My aunt, my Dad’s older sister, was diagnosed with polio at the age of eight. She lost strength in her legs and had to walk with special shoes. Feeling shy and awkward she dropped out of school and was home-schooled by my grandfather and her siblings.
Those were the days when India was under British rule, and World War II was brewing. An English nurse took a liking to my aunt and taught her how to knit.
After this, my aunt never looked back. In the mornings, she would help my grandma with the household chores that she could do, without having to move around too much. In the afternoons she would knit – lovely sweaters, shawls and ponchos.
My earliest memories of my aunt are when she would narrate interesting stories to my sisters and me, to ensure that we ate our vegetables.
Every single person in our house wore only the sweaters that were knitted by her. Both my children have worn sweaters knitted by her.
With age, she lost all strength in her legs and could move only when seated. Despite these setbacks she went on – ever smiling, constantly learning new patterns to knit her love into.
She was our silent partner when we read late into the night without our Dad’s knowing about it. She knitted on, late into the night as we swotted for various exams. She was gung-ho about watching shows we liked on television, laughing like a young girl.
It took a lot of effort to take her out, as wheel chairs were not in vogue, nor was the hilly area where we lived suited to wheelchairs.
So with hardly any outing, this amazing woman kept herself busy and happy, ever-smiling and content. Always able to see the funny side of everything, not taking anything too seriously and living her life with quiet acceptance.
My aunt passed away two years ago and the void she has left behind can never be filled.
She accepted what life had thrown at her with grace and dignity, and made the best of what she had and lived a full life with her family, who loved her dearly.
She taught us all a profound lesson –
‘To be happy not because of something but to be happy inspite of everything.’