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Wife, mum, grandmum, friend, poet, writer: in every role, you left behind a legacy of love
Jogmaya Narpatsingh, this was the journey that destiny carved for you.
On 10 August 1936, while the people celebrated Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna and Goddess Jogmaya, you were welcomed into this world at 11.45am, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. The second child to Pattayet Narsingh Pratap Singh Deo and Pattayetuni Jatan Kumari Devi of Bera, you were the first daughter born into the Dhenkanal family in 18 generations.
After your infancy, you moved to Calcutta and began your education. During WWII your family moved back to Cuttack, Orissa. Conforming to tradition, you left school after Year 5 and from then studied from home, becoming an avid reader. Poetry became the medium through which you expressed yourself best.
In 1953 you won your first award for your article on Tenzing Norgay. Later, your father donated a challenge trophy in your name to Benji League.
When your brother left home you wrote, “To me, the world seemed to have ceased”. This move not only gave him freedom but also made him instrumental in introducing you to your husband. Thus on 21 Feb 1958 you married R.K.Narpat Singh, youngest son of Maharaj Man Singh of Idar and Rani Anup Kanwar of Karauli and adopted the name he gave you, Maya.
The next twenty seven years were the golden years of your life. In 1959 your first child Karan was born, and shortly thereafter, your daughter, Rani. In 1962, Prithviraj was born, soon after which your husband got posted to Aden. Leaving him with your husband’s eldest brother, you returned to take him back after your fourth child Manjit was born in 1964.
The nomadic life continued over the next 23 years, from Aden to Calcutta, then to Delhi. You joined ladies’ organisations including Zonta and Ikebana and organised the Air India concert in Delhi. But it was the posting to Sydney, Australia in 1972 that first gave you your own identity. From being someone’s daughter or wife or mother, you came to be known for yourself.
After your husband got posted back to India, you became more involved in your spiritual life attending bhajans and helping charities.
In 1980 your dream was realised when your husband accepted another posting to Australia. You returned with your family to the city you had fallen in love with.
However, the wheel of fortune turns constantly and the golden days began their downward turn when your husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
At that time you welcomed another friend, Saturn, one that would stay with you for the next 19 years and create havoc. When it left you in 2011, you had grown as a person and evolved as a spirit.
In 1989 your husband underwent Thalamotomy. Weeks after this surgery, you lost your dear father.
Greed had raised its ugly head and days after your father’s death, the once unbreakable relationship between a brother and sister was broken forever. A fraudulently obtained signature would make your innocent mother your power-of-attorney holder, and a pawn in a horrifying game of deceit and treachery.
Loss of faith and more betrayals would follow over the next 27 years as more lessons were learnt in this classroom they call ‘life’. While legal cases took their toll in one part of your life, another saw great happiness. You saw each child married and you welcomed your five precious grandchildren.
Then in 2003 Saturn sought its greatest sacrifice, as you bid goodbye to your husband, on 24 February.
Your poetry tells of your greatest pains and your deepest loves. On 9 September, the day your family and friends bid you farewell, you were to receive official recognition for your ‘Long Commitment to the Society of Women Writers’ at the NSW State Library.
Despite all the curve balls life threw at you, you continued to hit home runs with courage, faith and valour. You bravely fought stroke in 2012. Even with financial restrictions, you continued to fight for justice in the legal arena, adhering to your values of honesty, decency and integrity.
While your brother broke your heart, it was his two daughters who shattered your faith when they filed another fraudulent case in 2009 all the while pretending to seek your help. Sadly it was your own counsels who betrayed you. These betrayals remained your only sorrow.
No person can claim to be perfect; no human can confer that title to another. Yet if any one person has upheld unselfish and unconditional love, it is you, and if there is one thing you have given to all of us in abundance, it is, in your daughter-in-law Antoinette’s words, “your legacy of love”.
Mum, this was your life: a sweet and sour mixture blended to perfection; a colourful painting with just the right amount of grey and black to make it interesting; a song with beautiful notes and the occasional off-key to make it unique.
Khamaghani, Mumma, farewell. You were too good for this world. ‘He’ must have thought so too, for He called you back on the day you were born, Janmashtami.