So she dressed up like this on Karva Chauth, deeply unhappy that she couldn’t fast. Due to her medication she wasn’t allowed to.

I kept the first Roza, of my life, today. At last! I’d been saying for over a decade, it seems like a fascinating process to put your body and mind through. So, this year, since Mum’s just gone and I am home bound, I thought I would try keeping them for two days before her birthday. I don’t know how people fast for such an extended period of time?

September 2017

Growing up I was my mum’s muse. She loved making pictures. When I was younger I loved it but as I grew older, it didn’t always please me.

Though, when I started making pictures of her, she never really did mind, irrespective off where she was and how she looked. The DSLR made her self conscious, so I ended up making most of her pictures in her later years from my phone. I think she visited a hospital, at least once every year or once every two years.

It’s ironic and I am so grateful that she passed away at home.Though, forever I will wonder, how and why? With no specific disease and suddenly…having seen her husband and not a stranger for the last time! My grandmother passed away like that, she took one look at her husband, said, ‘tussi aa gaye ho!’ and crossed over to the other side.

KASHMIR- the famous saga (2)

In most of my pictures from Kashmir, you’ll find me dressed in a four hundred rupee phiran, with a cap on my head and filthy shoes. The girl in dirty shoes was produced by this beautiful, stylish, woman is hard to believe. The epitome of elegance.

I rejected my femininity, quite forcefully, after a certain age. I most definitely rejected the clothes, my mom made me wear. I went from wearing the shortest clothes, to wearing anything that made me blend in, it made life easier and with time the job too. This was all to my mother’s dismay. She liked nothing better than seeing me, all dolled up.

Kashmir- the famous saga.

Sometime after this trip, to Kashmir, Mum lost herself, somewhere either extrinsic or intrinsic. I don’t know, if it was due to the amount people talked about it ( which even I heard) or because she had begun to slip into her darkness. But her inability to handle the way everyone spoke about her- her family, her husband’s family, neighbours, friends, didn’t help.

I remember hearing so much about her clothes, her behaviour that not only did I end up resenting her but also the rest of the world. My dad says, I changed drastically, after mum fell ill. I don’t know, I only remember this misanthropic version of myself. But when I look at these pictures, I realize how difficult it must have been to be overly sensitive and to hear such sharp criticism, on every aspect of your personality. For the longest time, till her son’s death, she was the original, rebel. Though, the household revolved around her, completely, by many she was considered the wasteful, good for nothing woman, who was a cause of her husband’s misery.

Her son’s death redeemed her of her apparent sins. I’m so glad she didn’t die with that tag, most people having forgotten that version of her.

For the love of cake

After I think the age of seven or eight, my relationship with my Mum became strained. I’d grown up, I could figure out what was happening around me and she was beginning to fall ill. The colour of my skin, also became quite troublesome for her as I grew older.

Hailing from a Sikh family, I was expected to be white, as milk and my skin and hair, have a life and mood of their own. Girgit ki tarha rang badalta he. Depending on how long I have been out in the sun, whether my eyebrows are done or not ( unlike my mother, I hate going to the salon) and if I’ve gotten enough sleep or not, I turn from wheatish to chocolate brown. So from 7-8 to 15-16, I was a chocolate brown colour, to my poor mother’s horror. She had to hear plenty from her family and I had to hear plenty from my brother and mum, ‘kali, Kali’ they would chant.

It’s only when I grew up, that I realised she didn’t know any better. I still have more than enough relatives, even friends, who look at their white skin, the way my mum would look at hers and think it’s an achievement. Thankfully, I didn’t grow up with a complex about it but I wish it wasn’t an issue. I wish we won’t have wasted time on so many trivial things.

Cuteness Personified

The cuteness quotient in 26 Hemkunt, has reduced to zilch, as the baby has transformed into something else. They say your loved ones turn into stars, I think our baby has turned into a rainbow or a butterfly.

The Beauty

Like I have SB and SC, two extremely stark personalities, my mum too, had many, many shades. Though, her darkness was all encompassing- with suicide attempts, violent behaviour and addictions always at the fore, her brighter side- the upswing, was what most people remember her by.

That’s a successful life, to not be flawless, to be quite imperfect actually but to love, so cheerfully and fully that the flaws seem inconsequential. If you ever want to know, how it feels to be loved wholeheartedly, obsessively and imperfectly, you had to be loved by my mum. Her love was full of sunshine and rainbows, with little dances and lots of kisses. If she loved you once, she would love you always!

There’s a song by Sheryl Crow, ‘are you strong enough to be my man?’. At the worst times of my life, I have listened to that on repeat (yeah, yeah, I kept believing in Prince Charming till I turned 35. Someone said something about finding a soul mate today and I said-‘ Mine’s committed suicide. He took one look at me and thought, ‘God, am I going to be stuck with this?’ Trust me on an incorrigible romantic fed on story after after story of family members, eloping, that’s the only thought that works) an umpteen number of times.

I suddenly remembered that song, today, when I was looking at mum’s pictures. It takes a special kind of man, to deal with a woman so full of spunk. I wish her companion would have been that for her but we all have our limitations. What she really needed she never got but surprisingly though it diminished her, it never did mitigate her love.

The calm before the storm

My Amma, had a very tumultuous existence. In the beginning there were a few happy years, though I was too young, I don’t recall them. I think like me, she was born with a void inside, that she kept trying to fill- with family, friends, medicinal drugs but she never could. Though, she smiled a lot, her eyes always wandered away, from people, like she wasn’t there, like she was meant to be somewhere else.


There’s a story, I heard about an experiment that was done with rice. Somebody took three bags of rice and started saying nice things to the first bag, nothing to the second bag and bad things to the third one. The bag to which good things were said, lasted longest and so on and so forth. You get the gist. Humans, animals and plants are like that. You can alter anybody’s behaviour by what you say to them, consistently. Words are very powerful.

With overly sensitive people, such as my mum, the change, was very dramatic. This understanding played a large part in altering our relationship, made us closer in her latter years.

Someone said something, about that to me today,’ how little it takes to actually please you, most people just miss it because you scare them away, with all your yelling’ that I realised, this trait of mine is so much like my Amma’s. How fierce, she was, when we were little! Though she was a hoarder, she loved things but nothing pleased her more than a smile or a kiss.

I remained locked up in a room today, trying to calm myself down. The praying, the books, the instrument calmed down my nerves and so the BP, was comparatively normal. My mum would gulp down bottle after bottle of cough syrup and lock herself up in a room, where there was no ventilation, to get away from the games people played. But I promised myself, I wouldn’t turn into that version of her. Plus, though she had a terrible temper, there wasn’t a vindictive bone in her body. I thankfully, have SB to count on.

The retreat in my case is usually a preparation period. The sharpening of the saw- cry, introspect, pray, talk to only those who can have a positive and healing impact on your existence. All of us thankfully, have a few people like that. In any case, this lockdown is a gift, from the Universe, to us and Mother Nature to heal ourselves, to understand that everything we need is within us.

P-S- The last person my mom saw, before she passed away, was my dad. A picture is worth a thousand words! No guesses about how in love she was with him.

The stages of grief

Someone said to me the other day, ‘ You lost your brother at such a young age and took it in your stride. You’re older now, you should be able to handle this better!’

Maybe, I should. But I suck at most things that are practical and come naturally to others. So I’m wallowing in self pity, while people are dying outside. My personal grief has taken over any part of me which is capable of watching, hearing, knowing or empathising with another.

Yes, I know, I should be shaken and whacked. As my Bp shot up yet again today, the Diastolic levels upto a 111, SB kicked in. ‘ Enough!’, she yelled at SC. So here we are, trying to figure out, how to get our shit back together. If I don’t stop myself now, I’ll fall into an abyss. I do have concerned friends and family, who are just a phone call away but other than a loving aunt, who messages regularly and an ex assistant ( now a very close friend) who has seen me go down that rabbit hole, no one will be able to drag me out, from that place.

So, I look at the Alprax the doctor prescribed, look at my mum’s picture when she was addicted to Corex and say, ‘Oh no! We just can’t go down that road!’ If you are genetically inclined towards addiction (which in my case, I am from both sides) when you’re grieving is when you need to stay away from drugs, pills and alcohol. A few sleepless nights, ain’t going to harm no one. So let’s see what we can do.

There are five stages of grief. Some even suggest there are seven. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the five, Elisabeth Kubler- Ross, wrote about in her book On Death and Dying.

In her later years, she discovered that these are not necessarily, linear. My first reaction, when I feel helpless, is anger. SB usually kicks in with full force, so the more hurt I feel, the angrier I get. Maybe it’s due to the lockdown that I am more melancholic than pissed. Which is a bit scary and exciting.

To know that you are on the edge of your sanity-alone, terrified and tired, cornered just because you are a single woman and the only child of your parent’s ( if my mother didn’t own stuff and had been in and out of hospitals for 31 yrs of my life, trust me, the story would have been told differently) is in a way terrible but empowering. No? After all, how often do you get to play the hero, of your own story? So here I am trying to keep myself in one piece. If I fall, I’ll make a lot of people very happy, if I rise, I’ll be defying all the odds. I just have to find the white horse and the gleaming sword, within and rise to the occasion.

2 weeks later

My Chottu

It’s been two weeks since you left. Your pink shawl smells of me and not of you, anymore. The blue and white frock, still carries your fragrance…a mix of dettol and talcum powder. At last I could get myself to go through you stuff. I don’t know if it was the process of trying to give some of your stuff away or being taken to the same hospital and spending two hours in the same ICU, where you passed away, that gave me some closure.

I think the whole episode, of my discomfort and the abnormality with my ECG was only, so that I could spend a couple of hours, reliving the day you left me. I don’t think that day will stop haunting me, but for now, my heart feels a little at ease. I looked at a video of your’s where you were dancing and I laughed so hard…only you and your son could make me burst, into those kinds of peels of laughter. It should be a sin, to be so damn cute!

Hope you’re having a good time. I’m not having, such a great one, without you. Remember, the first thing I used to do, when I would return home, would yell for Dusty ( when he was alive)..’Dustu bhaiya’ and he would walk down from the second floor, smiling like a jackass, thrilled to bits he was so important. Since, you shifted to the drawing room, if I entered the house and even if I went to the loo without meeting you, you would get so upset. The first thing I had to do was, come in, say ‘hi my chotte, I love you’ and plant a kiss on you. That would thrill you to bits and you always gave me the sweetest smile and would say, ‘ I love you the same’. I hate entering the house…it reminds me no one will ever, look at me and smile like that again.

P.S- Look at this photo, reminds me of what the lady at the parlour said,’ yeh aap ki mummy he, itni gori he yeh to!’ How amused I was and how offended you were.

Love and all


Deepika Kochar

Since it’s our second anniversary and this is a special edition, I’m ditching the chronologic format of this section for this month. I share with you the images of the actual wedding. As an attempt to fathom the phenomena called love. Just a quick background-  A while before the marriage ceremony took place in front of the whole wide world; Mom and Dad had already secretly tied the knot  (the four pheras around the Granth sahib and all) on the insistence of my Mother. You see, my maternal side is hugely obsessed with looks and they didn’t approve of my Dad because they thought he wasn’t good enough. So Mommy darling, convinced my Father that this was the only way to get their approval. And that’s exactly how it played out. First, the siblings got to know and then the parents. Eventually, My Mom married the man she’s still obsessed with after 37 years of marriage. This is the reason why Dad says that the ‘aashiz mizaaj’ trait, of his children came from their Mother.

The Family Saga


Posing with a friend next to a haystack.

The lives of all family members are entwined, together… though, in each family the central figure varies. At times it’s the Patriarch of the family and others a strong woman- the Matriarch who holds the family together. The story of my family’s life revolves around my Mother.This is an album of Mother’s life.

A Tribute On Her 60th

There are infinite aspects, the word ‘mother’ conjures up in our psyche. The first few memories which are evoked are of the personal- The natural mother, female relatives like the grandmother, the step-mother and the mother-in-law. Other than these obvious evocations, the word educes images of the figurative, the infinite, the natural and the divine.


This primary relationship, is considered by most psychologists to be the bedrock of the individual psyche. The mother complex of the son is a term we are all familiar with.  It was probably 2005 or maybe ’06, when I read Carl Jung’s theory on the ‘Mother complex of the daughter.’ I can’t recall how much I understood about the hypertrophy of the maternal element, the overdevelopment of the Eros, the identity with the mother or the resistance to the mother. What I do remember is feeling half normal, after reading it. It was only then, I realized that irrespective of how ‘abnormal’, my family setup may have seemed to me as a child, under the surface there lay a generality and a shared commonality with other families and other daughters.


The rest of it, I have only started to understand years, later. I will at some point share Jung’s views. But this is not an exercise to understand my psyche or flaunt my views on yours. A few years, a senior photographer, who was working on a lovely portrait series on Mothers and Daughters, asked if I would like to be a part of it.  I wriggled out of the process. I couldn’t explain to him why. Only recently, when another photographer friend asked to interview my Mom, I realized that though, one has been fairly open about one’s life, there are some aspects of it which are far too complex, to just put out there and they would have to be dealt with delicately.


We recently ran a campaign on this blog and almost all the women had such glorious things to write about their mothers. I can’t say those things. I can’t even say I loved my mother as a little girl! She was so unlike every one else, not just because she was unwell but because she was like a force of nature. At times placid and calm like still waters or a gentle drizzle on your wind shield, slightly blurring your vision and in the next moment thunderous and violent, like a hurricane. Yet, in her moments of lucidity, oh so charming and hilarious.


I can’t paint you a picture of my mother, without her looking like a poor victim of circumstance or a really unpleasant person. Neither, of which would be true. Yes, I can’t tell you stories of exemplary maternal sacrifices. I don’t have any memories of my mother fussing over me, stuffing my mouth with delicious home cooked meals… teaching me how to grow up to be a lady. I remember my Mother, zipping her way through Delhi streets in her Maruti, racing with whoever dared to. I have visions of a woman with impeccable taste and confidence-wearing mini skirts and backless blouses. I recall someone, who was always generous to a fault… a person who lived without any concept about her ‘station in life’. Her monthly dates- visiting cinemas and parlours- with the domestic help, blurred her children’s view of what was considered to be the norm. I remember someone, who had a keen understanding of human behaviour, yet no coping mechanism to deal with it- a person who was just too intelligent (as her Shrink’s put it) and too sensitive. I have memories of a woman who loved and hated life- both at the same time. Someone who gave my first alcoholic drink, told me about sex… someone who made me laugh and oh how much she made me cry.


I can’t tell you all that my Mother is because I sometimes see her through the frightened eyes of a 9 year old child, perpetually afraid her Mother might die the next day and at others through the skewed vision of a cynical, 35 year old daughter, whose tired of the tendencies. When I stop seeing her through a daughter’s eyes, without projecting my expectations on her, I see a woman with a misplaced Child Ego State, whose gone through life wanting to be mothered. Someone, whose done unpleasant things, so that she could get the attention she deserved.


I see a person whose lost most of the people she loved-son, siblings, parents-every four to five years someone passes away- and survived. A woman who has legendary survival instincts and a will and stubbournness that would put most people to shame. My Mother is a melting pot of dichotomous values- she can be so good in one moment and not so great so quick- it can make your head spin. I see someone who loves expensive things, yet doesn’t care for money. I see a woman who was like to a sister to her son, whose still like a love sick teenager around her husband and has always been a friend to her daughter. I see a woman who dances with the help and playfully chases her husband around the house with a glass a water, in her hand, threatening to chuck it at him.  I see a person who has retained an innocence that’s impossible to find.


There are many aspects the word, ‘Mother’ conjures up. My mother may not be like your Mom, or the next person’s. As a little girl, I wished she was. But as a grown woman, I realize that there are many people who come from regular families and still feel unloved.  There’s a special way in which my Mom loves- with her whole being- senselessly, generously and obsessively and how we were loved! My mother may not be like most women but she sure is one of a kind!