Courage has many forms – and, sometimes, a few faces. I have encountered many forms of courage in life but seldom has it become rightfully and forcefully epitomized in a face. For me, one such face that will forever be the embodiment of courage belongs to my mami Rima Borpujari who breathed her last on August 3, 2015.On that fateful day, her protracted and intense battle with cancer may have ended her life but it was she who emerged victorious from that duel. Adversity often brings out the best of qualities in people – but to take adversity into stride and live every day of life with a peaceful smile and quiet forbearance; with no complaints and no drama; with dignified equanimity and composure indicates a kind of brave existence that necessitates salutation.
Rima Mami was married to my mother’s paterl cousin Shri PrashantaBorpujari (my Santu Mama). In the years that followed their marriage, ‘Borigaon, Jorhat’ came to mean a destition where one was always warmly welcomed. No visit to Jorhat, the place of origin for both sides of my materl grandparents, was complete without a day at Borigaon. And no ‘Borigaon day’ was complete without dropping in at Santu Mama and Rima Mami’s house. The two of them along with their two sweet daughters Rimpi and Rimliand Mami-Aita would always make any visitor feel at home – no mean feat considering the trying circumstances this family has gone through on multiple fronts over the years. Borigaon will be a very different place henceforth and the entire Borpujari clan and the extended families will feel this loss for all times to come.
As I think of Rima Mami in her last days, I am reminded of Mary Anne Radmacher’s words “Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’”. In her inimitable quiet, graceful and yet resolute manner, Rima Mami did try again with each tomorrow – to beat that illness, to ignore her pain, to smile even though her very jaw line hurt due to medication. Till her very last moment she lived for others and found joy in those precious moments of togetherness when her family and loved ones rallied around her. When my mother and I last visited her in hospital, she hardly talked about her illness– instead she asked about our well-being, fussed over Rimpi (who she chided for walking in the sun without an umbrella), insisted that Santu Mama, should get us tea even in hospital! She was the ideal mother, wife, sister, aunt, daughter-in-law – an extraordirily strong woman hidden in a frail body.
Human reaction to pain is often unpredictable – it is the rarest of spirits that deal with pain with a quiet and forgiving acceptance. It would be pretentious for any of us to say we could understand the kind of pain Mami had to endure – to those who witnessed that battle of life and death raging within her, 3 August 2015 may have brought some kind of a closure. But today on her adyashraddha, one sees that, more than anything else, death is a realization for those left behind by the one who departed – it teaches us how precious that life was and how magnificently courageous was that existence. Adieu Rima Mami – now that you are now free of your pain, may you find your peace knowing that a little of your courage lives on in your husband who stoically yet gamely stood by your side all these years; in your daughters who lit your funeral pyre with fortitude and respect; and in all your relatives and friends who will forever remember and be inspired by the quiet dignity and resilience you showed till the last. Rest in peace.
—Suranja Barua (Inki)