The night was calm and cool, perfect for a sound sleep .But my son was disturbed and complaining, “not feeling sleepy”. I was so tired after the day’s work, so patted him and once again doomed into deep sleep.
As if in dream, I could hear someone weeping. That brought me back to senses. My son was standing near the window and crying. I rushed to him to find, what went wrong. He was staring at the stars and tears flooding down his cheeks.
Brushing his hair I asked, “Why dear, standing here and looking at sky?”
His answer really amazed me and made me thoughtful.
“Amma, once you told me, your grandma is now with stars. I am searching for her among them, so that I can ask her to come back”.
I could recollect, what I told him few days back. When ever we kids felt sleepless or fearful at night our grandma used to keep us close, told stories and sang poems to make us doze. So now he wants that grandma to come back to sooth him, to curdle him. In my tiredness I forgot what he needs. I took him to bed and held him close and lulled him to sleep. But those thoughts of that seven years old boy, left me pondering. The flowery memories of my grandma made my eyes wet.
No more I could sleep, so went to take my marriage album, to have a glance of my grandma. The best snap of the lot is ; where she leads me to my groom, myself holding her so tight. I wished for her touch, to be with her, so took off that snap and stretched on the bed with it pasted on my bosom. In many occasions in life we too become childlike. The best thing she had ever done to me and my siblings is that , she gave birth to such an elegant man as our father and found a real “Stree rethnam “ as his wife
Not that she was extra ordinary or unearthly, but just that she was unique in many ways. We all lived together, my parents, my two brothers and two sisters, our grandparents and chithappas and athais . Days were very happy with all the ingredients of a smooth sailing joint family. Mutual love, care, money and laughs all were there in plenty- needless to say we were neighbor’s envy.
As I remember, our grandma was the anchor of the family. Though we had lot of servants she never let us remain idle. Even from the age of nine or ten we were taught to do our own works, washing, cleaning etc, so the first lessons of self sufficiency and hard work.
Once the lamp is lighted at 6.30 pm we kids were to assemble in the Pooja room. She gave the lead and we all recited the slogas. Not that we understood the meaning, but we learn the art of ‘by heartening’ even difficult lines and lyrics. But once we finish it, she used to explain the essence of it. Thus the varied deities of our religion and the purpose of their being expounded to us.
Never we were late for our dinner, as it was our story time. No dining tables in those days, so we formed a circle, Grandma seated in the center. She used to feed us, still I wonder what made that food so tastier. She was a treasure house of all kind of stories- Epics, Vedas, Purina’s, Fantasies, none she left untouched. Characters were enlivened, episodes were picturized in such a way that we got a feel of living with them. It was when I was fifteen, I read Ramayana and Mahabharatha for the first time, but there nothing was new to me, all scenes and characters as familiar as next door uncle .
She was not educated at all, might have gone to school for two, three years
But her flaw less usage of language was simply superb. She knew when and where to greet with “thank you”, “best of luck” etc , so itself she was very popular among our friends . She with her abundance of knowledge and correct updating of it always made us proud. While our grandpa was reserved and made us shiver in many occasions, she was just an incarnation of love and affection. But they were perfect couple, may be due to this contradictory combination
She was a strict disciplinarian, never fails to punish us if we do something wrong. One day I was entering the home, back from school. She had tied my elder brother in a pillar, and all standing there spellbound. She came there with some green paste in her hand. She opened his eyes and applied that paste. Poor guy, he was shouting and groaning with pain, as it was green chilly paste. I was really terrified and was not even bold to ask what made her so cruel. Later came to know that my brother had stolen some money to give to his friends. He was caught and was being punished. But a most truthful and trustworthy man was being formed there, he can be called the Harischandra of our family
Still I remember those two days when we, her children, grandchildren all gathered together to celebrate my grandpa’s 80th birthday. She was so busy arranging things and hosting the arriving guests. Myself, my hubby and son all went there one day prior, no one should miss such priceless moments. We all were assembled in a big hall, for lunch, a real hubbub everywhere. As we a were meeting after a long time, many stories we had to hear and share . My stomach was slightly upset and so I was not gulping food as usual. Even I was not aware of that.
“Santhi,” it was my grandma’s call, “ Why u are not eating as usual, are you not well?” wow, I was surprised, Almost 50 to 60 persons seated there and amidst that she could notice that I am not normal. IN no time she was back with a glass of drink for me.
“Gulp it, you will be alright “, so confident she was. Needless to say by dinner time my stomach was perfect. May be a silly episode, but the care she had and shown was her sweetness. She was our family doctor too
In olden days, vast farms with different kinds of trees and vegetables was a common feature of big houses in Kerala. Cows and dogs added to the population. She and my mother woke up early, even before sun shows up. Mother would be busy in kitchen and grandma would make a visit to her garden, and just a casual” hello, hello” with her pet animals, thus started her days. She was an expert in milking the cows and at emergency could even be a mid wife for their delivery. My elder sister had inherited these knacks from her . But I was always a spectator.
Wow, one special thing I forgot, she was the “Carams champion” of our home In amazing speed she would pocket all the coins, and would sit and watch as if she knows nothing. Sleeping was never her hobby as she spent her leisure time with reading and making beautiful pieces of handicrafts and my mom was her best companion .
I was not able, to be with her during her last days. She is there in what ever we do, in cooking, talking, writing and even our thoughts reflects her mostly. To be precise, we all have “She and her personality “ in us. So much was her influence as our moulder and mender. She was eighty when she left us all to join the celestial, the day I cried most. May be I was unlucky , I was not in time to see her mortal remaining .In a way it is good , as u see, even now she is alive in my mind as that most active lady I had ever met in my life . I cannot even imagine, she lying there life less. Now almost 8 years flown, she is not with us, but still she lingers in our thoughts as sweet as ever. Many times she do me the favour of coming in dreams, no wonder I miss her a lot
Slowly I woke up to realize that I was dreaming of her, with her snap still glued to my chest.
I use to tell my kids that, we are really blessed to have the kinship of such great souls. I am not finding fault with today’s grandmas or mothers but wish if only we realize what our kids miss now.
Old customs. methods or norms of life will change according to the time and needs. But there are some valuable relations and feelings in our day to day life, which we should allow our children to have and enjoy. All of us are in a hurry to do advance booking to far off places during vacation time. But why not we think of taking our kids to those places where our parents live, or bring them to live with us? Are we not obliged to give our kids the pleasure and bliss of having the warmth of these loving hearts at least for a while . While we provide them with all modern luxuries ,why deny this most priceless moments ? Education starts from home, are they not the expert teachers? Let our kids hear their stories and share their experiences, it is hundred times worth reading any story books.
Being Sunday I woke up late, but with a clean picture of this vacation. I knelt down to kiss my son and whispered to him,
“ WE will take you to your grandma”
But a disturbing thought crept in, will today’s grandmas and grandfathers
switch off the daily serials , to meet with this kid’s expectations ..Anyway let us take a chance. I smiled to myself, with the satisfaction of making a right decision