Obstinate Ma plant keeps on giving…


I planted this geranium on May 11th, 2021. It was the day after ma died. Sahana had given me this plant on Mother’s Day, which was the same day as my mother exited this world. So instead of pacing the house, trying to collect my grief, bewilderment, confusion, helplessness, I put all my feelings in digging a hole in the ground and planting a life. Perhaps to compensate for the life that just left me. Since that day I have spent many hours by this plant’s side. I called this my Ma plant or refer to her as Didiya plant to my children jokingly, but if I am completely honest, a part of me believes this plant carries my mother’s energy.

Sahana was somewhat concerned about my attachment to Ma plant and warned me that it too will die. I know that. However, I will always remember this particular plant as my refuge during one of the saddest periods in my life.

It is mid October now. Slowly I am saying goodbye to my summer blooms. One by one they are falling asleep as cold weather sweeps in our area. Not Ma plant though. It had stopped giving flowers for a while during the peak of summer so I asked it why it was being obstinate. Since then we refer to it as Obstinate Ma Plant. Obstinate Ma Plant did not grow in height much but it made up for its stunted growth in beautiful blooms. Even now it is budding new flowers and opening new blooms in its full glory. It seems like it wants to live its life to the fullest before it goes. It seems like it wants to radiate all of its beauty before death claims it. I like to think it mirrors my mother’s life. She was a vibrant woman who lived her life in her own terms. She nurtured me my whole life but when the day to day taking care of me was done, she turned to see how she can nurture others. So she opened an NGO to serve the underprivileged in her area.

Although some health issues had curbed her will to live in the last few years of her life, she lit up when she talked about the NGO. (And talking about her grandchildren lit up the inner light as well). She was waiting for the pandemic to pass so she could start the work again. It was not meant to be.

Anyway, what I want to say is ma’s alter ego, the Obstinate Ma Plant keeps giving just like ma did till she could give no more.

Lastly, I have been trying to write blogs that is not full of my grief but I can not at this time of festivities.

Cumulative kindness


A friend asked me how I dealt with this double tragedy of losing my parents within a span of 9 days of each other right when it happened. Did the kindness of your family and friends help you recover, she asked. I thought about those horrific days when I sat on the couch completely numb, catatonic even. For a short time, I did not want to live anymore. The kindness of others did not even touch me at that point. When I look back, although looking back is very painful, I feel like I was so completely submerged in profound grief, I was beyond anyone’s touch. I felt my family around me hugging, crying, doing things for me but I was simply an observer of their action. Friends and community poured their love and affection but if I am honest, at that time, I was simply acting the way that I was supposed to act – saying thank you, smiling.

Slowly with time, I felt like I was emerging gradually from the quagmire of deep, heavy, suffocating grief. I read a friend’s post on social media, who lost his mother 7 days before I did that he was going to live his life to the fullest because that truly is the last and most precious gift that his mother gave him. He would honor and cherish that gift by being the best that he can be. That struck a chord. My life is truly their gift to me and I can honor that gift by being the best that I can be. It was then that I started looking around. And I found the acts of kindness and love all around me.

From the love of my friends to the many acts of kindness of my coworkers, my community, my cousins, my aunt – I lived in a universe of kindness. I was so immersed in my loss that I failed to feel the warmth of all the love. It was almost a selfish act. Almost, I say since I am determined to be kind to myself. From words of love to food, from taking my shifts at work to sending plants and flowers, from financial donations for Covid help in India in my parents’ memory to cards from all over the world. Prayers were said in several countries in the world by Sean’s colleagues in churches, mosques and temples for my parents’ soul and our peace. All the cumulative kindness of my community of friends and family became this huge cushion of comfort for me to rest my head. I have already written a blog about how my coworkers donated money to engrave 2 paver stones in memory of my parents in the garden of our library. I eat my lunch there these days and I go to see them during my breaks. Yesterday, I was having lunch with a dear friend near their paving stones when she said, “I have something for you.” It was not my birthday! Why would there be something for me? She gave me a gift bag with a tissue wrapped gift. When I opened the tissue paper, my jaw dropped. It was the most exquisite shawl knitted by her with all my favorite colors. She started knitting the shawl for me in June, just after my parents died.

I cried, of course. And then laughed. I went over to the paver stones to show ma and baba the shawl. I told them not to worry about me. I am loved and cared for. And now I am looking around and cherishing it.

Canyon Overlook and other trails: Day 6


We both were tired of driving 2 and a half hours each way to go hike in different Canyons. It was also our 25th anniversary and I, more than Sean, wanted to sleep in and get a leisurely start to the day. We left the hotel around 8:30 am to drive a short distance to Zion National Park to hike up to Canyon Overlook. We crossed the 1.1 mile long historic tunnel and fortunately found a parking right at the trail head. It was a relatively easy hike up with a spectacular, panoramic view of the significant canyons in the distance. But the crowning glory of this particular hike was a chance meeting with 3 very handsome mountain goats. Sure, we had to stealthily go off trail to get close to them. And when we did, they just raised their heads to say, “Oh hey! How’s it going?” They were clearly not intimidated by us.

After finishing the trail, we found less traveled and unmarked trailheads to go down the canyon to the river bed. The rock formation there reminded me of Gothic architecture.

The popular trails were fun and beautiful. However, discovering new trails and chancing upon hidden waterfalls, finding the perfect rock in the shade, far away from hikers, listening to birdsong and trilling sound of water as we lay on the cool rock gave us such peace and tranquility. We loved hiking the crowded Narrows and the Emerald pool hikes and we loved the less traveled hikes and the exciting discoveries. This trip will be memorable for us. We celebrated our 25th anniversary, I went searching for tranquility for my anguished soul with the man I love after both my parents were taken away by this horrible virus that has snatched so many loved ones. Being amidst nature soothed me. I felt happiest I have felt in a long time when I was surrounded by nature. I could meditate. I could bring the smiling faces of my parents into focus when I closed my eyes.

When the heat started getting unbearable, we drove back to the hotel and took shelter till late afternoon. I had hoped to dress up for our anniversary dinner but I was deterred by the heat. We went to an Italian restaurant for a delicious pasta and pizza dinner. I must say, all our meals in Sprindale, Utah were fantastic albeit a bit pricey. As we finished dinner, the power went out in the whole city. We had to forego ice cream and walked slowly back to our hotel as diners around us wondered where to get food. We were witnesses to the recent New York black out and now we are proud witnesses to Springdale black out. A local informed us this never happened before.

Our 25th anniversary ended with watching reruns of our favorite crime show Law and Order SVU, next to each other on bed, content.

Bryce Canyon: day 5


According to https://www.brycecanyoncountry.com/blog/post/red-painted-faces-bryce-native-american-lore/

Indian Dick, a Paiute elder living on the Kaibab Reservation, told the Bryce Canyon hoodoo legend to a park ranger in 1936:

“Before there were any Indians, the Legend People, To-when-an-ung-wa, lived in that place. There were many of them. They were of many kinds–birds, animals, lizards and such things, but they looked like people. They were not people. They had power to make themselves look that way. For some reason the Legend People in that place were bad; they did something that was not good, perhaps a fight, perhaps some stole something…the tale is not clear at this point. Because they were bad, Coyote turned them all into rocks. You can see them in that place now all turned into rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding onto others. You can see their faces, with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks. The name of that place is Angka-ku-wass-a-wits (red painted faces). This is the story the people tell.”

We again rose very early to get a head start to see the much acclaimed Bryce Canyon. After a picturesque drive, we arrived at the Visitor center, made a plan for our day and started our hike. We took the shuttle to the end of the shuttle stop – Bryce Point and walked the Rim Trail. For a long part of the walk, Sean and I were silent. There was truly nothing to say in front of such splendor and beauty of nature. I do not have words to express the magnificence of the canyon that we witnessed today so here are some photos.

I do not know if the hoodoos are the bad people turned into stone by the trickster Coyote, but they reminded me of intricately sculptured fortresses or castles or even temples.

From the Sunset point of the Rim Trail, we decided to descend about 350 feet to the Sevier River at the bottom of the canyon. There were two combined trails but we chose to hike the 1.3 mile long Navajo loop. I almost died the day we hiked down North Rim, but we had gone down 1400 feet that day. Navajo loop, I told myself, was nothing compared to that. In this trail we saw 3 different and famous structures created by rocks that have been named – Wall Street, 2 bridges and Thor’s hammer.

Thor’s hammer.

There was a cool breeze blowing which kept us comfortable as we climbed out of the canyon. I took several breaks to catch my breath but also to take it all in. After completing this hike we walked further along the Rim of the canyon till we got off the trail to get to our car.

The Visitor center had interesting information about the rock formations and also about Paiute Indians who inhabited the area. We then decided to drive 17 miles up the canyon to its highest elevation point, Rainbow point to get an expansive view of the area.

From Rainbow point.

On our way back to exit the park, we saw a prairie dog scurry from his burrow. Prairie dog sighting is quite common in these parts we were informed. Bryce canyon is one of the most picturesque canyons that I have seen. The sights of the hoodoos, the clear, blue sky above, the twisted bristle cone pines stubbornly clinging on to life despite being repeatedly hit by lightning, the chipmunks who tried to climb up my pants to beg for my trail mix, the sighting of prairie dogs – the whole tapestry of the canyon gave me peace. Mother Nature heals, a friend messaged me. “May you find peace in nature.” I did.

We drove back with tired bodies and refreshed souls.

Horse shoe bend, Lake Powell and a dinner at Kanab: day 4.


Today we slept in. We both woke up a little after 7 am and Sean said, “Oh no!” I grunted, “Oh yes! Today will be a low key day.”

We left the hotel at 8:30 am to drive over 2 and a half hours to see Horse Shoe Bend and Lake Powell. Horse Shoe Bend is a marvel where a big boulder is surrounded by blue strip of water. It was an easy, short yet extremely hot hike.

Horse Shoe Bend.

It was done within an hour so we drove through Page, Arizona to Lake Powell. We took a detour to see if a tour of the Upper Antelope canyon was available but it was sold out. So we drove around  some neighborhoods in Page to get a feel of the town, stopped to walk around Lake Powell, drove back to Kanab admiring the Vermillion canyons and buffaloes in the corals on our way. Supposedly one can see The Grand Escalante from the highway but we could not figure out. At Kanab we ate dinner at The Rocking V, drove back to hotel for a much needed shower.

Lake Powell

Tomorrow’s destination is Bryce Canyon. I am excited.

North Rim, Grand Canyon: day 3


On Sunday, I almost died because I am terribly out of shape. But that is besides the point.

We got in the car around 7:00 am to start our 2 and a half hour drive to North Rim, Grand Canyon in Arizona. Driving through the hairpin bends of the Zion canyons were slightly alarming but mostly breathtaking. And we saw this family on the side of the road, grazing for breakfast.

Mountain goats

We arrived at North Rim visitor center close to 10:30 am and started our hike after filling up our water bottles and looking at the different hike options. They were mostly easy hikes with only 2 moderate to difficult. Guess which one certain someone chose. Yes, “we” chose one of the moderate to difficult ones – of course. The North Kaibab trail went steeply down about 0.3 miles to Coconino overlook for a view of the Grand Canyon. My hope was to hike down there and hike right back up. We went down to the overlook, smiling at fellow hikers, giving way to mule riders and paying attention to mule poop and mule pee. Once we reached the overlook, we took a break taking in the scenery around us.

As we sat in the shade, we heard other hikers talking about Supai Tunnel further 1.7 miles down. 7 miles below that was Cottonwood campground  and 7 miles further down was Roaring Springs at Colorado River. Sean gently nudged me to go down to Supai tunnel. The canyon around me was so magical and the hike down did not tire me out so I agreed to climb down further. With each switchback I thought to myself “what goes down must come up” but decided to worry about the climb later. We reached Supai Tunnel. Sean spoke to every single hiker that we passed. A jovial “Hi, how is it going?” Or some sort of jokey comment. It was evident he was in his element. The responses were mostly enthusiastic and friendly. Some, however, especially from those straining as they climbed up were just panting grunts. Their panting scared me but I valiantly kept climbing down.

At Supai tunnel

After resting for a while at the tunnel and after replenishing our bodies with plenty of water and refreshments, we started our hike up to the top. And I almost died. It was a steep 2 mile climb with no level ground at all to regulate my breathing. At one point, I felt my heart was going to beat out of my chest. At every switchback, I sat down to bring my heartbeat down from 178 or so. Sean was right by my side the entire way, carrying our back pack, supplying me with water and saying, “Look how far you have come. Look, we are almost there.” I thought in my head I can not make it. But I did. It took a long time, but I made it up to the trail head. That feeling of accomplishment gave me such confidence. At the Coconino overlook, surrounded by the serene, regal canyons, I closed my eyes to meditate. Sean took a photo where a halo is seen above my head. It is nothing but the time of the day and the position of the sun. But when a friend said that looks like blessing from all those I lost, I liked it.

From the trailhead of North Kaibab trail, we hiked 1.4 miles back to our car, fortunately on level road, drank some more water and trail mix. Then we attempted the easy trail to see the depth of the Grand Canyon from the top rim. Bright Angel Point trail gave us this view along with hundreds of other excited hikers, busy snapping photos. Sean and I sat on some rocks quietly. I whispered to him, “Happy Anniversary!” It seemed the perfect place to tell him that I am so happy to be with him for the last 25 years.

On our way back we had delicious dinner at Wild Thyme in Kanab complete with a fantastic carrot cake. Drove through scary hairpin bends of Zion National forest as the sun set behind the canyons leaving their looming dark shapes and a bright orange hue in the horizon. The silhouette of the canyons were awe inspiring and the drive through those winding narrow mountain roads was harrowing.

We had a 14 hour day. My body needed an easier day but my spirit was ready to go. We were undecided on what to do on Monday but were sure we will think of something.

Zion Diary, day 2


No rest for the weary. Yesterday we woke up before 4 am to catch a flight. Today we woke up before 6:00 am to stock up on hotel breakfast and catch the shuttle to Zion National Park to beat the crowd at The Narrows hike. We were only partially successful. The shuttle was mostly full with hikers but not overwhelmingly so. We got off at Sinawava Temple shuttle stop and started the 1 mile walk on the Riverside walk. The Narrows starts at the end of Riverside walk where one goes down a few steps to enter the Virgin River and hikes for 2.5 miles to The Wall Street or longer.

We did not rent water boots or hiking sticks from the rental store at visitor center. There was a long line. Smartly, most of our fellow hikers had. I was apprehensive about my ankles and my knees without proper footwork. I wore my Abeo walking sandals and Sean wore his Tevas. On our way to the Narrows we both kept a sharp eye on suitable logs to use as walking sticks and eagle eyed Sean spotted two perfect ones.

As I tentatively stepped into the cold water of Virgin River to start our hike, I again sensed that unfamiliar feeling of happiness. And as I continued on the hike and watched sunlight gradually wash over the canyon around us, I thought of my parents. I hope their energy is now part of the splendor of nature. I thanked them, yet again, for giving me life so I can witness the beauty around me.

There were hikers of all abilities, ages, ethnicities. There were children being herded by parents, a few babies being carried on backpacks, older couples like us, daughter holding her mom’s hand, young people. As we were returning back, hordes of people were starting their hikes at midday when the temperature was in mid nineties Fahrenheit.

I almost fell once and took the treacherous parts real slow. Sean always lent a hand when I was in trouble. He is a good hiker and has tremendous balance. He also urges us to take the path less traveled. If it had not been for him, I would not have challenged myself on some tricky parts of this hike. He said I could do it and I did it. This trip is to celebrate our 25 years of marriage. And his gentle encouragement to challenge myself in situations outside my comfort zone has made me bolder in life. I thought of that today as I saw him waiting for me patiently as I navigated tricky rocks hidden beneath fast moving water. I knew he was there and that was enough.

After 5 hours of hiking we took the shuttle back, returned to hotel and started our research for a restaurant to eat. This is our second day here but all the meals we have had so far have been really good and somewhat expensive. We had dinner last evening at Bits and Spur and today at Oscar’s Cafe. Both restaurants had surprisingly good vegetarian options and stellar service.

We will, hopefully, drive to Arizona tomorrow to see the North Rim of Grand Canyon. If I have the energy and motivation, I will continue to write.

Zion Diary, day 1.


“Is it time already?” I croaked as Sean gently touched my shoulder at 3:52 am. Our Lyft was scheduled to come at 4:30 to take us to airport for our 6:45 am flight. We were flying into Las Vegas and then driving to Springdale, Utah for a few days of hiking in Zion and Bryce Canyon. My concerns were twofold – my aging knee and my gung ho husband who would want to attempt the most strenuous hikes and I would have to remind him he is not as young as he used to be, without hurting his ego.

I said goodbye to ma, baba, (their photos on my bureau), cleaned up, blew a kiss to Sahana’s closed door and left for the airport. After almost 5 hours of flying, during which I watched all episodes of The Chair (I highly recommend) and 2 episodes of Alrawaba School for Girls, we touched down.

We got our rental car and drove for 2 and a half hours to Springdale, checked in to our lovely hotel with gorgeous view of rock faces.

After charging our devices, we went out to get the lay of the land. We took a free shuttle to the Zion visitor center and a shuttle from there took us inside the canyon. We did a loop of the Emerald pool hike which was roughly 3 and a half miles in total. After many months, my heart felt a familiar sensation. I vaguely remembered it. It was happiness. It was gratitude that my parents gave me life so I could witness this wonder of nature. The magnificence of the rock faces, the silent strength of nature humbled me and set me free, at least for the time being. Pictures do not do the grandeur of the Zion canyon justice but we made a humble attempt to capture what we could for memory.

There is a word in Bangla – bikkhipto which roughly translates to restless. My mind is restless, angry. My heart is sad and I always question what bad karma led to this tragedy in my life. My ‘why’s and ‘what’s receded to the back corner of my mind as I hiked up and stopped often to imbue the beauty surrounding me within my soul. I got a reprieve.

If I am not too exhausted, I will continue my Zion diary in the coming days.

The “goods” in the week of August 9th.


This was a vacation week so it was not only a good week, it was a great week. The losses still remained, the unanswered questions still lingered but I forced myself to simply focus on the moment that I was living. Just for this week. Please! For the most part I was successful. There was a night of sleeplessness and intense sadness but the “goods” in this week pushed the grief to a corner.

Sean and I drove down south for a road trip.

Our first destination was Raleigh, North Carolina. After fighting traffic we arrived at the city famished and found a delicious Indian and Nepali restaurant right across from North Carolina State University campus. After lunch we walked around college grounds.

Next stop was Durham and a walk around the campus of Duke University. The buildings are gothic and gorgeous.

We had amazing biscuits at True Flavor diner in Durham. I highly recommend if any of you are headed that way.

Biscuit with fried green tomato and pimento cheese.

On Sunday we drove down to Charleston, South Carolina. The waterfront park, the houses on Rainbow row, a long, hot walk along the historic district, a ghost and graveyard tour, a trip to Fort Sumter, Folly beach, Sullivan’s Island, more walking in the downtown, not to mention the scrumptious shrimp and grits, shrimp rolls and pulled pork, this city stole my heart.

On our drive up to Virginia beach, we stopped at Myrtle beach and then Wilmington, North Carolina. We had lunch at a funky restaurant called Mellow Mushroom right by the river in Wilmington. If you ever go there try their pizzas.

We arrived at Virginia beach around 9 pm. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we went out for a long walk.

The two days at Virginia beach were filled with lazy afternoons, some romp in the sea, leisurely strolls, lot of people watching and delicious meals at restaurants that were off the beaten track.

Those were “goods” of the week. The “bests” were a lot of laughter, lot of meaningful conversation, some tears, being together, being fully present in the moment, realizing, yet again, I am still hopelessly in love with the man I married.

Life is waiting with all of its sorrows and hopefully happiness at some point. This week was different.

On Saturday night I dreamt of ma and baba. Both were young, healthy and smiling.

Hope your list of “goods” is long. Have a great week.

The “goods” in the week of July 12th.


This week was somewhat mundane. And mundane is not bad. Uneventful is not bad at all after the several events that happened in my life not too long ago. We went back to full time work and these are my “goods” this week.

I am tired. I put that in my “goods” since I am tired because I am back full time at the library and my body is trying to get used to being ‘on’ full time. That is a good thing – this tiredness. Unlike so many I am blessed to have had my job through out the pandemic.

After waiting and watching patiently, my first gladiolus stalk sprouted buds and how deeply red they are! A second stalk seems ready to sprout. And while I am talking of my flowers, I will say they have become my haven for remembering, meditating. Ma is probably laughing at my transformation from a city girl to this suburban woman and baba is saying ‘told you so’. Obstinate ma plant is still blooming.

A friend just came by and dropped off a flowering plant and a card. She bought the plant a while ago but was caring it for me since my loss brought back painful memories of losing her own mother.

A couple of friends messaged me privately to say that my blogs have helped them in their personal journey of grief.

I met a lovely Nigerian woman at work. She arrived in USA two weeks ago with her husband and 2 children. She asked me where I was from as I helped her find books for her children. I said “India.” Upon hearing that, she clasped her hands in front of her in excitement and said, “Oh, I love Indians. I love, love. love Indians. I wanted to marry an Indian. But I married that one instead.” We both laughed.

My best friends are back to me. I have been reading quite a bit. I eased into books with some wonderful graphic novels, then finished The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva and a few others. Now I am reading a captivating historical fiction called The Familiars by Stacey Halls.

On Friday, we went to see an outdoor performance of The Adventures of Pericles.

I asked one of our long time customers how he was doing. Before leaving the library he came to me to thank me for talking to him. He said it helped him psychologically. He is going through a stressful time. Everyone is fighting their own battle.

My uncle managed to procure baba’s death certificate on Saturday. I felt a sense of relief as that was stuck in bureaucratic red tape and then immediately felt guilty for that sense of relief followed by intense sadness and then breathlessness. I was at work. I wrote to my family I was having an anxiety attack. I went for a walk around the library building, took deep breaths, sat in the garden of our library. After about 30 minutes of coming back into the building, I was told my daughter was there to see me. She brought me my favorite drink from Starbucks and gave me a hug. My “goods” for this week is, yet again, love that keeps me afloat. Today is exactly 2 months since baba died.

There is this hole in my heart. I am learning to live around it and not fall in.

May your list of “goods” be long.