Though I knew that this day would come, I did not think that I would write this so soon. My Mom passed away on 27th October 2021 around 7:30pm IST taking her last breath about 15minutes after my brother met her at the hospital. She was battling Hodgkins Lymphoma for about ten years, though was diagnosed only at the fourth stage. It was an emotionally and physically tough 10years for Mom and our family. We were fortunate to give her good care during her battle with cancer.
Mom was part of a very special generation in India, right after the Independence. It was a new world and new normal for many, with exponential improvements in education, employment, and healthcare. Mom was one of thirteen children in the family where only six survived and she lost her mom at eight when her youngest brother was born. Average life expectancy in India around Mom’s birth year was just 40yrs.
She completed Bachelors in Science and Bachelors in Education and worked as a teacher at a school nearby, teaching Physics and Math for over 25years, educating tens of thousands of students who remember her to this day.
Mom was born in a patriarchal and traditional society where many of these amazing human beings maintained a low profile. I’m writing this down so that she is remembered forever for what she was. Though I couldn’t spend as much time as I would have wanted with Mom, she had a big impact on how my thoughts shaped over the years, which inturn had a direct influence on my personal and professional life.
When I was a kid, most evenings were spent with Mom teaching me physics and Math – infact re-teaching what was taught in school. The basics that she taught me formed the fundamental foundation of many interests that I developed later.
I’m still amazed at the resilience and positive attitude she had, fighting the disease for so many years. Undergoing treatment for cancer is not easy both physically and emotionally. There were times few years ago when doctors informed us that they cannot do anything more and asked us to go home. But Mom did not give-up and fought to add few more years to her life.
Here’s a list of things that I learnt from Mom that shaped my thinking, personal life and how I approach company building.
- Have the highest level of integrity and values. Let nothing compromise this
- Focus on the basics. Rather than memorizing theories, formulae, etc., try understanding the reasoning behind it and what it conveys
- Even if you have people that hate you or do harm willingly, never respond back with hate but forget and forgive
- Give and share without any expectations. When people approach Mom for support, she has never turned away anyone empty handed
- Shy away from discrimination of any kind that is prevalent in society
- Be resilient. Every time you fall down, pick yourself up and get back
- Never give-up on life but keep fighting. Mom fought cancer for many years, and I found her to be low very few times. She never gave up, but fought through the physical pain
- Be empathetic towards others
With the upbringing that Mom had in a very religious, patriarchic post-independence society, I did not meet her traditional expectations – Multiple educational degrees, a stable 9-5 job, early marriage, kids, buying a house and practicing Christianity. Though she was disappointed, in the last few years of her life, she watched me build companies, create jobs, and do things that have positive impact on humanity. It took decades, but the last years were transformative for her, and she learnt to understand that life is beyond societal norms and what matters is being content and positively contributing to humanity. She was incredibly proud of what I could achieve the last years and infact had the the image on the left as her WhatsApp profile image at the time of her passing.
As I say Goodbye to Mom and celebrate her life on earth, I vouch to continue what I do and make her proud. To celebrate her life, her generosity and kindness, I hope to setup a Foundation that will continue to help people in need – especially those battling cancer and don’t have the means to have good access to healthcare. Extending it, I’m hoping that the foundation could also help people with early diagnosis of cancer, specifically in the part of India where I come from.
Goodbye Mom! I wish your life was less painful. You will be remembered forever for your kindness, generosity, hospitality, and your resilience.