Thank you, Shailu Iyengar

Dearest Shailu Chithi,

Happy Birthday!!

You have had a profound impact on my life. You’ve inspired me, you’ve supported and guided me, you’ve energized me. On your special day, I want to say “THANK YOU!!!”

Thank you for being such an inspiration. I still remember our conversation when I was seven. I was cycling on the gravelly front yard of our house in Madras and you were talking to me about business school! You were telling me how there were these schools called Harvard and Stanford and how you wanted me to attend them. How I could do it – how I could be a leader and make an impact. What an adult conversation to have with a seven year old! It sounded very mysterious and alluring back then. But it left a lasting impression – especially coming from my super-cool aunt.

Thank you for our relationship. You always treated me as an adult. Whether I was seven or seventeen, you gave me the rights and the responsibilities of an adult. Our conversations were so entertaining – you’d ask my opinion on issues and actually listen. You’d challenge my assumptions and expand my world view.

Thank you for your generosity. You were selfless with your time – driving hours to pick me up when I landed on my first solo trip and when you took off from work and drove me to Boston for a weekend. You were so kind with your gifts – the Samsara you bought me was an incredible treat! I loved using that perfume. I still have the bottle. Oh, and that Express jacket that was so incredibly stylish (in black of course 🙂 – it hangs in my closet.

Thank you for your fierce, fierce love. A love that made you want to protect me, a love that made you push me, a love that made you passionately want the best for me.

On your birthday, I seek your blessings as always. And this year, for J and G as well.

You have had such an impact on my life and my choices. And what’s more, your passion and generosity impacted everyone you touched!

I miss you desperately. I love you very much.

Shripriya

In memory of my incredible aunt, Shailu Iyengar, 1955-1996.

  • Eileen

    What a wonderful tribute to your aunt – I hope my nieces and nephews remember me as warmly as you do yours.

  • Shripriya

    Ei – she was truly an incredibly fabulous person!

    And I hope you are around for a long, long time so that your nieces and nephews enjoy you as you are right now 🙂 And when the time comes, I am sure they will remember you very warmly.

  • Nancy

    I knew your aunt at American University and lost touch with her. I have wondered for years what happened to her. She was a very special person.

  • Shripriya

    Hi Nancy – thank you for you kind words. I’m glad you found this post.

  • Sharifah

    I knew your aunt when we were both at AU. She talked about you, she talked about a lot of things, she was passionate about a lot of things, about justice, about freedom of self, of societies… I remember how she always shook her head and pushed back her hair in desperation, and the look in her eyes when she was thinking about something that saddened her. She probably would have been an award winning writer if she had had the time to arrange her writing. I miss all the hours of conversation we had — intense, intellectual, and even sometimes, when we could, the inane ones.

  • Hi Sharifah – my aunt talked about you too – your name is very familiar. It is so nice to hear from you, thank you very much for your comment.

    Thanks also for all those memories of her – I can visualize the expressions on her face right now. I loved how she laughed or rather chuckled. 🙂 I can imagine her curled up reading, reading, reading…

    Yes, she was such a great writer. I wish she'd put herself first instead of always focusing on helping and supporting others and putting herself and her needs last. Saddens and angers me at the same time when I think of how much of a back seat she took, how truly selfless she was.

    I wish I could talk to her now.

  • Sharifah

    I knew your aunt when we were both at AU. She talked about you, she talked about a lot of things, she was passionate about a lot of things, about justice, about freedom of self, of societies… I remember how she always shook her head and pushed back her hair in desperation, and the look in her eyes when she was thinking about something that saddened her. She probably would have been an award winning writer if she had had the time to arrange her writing. I miss all the hours of conversation we had — intense, intellectual, and even sometimes, when we could, the inane ones.

  • Hi Sharifah – my aunt talked about you too – your name is very familiar. It is so nice to hear from you, thank you very much for your comment.

    Thanks also for all those memories of her – I can visualize the expressions on her face right now. I loved how she laughed or rather chuckled. 🙂 I can imagine her curled up reading, reading, reading…

    Yes, she was such a great writer. I wish she'd put herself first instead of always focusing on helping and supporting others and putting herself and her needs last. Saddens and angers me at the same time when I think of how much of a back seat she took, how truly selfless she was.

    I wish I could talk to her now.