I had the privilege of seeing the ‘professional’ side of Sameera at Mahindra. I interviewed her almost 7years back and recall one of the reasons we hired her was how well she wrote about her internship at a charitable trust in Dharamshala. Her dissertation on ‘Female Images in Advertising’ in the context of the Social Comparison theories was impressive. But what was most intriguing about her, was the areas of interests she listed down apart from reading and travel - socializing.
While everyone on our floor kept their laptops on their desks and faced forward, Sameera sat sideways with her laptop on her lap. It was then we knew she was different. Till date, no one has replicated that posture.
She worked at building the Mahindra AQ brand online and other initiatives. She was a great team player, always keen to take up responsibilities, and loved the profession of Branding and Communication.
She had a very analytical way of approaching a task. While some of us succumbed to diplomacy and became yes-men, Sameera always questioned things in her own way. For eg. If she disagreed with something, she would patiently do as asked but her mails had a subtext in brackets (I hate this btw).
What mostly caught our attention was her great vocabulary and command over the English language. Even our President’s office would want her to vet our President’s scripts and speeches from her.
She always said that it was her Dad who helped her fall in love with the written word. She often spoke about how she and Uncle shared great interest in poetry. She loved spending time with her family more than anything. Weekends were saved for dates with her mom. She tried to make it in time for daily dinners so that everyone could catchup about their day. She was always possessive about Zeba and tried to be a great role model to her.
We soon became friends outside work and in a matter of months her friends became our friends. She was my bridesmaid at my wedding – a role she took extremely seriously. Even without asking, she was there every step of the way, right from choosing my gown pattern, to my jewelry, to my hair and makeup trials. All this, despite the fact her wedding was only two months after mine.
Looking back, I couldn’t have done it better without her – and she intuitively knew that - she was always there.
Sameera was a very simple girl, a true Mumbaikar at heart. She loved travelling by the Mumbai Local. After a tiring day at work, we used to tell her, why don’t you just cab it back home but she always preferred the train. She couldn’t stand when people spoke ill of Mumbai. Her favorite snacks were Balaji Wafers and Uncle Chips. I remember once after work, she had a wafer craving, so we went searching high and low for a particular flavor she liked. The shop owner searched but couldn’t find what she wanted and offered a substitute. She wasn’t at all pleased. Suddenly the delivery van turned up. The owner opened the back of the van and said ‘Madam, lelo jo bhi chahiye’ (take whatever you like).
She loved long drives with her favourite music playing in the background. Her playlists included all genres of music, but what intrigued her more were the lyrics that had depth & soul. One thing she utterly disliked was when friends came together and ended up watching TV or got glued to their mobiles. That was the only time I think she yelled at us.
We went through major life changes practically together. Moving from single girls, to married ones, from daughters to mothers. We shared great times together – she was our lifeline, our social glue, our agony aunt. No matter how sleepy she was at night, no matter how late it was, she would always take our calls, listen patiently to our woes and lend her pearls of wisdom. And if we dint listen to her, she would threaten us, and emotionally blackmail us to make us obey her.
When she broke the news about her illness to me, the first thing she said, “Promise me you will get a mammogram done for yourself.” All through her treatment and turmoil, she kept telling me “I’m getting better”. She always put on a brave face, as she would say, her ‘Game face on’. After chemo, she lost all her gorgeous hair which was shattering for the rest of us. But she was always positive and said, “Don’t worry, it will grow back”.
She happened to be in India when I discovered I would be a mom. She was on top of the world. She would always look forward to updates from my daughter Abigail. She didn’t get a chance to meet Abigail, but in between her hospital rounds and treatments, she sent Abigail beautiful dresses. That was her way of being part of my daughter’s life. That’s the kind of person she was, selfless and generous.
I’m sure all who knew her, wish we could have done more for her, spent more time with her, said more to her. I know I do. Every day. The bible says ‘God works in mysterious ways’. We may never understand why she was taken away from us so young. But I’d like to believe that Sameera had a lot of people who needed her. So God gave her a better vantage point from up there. And I’m sure she will keep watching over us, like she used to, cheering us on. This poem is definitely what Sam would say to us.
My prayers go out to Uncle, Aunty, Zeba, her family members, Abizar and little Armeen. Sameera left behind a little part of herself, in those who were fortunate to come into her life. So my dear Armeen, if you ever want to know more about your mom, we are not far away.