She breathed her last on Feb 1 st . she must be 101 years or may be 102 or 99….. a few years difference did not matter for her age .All I can say is she was always old yet independent and active as far as I remember.
I became her another grand-daughter asa I was married and she was instantly on her job to pamper one more grandkid in addition to existing three .Same happened after my SIL got married she started doting on her husband too .She did not take time to wean out of formalities , she knew her role ……to be a granny as loving as she could get.
She never conceded to her old age , she was one person who never withdrew from the happening scene in the household. She cooked as long as her feet allowed her to stand at one place long enough, she cleaned veggies, she hovered in kitchen ,exchanged recipes(yes exchange ! she would tell recipes of traditional dishes and asked for recipes of Idli , dosa , noodles). She never objected to trying new dishes including Pizza from Dominos. She was quite at the center stage of the house and remained relevant all her life.
Even people visiting us had an independent rapport with her . There were regular visitors in the house who came to seek her blessings on Dussera , Diwali , New year .
When her great grand kids arrived , she was all enthusiastic to do the same job for them what she must have done for her grandkids ……..she told them stories ,bathed them often when they were infant , fed them to the brim. Infact my elder son who is now going to be 17 even remembers she playing catching the ball or playing cards with him. I very often secretly thought that she was capable of spoiling the kids silly but it’s a miracle that none of her grand kids or great grand kids were spoilt (that includes my husband too-I must admit begrudgingly). Ofcourse it meant that she had a complete awareness of what was pampering to the right degree.
She was hard of hearing for last many many years ,one handicap she could never come to terms with because she longed to make conversations , she always wanted to be in the loop . Her worst fear was to be sidelined in the family and to avert that she constantly demanded attention , wanted to know more and more and this used to very often lead us to exasperation and frustration . In retrospect we all (me, my husband , SIL ,BIL ) feel that we should have been more patient to her and talked more.My Sil’s husband and my father were two people who were most patient with her , talking sweetly. SIL’s husband even pulled her leg at times which she always took in her stride . we communicated by dumb charades , wrote on white board , talked loudly( most of the guys in my house are ‘natural’ at it) almost in her ears . My high frequencied voice came to my advantage and BIL would sometimes talk in whistle which her antennas would catch without fail.
She was my mom in law’s mom . She lost her only daughter about 18 years back and eversince was staying with us . Barring a few initial years which she took to come to terms with her huge loss she was cheerful all her life. She learnt to dwell in the happy memories of her daughter and often talked about how my MIL got married, how was she as a young child , about my MIL’s job . She was very fond of her Son in law. She was grateful to my FIL all her life for the fact that he had promised to take care of her right at the time of his marriage.
If I want to capture the memories of last 18 years she was with us , there are so many ………………….
She wanted to cook many dishes for me when I was pregnant and was suitably disappointed to know that I did not have any specific cravings , she did not teach me in a clinical way how to cook but since I played assistant to her in first few years of my marriage I learnt to cook her way. My cooking has a very strong identity of her style of cooking . she was so much enthusiastic about cooking that she was always contemplating making pickles , masala , wafers etc . Once ingredients were brought home , she would start follow up about when were we to take up the task . When we shifted to a new flat on second floor above which we had a huge terrace her enthusiasm to make papads and potato chips and such stuff went on the hilt and everyday when I came back from my job (I was teaching in a college then) would know that she had made some or the other thing and put it on terrace for drying . It was almost like she could not see the hot Sun getting waste . I used to get angry that she was exerting so much , I told her nobody wanted to eat fried stuff but it wouldn’t dissuade her . she not only made such stuff , fried them when guests came and each time I noticed that- thesedays nobody likes to eat fried stuff was such an unfounded argument.
She insisted on cooking until she was about 90 years , even if she was feeling giddy and If I cooked complete meal before going for work , she would say , “ though I am not feeling well now soon I will be alright leave some cooking for me too”
Having her around was our mental preoccupation specially In last one year . if we had to go out , my SIL and me being in the neighbourhood always worked out between us who would keep company to her. Having 4 great grand children around in the last one year of her life was the best thing that could happen to her. She very generously gave money to all of us on our birthdays , festivals and insisted on buying new clothes. She enjoyed our children , celebrated our lives, even if the youngest grandchild passed 1 st std exam she would distribute sweets and before the result plead God to pass him.
Her perceptiveness was something we could never defeat. She always knew if someone was angry, upset or sad. She would pester them to know what happened . did everyone eat, did everyone reach home safely , did anyone not feel well …….everything would come on her Radar and God save you ,if anything was the matter , she would not let you be in peace until she knew what the matter was.
She was frail , weighing not more than 40 kgs but had a very strong presence in the house. She roamed about the whole house , making a mental note of everything and would awe us with her alertness. If and when I went on a cleanliness drive she would ask one very pertinent question ‘ was anybody visiting?’ however annoying this could be , she was more often than not right in her guess.
She was a constant in the family for so many years, she used to go out very once in a while .I was so used to having her around and her constantly reminding me that she depended on all of us made my vision impaired …..I could not see that I depended on her as much as she depended on me/us. I considered that she will remain forever with us , I took having her around for granted , I mistook her company forever, whenever she demanded something I always felt ‘there always was tomorrow to do it’ her normal routine and reasonably good health and independence misguided me to not realize that she was 100 and any day could be her last day. I felt as though 100 years were not too many , there was always going to be the next day. Where was she going? What if she wanted to eat something special ? I could make it some day soon.Even in her last 3 days of life when she was hospitalized all of us could see her end coming .It was just a matter of days and looking to her age and frail body we infact prayed that her illness should not prolong too far. In my falsely assumed wisdom I thought I was prepared for the event of her death. what I did not realize that event of death was something anyone with bare minimum common sense could anticipate what I had failed to realize was nothing in the world prepared me for her non existence.
I did not know that –
coming back home , opening lock , looking at her bed , her smiling photo , her constant talking I would miss so much.
The gnawing feeling that she is waiting for me at home and I am gone for too long , she wants me to talk to her and I am too preoccupied to talk will not budge from heart.
She will leave a void in my home and heart.I will have to learn to live without her , as if a shelter is missing and I am standing under the hot Sun uncared for.
I wish I had told her what she meant to me. I wish I had known it in full measure how much she meant to me.There are thousands of - I wish , hundreds of - guilts and an uncountable number of memories which fill up my heart to think about her. She was affection personified and her GGKIDS never had to learn the lessons of moral science to know how to treat elders in the family . they just learnt it by sheer virtue of her affection.