By The Grandchildren | IN MEMORY | MALAYSIA |
On 17 August 2018, we lost our dear grandmother Mata Nasib Kaur d/o Ishar Singh (fondly called Behji) after a short illness. Mata Nasib Kaur Ji was born in the village of Rakoli, in the Ropar district of Punjab, in 1931 or thereabouts, to Ishar Singh, a police hawaldar and his wife Kako Kaur. She married Sardar Sewa Singh Ji who hailed from a neighbouring village, Fatehgarh.
As we the family got together to perform the Antam Sanskar and bid our farewell, we had the opportunity to share our unique little anecdotes, cherished tales of our dear Behji. Sharing these stories greatly helped us to cope with losing our pillar of strength. Piecing together our various treasured moments with Behji, we marvelled at the collective personification that emerged . Behji was:
The Braveheart – who was first to respond to calls for assistance and courageously led the rescue mission of a neighbour’s child who had fallen into a well.
The Midwife – who safely delivered a baby when a pregnant neighbour could not reach a hospital in time and the ambulance was late to arrive.
The Prolific Reader – while she never attended a formal school, she was a reasonably proficient, self-taught Gurmukhi reader and writer- taking years to accomplish her goal, a testimony to her diligence and persistence. Behji had a keen love for reading. Her particular favourites were Sakhis Of Sikh Gurus and biographies of eminent Sikhs. She was truly fascinated with the book ‘Safal Jiwan Sant Sohan Singh Ji’ which she read over and over again. Her latest book which was still at her bedside, is a biography of Bhagat Puran Singh Ji Pingalwara.
The Quizmaster and Language Teacher – during family gatherings, the Rehras Sahib session would inevitably end with the grandchildren having to answer in Punjabi, the challenging quiz questions on important dates and events of Sikh Gurus history. Of course, we the grandchildren will especially enjoy the customary ‘lecture’ to our parents for not using the Punjabi language in their daily dealings with the children.
The Sounding Board – the ever present, trusted and willing listener and reference point to whom most of the family members young and old always turned towards to seek advice, share ups and downs, bounce ideas or otherwise simply provide some historical context to an issue.
The Conversationalist – Behji was very interested in current affairs and had a good memory. It was therefore not unusual for family conversations with her, to cover a range of diverse topics including Malaysian politics (she voted in the May 9th 2018 elections too), Trump news, British Royal family developments etc. She enthusiastically joined the family in watching the recent FIFA World Cup Final even at a late hour.
The Gardener – the vision that will forever be etched in most of our minds and cherished eternally, is the image of Behji, kneeling and tending to the flora of our home gardens. Behji had an extraordinary passion for gardening. An often-recited amusing family anecdote is that, in the 6 months during the summer/autumn of 2003, that she spent in Cranfield, England with one branch of the family, there was no necessity to buy tomatoes, as Behji had a thriving tomato patch at home!
Similarly, as a result of her green fingers, we in our different homes and on various occasions have had the opportunity to savour home grown karela and bhindi (ladies finger) sabzi, pudina chutney, rambutans, papayas, mangoes and jack-fruit, all fruits of her magical gardening skills. Behji has also left a little legacy in one corner of the Kelana Jaya SS4C public park which now flourishes with hedges, flowering plants and fruit trees, collectively offering park visitors (humans, birds and squirrels) peace, solace and comfort. The flowers especially are collected by visitors for their prayer altars at home. Sadly, the gardener is now no more and may the garden continue to grow and flourish!
Behji had a very clear philosophical approach to life which embodied that all things are impermanent. She accepted that death comes in the normal course of life and her readiness simply amazed us. Being an accomplished tailor (exemplified by our childhood pyjamas and patchwork pillowcases), Behji had personally sewn and carefully packed ready for the inevitable day, a new Punjabi suit, Kachhera, Kafan, including Theli for ashes. There were clear instructions on matters such as her last bath ritual, no-wailing rule, and her preference for a wood funeral pyre .
In her own way, Behji has lived a worthy and meaningful life. She was a tremendous influence and played a strong supportive role in all our lives. Metaphorically speaking the phrase, ‘the maalee is no more, may the baag continue to flourish’, holds great significance and applies to us in that, she would want us to continue to strive forward and flourish, living up to the values, principles and teachings she has so lovingly passed down.
Essentially over the last years Behji spent much time regularly reading Gurbani and never missed her daily prayers. While we will miss her presence, we draw inspiration and comfort from the ‘hukum’ from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that was read after her Antam Sanskar (SGGS, Ang: 623, Sorat’h, Fifth Mehl).
ਗੁਰਿ ਪੂਰੈ ਚਰਨੀ ਲਾਇਆ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਸੰਗਿ ਸਹਾਈ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
The Perfect Guru has attached me to His feet. I have obtained the Lord as my companion, my support, my best friend.
ਜਹ ਜਾਈਐ ਤਹਾ ਸੁਹੇਲੇ ॥ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਮੇਲੇ ॥੧॥
Wherever I go, I am happy there. By His Kind Mercy, God united me with Himself. ||1||
Note: We wish to express our sincere appreciation to all relatives and friends for their kind presence and support during our recent bereavement. You are cordially invited to the Sahej Paath da Bhog of Behji (Mata Nasib Kaur Ji) on 31 Aug 2018, at Gurdwara Sahib Mainduab between 9.30 am – 12.00 pm. SEE HERE.
- A tribute to Mata Nasib Kaur Ji by her grandchildren
Nasib Kaur (1931-2018), Cheras (Asia Samachar, 18 Aug 2018)