her prayers facing each difficult situation. We will miss her for the part she was to play in her grandchildren lives.

There is profound truth in the quote by Cardinal Mermillod,¬†‘A Mother is she that can take the place of all others, but whose place no one else can take’.¬†

We will find solace in the fact that she lives on, within us.

Forever irreplaceable ‚̧

© as|fa

Note: I wont have the courage to post this on the 12th of Feb.