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.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York