…are dicey things. Sometimes, they are delightful, making us happy and content. And at other times, we desperately wish to forget and move on. Yet, we can’t really really forget instances that are sometimes branded in our minds like a hot iron rod. Sometimes, I wish I could turn the clock back to two weeks ago, when she was still alive and well. Sometimes, I wish I could reverse the happenings of the last two weeks and pretend it never happened. Sometimes irrationally, I wish I could bring her back so she can spend just a few more months with me. It’s been two weeks now that my grandmother, one who I called Amma till her last breath suddenly decided she had enough of all of us and went away, so far that she cannot ever come back. Although I have lost someone very special before, it did not hit me with as much force as this loss has. Maybe when Nandini died, I was younger and stronger. Or maybe it is because I never ever imagined I would have to face a world without her to run to for comfort.
In the past weeks, I have tried verbalizing my loss to family and friends. Tried telling them that she was my mother in every sense of the word, except that biologically, she was my grandmother. She fed me, nurtured me, scolded me, pampered me and even blamed me sometimes when things went wrong. I wouldn’t call her my second mother. In many ways, she was my first mother. Before I was old enough to understand that behind my mother’s tough exterior was a genuine love for her child. My earliest memories of Amma involve wailing and crying that she was going away somewhere without me. As a child of five, I couldn’t imagine spending a single day away from her. My parents were free to go where they wanted. As long as Amma was around to take care of me, I would wave a happy goodbye to my parents. Those memories have suddenly turned from delightful to bittersweet. Never did I imagine even 15 days ago, that very soon I would have to face the prospect of spending the rest of my life without her constant and reassuring presence. My last conversation with her was on a Saturday 2 weeks ago. I called her from the car showroom to tell her I had booked a car. I will never forget her delight at hearing the news. Neither will I forget her promise that she will take that first ride with me in my brand new car. That was not to be. Barely 4 days later, she decided that the knowledge that I was buying a car was enough happiness for her, and passed on quietly. And totally without warning.
I am perhaps being completely incoherent right now. But, while my mind accepts that at the age of 75, she was bound to go some day, my heart still yearns for her presence. I now wish I had been just a little more patient at her constant badgering about the house, the car, my finances, my marriage and everything else she deemed important at any given point. I now wish I hadn’t brushed off her concerns quite so callously and at least taken the time to explain why things had to be the way they were. I am certain she knew how much she meant to me, but I now wish I had told her at least once in her life that she was not just my grandmother, she was my mother. People tell me that I should be thankful that she felt no pain, no suffering. I know that. My mind accepts that a painless and quick parting is much kinder than a long-draw, painful one. I know, rationally speaking, that this is how she wanted to go. Without pain or suffering. I also know that no matter what happens to the soul after death, I still have her blessings and all the love she has to bestow on her beloved grandchildren. And yet, the heart refuses to accept that she is actually gone. Irretrievably.
I know that this will perhaps make no difference to her. But it does make a difference to me to say this. She was the best grandmother any child could have hoped for. I know that all I have left of her are my memories of her to carry through my life. But loved, she was. By each of us. All of us. I choose to write about it because this is the only way I know to pay a tribute to someone who meant the world to me. And the best tribute I can possibly pay her is a promise that I will be happy. Just the way she wanted me to be.