I shared a special relationship with my grandmother. The interesting part of this relationship was that it wasn't apparent to anybody who saw us together. In fact, seeing us together itself was rare. Of all my cousins, I must have been the black sheep who hardly stayed at her place. Yet, we deeply loved each other. The only visible aspect of our bonding was the short speck of a kiss that both of us exchanged whenever I was to leave for home after my visit to her place.
She lived in one of the most busiest streets in Chennai. It was the heart of the electronic component market in the whole of India. It was a bustling place with continuous activity. People jostling in and out of shops. It was said that there was not a single electronic component that existed that could not be found in that street and its adjoining ones. In that very place, with shops on either side, was my grandmother's home. Nothing could make her part with that house since it was her standing memory of her husband who died nearly thirty years ago. It was the place I spent every weekend. A weekend would not feel complete without a visit to my grandmother's.
My grandfather died when their eldest son had just finished college. She was left all alone to raise eight boys. She had taken it as her mission to make sure everyone of the boys made it through the tough times and as I see my uncles today, I can see that she has more than achieved her goals. She always told me to never be afraid of the consequences of my actions. "Be true to yourself, then you'll never have to regret later".
She was a person who knew how to enjoy life to the fullest extent. Even when she was seventy-five, she used to have a cup of chukku coffee every evening , a medicinal coffee that had an invigorating flavor that used to rouse me out of even the deepest sleep, and read her favorite magazine in tamil. She used to dress very simply but neatly always, but whenever it was time to go for a function or somebody's house, out used to come a collection of pattu sarees, internationally known as kanchipuram silk sarees, from her wardrobe.
Even when she was diagnosed with some sort of stomach ulcer, she never changed her diet to a flat one. When the doctor told her she could no more have salt in her diet, she looked at him incredulously, as if saying, "Tell whatever you like but I am going to live the way I like" and she did. She never stopped salt from her diet.
Then, one day, she was taken very ill. In fact, she was deteriorating visibly for nearly a year by then. After that sudden illness, I went to see her at her house. She was lying down in her room. She sat up feebly when I went in. We just sat without saying anything for a time. It was one of the many times in her company that I felt sad for not choosing to be a doctor. She had infact wanted me to be a doctor as she saw the potential in me to be one. I was a bit of a pandu you see. A pandu in chennai college tamil is a guy who studies hard. I had asked her once why she badly wanted me to be one for which she had told me that her husband had died due to lack of proper medical care. She did not want anybody else to suffer the same fate. That day when I sat next to her, I realized how she would have felt. I felt a great longing to become an angel and blow her illness away, but there I was helpless, not able to do anything.
Shortly after that her condition deteriorated so badly that she had to be taken to the hospital. It was the beginning of a long tryst with the hospital atmosphere. It almost became a habit for me to go and see her every evening. All she could do was to bat her eyelids in recognition, but eyes can tell a lot. I could a zeal to return home in those feeble eyes. I used to sit quietly next to her bed with my hand on hers. I used to beg god to flow youthful energy from my hands to her fragile body. I understood why Silence is Golden.
It was in those tough days that I got the news that I had stood first in the entrance examinations for the state. I went to tell my grandmother about it. She always used to like to listen to news of my studies. I was shocked to learn that her condition was even worse. Now, she could hardly recognize anyone. I just held her hand for a while and looked into those wizen eyes. "Come on, amma. Make it out of here". Later, I was told by my aunt that I was the only person she had recognized that day.
I guess God wanted to test her to the limits. In my view, she had already had enough share of troubles. Why on earth should she suffer until the end? But I guess that God wanted her to make a greater impact when she was no more. And she did. Today, I am a much more mentally balanced guy only due to her. I am not afraid of failure due to her. I resolve to be cheerful even when troubled due to her. I am what I am today due to her. Never has a task that I started with her in mind gone into fray. Her remembrance helps me keep focussed on my purpose in life.
Thank you grandma. Thanks for being with me always.