(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.  

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Juhi Basoya

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