The first thing that strikes you when you meet Leela Mami, as she is widely known in Malaysia, is the aura of dignity she exudes.
In my mind, I think of her as Leela Ba (Ba means mother in Gujarati). Because that’s what she is. The epitome of the spirit of motherhood.
The outcome of some life stories deserve more focus than the story itself. So, today, I am going to do my best to describe the feelings Leela Ba evokes in a person.
Leela Ba, this is my humble attempt to pay a tribute to you. I hope you will listen to this personal message I have recorded in Hindi (I have translated the message in English for the benefit of non-Hindi speaking readers).
The personal message is followed by a poem I wrote this morning as an ode to you. I do hope readers on this page will also go through both.
I would further like to express the hope that the audio recording and poem, together, will effectively draw a portrait of a grand matriarch; a Mother India who has mostly lived her life in Malaysia.
Here’s the English translation:
“Leela Ba, ordinary folks need to learn from you what motherhood truly means. I am not talking about the motherhood as understood by mere mortals like me. No. I am instead referring to the kind of motherhood symbolized by Mother Earth herself. The epitome of motherhood! The kind that yields sweet fruits from the saplings sown by the soul. The sweetness of these fruits are not the usual kind, either. Not at all. Because they possess the kind of sweetness only pure love can impart. The fruits of such labour have an extraordinary fragrance as well. This is the fragrance of soul-deep faith/ soul-deep strength/ soul-deep self-respect. After meeting you, it is my sincere hope that others draw inspiration after seeing the fruits of your toil.”
Since it is always difficult to render the sentiments expressed in the Hindi language into English, I have also written an ode to Leela Ba, which attempts to convey the sentiments she evokes better in the English language:
Salt of the Earth
The spirit of a mother,
Like no other.
In the warmth of your fold,
Love and care turn to gold!
Each footstep left in your wake,
Left an imprint and spake,
Of a life led with dignity and self-respect,
Never was there such an indelible effect!
Leela Ba, I humbly salute you,
With these words never more true…
The fruits of your toil gave birth,
To a woman who is the salt of the Earth!
Anila, Rasila, Nita, Parul….you are blessed to have Leela Ba as your mother. If you would like to keep the poem I have written as a memento, please download the image below:
Author’s Note: This is the third and final installment in a series on Lata Wonders on the courage and sacrifices made by first and second generation migrants to enable succeeding generations to lead a better quality of life. The first post was Fly, little one, fly! The second was Malaysia’s Very Own Prabhudeva!
Thank you for reading this post. If you enjoyed the read and found value, do check out Get, Set & Go, A Middling Affair, Life’s Caress, An Ode to Memories, Dispensation, Life Rhymes, Life Chimes, Cocooned!; In death there is life, Epitaph!, and Ek Ahsaas! May I also request that you help spread the good word in this post? All you need to do is take a second and click on any one of the Social Media buttons here. Of course, I would also be delighted if you subscribed to my blog site. Or connected with me via LinkedIn or Twitter where I regularly publish my posts on my feed:)
Featured Cover Image Credit: Leela Ba – a portrait of dignity. Image courtesy: Rasila Patel.