India, May 15 -- With the death of my Amma last week, I joined the hundreds of thousands of Indians coming to terms with grief and loss. Still, I guess, she was one of the lucky ones who managed to get not just a hospital bed but, crucially, oxygen and intensive care unit support.

She put up a fight for eight days before slipping into unconsciousness. My daughters would call her on the speaker-phone and Nirmal, her son, told them she would respond to the sound of their voices.

Her passing became for me an occasion to reflect on our 27-year-long relationship. I had just given birth by C-section to my elder daughter, when Renubala Das came to the hospital for an "interview" - swiftly resolved with just one question, the answer to which was ...