My mom’s Bhog (Antim Ardas) was supposed to be on the thirteenth day (tehranvi). However, that happened to be on Monday, the 21st Aug, and I thought of the convenience of family and friends and had it on Sunday, the 20th Aug.
On the Friday, 18th Aug 17, we started with the Akhand Path (continuous reading from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib) for her at about 1141 hours. My mamaji (mom’s younger brother) came from NOIDA to hold my hand since Akhand Path requires enormous support effort. We did duties in rotation and barely had any sleep during the 48 hours of Akhand Path. Mamaji’s effort is many times more appreciable since he left in Delhi an ailing wife requiring urgent medical treatment. Also, for most people, the 75th Birthday is an important milestone of life. Mamaji’s happened to be on the 18th and coincided with the start of the Akhand Path for my mom and his sister. Much against his strident objections, we had a cake made for him and celebrated life as much as we bemoaned death.
My sister Mona and brother-in-law Maharaj could make it before lunch on the next day since their elder son got admitted in the Command Hospital at Chandi Mandir. My sister is simply the best cook and hostess that I have come across. On the first day and night we had managed by ourselves. However, on the second day, she brought enormous and mouth-watering lunch for the Gurudwara Bhaijis since they have only suchcha khana made in desi ghee. Post that, she got busy preparing dinner for them.
Viru, my course-mate arrived from Gurgaon on Saturday evening to attend mom’s Antim Ardaas. Very thoughtfully she brought for the memory of my mom, a brass embossed and beautifully framed picture of the Golden Temple, Amritsar. He didn’t just buy it; he got it made on the way at Ambala and hence, even though he started from Gurgaon at 5 AM, he reached in the evening only.
JP, my younger brother, arrived from Edinburg (Scotland) for the second time in two weeks, for the bhog in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Whilst waiting for me and doing duty at the Akhand paath, I penned a few lines of Punjabi poetry as tribute to my mom. Later, at my mother’s Antime Ardas, at about 1230 hours, I, on behalf of my sister Mona, broher JP and our families, thanked the gathering for attending the Bhog for my mother, recalled her essential attributes and contribution and finally read out the poem I had penned just a few hours back. My coursemate Viru recorded the entire poem and I am putting up the video shot by him.
This is only the second poem by me on this blog, in Punjabi (the first one being: ‘Anne Na Raho (Don’t Remain Blind)‘:
ਮਾਤਾ ਜੀ, ਇਹ ਸਾਡੀ ਹਾਲਤ ਹੈ,
ਤੁਹਾਡੇ ਹੁਣ ਜਾਣ ਤੋਂਹ ਬਾਦ,
ਦਿਲ ਵਿਚ ਇਕ ਉਦਾਸੀ ਹੈ,
ਲਬਾਂ ਤੇ ਹੈ ਫਰਿਆਦ I
ਤੁਸੀਂ ਜੀਵਨ ਚ ਜੋ ਕੁਛ ਕੀਤਾ ਹੈ,
ਅਮਰ ਰਹੇਗੀ ਤੁਹਾਡੀ ਯਾਦ I
ਸਾਡੀ ਜ਼ਿੰਦਗੀ ਚ ਹਰਦਮ ਰਹੇਗਾ,
ਤੁਆਡੇ ਪਿਆਰ ਦਾ ਸਵਾਦ I
ਤੁਸੀਂ ਔਰਤ ਨਹੀਂ ਇਕ ਦੇਵੀ ਹੋ,
ਸਾਨੂੰ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੀ ਤੁਹਾਡਾ ਅਸ਼ੀਰਵਾਦ I
ਫ਼ਕਰ ਅਤੇ ਮਾਨ ਹੈ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਇਸ ਗੱਲ ਦਾ,
ਅਸੀਂ ਹਾਂ ਇਕ ਦੇਵੀ ਦੀ ਔਲਾਦ I
ਇਹ ਜਿਹੜੀ ਜਗਹ (Whispering Winds, Kandaghat ) ਤੁਸੀਂ ਕਾਇਮ ਕੀਤੀ ਹੈ,
ਹਮੇਸ਼ਾ ਰਹੇਗੀ ਇਹ ਆਬਾਦ I
ਧਰਮ ਈਮਾਨ ਦੀ ਤੁਸੀ ਮੂਰਤ ਸੀ,
ਅੱਠਵੇਂ ਪਾਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਅਤੇ ਤੁਸੀ ਹੋ ਜ਼ਿੰਦਾਬਾਦ I
ਆਪਣੇ ਬੱਚਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਤੁਸੀ ਛੱਡ ਕੇ ਚਲੇ ਗਏ,
ਸਾਨੂੰ ਚੰਗਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਲੱਗਦਾ ਆਪ ਜੀ ਤੋਂਹ ਬਾਅਦ I
ਜੱਦ ਤੁਸੀ ਭੀ ਕਿਸੀ ਤੋਂਹ ਡਰਦੇ ਨਾ ਸੀ,
ਫਿਰ ਕਿਊਂ ਨਾ ਹੋਯੀਏ ਅਸੀਂ ਭੀ ਡਰ ਤੋਂਹ ਆਜ਼ਾਦ?
ਸਾਧ ਸੰਗਤ ਜੀ, ਚਲੋ ਉਸ ਮਾਰਗ ਤੇ ਚਲੀਏ,
ਜਿਸ ਦੇ ਸੀ ਸਾਡੇ ਮਾਂ ਜੀ ਬੁਨਿਆਦ,
ਤਾਕੇ ਹੌਲੀ ਹੌਲੀ ਇਸ ਦੁਨੀਆਂ ਵਿਚ,
ਵੜਦੀ ਰਹੇ ਚੰਗਿਯਾਯੀ ਦੀ ਤਾਦਾਦ I
(Mata ji, eh saadi haalat hai,
tuhaade hun jaan tonh baad,
Dil wich ik udaasi hai,
Labaan te hai fariyaad.
Tussi jeevan ch jo kuchh keeta hai,
Amar rahegi tuhaadi yaad.
Saadi zindagi ch hardam rahega,
tuhaade pyaar da swaad.
Tussi aurat nahin ik devi ho,
Saanu miliya si tuhaada ashirwaad.
Faqr ate maan hai saanu is gal da,
Aseen haan ik devi di aulaad.
Eh jehdi jagah (Whispering Winds, Kandaghat ) tussi kayam keeti hai,
Hamesha rahegi eh abaad.
Dharam imaan di tussi moorat si,
Athhven paatshah ate tussi ho zindabaad.
Aapne bachchyan nu tussi chhad ke chale gaye,
Saanu changa nahin lagda aap ji tonh baad.
Jadd tussi bhi kisi tonh darde na si,
Phir kyun na hoyiye aseen bhi dar tonh azaad?
Saadh sangat je, chalo us maarg te chaliye,
Jis de si saade maa ji buniyaad.
Take hauli hauli is duniya wich,
Wadadi rahe changiyayi di tadaad.
We soon had the family and friends arriving and we had the Samapati (End) of Akhand Paath at about 11 AM. We then shifted the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji into the drawing-room when more and more people arrived:
All this while, I kept thinking how much mom would have enjoyed the family get-together if she was alive; she would have walked on clouds. Friends and relatives arriving at Whispering Winds, Kandaghat, always put her in the best mood; she actually enjoyed looking after and being with people.
The kirtan for her started and I think the Bhaijis did a very good job of it. It was dignified, on the sober and quiet side, melodious and meaningful; the kind that mom would have enjoyed thoroughly. Said Viru about it later:
“…..I have to say that I was immensely touched by the intensity and ‘fervour’ with which the family and you in particular turned the antim farewell for your dear mother into a remarkable ‘event’ that all (even the Irish) (the night before, Viru was telling me about the Irish Wake) could draw a lesson (I certainly have). from as to what a loving (albeit rather emotional) son must do for his parents. But, it’s like the chicken and the egg story…which one arrived first….love and emotions are also inextricably linked……take care and fair breeze through ‘Whispering Winds’.”
There were two only tributes: one was by me on behalf of the larger family. Amongst other things, I brought out how my mom was only one of my maternal grandparents children who was named after a guru: in her case, the eighth guru Sri Harkrishan ji. He was known as the Bal Guru since he took over at the age of just 5 years and died before the age of 8 years when he caught small-pox whilst looking after people in Delhi (at the spot whereat the present Bangla Sahib gurudwara stands) suffering from Cholera and small-pox, unmindful of his own safety. My mom, I brought out, had some of those virtues. I also brought out how after my dad’s death on 01 May 1984, mom lived in Whispering Winds, Kandaghat, like a sherni (lioness), not at all scared of staying alone or facing all the challenges when all the cards were stacked up against her.
Then there was tribute by Shri Mohan Goel, one of the locals from Kandaghat. Here is what he wrote and sang for her:
Most of our relatives could make it for the Bhog. Mr HS Pannu, my boss at my last job at Reliance, arrived all the way from Mumbai to attend the Bhog. Amongst the friends who visited, a number of friends from my music group Yaad Kiya Dil Ne visited: Viapn Kohli, Suman Saxena, Rakesh Aman Bhatia, Anindya Chatterjee and his wife Deepa and Jaswant Singh Lagwal and his wife Kavita. Just four months ago, mom was there attending the YKDN annual meet and now they were here at her last farewell. JP’s partner Chuck and friend David sent two of the prettiest bouquets of flowers for mom.
I was particularly touched by Mamaji’s daughter Amandeep (Mitu) arriving all the way from Delhi, by car, totally alone. From her childhood days she is polio stricken but that didn’t deter her from attending her loving masiji’s bhog.
We had the langar after the bhog and then one by one everyone left. At night, just the three of us: my brother JP, my wife Lyn and I were at home. We would, of course, never be alone or lonely since my mother’s memories would always keep us company.
Antim Ardaas? For us, it is the beginning of another journey……a very intimate one indeed.
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