If Novak is Kaling's "great love," he must be her soulmate, right? Not according to Kaling. In an interview with Good Housekeeping, she made it clear, "My mom was my soul mate."
In the spring of 2011, Kaling's mom, Swati Chokalingam, was diagnosed with stage five pancreatic cancer. "I love talking about my mom," Kaling said, "but I may cry." The article detailed Kaling's leave of absence from The Office, caring for her mother during chemotherapy treatments, picking out wigs, and watching shows like Modern Family beside her. Shortly before Chokalingam passed away, Kaling wrote down her mother's words of wisdom. One of which was to "always be your own best friend."
On January 30, 2012, the very same day that The Mindy Project was given the green light from Fox, Chokalingam succumbed to her illness. "We all thought we would have a couple of years with her. Eight months later, she was gone. So fast," Kaling said. She added, "I'm not superstitious but I think my mom had some part in it."
Chokalingam was an OB-GYN, who, as Kaling explained, "was very busy, and she did not suffer fools." It makes sense that Kaling's character, Mindy Lahiri, was loosely based on Chokalingam. Despite the challenging timing, Kaling was thankful for her work. "I didn't have to sit in my grief," she explained.