In loving memory of my paati

I thought I was over my grandmother’s passing away. Turns out I am not.

I always thought I get over people easily. When my gramma went away, I cried on the first day, shed a few tears the days that followed, but never really mourned more after that. Maybe I believed that she had left her ever-smiling, kindhearted spirit with us. Maybe I don’t miss people much when they’re not in my daily life anymore.

I cried for two days when my dog passed away. But I didn’t after that. I probably cried more when I watched Marley and Me a few months after he died.

My puppy, Gunner
My puppy, Gunner

 

Why I’m talking about this right now is because today, when my mother was cleaning out an old closet in my grandmother’s room (yes, after four years after she went away), she found a few sweaters. Before she put them in the machine, she just wanted to check the pockets to make sure there was nothing in there. But she found something in them. I thought it might have been money. But it was something I did not see coming. It was a Marie biscuit.

My gramma was diabetic and Marie biscuit was the only biscuit she’d eat. Every evening, she’d make tea, dip Marie biscuit in it, finish the tea and sit outside in the balcony, breaking the biscuit into pieces in her hand and then putting the pieces in her mouth, taking her time to eat it. That was one of her habits. She never bit into the whole biscuit. She never bit into apples, or carrots either… Not because she couldn’t. She had strong teeth and she never wore dentures. She just didn’t think it decent to bite into it I guess. My dad has the same habit now. Pardon the cliche, but old habits die hard indeed.

It was strange how instinctively I turned vulnerable and melancholic when my mum found the biscuit. The stable, quiet ocean in my head was suddenly unruly, like on a full moon night; the waves were roaring and ready to splash. I didn’t cry in front of my mom of course. I drank tea, sat on the porch steps enjoying the evening; Perhaps  my gramma enjoyed a similar evening, sitting in her green balcony the day she forgot her biscuit in her pocket.

Then again, I guess it’s times like these that make you really mourn for someone, rather than on the day they go away. I missed my gramma the most when I used to come back from college to find a locked door, and not one that opened to her peaceful face, engrossed in some awful Kannada serial. Supriya and I, who came home from school and sat around at home, had learnt the theme song of that 4 o’ clock serial by-heart. Haha! It was the worst!

Today, I don’t know if my grandma will be proud of me. I have really short hair. She always wore a disappointed look when I cut my hair too short. She used to be so happy when it was long. I’m wearing a fitting t-shirt today. I don’t think she’ll like that either. She was the more traditional kinds, who exclaimed with joy every time she saw me wear a salwar kameez. But she never, ever, ever, told me not to do the things I did. She wouldn’t complain about how I wore my hair or my attire. She was never intrusive. She let me live my life how I wanted to. I loved that about her. And she was the person I spent most of my childhood with, more than with my mum, dad or sister. I’m glad I could share it with her.

I miss her sometimes.
I miss sleeping next to her, (something I did for around eight years).
I miss the pleasantly disturbed sleep I had in the early mornings when the signature 6 am tune on AIR played on her portable transistor, which she kept above her pillow all the time.
I miss her gruff voice, it was unique and something that I always found friendship in.
I miss the strong smell of Sensor balm, which I still associate with her.
I miss taking a bite off her crisp chapatis, dipped in sambar, when she ate two whole hours before the rest of us.

Most of all, I miss her presence in her room, crafting the perfect little birds she made tirelessly, with so much dedication, or decorating photos of Gods with chamkis and beads, and adding a touch of grandeur and royalty to them.

The last thing I said to her was “Good night,” the night before she slept forever.

Well, I hope she’s happy with my tatha, wherever she is, because I know they’re together and happy now!

I’ll see you when I see you again paati.

Sorry if this post was a bit too emo. I just had to get it out.

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