Feb 19, 2011

Memoirs of my Mother - Ravi Kapoor

It is with great honor that I share the life of the one I held so dearly in my heart... My beloved mother.

Thunder and lightning tore
the sky as heavy drops of rain began to lash on the
soft-feathered hen that was hurriedly scampering
around to gather her chicks. The sound must have
terrified the tiny, delicate creatures. The icy cold
must have hurt their thin bones. The heavy rains must
have whipped their weak bodies. The mother hen knew
that it could not stop the thunder, or the rain, or
the cold but it just did one thing: it spread its
wings and drew her little ones under her feathers. My
mother, I recall, was like the hen gathering me under
her protective arms when the winds of life beat hard
on me.

Maybe she could not stop the thunder, the rain or the
cold but she gathered me under her love. As I look
back at my life growing up in Calcutta, being the last
child of my mother, I was held closely by her. Even
to this very minute her kind face, her warm touch and
her caring eyes always haunts my heart. She has gone
from me to be with her Creator Jesus but has left back
a lot of memories to share and cherish.

Writer Theodore Reik has aptly said, “Romance fails us
and so do friendships but the relationship of mother
and child remains indelible and indestructible the
strongest bond upon the earth.”

Mother was a wonderful gift to me and we enjoyed a
deep friendship and truly were delighted in each
other. She lived till she was eighty four, going
through the rough and tumble of life and yet was very
resilient. She was an ordinary woman but possessed an
extra ordinary strength of love and courage. She was
under the shadow of her true God, who she discovered
in the later part of her life. She gave all of her
children a sense of security and trust. Katharine
Hathway describes it better what I would say of my
mother: “Everybody knows that a good mother gives her
children a feeling of trust and stability. She is the
one they can count on for the things that matter most
of all. She is their food and their bed and their
extra blanket when it grows cold in the night. She is
their warmth and health and their shelter. She is the
one they want to be near when they cry. She is the
only person in the whole world or in a whole life time
can be these things to her children.”

I know that my mother was all these and her long years
of life had indeed been a blessing. However, her life
took a remarkable turn around in the last five years
before she could breathe her last.

Her encounter with Jesus was the crowning glory of her
life. Her search for the enduring peace and hope
finally culminated in Christ. It is amazing to see
how an eighty year old woman with immense experience
of religious devotion of her own kind finally found
Christ to be all and end all of her life. The grace
of God reaches to anyone regardless of age.

My mother was a staunch follower of the Radha Swami
sect: a variation of Hindu religion. The sect forbid
idol worship but emphasizes meditations. Being the
eldest among the daughters, my mother was regarded as
a decision-maker in her family. Her father always
discussed family matters with her. She had the
uncanny ability of handling family issues with great
maturity for her young age.

She came from a respectable family background where
everyone was treated fairly and equally. Her pious
background combined with her lively mind made her a
‘go-getter’ in her family. She possessed great
patience. Life was serene and easy to go by until
marriage changed it all.

For someone of her stature used to a regal upbringing,
taking the position of servitude in her in-law’s
family came as a rude shock. She was no more able to
be herself as the pressure and demands of being a
faithful wife and a good daughter-in-law came down on
her heavily. Not that she resisted donning a woman’s
role as tradition expected; it just came short of her
self-worth and dignity.

She had to part with the gifts of jewelry and cash
given by her parents. She was oppressed by her
in-laws demands. However, dutifully she did the
family chores, she was treated badly and neglected.

Rejection, humiliation and lack of freedom to say or
do anything she liked characterized her married life.
Totally controlled by her in-laws, she was not even
allowed to meet her parents. Such was the hardship
she had to endure.

The emotional torture of having to live with a
domineering family took a heavy toll on her fragile
health. With five daughters to tend to, life turned
out to be a roller coaster ride of emotional
exhaustion. She was ridiculed for not delivering a
son, although she eventually had four sons. Unable to
bear the situations she would retire alone and cry
silently. She was desperate to find a way out of her
mental pain and sought for salvation earnestly. Her
faith in her guru and meditations left her fending for
some peace of mind. The only consolation was her
children: her life revolved around them. A kind
hearted and selfless man my father was, but unable to
stand up against his parents for my mother.
Throughout his life my father spent most of his time
with his parents than with my mother who should have
been his first priority. This was a way of life
prevalent during those times.

When my grand father passed away, my dad for the first
time began to attend to my mother’s emotional needs.
Affection was short lived. A year later my dad too
died and that left my mother in a pitiable state of

My grand mother too fell sick and my already battered
mother had to tend to her. My mother’s heart of
servitude was in full bloom. She tended to her
mother-in-law with gladness. My grand mother was
deeply moved, her heart melted under the expression of
my mother’s selflessness. Besides tending to my grand
mother, she also had the daunting responsibility of a
mother of eight children. She seemed to know the way
servitude and love. My brothers and sisters-in-law
took good care of her. But my mother’s heartaches
hadn’t ended. My 19 year old brother lost his life
in a drowning accident. This incident disturbed me
and I became seriously ill and was depressed to the
extent of attempting suicide.

Here was my mother torn apart, battered and in
perennial grief. My mother desperately clung to her
guru’s teachings and meditations to find a way out of
her troubled life. In all of these my sisters were
there for her and my brothers-in-law were also quite

It was in the middle of 1999, on one of her yearly
visits to Bangalore.

Earlier when she visited Bangalore, she would stay for
a month or more, meet my sister, my relatives and me
and would return to Calcutta. However, this trip was
going to be momentous. A trip planned by God. She
was going to experience something life transforming,
which for the rest of her brief life here on earth was
going to impact many people.

Meanwhile, I was living alone in Bangalore and
completely dependent on God. Being concerned about my
living alone, she enquired as to how I was supporting
myself. At first she could not believe that I was
able to move on in life without any support from my
family and still serve God cheerfully. She was the
one was deeply worried about my life, and here she was
about to witness how God was sustaining me. It
constrains me to share that when one follows after
Christ, God never gives up on the individual.

My identity was not derived from my family or from
social status or money. It came from Christ. In
Christ I was a new creature and possessed an identity
that nothing else in this world could bestow. This my
mother witnessed in my life.

Instead of returning to Calcutta, my mother decided to
stay back with me and care for me. I was excited at
the prospect of having my mother stay with me. She
was now free to be herself. I could see from her
furrowed forehead and gnarled hands, eighty years of
her strength tested and tried by the many adversities
of life.

Now here she was with me and bared her heart. I would
listen patiently and let her express herself freely.
I knew that the burdens and pains of the past were
slowing her down. Only the Lord could heal and
restore her and this was going to happen gradually. I
let it happen that way.

Perhaps my listening to her eased her mind in some
ways. I watched her waking up early in the morning
and meditate. However true peace and joy continued to
elude her.

I went about my day ministering to people as usual. I
would be gone for most of the day and would return
only late in the evening. I would call her up and
make sure she was alright. I wanted her to rest.

The only love that I could give her liberally and
unreservedly was the love of Christ. I was smitten by
that unconditional love.

During one of my usual conversations with her, I
handed her a copy of the Holy Bible and asked her to
read it. “Yes I will read the Bible but don’t ask me
to stop reading my guru’s teachings.” She told me. I
did not mind it. I let her have her way.

She would tell me that her guru also spoke of Christ
and emphasized that all religions are the same,
leading to the same God.

Being a follower of a sect that did not prohibit one
from appreciating another faith, mother sat with me
during my regular Saturday prayer meetings.

I couldn’t possibly preach and argue with my mother,
she was aged and experienced and knew more of life
than I could know. After all I was her last son, I
was only giving her solace.

After almost eighty years of being in a particular
faith, it must have well taken strong roots. You just
cannot argue about or convince someone as old as my
mother about your faith, particularly someone who was
devout and deeply religious.

It will only take God to draw one to Him. I let God
speak to my mother and stepped back. All I could do
was to love her, care for her and cherish her. Time
was precious and I did not want us to miss out on each

One thing I understood was that care becomes the basis
of all cure. More people are healed when there is
enough care and love. Caring for a person with one’s
heart and soul heals more than anything else. OH!
What an effect when you put your arms around someone
and tell them you care, you’re there…that’s all that
is needed. This Divine, Heavenly love draws them to
the Lord.

Said Henry Newman “In a community like ours, we have
put all the emphasis on cure. We want to be
professionals, heal the sick, help the poor, teach the
ignorant, organize the scattered but the temptation is
that we use our expertise to keep a safe distance from
what really matters and forget that in the long run,
cure without care is more harmful than helpful.”

To care is what my ministry is all about. I do not
pride in being a great spiritual man but I strive to
spread the love of Christ and reach out to the needy
by caring for them, I see infinite worth in the one
who I care for. To sum it up without being
extraordinarily spiritual or philosophical, my
ministry is all about caring, sharing and loving.

I was reaching out to my mother and in some ways let
her see what Christ can do when He enters one’s life.
During the few years she lived with me, my mother
regained what she had lost of her individuality in the
past. She had what she wanted, the freedom to move
about, do the household chores, have her say and just
be herself. She loved it.

Though I had a maidservant to cook and assist,
sometimes mother would go to the kitchen and say that
she wanted to cook and serve me. She derived great
satisfaction and joy in serving me. I encouraged this
realizing that she had missed out on this earlier. In
many ways God was restoring to her what she had lost
in the past.

When I was not around, she took all the phone calls
tirelessly and would brief me when I returned home. I
prayed much for her. At times she would worry about
our daily sustenance. There were bills to be paid,
groceries to be bought and many other household needs.
I let God prove that he cared about us since I was in
His plan. She witnessed miracle after miracle meeting
our needs.

On a sunny noon a person unknown to mother came home
with a bag of groceries. Observing that we were being
provided for mysteriously stunned my mother. She knew
God was orchestrating my life. When I met with an
accident, breaking my arm, the hospital bills piled up
as I was admitted for a while. Again the required
finances were provided for settling the bills. This
was again proving to my mother that God was keenly
watching over us. I had my mother and my Heavenly
Father. Oh what a time it was! I was happy and
contented with life. Our daily needs were met and God
was so good to us.

During the week, there were people from all walks of
life, backgrounds and languages coming to my house for
prayer. My mother began to meet them all and heard
from them how God was touching and healing their lives
through the prayers held on Saturdays. It appeared to
her that I was not alone but that I had innumerable
brothers and sisters in Christ.

The testimonies of people deeply touched my mother and
it slowly dawned on her that Jesus was real and His
presence was felt in the house. She saw me being a
blessing to so many people and wondered how her son
Ravi who was once given up by everybody and in a mess,
now a blessing and a message to others. She saw the
divine love operating in me. This entranced her and
drew her to God. This led her to finally believe that
Christ was her Saviour and God. She opened her heart
to the saving grace of Christ and accepted Him as her

It was worth waiting and being patient. One of my
friends was baffled about my mother accepting Christ
and asked me how I was able to lead her to Christ as
he was finding it difficult to influence his mother to
accept Christ.

‘How did that happen’ he asked me? I only told him to
love the individual prayerfully. I emphasized that no
one can convert anybody by force. It was not
conversion but conviction. Only the grace of God can
do it and we are the messengers of that grace, I

The love that she found in the Lord transformed her
life. There was real peace, sustaining joy, and
assured future and a life full of hope. All these
virtues overflowed in her life and she went about
sharing this with others. I was so happy to see her
at peace with herself and with others. Interestingly
enough, inspite of language being a barrier she went
ahead smiling and picking up conversations with
others. Mother was from the north and spoke Hindi
while the people who frequented my house spoke Tamil,
Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu. It was a mix of
languages but love bound all. Moved by love,
believers in Christ notwithstanding the language
barrier began talking to others. Even if it meant a
simple greeting, a handshake, a warm hug and praying,
believers did it with great gusto and love.

She found a new friendship and sisterly love in aunty
Susheela who spoke Telugu and Tamil. I was amazed
watching them pray together, share and converse in
broken English. That is the love of Christ that binds
one to the other inspite of any limitation.

Mother took the Bible at face value and implicitly
believed in the Scriptures. Her faith was strong and
she witnessed, counseled and prayed for others. On
meeting people she would ask them if they read the
Bible and would stress that reading the Word was
important. She would share how deeply she was
enriched and nourished reading the Word. This was
true and I used to watch her pouring over the Word.
She was a woman of the Word. Her hunger and thirst
for the Word was deep. I saw that.

At one time I returned home quite late and asked my
mother if she had eaten dinner. ‘No I didn’t. I was
too caught up reading the Bible. I even forgot my
food.’ She replied. It was midnight by then and I
went to the kitchen to warm up the food and give it to
her. Such was her desire to read the Bible even
though she was pushing beyond eighty.

She would invite whosoever she came across,
irrespective of caste, language and religion to the
Saturday prayers. She wanted them to be blessed in
the Lord. She had a selfless love, Christ like love
that was childlike and contagious. It was not how
many years she loved Christ that mattered, but how
deeply she knew Him.
When people were in distress and tears, she would
cheer them up and say ‘Don’t worry, just commit
everything to God, wait for the time and he will do
the best, for He is Faithful.’ She would often quote
from Ecc 3 : 1,11 as she loved this scripture. “To
everything there is a reason and a time to every
purpose under the heaven. He has made all things
beautiful in His time.’

She was bold enough to declare this because she
possessed a deep peace and faith.

A young couple Ronald and his Filipino wife France
from Dubai visited my place and stayed with me for a
week. While they were here, France witnessed the love
of Christ in my mother, which drew her close to my
mother and led her to a deep awareness of Christ’s
love for her. I could see mother counseling and
praying for them. France, overwhelmed by Christ’s
love in mother told her, “Maji, I will come down and
settle in Bangalore. I have found my mother in you.”

In another instance there was a young alcoholic boy
who was counseled by mother. The boy stayed at my
place for sometime. Mother began to talk to him and
pray for him. She stressed to him that Jesus alone
could deliver and restore him. The young addict’s
parents were worried about their son. It was mother
again who testified to them how the Lord delivered her
own grandson from fourteen years of drug addiction and
she told them what Jesus said in Matt 19:26, “With men
this is impossible but with God all things are
possible.” This testimony encouraged the family who
hailed from Rajasthan. I understood later that they
would never enter a graveyard as per their religious
belief, and it was touching to see them at the
cemetery for mother’s funeral. It was the love of
Christ that mother showed to their son that drew them
beyond their beliefs. It is the love of Christ that
breaks any man made barrier and heals all the ills of

She was part of my ministry and understood that God
had called me out to serve Him. At an age when,
mothers would love to have their sons around, she
would encourage me to serve others first. She was
happy to stay alone at home and pray for me. Even
though she was in her eighties and very weak, she
demonstrated great strength and was a great source of
encouragement to me. She would often say, “Don’t rush
back home for me. I am not alone, Jesus is with me.
Go about your ministry since people need you and your
prayers. I do not want to hinder your ministry. God
has called you and you need to do His work. Just call
me and let me know where you are for the ministry is
important and must go on.

On some occasions I used to get calls at midnight and
my mother, without any worry would only say, “Go son,
put on your jacket and go….” She stood with me. Often
times I would leave home in the morning for ministry
return home late, and find my mother, despite being
alone at home at 80 plus age, would inquire about the
day’s ministry.

She desired that every family should come to Christ
and for this reason she was quite comfortable when I
was out ministering.

One of my cousins told me that my mother was very
concerned and worried about my marriage. I took my
cousin to my mother and inquired the same. Mother
said, “No, I am not worried. I have given him to
Jesus and I am very delighted to see him serving the
Lord. Perhaps being single gives him full time
serving the Lord. That’s his calling, he is not
really alone. Many brothers and sisters and mothers
in Christ surround him. Seeing all this I am satisfied
and at peace”

My Mother understood that I was in God’s plan. She
was bold in witnessing to all the relatives and
pointed them to Christ and prayed for their salvation.

On a visit to Calcutta in the month of December 2002,
mother was reading her Bible and praying openly. In
the midst of the business in the house, she never
missed her time of devotion in reading the Bible and
praying. She didn’t care who watched her. At one
time when her eldest son noticed her praying, he asked
her to pray for him citing problems in the office.
She told him to believe in Jesus and emphasized that
if he called on Jesus he would receive help. It was
unusual to see these things happen between mother and
my elder brother.

Calcutta saw something new about mother. She was no
more the same. She was bold and wise. I was now
asked to pray for all in the same house which I was
once asked to leave.

Meeting up with my family and relatives, and praying
for them went on for about a week to ten days. I
returned to Bangalore while mother stayed back.
However her heart was in Bangalore and the fellowship.
She would express her deep longing for the fellowship
over our phone conversations. She eventually returned
to Bangalore to her cherished Christian fellowship.

She loved to fellowship with brothers and sisters in
Christ. She would list out the names for me to pray.

Mother was fond of church. At eighty plus she would
climb down the stairs unassisted to attend the church.
Although she did not understand much of the messages,
which was in English, she loved being at the church.
Once back home she would tell me how much she enjoyed
the worship, talk about the message and seek to
understand more.

She would remind others not to miss out on church
service. She was involved in the Lord’s work and
experienced the anointing of Lord in a very deep way.
She began to live out the Christian life in such a way
it showed in her likes and dislikes of what people
did. When one of her sons came to Bangalore to visit
her, he inadvertently lit up his cigarette in the
house to which she objected and maintained that it was
a sanctified place. In some ways she was making a
point that she wanted to live a life of purity.

She saw the hand of God in my life. When I had broken
my arm in the accident, I wondered if she would be
shaken and perhaps question, “Why are these things
happening to Ravi when he is serving the Lord?” I was
wrong. On the other hand she told me, “There is a
divine purpose in this accident. God makes no
mistakes. There is something good in this.” When
people came to visit her they thought she must be in
shock, but they were surprised to find her calm,
courageous and full of faith. She was in turn
encouraging the ones who were concerned and would tell
them from Rom 8:28 “And we know that all that happen
to us is working for our good if we love God and are
fitting into his plans.”

When I was back home and recuperating she was
ministering to me, I told her, “Ma, I should be
serving you as your son and here you are serving me.”
She would say. “I am not just a mother to you but also
your nurse and I love to serve you for you are serving
the Lord.” Oh, I received love and care from her.
The Lord used her immensely in my ministry. She was a
prayer warrior. She upheld me in her prayers. I
realize today that it was my mother’s prayers that
greatly blessed my ministry. Oh, I wish there were
more mothers like her, praying and praying much…..

At one time I had to shift my house as the lease
period was drying up. For a while I had nowhere to
go. I moved into my sister’s home. Many people were
critical of me and were asking us as to how God could
leave me in such a crisis. My mother, however, was
very encouraging and said, “Don’t worry it is just a
time of testing. We will get through this and let’s
not give up. Jesus is on our side and He has reserved
the best for us. Perhaps God is seeing how strong our
faith is in Him.” When I reminded her of her
comfortable background, she shot back, “House or no
house, I am satisfied in Him.” Eventually we moved
into a nice house provided by the Lord. It was worth
waiting, trusting, and learning from God

In August of 2002 mother expressed her desire to be
baptized openly. (Baptism, by which a person is
immersed in water and taken out, is a symbolic
representation of being buried in Christ and rising
again.) I prayed much for the same and led by the
Lord I baptized her according to the Holy Scriptures.
When she came out of the waters she saw a bright light
and expressed to us that she was in the embrace of
God. This was her bold move and a public confession
of her faith in Christ.

She was very fond of worship and had a large
collection of Hindi worship songs. She would sing
along even as she played these songs. She was a
worshipper. She maintained her own diary of people’s
names and would call them, encourage them and
fellowship with them.

She had a heart for the poor and needy. When I used
to go to the villages for ministry she was very happy
that I was serving among the downcast. She too wanted
to be part of this ministry. She would ask about the
village and if I could take her there sometime.

Her time on the earth was drawing to an end. She
often fell sick but there was nothing to be worried
about. She once fell in the bathroom but still came
out smiling and started her daily routine. I often
asked her to relax and not strain herself, but she
would not listen and just kept going. I did have a
hunch that God was preparing her for heaven, but I
least expected it by October of 2003.

She had lived life in the joy of Christ. She was like
a child and wanted very much to be around people.
Months before she passed away, my sisters came down to
stay with her. She began giving away her saris to
them. One of my sisters was concerned that mother was
giving away her clothes. Mother told her
matter-of-factly that she may not be around for very
much longer. At first they could not believe it, but
God was preparing her. She told me that she was ready
for the heavenly home. It was I who was praying to
God to spare her for a little while longer.

When her blood pressure increased on October 12th
2003, we admitted her to the Baptist Hospital. She
was well taken care of there. To me, Baptist Hospital
reflected the love of Christ. There are many
hospitals that can be ranked among the best, but their
motivation was different. At Baptist it is the love
of Christ that motivates people to save the sick and
needy. Mother felt at home. Inspite of her illness
she witnessed to others over there. She pointed out
to them that Christ was the great Physician and
deliverance came only from Him. On the morning of the
14th of October, she suffered a mild heart attack and
was shifted to the ICU. That evening I was very
anxious as her condition was deteriorating but she
smiled and told me “Don’t worry I am safe in the hands
of Jesus.” The next morning, the doctors told us that
her condition was very bad. At round 11.30 in the
morning she held sister Beulah’s hand, looked at her
and thanking God and praising Him, she breathed her
last. She had gone home!

It seemed that the lights went out of my life for a
brief moment. Her luminous face resting on the bed
looked like she was in a deep sleep. But she was
gone. Her call had come and she was received in
heaven by throngs of angels.

Her funeral was a send off to heaven and not merely a
time of mourning. Though we grieved in the flesh, we
rejoiced in the Spirit. Though dead and gone to be
with Christ, she still speaks to us. Her love for
Christ continues to inspire people.

- Ravi Kapoor