My mother, called Aruna by her parents, and Savithri by her in-laws, was known as Mummy to her children. At times she had remained an enigmatic figure to us. Where did her sheer goodness, gracefulness, and indefatigable energy come from? She was an excellent mother, who taught her children to be good, to never give up, and to help others. Her vision was lofty, her ambitions were high. She did not want to annoy even a single individual, even if he or she was wrong. Today I stand here feeling awed by the magic that she was. She was a human being who had touched the feathers of the fairies, but yet chose to remain on the ground. She thought doing good here on earth was a lot better than being in heaven.
Mummy was born in a sprawling household, carrying the families of five Karihallo brothers, living in some of the best of the Kashmiri traditions, in a downtown area of Srinagar, called Malik Angan. The number of children in the clan was so large that only the exceptionally good and the bad had the chance to be noticed. Because of Mummy’s meekness, trustworthiness, excellent manners, exquisite welcoming of the others, and classical physical beauty, she came to be noticed and remembered. She became a darling of the clan and of the many outside visitors.
In 1935, at only the age of fifteen, she was married in her father’s friend’s family, the Kauls. The atmosphere here was more challenging to win the heart’s and the minds of the people, partly due to the family’s tendency to criticize people and partly due to her being a new daughter-in-law. But in time her perseverance paid off and her sobriety, inner goodness, radiant charm, and energetic interactions with the people wove the magical effect. But Mummy had to adjust to a different culture and to different personalities but her well developed discipline and faith in goodness helped her. For many a new daughter-in-law in Kaul clan she became a role model. She introduced wool knitting to Kashmiris through the acquirement of it from her sister in Simla.
But life turned out to be not always a bed of roses for Mummy. Daddy lost his job in New Delhi, forcing us, except for Daddy, to return to Kashmir. These were difficult times for us but Mummy was tenacious and realistic. After a year Daddy found even a better job than before and we returned to Delhi to a happier life. Within a few years Daddy was posted to the foreign countries and the fortunes of the family went up.
Mummy now became a sophisticated diplomatic spouse and a good support for her husband. She gathered many an admirer in different parts of the world.
Mummy’s personality rested on a trinity of three pillars : tenacious and practical way of living; loving, gracious, and charming relationships with people; search for the spiritual essence of life. This stayed with her practically all her life. In fact, she was born with it. To put it in a simple way: she was a tough, gracious, loving, and God searching person.
Her religious quest became more intense after Daddy’s passing away in 1982, when she energetically pored into religious books. The search for God took her to Swami Muktananda, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, Aurbindo, Lakhshmanjoo, and others. Sometimes she used to get so excited by what she read she would share it with people around her. At times she called her faith more spiritual than religious.
As times passed her home in Press Enclave, New Delhi became an important place to visit for her relatives and friends, to absorb her goodness and wisdom. She became a relative as well as a counselor, a friend as well healer.
Year after year she continued with her spiritual and physical regimen defying her physical ailments, astonishing her doctors and the people she lived with. She became an inspiration to many in her zeal to live and do good. Her will power, discipline, goodness, and love for others will remain forever a beacon of light of our family. She will remain a special person and a light in our family and also in some other families. She was born great and she fulfilled her mission here on earth.