Ina

Meet our friends

Ina (aka Thomasina) is one of our more cherished guests. She travelled to Australia, as a young child, with her parents on an assisted passage from Scotland over sixty years ago. So please note, all Australians that went from the U.K. are not crooks 😉 it’s a joke, ok? She’s just been telling me about that first voyage and how they stopped off in Sri Lanka.

 

P1080246Ina first visited us in Mysore five years ago with a plan to meet with Dorjee, a Tibetan Monk living close by in Bylakuppe (reputedly the biggest Tibetan settlement in India, less than two hours away). She had sponsored him for almost twenty years since he was a thirteen year old child when he first came to India. She brought chaos with her on the very first visit. Manjula was away at her mothers, Ina managed to lock me out of the house and brought an unexpected although very welcome guest …. a gate-crashing monk. 🙃

This was their first meeting. A wonderful occasion we were so happy to be part of..

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Ina is from Adelaide in Australia with a lovely family her daughter Naomi, son Daniel and four lovely grand children. She has now visited each year, only missing once when Manjula and I were in the UK and became Manjula’s closest friend amongst the many close friends from our guests.

Ina’s also widowed, as her Singaporean husband Daniel died almost exactly ten years ago. So she has personal insights and has been incredibly supportive, helping me through this astonishingly difficult time.

I would often joke with Manjula that Ina has one of the strongest Scottish accents I’ve ever heard yet has lived in Australia since just a few years old. How did that happen then? She has been known to interpret for other guests yet Manjula never had any problems understanding her.

Ina is with us now and is constantly regaling me with her intimate stories of the time she spent with Manjula. They’d go out on trips together as they did last year to Bylakuppe, we’d celebrate Manjula’s 45th birthday as a group. Birthday breakfast was Ina setting the table, Willian (workawayer from Brazil) chopping the fruit and moi, making the mushies, eggs and toast. We were all on tenterhooks will it meet Madam’s high expectations? Manjula was the boss!

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Manjula admired Ina’s jazzy shoes and just a few weeks later, a parcel arrived in the post, shoes for Manjula.

It’s all a bit of a mixed blessing, as life is now, because I love to hear about Manjula and remember her especially through a close friends eyes but it also reminds me of what I’m missing. We recall how Manjula was so giving and how everyone that’s ever visited us, has taken a bit of Manjula away with them.

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My beautiful, who has gone and left me.

I realise that Ina is a goldmine of reminiscences and must capture whatever I can from her memories of Manjula to help grow Manjula’s story that I’ll post over the next few months. So this morning Faizan came to video Ina’s reminiscences of Manjula.

I do wonder however how Ina will manage during this visit, without Manjula and having to tolerate too much of that chap…. what’s his name again? You know the beautiful Manjula’s husband!

Dreaming

She’s dreaming, check this latest episode from Ina’s stay.

I’ve had to add a bit more… to Ina’s bit on the site. These photos come from her second visit and I’ve now realised how important a person Manjula was to Ina as I’d realised before how Ina was so important to Manjula. Its been hard for Ina being here without her great friend and having to tolerate the Englishman but its been wonderful seeing my beautiful wife from even more angles.

Three stages

Our (Manjula and my) friends are really really cool and warm.

After three months I can appreciate (wrong word if it ever implies like!) three distinct and overlapping stages (not quite the right description) that also still exist, often all at exactly the same time.

The first is raw, extreme grief that fills your every moment when not concentrating on physical practical action things such as rituals and sorting things out. It still raises it awful ugly head and manifests itself in salty wetness every single day. Needless to say it also involved anger, pity, it was frankly messy. Sharing my feelings and the support of friends around the world was superb. Overall though it was and still can be really shitty. More on the three buckets of grief can be found here.

Second stage became more obvious and vivid when I was at Liz’s house (big ex, mum of my boys and still a great friend of Manj and I). On a small corner table was a photo from my eldest son Ben’s wedding with Manjula in the group. During the evening I found myself looking away from her picture as I was overcome by sad feelings. At that moment I properly realised what I’d been doing and what I needed to do next. The sad memories of the difficulties she experienced, particularly at the end and of her being snatched away needed to be and were being replaced by lovely memories of our time together, the adventures we’d created and how much of a difference we’d made in each other’s lives. I therefore spent more time Looking at her photo, appreciating her beauty; remembering the joy and the wonderful life we’d created. Things slowly start getting better.

Third stage. I’ve now met up with our friends in India, UK, USA and Canada to share our memories of Manjula. People’s care, kindness and compassion has been immeasurable. I now feel that whilst the above ‘stages%’ are still very much part of my life, and things will continue to be raw for some time, I need now to start pulling things together a bit, get a bit more focussed. To move from any regret to remorse, check article here. A critical part of that will be to confirm and clarify, speak out to Manjula, ask her forgiveness for the things I didn’t do, or wish I’d done more of or better, and recognise the amazing things we did do, thanking her for her time with me (that continues) and being an absolute star.

I love you Manjula and always will.

Memories of Manjula

There are just so many….. photos everywhere (Manjula would complain that there were too many but I never believed her)

These are in prominent positions in the house.

This one with lots of her things as part of the pooja on specific days, they’re not always there!

The logo created by Punith.

videos ….

Article in the Guardian (photo is taken from the article)

The river Kaveri where Manjula said a prayer after our wedding celebration in the field on Srirangaptnam. A tender memory.

Facebook and blog postings, meals at the Ashram for the elderly residents ……. remembered happenings, and most importantly the piece of her that’s in my heart that will always make me smile, ( the T-shirt I gave her in recognition of this and the rosette I made awarding her best maid in Mysore after working for her for one year…. early signs of my love?)

the jokes, the giggles, bossing me around, the hair (she was losing it) I still find in nooks and crannies.

And what about this from Kate who came to stay with us years ago?

A lovely gesture, trees planted by treesthatcount.co.nz in New Zealand in memory of Manjula.

Thanks Kate, love it!

Manjula …. Taking back control

The idiots in the British Government at the head of the Conservative party seem to have completely lost it, and not just in terms of Brexit

On the other hand …. it’s quite another matter for a woman in Mysore ……

Her main purpose in our nine years together was to invite people to share her home and to connect. In those years she’d done everything to create a beautiful, clean, comfortable open welcoming home. Not just the cleaning, cooking, preparing rooms for the guests, managing the staff, coordinating transport and the garden and above all create that warm, welcoming atmosphere that something in the air.

That useless lump of a husband by contrast was only the booking clerk. She so loved pointing that out!

Of this achievement she was rightly proud. This week we’ve received hundreds of messages from around the world, a testament to how she’s drawn people close to her, connected with them and left behind a piece of her.

This last season, as she lost so much weight and at times became poorly, she would often reflect with me that now that she could do none of what she did over the years. It wasn’t true of course, after talking it through she’d agree that the most important the meeting, greeting and chatting, connecting with people was still very much her role and what she’d love doing. It’s the main reason why we were open over this last season. It was what kept her going.

Recorded on 12th March

She very much kept control, she had a network, fetching and carrying, the fruit and veg for breakfasts delivered by the shop, the gardener dropping in her own Breakfast, Sudha bringing home cooked food every day, organising transport, managing the staff, I’d even jokingly bought her a bell to use when she wanted me but the innovator, the strong woman that she was would just have to ring my phone and pavlov’s dog would come running.

I’d joke that it wasn’t like this before we got married.

But there’s another less comfortable aspect of her taking control.

I think she’d had enough and knew it was time to go.

She was fed up of the uncertainty, the to and fro from the different doctors and clinics, the loss of weight, feeling ill, the many many many drugs she was taking every day, the dodderyness, the tests. She absolutely hated the blood tests, it had all got too much. Last week on Wednesday the doctors wanted to admit her, she wouldn’t go. We went home. I discussed it with her. She eventually decided to go back in on the Friday to an ordinary ward. She was admitted to the ICU as her condition had deteriorated. As we prepared to leave home in the Ambassador to go to the hospital she had one careful look around the lounge, as if she was taking it all in, one last time or as others suggested that she could see something else telling her it was time.

Manjula had a heart attack that evening and was brought back to life then again in the morning she had another and in line with her wishes I asked the doctors to let her go.

Missing Manjula 1

Thank you all for your kind thoughts, precious memories of Manjula and wonderful photographs. There are so many I can’t keep up but please do send more and we’ll create a virtual book.

Here’s some examples.

Dear Stephen
I’m so very sorry to hear about Manjula – she gave joy not just to you but to many others too. I just wanted to share with you some of the photos I took of her. I especially like the one of the two of you that I took while you were still claiming that you weren’t a couple’. 
Sending much love – Anna
………..

Thank you for getting to know a little bit of you, from Dana and her family.

……….

Dear Stephen,

We have just received your news and are just so very very sad to hear of Manjula’s death. it is hard for us to take in and must be so for you. She was such a one-off, we were so happy to meet her, loved her humour, her cooking, the way she had your measure! She also had courage. What a great couple you were. We are so glad that you had your time together, short though it turned out to be and we have such joyful memories of staying with you. Sunday night curry – how she glowed sitting at that table in her beautiful saris, take away pizzas, and fruit salad without papaya for me (against the rules!)! We have many very fond memories. We are so sorry that her life has been cut short but I imagine her years with you must have exceeded anything she had expected in her life! I’m sure tears are being shed across many countries, so many people did she connect with.

We also are just so sad for you in your loss. It must be very very tough. Thankfully you are surrounded by people who also loved and appreciated her uniqueness and hope this offers some comfort in your sadness. Much love to you.

Ros and Paul xx

Team briefing

As per usual. The girls are completely ignoring me. I’ve offered Manjula a new job and here’s the detail of the tasks and targets!

Ok so I’m not the worlds best artist 🙃 it’s how I communicated her job when she first came to work for me….

Here’s a photo of the original job description!

yes, there was a day when Manjula actually worked for me. Now we know that the tables have turned.

This is just my way to help support her and to focus on what’s important such as eating well, putting on weight, exercising, not being in bed too long, welcoming and chatting with guests, taking meds on time. Above all fun things and seeing the world through a glass half full

Here’s Manjula summarising how her jobs changed over time. A week or so before she died.