My Mother’s Death Transformed Me

Today is my mother’s death anniversary.

She passed away when she was only forty-two. Had she not died of cancer at a very early age, she would have been eighty years of age today. Or, perhaps, eighty-one. We were not exactly sure of the year of her birth.

Well, life brings joys, and life brings sorrows. But my mother’s early, painful death has created a deep impression on me about women’s plight, injustice, and human rights in general. That one tragedy transformed me, and slowly made me what I am today.

My father, who is a lifelong, hardcore RSS (Hindu fundamentalist), is missing her all these years. He is now ninety-three. When my mother died, he was about fifty-three.

He has lived a very long, very lonely life ever since her death. And I know, a stoic man he is, he has kept a very deep sadness in his heart.

He did whatever he could to save her life. He was a loving husband and responsible head of the family. My mother’s cancer was a rare type that spread too rapidly.

Yet, it is undeniably true that my mother was a victim of the extreme, systemic patriarchy and gender inequality in India. Her life did not have the same value as ours — men. We did not pay attention to her well being the way we should have.

I have carried a deep trauma in my all my life too. But looking back, that one incident perhaps made me think differently about my life.

And our lives: lives of poor and powerless people like us — in India, and elsewhere.


Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

4 thoughts on “My Mother’s Death Transformed Me

  1. Hey Partha,

    I read a quote the other day stating something like… don’t be sad that its over, but happy that it ever happened at all. I try to think about this as I’m facing the visible and deterioration of my mothers memory to frontal temporal dementia. These women made us strong but also ingrained compassion and a high emotional intelligence that don’t exist in many homes. I send you lots of love and peaceful energies.

    In Solidarity, Jaime Lopez


  2. Thanks for sharing. My mother also died too young (she was 66,) It will be 32 years ago next Monday, April 10. It was only 4 days from when her cancer was diagnosed until she died.

    1. Very sad to know it. You and I share a common life’s experience, it seems. I didn’t know. It has been many years since my mother passed away, but it seems just the other day. The memory is so painful, and so vivid. I have written a lot about it, and it helped to heal.

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