Mamma told me to note down what we were all about on the 4th of January 1846.
We were all standing round dear Mammas bed talking to her about her being sick.
What will we all be about the 4th of January next year
Wednesday-Janry 21st , 1846
Mr Ambrose came and I took my music lesson and Minnie went to her lessons with Mr.Thomson..
AROUND MOTHER’S DAY-2019..May ..
Remembering my mother Nirja Bhatt nee Uniyal , I recalled some of the things she taught me. I will go through three of them in a bit more detail.
Around this time, our family made a visit to the Dundurn Castle, Burlington Heights, and I came across the beautiful diary of Sophia MacNab-written around 1846, which is the best living document of life then in and around the castle.
In 2016, when I visited our home in Palam, Delhi region India I went through some of the drawers and lists she had made over the years, when she had done maintenance projects in the house, invited relatives to live and done the different shiftings which a military family has to make. This habit of making lists, I have tried to imbibe from her, and refined them into making points of Tracking.
My mother was my first teacher. Right from the days I started going to pre-school of Mrs.Lawrence on Bombay-Poona Road of Khadki Cantonment of Pune region, she would help me with my homework. She helped me in the major transitions from different school districts-Loyola Pashan area to St.Vincent’s Pune Camp area, from the boards-Maharashtra board to Central board-Kendriya Vidyalaya Southern Command. The level of Hindi taught at Central board level is different from the Maharashtra board.
She also helped us transition-during high school from Pune to Delhi. That was the year of the 9th Asiad games. We also came into closer touch with our extended family. And I started going for walks in the Rishikesh Mussorrie regions of Garhwal.
Recently my mother’s sister-my aunty shifted house. She is the one , of all our relatives who misses my mother the most. In 2015, when I took her to Palam from Vasant Kunj, she requested the tenants to see the insides of the first floor where they were living. With great emotion she said-each corner of this house reminds me of so many things. One year on- my mother’s sisters again wanted to go to Palam to pray in the house of their Didi. We made the pilgrimage again, and went through family memorabilia and albums.
When my mother passed away in 2011, I gifted the eye cleaning glass of my grandfather to her youngest sister. This is a family relic which belongs to her. In 2013, I went to visit my father’s sister, and gifted to her the Buddha bust, which I had gifted to my mother in 2009-when I last saw her physically.
RICHNESS THROUGH THESE LEGACIES
As we went through the lists, homework diaries and sisterhood nuances, I thought of the richness which comes into life through these associations. I have been a diary-journal keeper for over three decades. The home library which my parents first started for me in 1971-by buying an encyclopaedia has grown over time.
In that library-I added the Diary of Sophia Mcnab around Mother’s day. Dundurn Castle overlooking the sparkling waters of Burlington Bay, dominated Burlington Heights in 1846. Those Heights the Duke of Wellington remembered to be the crucial defensive bastion of Upper Canada. From those Heights, Colonel John Harvey, deputy adjutant-general to the forces in Canada, led his mixed force of British regulars of the 49th and 8th King’s regiments and Canadian Militia down Hamilton’s York and Main streets to the Red Hill, to attack and force the retreat of the American invades at Stoney Creek in the ‘wee sma’ hours” of June 6,1813.
But this diary and each room of the castle also remind us of the many flavours of life, which will inevitably come the way of a family. The guide told about the great aunt, aunt and daughter all named Sophia. Dear Mamma, Lady MacNab nee Stuart, eldest daughter of Sheriff John Stuart of the Johnston District and Sophia Jones and grand-duagher of the Reverent John Stuart, the first Anglican rector of Kingston, had married Allan Napier Macnab as a girl of nineteen. She died in 1846 less than two months after her 34th birthday
WHAT WILL WE BE ABOUT…THIS TIME NEXT YEAR
As I discussed some aspects of my mother’s life, her journeys and associations and the richness of her habits of daily disciplines of keeping logs, notes, accounts, with my sons, the mind’s eye went back to the last picture of my mother with her grandsons Sagar and Sahil- around June 2010, taken in Bandra-Mumbai region.
By the next year, they were in Malta, and within that year, she had passed away physically