(Masi or Mausi meaning Aunt. Specifically, your mother’s sister; Ma (mother) si (like) – motherlike)
(Nani meaning maternal grandmother)
I remember them from my younger years
Talking to my mom and
Taking away the time that could have been mine
Helping me dress and going shopping with us
Helping out at the birthday parties and organising us kids into groups to play some games
My father smiling when they visited and referring to them as his half wives
And they smiling in return all the while knowing that he jested with them.
Then I grew up
Began to understand relationships a little better
They had grown up too
With kids and houses of their own
Now, when we would meet
I would play with their kids and they would be busy with my mom
Swapping stories, sharing laughter and tears
Serving meals and promising to meet again soon
And so time passed
I got married. Had kids of my own
They were nanis now but still masi to me
I began to appreciate them more
Understood some of their emotions and stories and hopes and dreams
Then, my sisters became moms and
I became one of them
Our shared lives meshing tighter together
As can only happen once you have walked someone else’s path and
stepped into their footprints.
Time flew by
My mom went away and we cried together
They had lost a sister, I had lost the womb that birthed me
We meshed even tighter into each other’s embrace
Our shared sorrow making bonds of our minds
They became the reservoir of my memories
Their curry reminding my of my mom’s
Their smile reminding me of her laughter
And their love taking away the pain of my loss.
Then the inevitable happened
One by one they went away too
Leaving me alone.
Now the lifeline was truly broken.
I could only still my heart and remember them in the silences
That descend when the mind tires of reasoning and thinking
And limps into acceptance and surrender.
While they lived I knew I loved them
But never quite understand the depths of my emotions
Or the vastness of my feelings
Or truly appreciate what they meant to me
Now when they are gone
I look back at our times together
And cry and rejoice and offer silent thanks
For the lives they lived and the lessons they taught:
For teaching me by example
How to be a masi myself.