Even In Passing, Veena Kakkar, 86, Taught Strength, Resiliency

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: Even though the last few years had been tough on her as her escalating health issues took more of her energy, it did not fade the spring in her steps as she walked across the living room, determined not to use the walker to steady her. Much as she realized the frailties she had to deal with, Veena Kumari Kakkar didn’t want to burden others, especially not her only child, daughter Annu Khanna.

On Sunday, August 7, 2023, in the arms of her loving daughter, and in her own bedroom, this strong fighter breathed her last, a day after she returned from a week at the hospital. Her last words for the inconsolable Annu were telling her not to cry, but “to be strong”.

Born in Multan, pre-Partitioned India on January 16, 1937 to Maapyari and Jaswant Rai, Veena was the most loved child in the family of seven siblings and took responsibility of each brother and sister. She was seven years old when the family moved to Delhi, and after high school she went to Lucknow to complete her medical diploma and worked as a GYN nurse.

She lived in the Pahargunj district of Old Delhi, where Annu was born and raised her as a single mother. At the age of 50, she took voluntary retirement from the Municipal Health Department, completed all the US immigration process by herself and with Annu, then 17, landed in Houston on April 16, 1987, where she was sponsored by her sister Janak Tiwari. After repeated attempts, she finally found a job at Walgreens where she worked for 12 years till she retired.

During these years she taught Annu the value of perseverance and sacrifice, and the two lived together her entire life, for 53 years. Veena was a staunch Hindu and often participated at the Hindu Worship Society, Radha Krishna Temple and Sri Sita Ram Foundation events.

Even as her health started to fail her, she was determined to visit her family in India, most recently in 2022, against the advice of her cardiologist. Her motto in life was to be pragmatic and just do what you set your mind to.

Veena was a kindred spirit who left her mark on others through her caring and generosity. In addition to Annu, she leaves behind sisters Janak Tewari (husband T.D. Tiwari) of Houston and Kanchan Anand (of Noida, India) and brother Surinder Anand. She is also survived by her nephew Ashu Tewari and his kids, Shaan and Isabela, as well as her nieces, nephews and their families in Australia, and siblings and their families in India.

Her funeral and cremation was held on Wednesday, August 9 at 10 am at the Winford Funeral Home at 8514 Tybor Dr., Houston, TX 77074.