The lasting pain of missing my Aama

grandparents with their grandson
Grandma Vishnu Pokhrel along with her husband, Nanda Pokhrel and grandson, Aaditya Pokhrel.

Aama — a mother, that is exactly what my maternal grandma was to me. What a beautiful word it is that I get to remember her by. A gentle human being, she was my first guide and my first friend. 

I remember vividly when I visited Aama in Ohio during the winter months of 2017. We lived hours away then and I hadn’t seen her in almost more than a year. When I first came in, I rushed to her and rested my head on her lap. It felt like I was five again and Aama was putting me to sleep. 

I knew she was sick, and I also quickly realized she looked sick and that she wouldn’t be with me for much longer. Overwhelmed by emotions, I ran to another room before she could see my tears. I couldn’t believe it, my Aama would leave me soon. After staying with her for a while, we headed back home and to start our lives as if everything was normal and fine. 

A few weeks later, my mom received a call saying that “Aama is no longer with us.” I didn’t know what to say or how to react. I couldn’t comfort myself, let alone my mom. Our Hindu festivals are here, but they are not as bright as they would be when she was still with us. She gave us comfort, affection, and kindness.

I remember all the times I would run to her with my minor inconveniences. I remember when I had just started learning to cook; She taught me how to measure the water for the rice and the masalas (spices) for the curry. She talked with so much kindness all the time. 

It has been three years since yet her kindness still floats. I missed her badly in the recent Dashain — a Hindu festival, where the elders offer blessings to the younger members of the family. I felt her absence strongly. I know I am going to miss her forever.

Where I am today and whoever I am is all due to what Aama had taught me. Calm yet fearless, loving but intimidating; She was the embodiment of the word Aama. Even when ill, she always extended herself to her children, grandchildren, and so on. I could only hope to be half the person she was.

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Arati Chapagai is a second-year student at Ohio State University majoring in Criminology on a pre-law track. She aspires to be a criminal lawyer in the future but apart from that, she is determined to be an active leader with the Bhutanese Community. Ms.Chapagai has been an active volunteer at the Bhutanese Community of Central Ohio (BCCO). She has been involved with projects like the Bhutanese Response Assistance Volunteer Effort (BRAVE) and South Asian American Advocacy Forum (SAAF. Prior to moving to Ohio, Arati lived in Worcester, Massachusetts. As a high school student In Massachusetts, Arati was very involved with extracurriculars such as the food drive club at her school, Soccer, and Track and Field. She was also a participant in the Judicial Youth Corps Program, an intensive spring and summer internship for high school students that teaches about the Massachusetts court system and rules of law.

As a refugee, Arati Chapagai always aspired for a greater change in the community due to the inadequate knowledge of the outside world and the constant confinement of a small limited world. This has been her motivating factor in being an active social agent through organizations such as the Worcester Refugee Assistance Program (WRAP).

Aside from her extracurriculars, Ms.Chapagai also enjoys writing and soccer in her free time. She is an enthusiast for traveling and trying ethnic cuisine from all cultures. Arati joins Bhutan News Service to learn more about our history and culture whilst contributing towards preservation and storytelling.