My beloved grandmother Kantaben Jayantilal Dattani was born Kanta Nathalal Kanabar in Kenya on 5 February 1938. She was the eldest child of 7 children born to Nathalal Jivan Kanabar and Premkurben Nathalal Kanabar. In 1955 at age 17 she married my grandfather Jayantilal Narsidas Dattani. They began their married lives in Kenya, moved to Uganda and then eventually settled in Britain in 1969. They both worked very hard to purchase a family home in Leicester. They had 5 daughters, and from their daughters’ marriages, they gained 5 son-in-laws and 14 grandchildren. After leading a wonderful, fulfilling and exemplary life, and enjoying a marriage that lasted 57 years, my grandmother took her last breath on Sunday 15 January 2012 surrounded by her family.
Losing my grandmother has been an exceptionally difficult and distressing time for me and my entire family. We didn’t just lose a wife and a mother, a sister and a grandmother; we lost the rock upon which our family was built.
She was our strength and stability in an uncertain world. She was our source of unconditional love when things were tough. She was our friend bringing joy into our lives with her infectious smile and cheeky sense of humour. And she was our spiritual guru, teaching us how to lead exemplary lives, how to love, how to respect women, and how to praise the word of almighty God.
Understandably everyone that knows us will by now have gone back to their normal everyday lives. But for us, our lives have been changed forever, because our mother has left us.
But she has left us safe in the knowledge that we, her sons and daughters, are now the living embodiment of her values, her teachings and her compassion. Anyone who really knew my nanima knew that she was a great soul with an abundance of love. This is because she was a mother for most of her life.
Not only was she a mother figure to her own younger brothers and sisters, but she also became a mother figure to her younger brothers and sisters-in-law at the tender age of 19, following the untimely death of her mother-in-law. At age 20 she became a mother to her own children when she gave birth to the first of her five daughters.
As her faith in God grew stronger with each passing year so her blessings multiplied. Not only was she blessed with 5 daughters, and through their marriages, 5 sons, but she was also blessed with 14 grandchildren; 7 boys and 7 girls. Most importantly of all, she was blessed with the love, warmth and support of her husband, my grandfather, Jayantilal Dattani, with whom she spent nearly 57 years in marriage.
My grandmother’s favourite quote from the Bhagavad Gita was this: “Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones.” (2:22)
Our family may feel lost and desperately sad at her passing, but we have taken great comfort in the fact that her soul has merely changed clothes, having discarded a body that could no longer keep up with her. However rather than being reborn we know that her soul has broken free from the cycle of births and deaths and that she now resides in the all-encompassing and loving embrace of almighty God.
Thank you to everyone who has sent prayers and messages of condolence to me and my family in recent weeks; they were a great comfort to us all and we very much appreciated them. May God grant nanima’s soul eternal peace. Jai Shree Krishna.