Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Non-tech - In Memory of My Mother

Although I've tried to keep the content technical or business related, I've decided to dedicate this one post in memory of my mother, who passed on November 2nd 2008 after having suffered complications from heart surgery in September this year (about the time of my last blog entry).

I've decided to post the eulogies written for her and given at her funeral on November 6th, both as my act of remembrance of her, and also as I could not be present for her 40th day Mass in Trinidad. Rest in peace Mom, you've brought up three strong sons, and even though you're gone, we'll always remember you and continue to aim to make you proud of us.

From my dad (read by my brother Kiran):
Simple, friendly, charitable, devoted, tolerant, humble, magnificent and caring. All packed into one. What a great person she was. Like a fresh blooming rose.
The 2nd of 9 children, Leela Dookeran, nee Bachan, was born on 21st June, 1949 to parents Roopnarine (Peter) and Pearl Bachan of Ramier Street, Morvant.
She attended Nelson Street Girls R.C. School, Chadee’s High School, Curepe and Revos Secretarial College, Curepe where she obtained certificates in typing, accounts and short-hand, going on to work as a typist at the Film Centre, St. James.
She attended the Morvant Catholic Church in 1969, and would pass in front of the Morvant Police Station, where her future husband Bertram was stationed as a young police Constable. Bertram would sometimes escort her to church and back home. Leela’s mother insisted that she bring her friend home on and not meet him on the streets.
On visiting her home Bertram observed a closely knit family atmosphere. The Hindu traditions were prominent. Her home was always neat and clean. Respect for her parents was of the highest degree and this was a house full of love amongst the brothers and sisters.
Leela would always be singing Indian movie songs which fascinated Bertram. He believed that Leela knew Hindi and felt that if she became his wife their children would learn Hindi and many of the Indian traditions. Little did he know that Leela knew only a few lines of the song and when later on in life he asked her about this she told him, “You never asked”
But by then it was too late. Leela and Bertram were already head over heels for each other.
Leela and Bertram got married at the Church of Assumption, Maraval on 12th September 1969, thirty-nine years ago. They lived initially at an apartment on 9th Street, Barataria.
On the 18th M ay, 1972, their first son Russi Preston was born. Leela treated him like a child would treat a doll. He was her joy and happiness. When Russi was three months old they moved to Hillsdale Crescent, Mount Hope, where they acquired a house. She was such a devoted mother to Russi; however she never neglected Bertram, whom she treated and adored as a god.
In August of 1970 Bertram was drafted into the Port-of-Spain C.I.D. as a Detective, a non-uniformed position, and Leela enjoyed selecting his clothes on a daily basis so that he would look outstanding in his appearance. She never let him wear the same clothes twice. Bertram worked odd hours, and no matter what time of the night he came home, Leela would get up and heat his food and make sure that he was comfortable. She cherished Bertram so much that he often had cause to remind her he married a wife and not a slave. Leela always called Bertram by his middle name, Lloyd. She felt that she alone would call him Lloyd and that was her special name for him.
On September 14th, 1979, her second son Nissan Reddi was born. Again Leela showered him with love and attention. By this time Bertram bought a Nissan dump truck and it was as though their new son Nissan brought a sort of luck to the family; things began to blossom.
Bertram had twelve months vacation and he drove his truck during this time. Leela would get up at 3:00am each weekday and prepare roti and alloo for him and he would leave home at 4:00am. She would then continue to prepare Russi for school and after dropping him off would go to the mini-hardware in Mount Hope and conduct sales and take orders. Little Nissan would be with her, and she somehow managed to successfully run the show, putting Nissan to sleep in a make-shift bed.
Leela always wanted a daughter. And so on 20th June, 1984, twelve years after Russi was born and five years after Nissan, Runcie Kiran came into this world. She was denied her girl child once again.
However Runcie became her pride and joy. Despite the numerous headaches he caused it appeared that he was her favourite. This only came to light where after her operation, she only responded when Runcie returned from North Carolina and spoke to her. It was only then she opened her eyes and smiled.
As her children grew up, Leela would get them to school in Port of Spain and get back to the business. It was only after two occasions of being robbed at gunpoint did she stop going to the mini-hardware. That was when Russi stepped in and became a pivotal point in the business.
As time went by and the recession’s effects were being felt, Leela began to make dress-up dolls, wedding cakes and also sew curtains to make ends meet. She even ran her own classes from home, teaching others the art of making soft furnishings and draperies.
She contributed tremendously to her home by being a wife, mother and bread winner. Bertram would often ask her to slow down but she would say she loved doing what she did and continued.
A couple of years ago Leela began following the Hindu faith and would celebrate Divali at her home. The neighbours looked forward to her sending Indian delicacies which she made herself, at Eid and Divali times.
On 14th October, 2003, Leela got the daughter she never had. Heidi Priya was born to Russi and Lisha. This added a new spirit to her life. Heidi would accompany her to the grocery and Leela loved to show her off. Often Leela would become jealous when Heidi would cling to her grandfather instead.
Earlier this year Leela found out that she would need triple bypass surgery. This was the beginning of the end. She was prepared to go through with it. She was so brave. Bertram was silently reluctant but gave his support.
By this time, each morning at 5 a.m. she would make coffee and both Bertram and herself would sit in the gallery and listen to the Hindu prayers, and identify birds which would greet the morning sunrise. Suddenly Leela started following Bertram around the house. She appeared to be getting scared and was clinging to her Lloyd, who at the time did not take notice.
On September 15th 2008 she underwent the surgery and immediately complications developed. Her blood pressure would not stabilise and she developed an infection which attacked her nervous system. She was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a rare disease which destroys the nerve ends and paralyses the victim.
At around midday on October 13th 2008, thirty days after surgery, she looked Bertram in his eyes and with a smile and glow in her which reminded him of the days of early courtship she pouted her mouth in a kiss-like fashion. Bertram was so happy thinking the worst had passed but at 1:15am that said night he was called into the hospital to be told that she had a seizure. It took some 25 minutes to get her heart going again, and she lapsed into a coma at 7pm on October 14th 2008 from which she never recovered after twenty agonising days for her family.
At this stage we want to acknowledge the tremendous effort made by the Doctors, the Cuban, Filipino and local nurses of the Mount Hope ICU and HDU, in particular one Dr Zaid Khan who manually operated a bag pump for ten continuous hours to supply Leela with oxygen due to a staff shortage and the unavailability of a ventilator.
Leela, who Bertram affectionately called Mindy, did more than what was required of a wife and Bertram often took her for granted. Yet their love for each other lay deep within their hearts.
When things were tough she never complained, and a more devoted wife and mother no one will ever get.
She loved entertaining her sisters and her in-laws. It seemed as though she would show off her culinary talent on them. She would prepare Indian, Chinese and Creole dishes at the same sitting. She would insist that Bertram find cascadoo and shrimps whenever Nyla or Debra visited these shores. As such Bertram had to go all the way to Otaheite to purchase fresh shrimps and Felicity to get the blue crabs and cascadoo. His sisters always reminded him of the wonderful wife he had, telling him that they would not tolerate some of his behaviour and that she truly loved him.
During her illness they gave Bertram great support and would call each day to enquire about her condition.
Leela’s brother Anand and sisters Penny, Dolly and Vidia flew in from the USA and Canada to be with their sister. Tanty Mamim and Uncle Mano were like parents to her.
Over the past few years Leela was able to visit Great Lakes, Illinois where she proudly witnessed her son Runcie Kiran graduate in the U.S. Navy uniform as a Naval Corpsman attached to the U.S. Marines. She also visited Canada and several other places in the United States whilst Bertram stayed at home; holidays she richly deserved.
During their 39 years of marriage Leela weathered many a storm. She was committed to her family whilst ill advisors fell by the wayside. She was one of a kind. She was deeply loved by Bertram and her sons Russi, Nissan and Runcie Kiran.
Her determination to live for her family was evidenced by her stubborn fight to survive her bypass operation, performed on Monday 15th September 2008. After several near death calls she succumbed on Sunday 2nd November 2008, a total of fifty days later, the last twenty of which she was in a coma.
Leela, Pinky, Mingy, Mindy, Aunty, Mom, Grandma - whichever name you were called, we all love you so much.
We will always miss your tender caring ways and may God be with you and may you rest in peace.

From my Aunt Sandra:
Today, we are here to pay tribute to one of our own – Leela (also known to many of us as Pinky). She was a devoted wife to Bertram, a wonderful mother to her three children and granddaughter. A loving sister to her brothers and sisters, and a true friend to many.
Pinky, whom we know for her generous qualities, was a person who always put the needs of others before herself. She was always willing to give without you having to ask her for anything.
All of us who live abroad only had to say we needed something and she would send it no matter what trouble she had to go through to get it. Such a quality in a person was a shining example of her love for her family and her generosity as a rare individual.
I myself was fortunate to have had Pinky as my sister-in-law. She was the first sister of my husband who welcomed me into their family. I remembered the day that she invited me to dinner with her family (that was over 35 years ago). She accepted me into the family and the warmth that she extended to me after our first meeting remained with me up to this day– so true, that i am privileged to mention it to you today.
In the beginning, i said a “devoted” wife to Bertram. That adjective described her so aptly because i can recall her cooking the many dishes that Bertram loved (especially the fried chicken on a Saturday). All Bertram had to do was give her that special whistle of his and she was right there by his side to help him in anything that was required of her. Her children would attest to her loving kindness because of the many tasks she performed as any mother would. Whether it was driving them to a class or to take them to a friend’s house to hang out – she would do so without a complaint and she was always happy to oblige.
She has had to overcome many obstacles in her life but as a faithful believer, she faced every challenge with strength and dignity. She was never afraid to take a stand for something she believed in. Her faith kept her going.
Pinky, we will miss the many lovely dishes that you prepared with your hands, we will miss the bubbly laughter that you shared with your family, we will miss the true gem and shining star that you are. Deep in our hearts, all of our pleasant memories will be stored and reflected upon throughout the years to come and the joy that we have shared will continue to shine through. To all of our families and friends, don’t be sadden by Pinky’s passing - instead, be glad and rejoice that the lord found a purpose for Pinky and she has fulfilled his every wish as a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend and indeed a worthwhile contributor to society.
Bertram, Russi, Nissan and Kiran, be strong knowing that your wife and mother loved you very much and let her kindness, love and generosity reflect in everything that you continue to do. She has left you a legacy that no amount of money can buy.
On behalf of the Bachan family (all of her sisters and brothers – Radhika, Anand, Penny, Indar (deceased), Merle, Dolly, Vydia and Sunita) we would like to say thanks to everyone who has offered words of condolence and those who have been at our side to offer their support.
Thank you

From my aunt Nyla:
Today we come together to honor the life of one of our precious and loved family members, my sister-in-law, Leela Dookeran. I would like to say a few words on behalf of Bertram’s siblings, and in particular, his 3 youngest sisters. I am Bertram’s youngest sister, Nyla.

I never knew Bertram without there being Leela. I was too young to remember the individual Bertram. Bertram and Leela were an entity, a unit, throughout my life.

Leela came from a family of 7 girls and 2 boys, where the age spread of the siblings were as wide as Bertram’s own family of 9 girls and 2 boys. When Leela met Bertram, there was that very present knowledge that he had several sisters in his own age group, but that he also had 1 brother and 3 sisters who were much younger. When they got married, the younger group of us lived in Rio Claro; I remember their many visits to Rio Claro. It wasn’t too long after they were married that our father passed away. This led Bertram to take on the role of father-figure for the 4 youngest of us. This required a lot of time and resources from Bertram as he helped us in our journey to adulthood. Of course, this could not have been accomplished without great sacrifice on Leela’s part. Leela accepted that we were a big part of Bertram’s life, and supported him in his efforts to protect and guide us over the years.
When our sister, Indi, was 11 yrs old, she moved to Port-of-Spain to go to high school. She lived with Bertram and Leela for some time. Leela was always receptive of this arrangement, and helped to guide Indi as she went through those rough teenage years. She often referred to Indi as the daughter she never had; such was the bond that they shared.
Leela had a deep love for her immediate family as well. Her love for our brother, Bertram and for our nephews, Russi, Nissan and Kiran, was amazing. She treated our brother like a king. She took pride to prepare coffee every morning, and she and Bertram will start each day enjoying their cups of coffee together. She continued that practice until her last day at their home. Her children were her treasures and she worked hard to build a strong family unit. She adored her granddaughters as well. We remember her joy when she talked about how Priya’s name was chosen; she had suggested the name.
It’s been almost 20 years now since I left Trinidad, however, every year when I came home, there was always a grand welcome for me: Leela always cooked up a huge dinner for us all to enjoy. We spent many an evening enjoying her wonderful cooking and, most importantly, each other’s company. The dinners became even more extravagant when I brought home my boyfriend, now husband, Bill, to meet my family. Since he is not from this country, Bertram and Leela’s intention was to educate him about all things Trinidadian. One of my most memorable dishes was the curried cascadura and pigeon peas which was a must-have at our annual dinners. She would send Bertram out to scout the country to find this unique fish, and then cook it up in grand Trinidadian style, bringing this dish to life.
My sister, Debbie couldn’t be here today. However, as we worked to put this eulogy together, she shared a similar story about Leela welcoming her husband, Ron to Trinidad, preparing a great feast, which of course, included the now- Signature Cascadura. She remembers Leela gleefully explaining the legend of the Cascadura to Ron with a great chuckle.
Leela enjoyed cooking and baking. Over and over again, she used these talents to bring joy to others. One year we visited Trinidad during Bill’s birthday. We did not really let anyone know that it was Bill’s birthday. As usual, we headed over to Bertram and Leela’s for our annual visit. We had our grand dinner, and to our surprise, Leela had found out about Bill’s birthday the day before. Not only did she cook up this wonderful meal, but she had also baked him a birthday cake as a surprise. There is a very special place in his heart for her.
In times of crisis, Leela was always ready to help. As a family, we have gone through many ups and downs in life. My brother Bertram, his wife, Leela, and their boys have been a constant source of support throughout. There have been many sacrifices made by all of them for Bertram’s little sisters to grow up. Bertram and Leela’s home was a safe haven to pour our hearts out, to share our troubles. We found strong shoulders to lean on there, and continuous support throughout our lives. We will forever be thankful to Leela for being so supportive along this journey.
The times we have shared, the memories we have created, they would always be a part of us. Leela lived a full life. We celebrate and honor her life. The memory we will keep of Leela is of someone who gave so much of herself to her family and to others. We thank God for her having been such a significant part of our family, for being a supportive wife, a wonderful mother and an ever-thoughtful sister-in-law. We will miss her dearly.