My Maternal grandfather had two wives. The older one bore him one daughter and the younger one- five daughters and three sons. My mother was the daughter of the second wife. In every story there is a central figure around whom the plot revolves. But it’s the characters that stand on the sidelines, complimenting the central figure, who allow the plot to move forward. In my mother’s family it was Pabiji, my Grandfather’s first wife, who kept everything going.
You hear stories of women who make extraordinary sacrifices for the men they love, who epitomize everything maternal. Pabiji, was an exemplary woman. There’s a reason she chronologically precedes my mother’s biological mother and this it-
My mother, the youngest daughter was the seventh child my Maternal Grandmother bore. Just a short while after her birth, my Grandmother, as was in common in the 1950’s, was on her way to have her Eighth child. Pabiji, took care of My Mother as her own. When Mom was in school, the teacher asked her to get a paper signed from her Mother. ”But my Mother is illiterate”, replied my Mother. Up until that moment she was unaware of who her biological mother was. The educated one was!
Pabiji, spent her life taking care of her Husband’s children. When they were young she nurtured them..when they grew older she loved them, like her own. When my Brother was to be born, it was Pabiji, who came to take care of my pregnant mother. Though, Pabiji wasn’t my Mother’s Biological Mother…I will always remember her as that.
Photograph Contributed by Ataminder Singh Bhasin