Meeting Amma

me_n_amma29/09/2013 Shivanand Ashram, Uttarkashi; 3pm
We were walking from Uttarkashi to Ganeshpur after listening to Col. Ajay where he shared with us few glimpses of the first few days of the floods.
Joseph ji has friends in all corners of the country and he wanted to introduce us to them, so we set out on a walking tour of Uttarkashi. As we were walking, we first crossed the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple. We went in for a quick darshan. Now, Uttarkashi is the abode of gods so temples are a regular sight. We soon came across Omkareshwar temple. The temple had a huge peepul tree in its compound. Since it was afternoon and the sun was very hot, we thought of taking a short break here. Pratyush sat inside the temple, I sat under the tree and Joseph ji, who it seems never needs a break, went down to the banks of river Ganga. There he saw an old lady and after asking her permission called both of us to meet her. I would refer to her as amma from here on.
Amma lived in a tiny room on the steps that went down to Ganga. As soon as we came, she put out a blanket on the ledge outside her room for us to sit, while she sat down. She asked us if we have had food. Even though we told her repeatedly that we’ve had food she insisted on making some lunch for us. “Sab kuchch hai, daal hai, chaawal hai, aata hai. Tum bolo main abhi bana doongi” (There is everything – pulses, rice, flour. You tell me and I will quickly make lunch) :)
I was thinking how we get so worried whenever there are unexpected guests at home and here was a lady who had little for herself and is eager to share it all with 3 strangers who just showed up at her door. Such unconditional love!
She obviously won’t have it that we not eat anything and gave me a biscuit packet. I couldn’t refuse it. It was a gift of love. She again asked “kya khaoge” and this time Pratyush replied “maaji gyan khayenge. Thodi baatein sunaiye” (we want knowledge. Tell us something).
Then she started sharing her life with us. Her pilgrimage to the mountains, her travels and stays at different ashrams. She had a smile that reached her eyes and her eyes were sparkling. For the last 40 years she has been living in the room waiting for the time when Ganga ji will take her away.
In between she looked at me and said “tu yahin mere pass ruk jaa” (you come and stay with me) and I sat down with her and I was remembering my grandmother so much. And I addressed her as amma. She held my hands and she started talking about how I should not worry about troubles that come in life because happiness does not come without struggles. And that only when there are struggles will we get closer to God. It was as if she was looking inside me.
She only spoke Garhwali but I could understand everything. It was like she was talking to our hearts. I had one of my most intimate conversations with a stranger, with her.
We went to meet her again the day after and as we were leaving she said fondly “aate rehna” (keep coming).
I am leaving from uttarkashi today and I dont know when I will be back but I say to her “amma I will try”.

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Categories: Family, Travel, Volunteer | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Meeting Amma

  1. Pingback: Being Back - Snapshots » Volunteer Weekly

  2. Trupti Pandya

    :-);-) Even though i heard this story live from u . . reading it brought a huge smile on my face. .

    • Ashima

      It always does whenever I go back to reading it :) I am just overwhelmed by the infinite love she showered on me when she didn’t even know who I was, if I will ever be back… I really wish I get to see her again :)

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