My Buddy Vana

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Aunty Vana came into my life to save me – Reason. She was in my life for a brief 6 years – Season. But what she did for me, I will remember till I am alive – Lifetime.

I met her when I was 15 years old. She was my friend’s mother. I took an instinctive liking for her small, petite frame. She had kind eyes, a soft smile and the sweetest of dispositions. I haven’t seen a more affable and fair person than her till date.

My mom was in, what I feel is, the worst phase of her Alzheimer’s Disease Progression. She would frequently get violent because she didn’t know who the people around her were. This included me. She knew of me as a “concept”, but not as the grown-up person she saw in front of her. She had no sense of hygiene, and a single day would see hordes of soiled clothes remaining to be washed. She would have to be fed else she would not eat. She would have to be bathed else she would soil herself and not bother. We had to monitor her movements because she could fall and hurt herself. Wandering off was less of a problem then, because she was too weak to walk even a from one room to another. But she was still active enough to constantly sit, stand, dance, and subsequently fall and get bruised.

If I am honest, I hated my mom in this stage. I cried a lot by myself. To the world, I showed a brave face, carefree, exuberant, and fiercely independent. I’d be out the entire night partying wildly with my friends, who of course had no idea what the situation was at home. No one at home had the time to ask where I was, or with whom and if I had eaten or what my report card said.

It was then that I started getting friendly with J. Aunty Vana’s daughter. I was in class XII, an important year some might say. J gave me notes, explained concepts because I missed school often. But it was Aunty Vana who became the silent angel in my life. I remember staying up the entire night studying. She’d come in to check on us. She’d give a kiss to J and then a hug to me. I never felt that I was just her daughter’s friend. I felt at home, part of the family. I was fed breakfast every morning that I woke up in that household. She made chicken curry often because I liked it a lot. All in all, she was a dignified rock in my life. I passed with distinction in class XII and J and I enrolled in the same college.

Mom grew progressively worse, and so did my inability to deal with the situation. Alcohol, cigarettes and a short stint with prescription drugs followed. I landed up often at Aunty Vana’s door sozzled out of my brains. There was never a glare of judgement in her eyes. There would always be a bed ready for me and a plate of food, no matter what time of the night it was. I am pretty sure she knew what I was up to. But I am sure she never once told her daughters to not hang out with me. Mostly I saw a dim worry in her eyes.

She’d have long conversations with me – she was interested in me as a person – about what I’d like to do in future. I don’t even remember what I spoke, I was so lost most of the time. But she hung in there. And therefore, may be, so did I. I brought home my boyfriend to her. She welcomed him with open arms. Things what my mom should have done, Aunty Vana did for me. Yes, I missed mom, but I found comfort in Aunty’s warm hugs. She never said a word when I said things like, “I wished my mother would die.” She listened. Without advising, without judging.

And then when mom died, her home was the first I called. Her daughters were the first to arrive from my friends. After mom died, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was more lost than before if it was possible. I’d done badly in my university finals which were 3 months after mom died. And I began to literally live at her place. Everyone would go to work, but I’d be there. Comforted by the smells of her food, of her innumerable pets and the warmth of their home.

The most wonderful Christmas in my entire life was spent with her family in Goa. I know for a fact that they were not rich, but they took me with them on a family holiday and introduced me as part of their family. I will never forget those 6 days. That was the only Christmas I have known where I was happy and smiling, glad to be alive.

Two years after mom died, I found my feet. I enrolled for a master’s degree in a well-respected college in Mumbai. I was ready to move on. As I left the city, I began to lose touch with Aunty and her family. But the warmth of the dinners I had with them and the nights I slept peacefully during the worst phase of my life, kept me ticking. I don’t call Aunty Vana, I don’t know why, but I think of her often. In a cliched manner of speaking, I don’t know what I’d have done without her, without that entire family.

Aunty Vana, nothing else I say will ever express the gratitude for what you did for me. But I just want to say, “Thank you. I love you.”

  1. Tilotama
    December 3, 2009 at 10:53 PM

    It’s nice to know you appreciate what has been done for you. The powers of the universe always send little packets of surprises to people who need them most. I’m glad life has brought you where you are and want to be. Gratitude is an attitude cultivated through experience. Take care my friend. May this journey be kind and well lit.

  2. December 3, 2009 at 11:20 PM

    There are those who resemble the vast and generous foilage that shelters, soothes and nourishes us, without being asked to. And they stand firm despite knowing that we pass on that road, and may never return again. I’ve had the fortune of having met someone like Aunty Vana too: and she too fed me with chicken curry and accepting glances. May her kind multiply.

  3. Mann Se
    December 4, 2009 at 4:51 AM

    This is how soul mates touch your life. They are meant to come to your life to create a certain form of magic. The magic may or may not last, but it definitely is felt, and that it is best to enjoy this magic, as and when it lasted… We have to silently be grateful that God sent an angel our way – in some form and flesh and blood, when we most needed it!

    • December 4, 2009 at 10:22 AM

      Mann Se – The magic, in this case, will always last. This magic has a strong role in shaping up a part of the model that I am looking at…this magic will be there for a life time…!

  4. Sid
    December 4, 2009 at 6:08 AM

    Beautiful. People like Aunty Vana are the real gems in this world. And I am sure you will inspire and touch a lot of people with this blog. Keep going superstar!

  5. pooja
    December 4, 2009 at 10:11 AM

    God bless Aunty Vana and the numerous Angels who come into our life when we need them the most…

  6. Selvi
    December 4, 2009 at 4:24 PM

    Reading such facts of life makes me realize that miracles do happen.God does take care of all of us.The write-up so much shows the meaning of the Caregiver group and its importance.I am proud of you for starting up this group ,sure you will be able to reach out to so many people in need and become their “Aunty Vana”.Makes me want to really be a part and try and help people who are out there ,who needs your support,love and hugs but you cannot recognize them.Good write-up!

  1. October 21, 2010 at 9:28 AM

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