Late Chuniya Devi

Picture of Late Chuniya Devi
            Late Chuniya Devi

1st october, 2016. …
It seemed like a perfect morning as the rays of sunshine lit up the wrinkled face of his aged mother, who had recently been discharged from the hospital. It was the first day of Navratri and late Mrs. Chunia Devi being a spiritual woman  decided to take a bath and perform her prayer rituals. He was relieved to see his mother getting back to her daily routine. It gave him hope, something he wanted to hold on to. But fate took another turn when she suddenly collapsed while taking a bath. He rushed her to Medanta. But, a 23 year old M.I. had consumed her by then. It was all unbelievable and shocking.

Chunia Devi's Son and Daughter in Law
Family Of Late Chunia Devi – Her Son & Daughter In Law

He remembered when she used to tell stories of her childhood. She was born in 1926, Rawal pindi, now in Pakistan. She went to school upto the eighth class and then they migrated. She could read and
write Hindi and Punjabi fluently. She had been so vibrant and enthusiastic that it was all unreal for him to see her in the hands of death. She was lying there in that bed, lifeless. Death managed to give a strange look at her face. As he reluctantly reached out to touch those fingers that gave him some warmth and dragged him down through memory lane childhood memories flashed back. How she took care of him and his three brothers in Kanpur. Dad, during most of his service days was away from the family due to frequent transfers in border areas as a person serving in the Royal Air Force. All those sacrifices she made to bring up and educate them.

The phone was ringing and relatives on the other side were explaining how cremation process should go about. He was numb, not able to understand at the very moment as he suddenly flashed with what his mother said. He had not even come over his mother’s death and a tussle had yet to be faced. Giving a thought to the decay of her body was even more hurting. Those philosophies which taught death as part of the cycle of birth and Rebirth was striking his mind. He was continuously reminded how cremation rites, from fire to scattering ashes in the Gangas and associated rites have significance in detaching the soul from the body. It gives incitation to the soul for its continuing karma cycles of birth and Rebirth. All this was pointing him out to the “Last rite” – Gateway in returning the body to the five elements and origin.

But she always felt that the purpose of life should be bigger. Her spirituality was all about knowing as much as she could. She would often tell that after her death, even body parts of animals are of use to society whereas the human body is cremated and reduced to ashes and burnt. She often mentioned Dadhichi foundation. Sage Dadhichi donated his bone for the good of the world that has been mentioned in one of the sections of Mahabharata Santi Parva to which she was aware of. She decided to go for “Daan” or “Donation” meaning selfless giving, which comes under the list of 10 Niyamas (Virtuous act). After all those tussles between what has to be done and what should be done, he
decided to go with his mother’s wish. Let the law of Karma decide which way her soul will go in next life.

Picture of Chunia Devi family with Interviewer
Our interviewers Miss Meetu and Miss. Megha  with the donors family

After taking the decision to go with his mother’s pious wish, he approached Medanta’s Hospital management staff, they were cooperative and well aware of the process. They got him in contact with a medical social worker who directed them to Lady Hardinge Medical College.

He was directed to the HOD of the 100 year old Anatomy Department of LHMC in order to proceed further. The Head of Department explained to him how his mother’s act was going to be an invaluable contribution to the Doctor’s of tomorrow. Her associates from the Anatomy department showed him around the Department which made him more appreciative of his mother’s decision. Her decision was going to the be very step for budding doctors to appreciate the beauty of the architecture and the most marvellous creation of GOD – The Human body.

Even now, grief still gets him at unexpected moments. He considers himself lucky and fortunate to have his mother’s hand over his head for 64 years. She is an exemplary case of selflessness – something our society seems to have forgotten and hence something that needs to be restored. She was vivacious and fearless. Confident, showed her oratory skills be it “Spiritualism” or “Politics”.  A Bollywood fan, lively, traveller and adaptable. A 90 year old who lived her life freely with an unorthodox mindset yet highly devoted and disciplined. Her own life and household activities were highly organised and minutely planned. An animal lover she was and extremely caring towards the poor and less privileged. She was voracious reader. Reading the newspaper was part of her daily routine from where she extracted the information and idea of body donation after death almost ten years back.

For Mr. Harish Sharma, his mother hasn’t left, he still visualises and follows the ideals she laid down. In remembrance of her what he recollects still can’t be described in words. Her life is an inspiration. Her way of thinking is an inspiration.

Whatever she did in the name of humanity, her death should be a way to NIRVANA and in the process of serving humanity a substantial step to understanding “ANATOMY” – The study of structure and organisation of the Human Body.

– Story by Meetu Singh and Megha Ranjan