Mukund Amma photoGrief is a universal human experience as beloved elder family members pass from this world. Mukund, a young man living in Lucknow, experienced just such a loss this past year. He, along with his brother, grew up with his “Amma” at the center of his life, as she took care of him and his brother and created an atmosphere of warmth and love at the heart of the home. With his parents both working professionals, Amma was in many ways mother of all, bringing everyone together under the roof of hospitality and love. The entire family looked to Amma with deep respect and gratitude, as she put the needs of all others before herself.

When Amma passed from this life after a period of physical decline, the family was heartbroken. Young Mukund and his family found the loss of this powerful force in the lives almost too much to bear, and they clung to each other for comfort and sustenance. The memories were so clear and sharp, and loss was keenly felt, almost a physical pain.

But pain subsides to an ache, and that ache dulls over time. The family began to get back to their lives, as they reckoned with the new normal of life without the presence of the woman they loved so much. Mukund, however, wanted to create a way to bring his Amma’s contributions and identity to living color for those who knew her, and those who did not, and began to think of ways he might do this.

Mukund approached his family with a desire to honor the legacy of his Amma with a documentary and announced this to his Dad with surety and confidence, who agreed to team up with him to get it done. They were quite amazed to see that he had developed a whole script and screenplay, and he pitched the idea to his brother. In Hindi, he shared, “Rachit aapko pata hai mai Dadi ke liye movie bana raha hu, aap meri movie mein interview dene mein interested ho?” (I am developing a movie for Dadi, would you be interested in interviewing for the documentary?)

When Mukund entered this world, the doctors attending his birth had great pessimism for his future. As a baby born with significant disabilities, they even described him as a “vegetable,” and warned his parents that they should hold little hope that he would make a contribution. One wonders if they would recognize this young man today, in the center of family life, and the one who holds the most central role in the family, the role of creating a living artwork of the legacy his beloved Amma has left for the family to take forward.  Generations of the future will have the chance to see how this important thread of their lives has travelled from grandparent to parent to child and beyond, thanks to the gifts and talents of this one young man.  Mukund – family historian, legacy-keeper, treasured family member.