Mani - my sister, my twin

Author: 
Madhu Chawla

Dr. Madhu Chawla, a medical professional, graduated from Institute of Medical Sciences, Benaras Hindu University over 40 years ago. Her husband retired from active service in 2015, and the two adult sons are settled in the USA. Having satisfactorily executed domestic and professional commitments, Madhu now works, on a charitable basis, with three NGOs. Giving back to society, for Madhu, is a dream come true. She also worked with underprivileged children with Times of India, in their Teach India programme for two years.

January 27th, 2020. 3.45pm. I am standing outside the bank premises where I had spent about 15 minutes. Suddenly, my mobile jingled. As soon as I pick it up, I hear my brother-in- law Kamesh say, “Mani is no more”.

Silence. On both sides. His perhaps, as he had conveyed all that was needed, in those four words. Me, because this bolt from the blue had stunned me into silence.

My sister, Mani, with her husband, Kamesh, glowing with happiness on their wedding day.

My sister, Mani, with her husband, Kamesh, glowing with happiness on their wedding day.

Less than an hour earlier I had received a call from my nephew Gautam, her son. He conveyed that my younger sibling Mani had taken ill. Her neighbours were taking her to the Manipal Hospital, which was across the road from the society where she lived.

What would perhaps been a 10 minute walk, across the road, turned out much longer. Two traffic light crossings, and the Delhi’s humungous vehicular traffic took its toll. Mani never made it to the Emergency.

No resuscitative measures could be done. Mani was declared “brought dead”. My nephew had asked me to wait for his next call before I left home. As I waited, that call never came.

Only my brother-in-law Kamesh called. The onus of informing my brother Mickey in Bombay fell on me. He did not even know that his sister had taken ill.

Mani would have been 68 on 2nd February 2020.

Rewind to our growing up years. In a small township in suburban Calcutta. The township of Dunlop (I) Ltd a British industrial giant. A motley mix of British, Scottish and Indians from the length and breadth of the country lived happily together as one large family.

Mani as a student at St. Joseph's Convent, Chandannagore, West Bengal.

Mani as a student at St. Joseph's Convent, Chandannagore, West Bengal.

My sister Mani was my twin in every sense except the biological one. We were a little over a year apart in age. Though we had dissimilar features, our physical similarity made it difficult to distinguish us from a distance. Added to this was the fact that our mother dressed us similarly. Only the colour of the dress was different.

It was the same in the school. Our names, our activities, our inclusions in various groups were always clubbed as one. Indeed our identities were merged into one by all who knew us. So much so that even if only one of us was visible, the caller would hail clubbing both names. We were called out as Madhu-Mani. Two names, hyphenated, but used as one. Always.

We were inseparable.

Mani, as a person in our age group, was a role model. She was a good student, and better than most at sports, tennis being her forte. But above all, she was a good and simple human being.

Mani grew up to be a teacher, respected and loved by all her students and fellow teachers.

 
Mani as a teacher at Tagore International School, New Delhi. Photo taken in the year 2000.

Mani as a teacher at Tagore International School, New Delhi. Photo taken in the year 2000.

 
 
Students at Tagore International School, New Delhi created a collage of photos on the occasion of Mani's birthday Feb 22, 2012, showing their respect and affection for her as a teacher.

Students at Tagore International School, New Delhi created a collage of photos on the occasion of Mani's birthday Feb 22, 2012, showing their respect and affection for her as a teacher.

 

Mani will be missed by all whose paths she crossed. But perhaps most by me. She was not only my sibling, or my twin as I choose to call her, but a part of my very own self.

May her soul rest in peace.

 
Mani with her childen, Surabhi and Gautam, on a boating holiday.

Mani with her childen, Surabhi and Gautam, on a boating holiday.

 
 
Mani with her siblings and their spouses, Mrityunjay-Ghazal and Madhu-Naresh.

Mani with her siblings and their spouses, Mrityunjay-Ghazal and Madhu-Naresh.

 

Comments

One of the best memoriam , I read recently !
May your sister's soul rest in peace !!

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