Twenty years ago today, my mom died. "Expired," as they would say in India.
Her death is forever linked in my soul with the Challenger Crash, which occurred just days before. I was a great fan of Christa McAuliffe, first teacher in space. It was a national loss followed by a personal loss.
I know that if my mother had ever visited India, it would have felt very alien to her. And yet -- I frequently see her in the eyes of the women of India.
--In the tired eyes of the women at construction sites, carrying bricks on their heads, under the relentless Indian sun.
--In the proud eyes of the mother who walks her daughters, with their neatly-plaited hair, to school each morning.
--In the sad eyes of the dutiful wife who daily prepares fresh rotis for her husband.
--In the devout eyes of the women with jasmine in their hair who gather at the temples.
After we moved to the U.S., she spent all of her life working in a factory. A noisy, soul-destroying place, where, along with dozens of other immigrant women, she frequently worked grueling 12-hour days, then came home and worked some more.
Today, on the way to work, I look for her in those eyes.
Left to right: Donna, Meg, Eva, Basia, with our mom in the back.
This was our passport photograph for our move to the U.S., in 1964.