Mindy Kaling's mom, Dr. Swati Roysircar, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in 2012—on the very same day the actress' original comedy, The Mindy Project, was ordered to series at Fox. In a new episode of OWN's Super Soul Sunday, Kaling attributes it to "divine timing," as Oprah Winfrey puts it. "I always say, 'When you lose somebody you love, you gain an angel you know,'" Winfrey says. "I do believe in the connection between the spirit life and our own life."
"That is the perfect expression of what it was, because it was such a long shot," says Kaling, who later brought her show to Hulu. "My show had been passed over at NBC, where I had worked for eight years. I'd written 26 episodes of The Office and I wrote this pilot for them. They passed over on it. It was such a long shot that it would travel to Fox and they would even be interested in it because they had their own development going. I was keeping my mother abreast of this right towards the end, because she loved asking about it and wanted to know."
Which is all to say, "divine timing" is the "correct" way to sum up Kaling how simultaneously experienced great joy and great sorrow. "It was as though when she passed away, there was something she was able to help me [with] in another way. It was within the hour, actually. It was very, very strange. But I 100 percent agree with you that she had something to do with it."
Kaling adds that she can still feel her mother's presence, long after her death. "I have been surprised at how my relationship with her has continued even though she's not here. I think that comes from the fact that when you know someone so well, you know what they would think in any situation," she says. "She was not a shrinking violet—she was very opinionated."
The actress—who honored her mother's memory when naming her own daughter last year—sees her in both big and little moments. "If something comes up in the news, or even if I'm trying on an outfit in the morning, I can look in the mirror and know what she would think," she says. "Sometimes, I will have the most vivid dreams. I'm very skeptical as a person, but I will have the most vivid dreams of her talking to me; even in my dreams I'm skeptical! I'm asking her, 'Mom, how can this be? I know you're not here.' And she's like, 'I know—but I am here.'"
For example, Kaling says, "I had a dream like this two months ago, and I was five and a half months pregnant. I woke up and said, 'I know that you're supposed to have weird pregnancy dreams, but this one is like I was an investigative journalist with my own mother in the dream.' Like, 'This isn't real, mom!' She's like, 'No, but it is.' She was telling me she was all right. So, I do believe my relationship, both when I'm asleep and in my decision-making—she's always there."