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Eternal inspiration
- Vasumathi Badrinathan, Mumbai

July 4, 2009

This article was first published in the Edit page of Indian Express on April 16, 1992 and subsequent to that, republished by several national & international publications and online journals.

Some memories live forever. They remain by you - silent shadows of the past, they grow with you. Her memory dwells in my subconscious like a protective canopy. For, she was one such person whom it is not easy to forget. She was around all the time, her wonderful personality spreading everywhere; she still is always around now. Her presence exuded warmth and made the house into a perfect home.

She shaped my life. She very deftly manipulated the reins she held and took me unfailingly towards my destination. She became the master craftsman of my life and executed her travail effortlessly, tastefully and beautifully. She held my hands all through, lest I stumbled over the thorny paths of life. She had understood what was best for me and led me assertively to achieve my goals. She was my perennial source of encouragement, urging me all the time to perform better. Sad, that the best things came when she wasn't there to see her efforts bearing fruit - it was ordained to be that way.

She instilled in me my love for art that has made me a more complete person. She had in her talents that would have taken her to heights had she found the right encouragement. There, some of her dreams stood unrealised and she worked painstakingly so that I would have all that she was denied, so that I would have the very best.

Indeed, she taught me much more. She taught me to love life, to enjoy it and to make it enjoyable for others. She induced me to radiate happiness and warmth, as she did, to make this world a better place. Her goodness of heart now stuns me, for I have never until today, been able to see parallels; of course, I have seen the negation of it and the contrast has served only to elevate her further in my esteem. She was exactly like what I read long back in my favourite book and still remember vividly: "Her eyes are like two candles in a dark, dark world."

She had become my prime confidante, companion and friend. We shared an undefinable relationship that was a bond forever. Our oneness had me taking her for granted. I always assumed that she could be there beside me, forever, and I thought, stupidly, that I could take refuge in her. But one sudden moment I realised she wasn't there. My pillar of strength was shattered, and I was left drifting in a wild, wicked world I had never faced alone.

But her absence made me independent, fierce, capable, shrewd, knowing, worldly wise. She had exhorted me to be bold and courageous and in those words I have found the secret to manoeuvre life. I do not know how much I have bequeathed of the legacy of values she had me imbibe, but I keep trying. It is now 21 years since she has gone and it is hard to think that she is no more, to refer to her in the past tense, to come to grips with the cruel reality. Her presence in my mind goads me on, to carry ahead, unflinchingly. For me she continues to dwell on. She was in every way a truly singular and beautiful person. She was my mother.

Dr Vasumathi Badrinathan is an eminent Carnatic vocalist and a Bharatanatyam dancer. The following article is a tribute to her late mother Padma Seshadri who passed away in 1988. She was Vasumathi's guru, to whom the author owes her passion and grounding in music and dance. Padma Seshadri was a Carnatic musician trained under Yagneshwara Bhagavatar (nephew of Muthiah Bhagavatar) in Bombay and later under TR Balamani. She trained Vasumathi painstakingly in Carnatic music and simultaneously put her onto Bharatanatyam, a dream she could not pursue in those days. In many ways Vasumathi is living her dream today, as a Carnatic vocalist, a Bharatanatyam dancer and as a thinking artiste. Vasumathi's production on women composers in South Indian music - Stree Gaanam, premiered in 2005, was dedicated to the cherished memory of her mother.)


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