My beautiful friend Kusum Bhatia passed away in a tragic house fire on November 20, 2018. Below is the eulogy I wrote for Kusum, but didn’t have a chance to deliver.
November 28, 2018
Kusum is an incredibly kind, loving, big-hearted person, who is truly a blessing to have known. And believe me, if she could put up with me, that’s saying a lot!!!
We met nearly 6 years ago, and I immediately knew I’d made a TRUE FRIEND. Kusum has a child-like heart and sensibility, with a great sense of humour to match. She shared with me so many funny and warm stories about her family; but, unfortunately, I only remember a few.
There was the one about Ravi first coming to court her for an arranged marriage, and him simply asking how tall she was – that was it, decision made! Yet amazingly, this simple exchange quickly blossomed into a lifetime of mutual love, care, and respect.
Kusum also shared with me Ravi’s early days as a camp counsellor, with him being blackmailed into providing liquor for his young campers, while sitting in a canoe. They knew he couldn’t swim, so he had to do their bidding – and yet, he was the ONE IN CHARGE! LOL!!
And Kusum told me so many amusing stories about her son Roche growing up – like the time he was about 7 years old and brought home 20 or so of his schoolmates for an impromptu lunch. Poor kind-hearted Kusum had to make 20-plus home-cooked meals on the spot!
And there was the first time Kusum’s father gave her cognac to treat a headache at the tender age of 12 – she felt worse and wonkier from the booze, than from the headache itself!
Or riding on the back of her brother’s motorbike in India; and meeting her in-laws from Quebec for the first time and getting tipsy; and so many lovely stories about her family in India and around the world (like her Bollywood film exec niece, and the one who teaches English or translates (??) sorry I have such a poor memory).
I felt lucky to know of all these beautiful people through her. I can’t do her stories justice – Kusum is a hilarious storyteller! I remember laughing so many times and thinking how can one family have so much fun together, with such touching memories. What a gift.
(Sorry, Ravi, that I seem to remember all the stories involving drinking…!)
Ravi and Kusum were true partners in life. They loved, respected, and supported one another and their precious son Roche — truly Three Amigos! Apparently Roche likes to tease his dear mom and poke fun. She took it all in stride. Kusum was also a lifelong vegetarian: she and I delighted in feeding the birds together at the local park, and she loved my dog Kira – her compassion for others is clear.
(This is a collage that I made during one of my mental health outpatient programs. It hangs on the wall above my bed, and is partly inspired by the times that Kusum and I shared together.)
Kusum motivates me to be a better person: she was a good friend and neighbour to all, without hesitation. She has touched my life in so many beautiful ways – and she will be in my heart always.
In loving memory of Kusum Bhatia, I also want to extend condolences to Ravi, Roche and your families from the following people (a few of whom prefer online privacy):
Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg