I used to call her ‘Babba’. She was perhaps the most loving soul I have ever come across. She came into my parents’ house considerably before I was born. I am not sure if I am right, but perhaps her husband used to work with my father even before my parents met. He was the cook in my parents’ house, and Babba was like a mother to me. Babba’s basic work was to look after my siblings and me. If I remember correctly, she would bathe me, dress me, wash my clothes, feed me, tell me stories, pat me to sleep, and so on—many tasks of a mother.
I never saw Babba even once get angry, or even irritated. I never heard her say a single harsh word. She was the most calm, gentle, kind and loving person I have ever come across. Babba’s being in my life was a great blessing. If I am right, she was in my life right from the day I came into this world. From her I got true love. She treated me like her very own child.
Babba and her husband belonged to a religious tradition different from that of the family into which I was born. I really appreciate my parents’ openness in having them be with us as an integral part of the family, for many, many years. Babba and her husband were, technically, ‘home helps’, but my relationship with them was like a child to two doting parents.
The presence of Babba and her husband as members of the family that I was born into made my childhood truly ‘transfaith’. I grew up with close emotional relationships with people from different religious backgrounds, not seeing them as ‘other’ but as my very own, and that was a great blessing. This probably played a really major role in later years in my life in enabling me to go beyond religious labels, doctrinal differences and communal categories and instinctively bond with goodhearted people no matter what religion or ethnicity they might be associated with, and no matter what part of the world they happened to be in or from. My passion for promoting good relations between people who follow, or claim to follow, different religions, and my spontaneous feeling of being at one with good people from every sort of background possibly has much to do with Babba’s presence in my life, starting right from infancy. For that, and for many other things, I express my thanks to Babba. I also express my gratitude to my parents for allowing such a wonderful soul as Babba to be a part of my life possibly from the very day I was born.
Babba went back to God many years ago. Maybe she is now in Heaven, resting in eternal peace.