While going through different phases in life, as a woman one naturally tends to look up to an older female relative for inspiration, pearls of wisdom, guidance and what have you. Unfortunately I lost my mum a while ago but its amazing how I still aspire to be like her in every sphere of my life. As I was telling someone close to me a few weeks ago, I may never be able to be as creative as her in my writing (she was an awesome poet and some of her lyrics have been sung by a well know ghazal artist in Fiji), I may not be as charismatic or as beautiful as her and I may not work as hard as her (this is hard to achieve when the other side of your persona emulates a diva like life), but I try hard every day to live my life according to her ethos and values.
Her intoxicating mix of toughness and feminity, her cheeky sense of humour, raw emotion, powerful personality that commands respect wherever she went, her devotion to us and her skills as a domestic diva and yet delve into fashion, shayri and be religious at the same time – who can do that these days? My mum came across as a woman who could bulldoze through any task she set for herself and with panache and skill that kept everyone wondering how she managed to balance everything and still laugh and have fun with friends and family while doing it.
I saw my mum as an incredibly sensual person especially in the way she spoke and in her cheekiness. Although she dressed modestly, her confidence was such that she knew that she owned the audience in every room she walked into. I remember how when we sometimes walked home after school or shopping, we stopped to chat to so many people and so many homes on the way that we timed ourselves to fit everyone in as people literally got disappointed if they found out my mum was nearby and she didn’t stop over to say hello.
A classmate described my mum as a uniquely original personality who had no desire to tone down her thoughts, beliefs, the way she dressed, the way she worked and lived her life on her own terms – not to make anyone more comfortable or to please others. She was bold, brave, strong and with her charm, friendliness, work ethic and devotion to people around her, she made an impact on everyone she met.
I cry very easily normally and get hurt and emotional at the smallest of things (My friends can vouch for this) but there were very few incidences in my life that I really cried (maybe only 2-3 times in my life). And one of the times was when I went back home to Fiji after my mum died and I had missed the funeral due to flight issues in Kuala Lumpur that made me miss my connecting flights in Singapore and Sydney. A native Fijian family came up to me and started telling how much they missed my mum’s smiling face and how for the first time in the Coral Coast they had seen a police patrol controlling the number of cars in the entourage going to a funeral and that they never realised that my mum had made such an impact on so many people. It hit me then that people from an entire town either witnessed or attended my mum’s funeral and I was not there in her last moments. It was the one day that I feel I really cried.
These days when I go to Fiji, I feel how much alive my mum really is through the people I meet who cant stop talking about her, her last days, her funeral and the number of people who came from far and near, her famous cooking, the fact that she personally designed our dresses as soon as a new style hit bollywood…. I remember the hours we spent at the tailors as my mum sat sketching what she wanted to achieve while tirelessly explaining the movie or magazine she saw the dress in and how she would want to do it. I guess that’s where I get the love of fashion and why I get so excited when people like Rami Al Ali or Elie Saab come up with a new collection.
Today for personal reasons I wish I could call her and talk things through. Since I cant, I felt I should write a bit about her to inspire me to think things the way she did and do what I feel she would have wanted me to do.