Lessons from Dadi: Vimla Luthra, 1933-2017
She was a prolific poet and well respected member of the community, but she was also simply ‘Dadi’. Here, Vimla Luthra’s grandchildren pay tribute to their beloved grandmother
Following a spiritual path
I have learnt a lot about religion and spirituality from my Dadi. She was a very spiritual person; she had read texts from all the faiths, not from just her own. I even went and researched other scriptures and would discuss what I had learned with her to get her view on a particular situation.
Her view was very important to me because she was the one that set me upon this path from when I was very small, telling stories about Shravan Kumar, Guru Govind Singh, Ashoka and many others. She was a great story teller.
Even 20, 30 years later it was no different.
Dadi used to call me her neighbour because her room was right next to mine. Because I was a late sleeper, many times in the early hours of the morning, when she had trouble sleeping, we would sit and talk.
The older I got the more questions I had…and she always had the answers. I was so lucky.
The essence that is Vimla Luthra can never die. We have all taken something special from her. We all had a special connection with her and through us, she will live on.
I know her blessings will always be with me.
Never forget where you came from
Growing up, and even as an adult, Dadi fondly shared stories about her life.
She would always tell us about the place where she was born, in Sargoda. When she heard children playing hopscotch or saw me skipping in the backyard while I was exercising, she would smile and excitedly tell me about the times she would get lost in games and songs with her friends.
She was a strong and ambitious woman who managed to get a higher education during a time when girls left school after their primary years.
Her ability to put words together into beautiful poetry was not an easy task, and I felt proud telling my friends that my Dadi had published her own books.
Dadi was a family orientated individual who, even through the tough times, raised three amazing children who are a true reflection of her and her ideals.
She always pushed me to keep strong family ties, even if there was a great distance between us. It’s a lesson she has taught me and all of us over the years: be proud of who you are, and what your story is.
She has set a high standard for me to uphold. I know she is watching down on me and I hope I make you proud Dadi.
How to be a lifelong learner
Dadi’s life has taught me the value of making learning a best friend for life. As an auto-didact, Dadi was committed to expanding her mind, and the world was her classroom. A perpetual hunger drove her to constantly cultivate her mind – it is what made her a self-starter. It also made her interesting and charismatic. And it kept her brain healthy even when her body began to fail her.
The importance of continuing education can not be underestimated. It could be formal or informal education, or a hobby course, or reading a lot, or watching the History Channel. At the most basic level, we must try to take away, something valuable, even from our daily interactions.
What I learned from Dadi is: don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether you are twenty or eighty. When you stop learning, that’s when you become old.
How to be cool
I learnt from observing my Dadi that being cool means to embrace your individuality – from the clothes you wear, to the attitude with which you navigate the world. Being cool also means, to accept that others can be different, and to embrace their differences – from the clothes they wear, to the attitude with which they navigate the world. Being cool, is to be intellectually stimulated, well-read and aware. To be polite and well-mannered. To be respectful, and to remember that others are your equals, not better off or worse off. And to be able to laugh at yourself and embrace your flaws, and love yourself.
Being cool could also mean knowing how to dab.
Only three weeks ago, Dadi watched as the four of us laughed and teased around the dinner table.
What are you doing, she asked.
We are dabbing, Dadi.
What is dabbing?
Um, it’s a kind of celebrating.
Okay teach me.
We did, and she dabbed.