It’s been a generally challenging year and it all ended with a huge bang with the passing of my mum just over a week ago.
Even though she was ill in hospital, she was on the mend and appeared to be getting a little bit better, before she suddenly passed away.
All of this brought back memories of when my sister passed away and all the things that would arise when it came to dealing with death.
No matter what you believe, and how much you think you’ll be able to handle the passing of someone very close to you, it will always hit you in a way that you didn’t expect.
Also, no matter your beliefs, when that person is no longer there with you, they are no longer there in person, even if you can still feel their presence.
The knowledge from books like Dying To Be Me bring me great comfort at times like these and always serve as a great reminder of what’s lies beyond.
I just wanted to share the news and also share the eulogy I wrote. People said they felt it was a perfect send-off for mum and was very heart-felt.
I chose to mask a few of the details that I wished to keep personal but here is what I had to say.
Today we remember the spirit of a woman, who in this lifetime, was dearly known to us as H Sodha, who recently passed away on my Dads 75th birthday.
She was a deeply loving woman whose warmth transcended this world.
Born in 1941 in , in Africa, mum was always a playful child who was very fond of school.
Of course, I never knew her then, but kind of wish I did.
She got married and had 5 incredible children, and naturally, she saved the best for last.
As well as having 5 children she also took on the care of a child from Dad’s first marriage, which she did with loving grace, and loved that child as if it were her own. She also took on the responsibility of raising her in laws including all of Dads brothers and sisters. She cooked for them, cleaned for them and treated each as her own blood. It’s the kind of responsibility that we would not know in this day and age, but she never complained, and fulfilled her duties with dignity and her head always held high.
When Mum and Dad came to the UK they began the family business of the Launderette. Some of you may remember visiting there back in the 70’s and 80’s. Although they did what they could, mum and dad needed to get additional jobs to provide for all of us.
Not only did mum take on the second job, but she still looked after us, cooked for us, cleaned for us, and never once complained.
I have fond memories from when I was a baby, still not in school, mum would pop out to the launderette next door and I would come downstairs and explore all the wonderful things in the house, I would always put things back so mum would never know what I had done.
Despite how much responsibility she had, she still did wonderful things like, hold birthday parties and invite our friends from school. We still have pictures of those wonderful days. Mum would even cater for all of our English friends, make them chips and other party food, and maybe even toss in the odd bit of Mung, Ba’ath, and Saag which my friends would love!
Even in those days, we were never left wanting, mum and dad did their absolute best to provide us with everything we needed including food, books and toys.
My brother kindly shared one of his memories with me, where in South London, when we had the off-licence which didn’t work out, Mum would sometimes stay up all night making clothes as a way of making money, she would sit there all night at her sowing machine, and she would still be there when we woke up. She would then get up, after just a couple of hours sleep, and start the day all over again.
Many of you may not know this, but in her later years, mum became even more entrepreneurial, she even became of freelance interpreter and would often make trips to Heathrow to translate for people who had just arrived in the country. She also learned about computers and even taught at an adult learning college.
She spoke an incredible 6 languages, she must have had an IQ of about a thousand!
Mum was an incredible devotee. I have lovely memories of how, each and every single day, she would wake us up, get us ready for school or college, then she would shower, do her pooja, and only after all that, would she then make herself breakfast. Her selfless love was a thing not of this world.
When mum was in hospital in 2003, Jay and Sheila took great care of mum and did everything they could to aid her recovery.
I have sweet memories of arriving home late often, mum and Sheila glued to the TV watching Sunset Beach. Mum wasn’t into the Indian shows, nope, it was all about Sunset Beach.
In 2008 we lost our beloved sister Sheila and so they are now united together in a very special place beyond this corporeal universe. At that time, mum was utterly devastated and heart broken, no one could understand the pain of her losing her only daughter. It really tore her apart.
In 2009, with Sheila’s passing still fresh in her memory, there was not a great deal that mum had to look forward to. However that year, Mum Dad and I appeared as extras in a film called it’s a wonderful afterlife. We didn’t tell many people though, as the film didn’t do that well, and wasn’t really that good. But the highlight for mum was that she got to meet one of her lifelong female idols, Shabana Azmi, whom she shared a birthday with. Mum walked up to her and coyly said, we have the same birthday. She was so excited, almost like a little child meeting their superhero.
Later that same year, Mum and I went to India for my Cousins wedding. I came back after just one week and mum stayed behind, It was probably one of the biggest regrets I have of not bringing mum back with me, there and then.
In 2010 she fell severely ill near the end of her trip and was too ill to fly home. She was rushed into hospital and when news reached us of what had happened, I caught the next available flight and spent the next month in India, caring for her. There were times when she almost didn’t make it; there were times when I thought that was the end.
The expense for mums care and to repatriate her were enormous. But thanks to a very select few, family and friends, who were so generous despite their own situations, we managed to get mum home, and have another 3 and a half years to spend and cherish with her.
We did what we could to keep mum happy and sometimes just really silly things. Like sometimes, in the morning whilst getting ready for work, Mum would hear me shaving, and she’d call me, and I go over to mum and give her a pretend shave, (or dhari), with the back of my electric razor. The vibration from the razor would give her giggles, then she’d say I was crazy!
Mum had a will of iron, and was very protective of her family, if anyone tried to pull the wool over her eyes, in any attempt to hurt anyone of us, she would not let that happen.
Mum was the wise one of the Sodha family. When it came to any of our traditions, everyone would come to her for advice. Even her elders would come to mum because they knew that she would know what to do.
Mum even did the things like the chutti for her all her Grandchildren. I now think, who’s going to do mine when my children arrive on this earth. To all her Grandchildren I say, you were so lucky that your Grandma was there for your parents and for your special moments.
I would just like to say to Anay and Aryana, that when you came to see your Granny in Hospital in August, it made her so happy, even though it was only for a few short minutes, it just gave her so much joy. She would’ve wanted you to both know that.
Mum was one of a kind and she will be sorely missed by all those who knew her and were close to her. Mum we will always love and remember you, and you will forever be in her hearts.
Will miss you always Mum