So, I was sitting on my bed, reading ‘The Glass Palace’ by Amitav Ghosh (It’s lovely, btw), when I suddenly wanted to call Mom. We usually talk at 9, so I waited. I called up at sharp 9 and my call was on wait. It has happened before, c’mon, my mom is a normal insaan, she gets calls all the time. But my intuition said something was wrong, and I just knew what was wrong. She called back after sometime and made small talk (which she sucks at). Before I could poke her about what was wrong, she broke it to me. My grandmother (Patti) had passed away. And the creepy part was that I felt it, right from 8:30, which was kind of the time of her death.
I didn’t cry as much as I cried when my grandpa (Thatha) passed away, because of the circumstances (I work, so I had to be professional and all that, so I couldn’t go with red rimmed eyes and a headache the next day) Yes, I wanted to go to Chennai but my parents told me not to come because it’s not worth going all the way, just for a day, that too when she is no more.
I dressed up without looking at the mirror the next day. I couldn’t see the mirror because when I saw myself, I saw Patti. She was, of course, definitely more good looking than me, but we resemble a lot. When I tried to recall till what standard she studied, or some of her stories when she was small, I realized with a jolt that I did not know anything about her childhood. Her father was a Doctor, and she wanted to become a Doctor too, but couldn’t, because she had to look after her brothers and sisters. It was always Thatha who ran the show. He talked on and on about his life, while quiet Patti cooked for us, washed and folded our clothes. She didn’t study that much, but I clearly remember her grinning and tell us (me and my sis) about her grandfather boasting that his grandkid reads English newspaper :D
She used to be very inquisitive about everything. She poked her nose in whatever textbooks my sister and I used to read. I used to wonder why she read the heading of the textbooks or opened them to browse. I never asked her. I should have.
She hated cricket and always supported the opposite team, be it Australia or Pakistan. And whenever she told Pak or Aus would win, they always won K
I remember the Sharjah cup when Sachin went berserk, my sister, Thatha, mom and I went berserk too. We didn’t let Patti sleep the whole night by thoroughly discussing all the matches. We slept the next day till 10, but sweet Patti, had a disturbed sleep all night, but she was still up by 4 to cook for the house. And no complaints from her, just a scowl when we informed her that India won :P
I wish I had learnt to cook from her. I wish I hadn’t snatched the remote from her to watch my random serials or cartoons, which made her sleep early that day, out of lack of anything better to do.
I wish I had forced her to tell more stories about her life. She never spoke about how her father in law used to insult her in his letters to my grandpa. She never spoke about how she felt when my grandpa came to see her for marriage. But she always went inside another room when my grandpa spoke about the first time he saw her. And a pink faced Patti would emerge from that room after a while :P Once at an airport, one random lady had told my granny that she is very beautiful. My grandmom blushed so hard when she told this to us.
She had weak bones, she fell down a lot of times, in a lot of places. Once, she fell down while climbing an auto, and she was very quiet when she was home. As usual, I asked her how she was feeling and there were no injuries or anything, so I went back to Thatha or doing some other crap. My sister used to sit down, more with Patti and talk to her, so my sis later told me that Patti was upset because she felt embarrassed when people had to help her when she fell down. She was always independent, so her last few years were terrible. She had Alzheimer’s, almost, immediately after Thatha passed away, for 3 years. Her last memory of me, was that I was still in college. I could never give her a reason to finally be proud of me, that I was working in a different city and living independently.
She used to always tell me and my sister that we look great. Frankly, I started looking good only in college… How could she even think I look good, forget great, when I was in school ?!?! I never asked her why she lied to me on my face.
I had called her during my college internship in Delhi. She asked me if I had found any hot guys. She was this traditional, orthodox woman, who would have really liked it if I married a Tamilian, same caste and all that, but for some reason, she always asked me if I found any good looking boy. I never asked her why she did that.
My sister and I, at some point of time, decided to say ‘I love you’ to my grandparents every time we talked. I think we read it in Cosmo or Femina or somewhere that you should keep letting your grandparents know that you love them :P The result was awesome, my grandpa used to gush and say, I love you too or I miss you. And my granny? She said “Hmmm…okay.” I was aghast when I heard that, and I wailed “You don’t love me!” And she dryly replied “Ok ok I love you” I think my future boyfriend also wouldn’t create a racket like this to profuse his love for me, man! I was adamant, and I went on, “How much do you love me, Patti?” And she replied, “BIG BIG BIG BIG!”
I never told her that, THAT was the cutest I love you, I have ever, ever got, and I ever, ever will get.
There was this one time, when my sister and I had called them and my granny picked up. As usual, I demanded that she should give the phone to my grandpa, because as I said, my grandpa was always in the limelight, so I hardly talked a lot to my granny (Sorry Patti, I’ll not do that in our next life together) And my granny tried unsuccessfully to put an accent, and she went like “He has gone to the market. Who is calling?” I squealed with excitement and shouted “PATTIIIIIIIIII” and she sniggered and told, “This is his secretary speaking.” Not to be outdone, I asked her why he has gone to the market, and she replied, “Gone to buy bhajji. Do you have any message?” (All this in pure English, I swear)
I never reminded her about this conversation and I never told her how cool she was, and the accent she put on, was ACTUALLY good.
My grandparents used to travel by Navjivan Express every summer to visit my family. My granny fell down in the bathroom many times. Plus it was more than a 24 hours journey. I never asked her how she put up with all that, just to come to a place which didn’t suit her.
She stitched cushions and made a sofa out of thermocal for my barbies. And even made tea for my tea set (which but obviously my dolls never drank, and I ended up throwing their share) and gave me biscuits for my kitchen set. And she put up with me, when I woke her from her nap, saying I was hungry or the dolls were hungry or asking her if I should dress one Barbie up in a mini skirt or in full pants.
She never asked me what I wanted to become, she never asked me what my grades were like, she never criticized me for my bad temper, she never advised me about anything. I never realized this either. My grandpa had these questions for me, but my grandma never had. She was actually the only person who never questioned my actions, but continued loving me.
Grandmothers are special and I lost my second and last special person in my life. And I know I am not going to get unconditional love from anyone, anywhere, ever again.
P.S.- Grammar and Formatting Nazis can please try not to do a Madhuri and point out my mistakes here. My granny passed away on 5th June, 2012, in case anyone wants to know...