The 'complete' life

19 Mar '24
4 min read


In life, if you are fortunate enough, you meet a person who has a deep connection with you. And he/she has such a profound influence on you that he/she mentors you without being authoritarian about it. Unknowingly, you pick up certain values and traits from such a person, which ensures you are in a good stead in your own life. 

One such person in my life was my Dodamma (Mausi). I did not realise it then. But now, when I am faced with a situation or am brooding over something, the internal chatter of my mind, reveals to me quite plainly that my conscience is clear because my values and traits are a certain way. 

My Dodamma was a frail woman, with sharp features, a round face, sultry complexion and curly hair. Of all women I have seen so far, I believe she looked the best in Saree. The way she draped it, made her look elegant. 

She was quite blunt in her speech and quick of temper. But as often is the case, she was genuine at heart and completely free of malice. She did not have the sleakness that people so admire. Yet when you had spent enough time with her, you would grow to love her. In the world of facades, genuine people become conspicuous, especially when you are going through tough times. Such was her charm, our helpers, her friends, her umpteen nephews and nieces, nearby shopkeepers- all were close to her, notwithstanding the daily dose of bashing they would get from her.

She was an excellent cook and knew not how to make food in small quantities. The food would be in her kitchen, at all times, as if there was some secret  Akshay-Patra there. She would feed food to any and every person who came to her door-step.

She had this mad love for shopping. She would love to shop for vegetables, books and utensils. Any time you go to her house, you would be sure to find clean bed spreads to sleep in, tasty food to eat & lots of books to read.

She was not married. Why? I don't know. If any person was a fit candidate for marriage, it was her. She had that quality to make life look opulent, even within the limited means she possessed. Add to that her love to feed food to people and give a patient ear to anyone who was in distress. 

The loneliness she suffered from, was never mentioned by her. All her brothers and sisters were married, had children. After her parents' death, she had no one to call her own. Yet this did not frighten or embitter her. The time you spent with her was not spent on brooding over her vulnerability. That frail frame had more mental strength that most of us have. It was always some lively chatter about books or interpretation of some Stotra or some vehement criticism or generous appreciation of some quality in someone, that would have either bothered her or warmed her. In short, there was no pity-party. 

She is no more. Towards the end of her life, I could sense how lonely she was. In bits and pieces, she did try to tell that she is weary of this life. That she will leave this world when Sri Hari calls her, as if she never belonged. 

When she died, I was angry at Krishna. Why would He want gentle souls to suffer like this, was beyond my capacity to understand. All philosophy & Karmic talk does not help you to heal when you see a genuine soul suffer. The pain is severe but the sense of helplessness that you feel is equally acute. You realise that you are no Krishna. IF you were, you would have given all things best to this dear soul and all souls like her, wouldn't you?

Then life moves on. You learn to get over it. Yet that person lives on through you. Every time, you feel life is hard and you cannot take it anymore, you are reminded of such souls, who showed tremendous strength and love in worse situations. And that thought is humbling. You see no more reason to complain. 

I had a grievance with Krishna that my Dodamma did not have a ‘complete’ life. But now as I look back, I feel she was more ‘complete’ a person, than most of us are. She did not have anyone to call her own. But everyone felt she was theirs'- a trusted friend and confidante. After all, what's a ‘complete’ life? One which teaches you by example to make most of what you have got and not to fret about what you have not got. 

Life IS complex IF you fail  to find or recognise and appreciate such an unassuming teacher amidst you. 



Written by Vishnupriya VijayGanesh