She had the "winner's" DNA written all over her. I wonder where she got this zeal to ace anything and everything she undertook. But Ma was numero uno most of the time in the family, in her circle, dammit, in my circle too, in the Services Wives Club, in the whole Cantonment during Dad's tenure at each station and so on..
From my toddler time memories I remember Ma's Garden being the best, laden with fresh organic vegetables and a smorgasbord of such a variety of flowers that her friends were always taking tips from her, and the GOC's wife would send her Assistant to Ma knowing that even when there were no flowers to be found around, Mrs. Dhir's garden would not disappoint. Early on, I saw Ma being invited to hold special classes for Army wives on how to make jams, preserves, pickles and spreads.
And boy, was she ingenious! With fruit from the Guava tree, for instance, she would get down to make Guava Jelly, Squash and round it off with Guava Cheese so that not much of the fruit went to waste.
The same story went on with all her other pursuits - cooking, baking, knitting, embroidery, photography..... She could pick up a weave just by running her two fingers for about two minutes on the pattern on a Pullover worn by a co-passenger.
And she was a big one on Creativity! She liked being inspired, but I think she liked being inventive far, far more. What's more, her takes and versions always paled the original.
In the early 70s, at a time when we as a society were still not particularly inclined towards letting a lot of air, sunlight and the outdoors come in and blend with our home architecture (particularly in the North of India), she designed her dream house with beautiful grills and big, big windows.
Amidst all this, I think the finest lesson that Ma left for me and one that I should endeavour to make my own is that; Mrs. Dhir seldom let her spirit settle down and sit smugly on past laurels.
She had this childlike curiosity and enthusiasm that made her try new things, create magic in her soul's sandpit and yearn to fly off to such wonderlands where her imagination took her.
Remembering Ma for her sheer brilliance that shined through a persona that was steeped in humility!
Today, I try to keep the memories and her memorabilia alive!