DEATH! What comes to your mind when you see this word? As I was growing up, ‘death’ was always a very much discussed subject in my household. Having been brought up as a Bahá’í, my view on death has always been positive. There is a Bahá’í Writing that says ‘Death proffereth unto every confident believer the cup that is life indeed. It bestoweth joy, and is the bearer of gladness. It conferreth the gift of everlasting life.’ (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 345)
Therefore, this is how I have always viewed Death & Dying. As Bahá’ís, we believe that this world is merely a stepping stone for us. A stepping stone of a ladder in which we are constantly climbing. A ladder that has no end. For we believe, that our soul lives on forever and is bound to go through various stages as it makes its journey towards God.
That being said, it isn’t always easy to embrace death. Especially if it was a death of a person very dear to you. One such person for me, was, Aunty Devi. I first met Aunty Devi at a Bahá’í Centre in Shah Alam. She came up to me and told me that I am ‘very pretty’, to which I said ‘thank you’ whilst giggling shyly. She then said she had seen me somewhere and we chatted briefly before we parted ways. Her vibrant and jovial personality caught my attention almost immediately. She was exceedingly kind in nature and spoke to me as if I had known her for years. I then had the privilege to visit her at her humble abode with two very dear friends of mine. She warmly welcomed us like her own daughters and served us tea. We had a very long and fruitful chat together. She somehow felt comfortable opening up to me and told me a lot about herself and the challenges she had had to recently endure. However, she spoke about these challenges with so much light radiating from her very being. Her positive outlook towards her ailment truly amazed me considering what she had been through and was still going through at that time. I still remember her showing me pictures of herself in the hospital. She even laughed at herself being bald (due to chemotherapy). This left me truly flabbergasted. Many of us would normally feel shy to show the negative side of ourselves. Many of us even tend to be overly concerned about our appearances in public. However, here was a person whom I had just met, showing me all sides of herself whilst doing it with so much positivity. Her witty sense of humour also seemed to have instantly captivated me as I am a person who has always been attracted to those with a good sense of humour. I personally, was always smiling from ear to ear, being in her presence. The entire time spent with her was truly the best and most memorable time for me. To top it all of, my dear friends and I didn’t leave her home empty handed. She handed us each a small container full of lime pickle she had freshly made a few hours prior to our visit. This is also who she was. She always gave generously and wholeheartedly. Catering to the needs of the foreign workers, she cooked for them and sold her food for a much cheaper fee compared to what you would get from a normal restaurant. I was told her cooking was very tasty. It is a shame I did not get to taste her cooking but I feel so honoured to have at least tasted her delicious lime pickle. 😃
This surge of happiness came to me once again when I had the privilege of meeting her at a close friend’s house warming party. She too, was happy to see me and embraced me lovingly. I asked her how she was doing and she updated me on her ailment which wasn’t looking very good. Nevertheless, she reassured me and said ‘Don’t worry ma, I will be fine!!’
Again, such positivity despite the adversity. Something which we can all learn from. I was so happy to have been able to meet her again but unfortunately, this was the very last time I got (and will ever get) to meet her. However, memories of her will always linger on in my mind from time to time. Her vibrant personality and positive outlook in life will always have an impact on me. Cancer may have taken her from this mortal world of dust, but her spirit shall live on for a lifetime among each and every one of us.
Dearest Aunty Devi,
Thank you for showing me light in moments of darkness
Thank you for making me smile in moments of despair
Thank you for giving me the strength to carry on
Thank you for leaving behind a legacy we should all strive to emulate
The Abha Kingdom has gained yet another Angel
Till we meet again,
Your Most Beloved Admirer,
– July 1st, 2017 –