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In Loving Memory: Hiralaxmi Thanki, 1933-2007

January 02, 2008


Dear Ba,

It was only a few days ago that you were telling Bhairavi and I the story of how you got your tattoos. For as long as I can remember, whenever I picture you in my mind, I always picture the seven dots on the back of your hand as well. I regret that it took me so long to ask you how those little dots came to be. I used to think that they served some vague religious purpose because I had seen the same designs on so many women in Porbandar. To my surprise, you contradicted that idea by telling us that you got your tattoos because it was the cool thing to do when you were a little girl. You told us how you used twigs, dye, and some strange plant powder to give yourself the tattoos. I remember being shocked and thinking that that was just about the coolest thing I had ever heard! You laughed when I told you this.

You laughed, as always, without judgment and with a soft abandon that made me feel as if all was right with the world. From my birth onwards, this was the effect you had on me. You could calm me when others could not. You told me that when I was a child, all you had to do was run your index finger from my forehead to the tip of my nose and I would stop crying. You were too sweet to say this but I was a horribly stubborn child, and the fact that you could calm me with such a small movement speaks to your wisdom and to the trust you inspired in all of us.

Whenever I saw you playing with Darsh, and then Aryan, I was reminded of my own childhood and of Bhairavi's childhood. The simple purity of your actions made me grateful that we have been lucky enough to have someone like you in our lives. I regret that I was never able to tell you how much I appreciated your tel maalish, your cooking, your hand's grip on mine when crossing Bombay gullys on those long ago summer vacations. In recent years, I regret that I wasn't able to see you more often. I hope that when you heard my distant voice over the phone you felt as loved as I did. I wish I could have made your winters warmer, your pain disappear, and the doctors unnecessary. The last few days that Bhairavi and I spent chatting with you will forever remain fresh in my memory.

Through you, I was better able to understand myself. Through you, I was better able to understand my family. Through you, I was able to see the world in the light of unconditional love.

I love you, Ba, you live on within us. May your soul be blessed and kept safe.


posted by Neha
5:04 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...


i believe we crossed paths at a voxtrot show at the berkeley church summer 07. you were a tallish brown girl and we were two squat brown folks (me, specifically, the brown girl) behind you in line. as a formerly avid SM-er i had an inkling it was you but then put it out of mind until i randomly stumbled upon your blog again today.

i'm sorry about your ba.


1/04/2008 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger Neha said...

I do remember you guys in line, and I remember wondering if either of you read SM :-) Thank you for your thoughts and your comment. 'Tis a pleasure to meet you..

1/05/2008 12:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your loss. That was a beautiful letter.

1/25/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Tys on Ice said...

sorry about your loss...she wud hve been happy to hear what you feel....iam sure she knows...

2/20/2008 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Anjal said...

I have yet to experience such a loss. Impending as it is, you communicated to me futuristic thoughts and feelings.

Your words settled an agitating stomach, a nervous twitch, an uncontrollable urge.

It's through these words - yours or mine - that I find solace.

2/20/2008 10:00:00 PM  
Blogger Wolfe said...


4/02/2008 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i hope you always smile when you think about her, and i hope you think about her often.

please blog again soon.

4/12/2008 04:07:00 AM  
Blogger Nikhil said...

This is sublime! I am sorry for your loss.

4/29/2008 09:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry about your ba

I hate the change, I hate loss of life.

ultimately, I'll have to face it one day, and I couldn't care less.

but losing those dear to me, is something I still cannot face openly and comfortably enough.

the simple bitter truth still seems so complex to come to terms with.

the post was so emotional, I couldn't even make it halfway, I had to stop reading it.

5/07/2008 03:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neha, sorry about your ba.
I quite loved the simple eulogy. It reminds me about the one I might have to write for my nana soon. Its strange... you have these larger than life figures all your living years, but its always Death that makes them more real.

6/12/2008 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger The Gori Wife said...

What a wonderful way to honor her. Great story and great picture!

5/03/2009 07:17:00 PM  

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