Arjun’s mother passed away yesterday. We last saw her in November in Delhi.

I first met her sometime in the late 1980’s. I would stop for the night at their house in Delhi on my way from Austin to Hyderabad to visit my parents. Uncle would invite me for a drink, and the three of us would sit and chat in their living room.

Aunty would ask about my life as a young man in the US. She was like a judo sensei. She could gently, subtly, and without judgement use the force of my own thinking to send me in new directions and explore new ideas. Even back then I thought she was a remarkable lady.

Then Arjun was killed by a drugged motorist while riding his bicycle in Austin in 2006 leaving behind a daughter who was nine. Arjun’s parents were at an event in Michigan when they got the news that night. A pregnant Jo and I were in Florida visiting Aaron’s family. We met them at Arjun’s home the next morning along with other friends and family who were hastily arriving from everywhere.

We were shattered. Aunty, who had just lost her son was the calm pillar of strength. I went there to console her. Instead she consoled us all.

Guri Uncle has a hard time hearing on the phone these days so we chat using WhatsApp. Five word condolences and replies. I can sense his pain and loneliness. But he has taken up the mantle. In one text he said “Arun, this is life my dear fellow”.

When you spend all day every day with your kids you talk about the strangest things. A few days ago it was death. We were discussing our culture’s troubled relationship with death. I said that when someone dies we should celebrate their life. After all death is inevitable. Evan replied “but it’s okay to be sad because you’re never going to see that person ever again”. True.

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