The image shows the coastline of one of the southwestern cities in Sri Lanka in December, 2004 when it was hit by Tsunami.


 

There are a few people in this world whom we want to connect and remember them always. Even if we are countries apart, we still miss their touch and care.

If you know me since my childhood, you will know about the person I am writing about in this post. She is my loving caretaker- Ashoka Aunty.  She took care of me during my early years like her own daughter. It is true that she is still like a second mother and means the world to me.

She was a bubbly lady in her 20’s from Sri Lanka. She played with me, watched cartoon together, combed my hair and always had an eye on me. I was her pet. Both my parents were working and my Mother had put me in a day care initially and I was never taken care off very well as I always used to fall sick.

However, when aunty took care of me, our lives started to blossom and she was always treated like a family member. My Mother treated her like her own sister and I still remember sleeping between them and feeling very comfortable. We used to play hide and seek and other games. Life was so good back then and I never wanted to grow!!

Soon Aunty had to leave after 2 years and I felt lonely for the first time in my life. I wished that she never left me, though I knew that she too had to go back to her family. I missed her every single day. I waited for her and hoped for her return one day.

It was in December 2004 when the Tsunami hit many parts of the World. Sri Lanka was one of the many countries that was affected. A lot of destruction had happened and many people died around the world. I feared that maybe I had lost her in the hands of God. I prayed for her and somehow wanted to get in touch with her. But I didn’t know how to go about it. We had searched for her address everywhere. We also tried asking around for any lead that could reach her and we were unsuccessful in our attempts.  In the end, we were back to square one.

It was close to my wedding date. Preparations had begun and we sent out invites to our near and dear ones. I had forgotten about aunty over the years. But to my surprise, I decided to flip through my old albums to take few pictures of my childhood so that I could make a slideshow for the wedding. As I flipped through, I came across an old picture of Aunty holding me. It was then I realized that I hadn’t invited an important person in my life. I didn’t know if she was alive and I didn’t know how to search for her.

The first thing I did was to search for her on the internet. To my disappointment, I found so many profiles with the same details. I checked out every information that the Internet provided and I couldn’t find her.

Again, my attempts at finding her got me disappointed and I gave up.

I got married and conceived immediately. I was in my 5th month when I received a call from my mother one day. She said that my Grandmother received a letter from Ashoka Aunty and in the letter, she asked about her baby Rheema!

I was on cloud 9 and I didn’t know how to express my happiness. My childhood days flashed in front of me again. I went home and as soon as I saw my mother, I cried. I was too emotional to think of anything. I picked up the phone and rang her number. As soon as she picked up the phone, I said, “Ashoka Aunty… This is Baby Rheema from Abu Dhabi”.

She recognized me and she was so happy. She said that she couldn’t accept me as a lady talking to her. I asked about everyone in her family. She said that she has 2 daughters whose age is 15 years and 17 years respectively. We spoke for about half an hour and it became a big family conversation after that. My parents were very happy to speak to her.

I still can’t believe that after all these years, I could connect with her. There is certainly hope in this world if you believe in it! I thought I would never ever find her and I have now decided that I will never ever leave my Second Mother. Though I have only a few memories of her, I promise to treasure it forever. I can’t wait to meet her and look forward to be with my dearest Ashoka Aunty.

 

In the picture, I am standing with Ashoka Aunty in the year 1993

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article is contributed by Rheema R. Menon