“I do not envy those, who live an extraordinary life; just the ones who live an ordinary one.”
“Only in the worst circumstances are born the best of writers. And so, I never complain.”
“When you have it, you don’t value it.
When you don’t value it, you lose it.
When you lose it, you want it.
And when you want it, it’s too late.”
My Grandma, Mrs. Mane, has by far been, the strongest lady I have ever met in life. Born in the small town of Amreli (Gujrat), to an inspector father, and a housewife mother, she was the eldest among their nine kids. And she had already started cooking and taking care of her siblings by the time she was 9. Her father, she would tell me, was a very strict man; and was of the view that it wasn’t necessary that girls be educated. So, she and her sisters would go to school secretly, come back, and finish all the household chores, before their father arrived.
Even with all this, she managed to finish her graduation, and got married to my Grandfather. That’s when she came to Maharashtra. Within a year, she had my Mama. Then, in a few years, my Aunts, and the youngest, my mother. My grandfather, manager of Camlin, Mumbai, was a very charming man. And my grandparents were very fond of each other. Everyone tells me that they had never seen both of them fighting, or even arguing.
However, when my Mom was merely 5, and they were all coming back from a trip to Gujrat, their jeep met with an accident, and my Grandpa passed away. My Grandma was left behind with four kids, all aged below 15. As soon as she came out of the coma, after a week of the accident, she started taking tuitions. All her children were studying at the very reputed, St. Aloysius Convent School at the time. Everyone suggested that they be put into a cheaper school.
But my Grandma, wasn’t someone who would have compromised on her kids’ education. She soon completed her B. Ed. and started teaching at a school. She would work two shifts and, also take tuitions once she was back. (And also managed to cook, and finish all the household chores.) All that, but she never borrowed A SINGLE PENNY from anyone. Not her parents, not siblings, no one. She did it. All alone.
FAST FORWARD>>> My Mom grew up – Got married – I was born – I was 8.
I was luckiest among all her grandkids, because, unlike others, I got to spend all my childhood with her. I think I was about 8, when I moved in with her. And that’s when began the journey of the most beautiful years of my life. She would wake me up for school everyday, iron my uniform, get me dressed, do my hair, pack my lunch, and drop me off to school. Everyday. She must have been 60 at the time.
After I was back from school, we would have lunch together. And she would very happily listen to all my jibber jabber. Then we would have our daily afternoon fight coz she wanted to watch her “saas-bahu” soap, and I wanted to watch cartoon. And she would give in. Most of the times.
She would always come to my parents’ meets, and all my friends were just as fond of her as me. Oh damn was she cool! Most of my teachers knew her, since she had herself been a teacher there. Anyway, I was a sincere kid at school. So yeah, all she would get to hear was appreciation. But it was all thanx to her, of course. She would make me sit for studies with her students, who would come for tuitions. And dammit, would I be mad at her then!
She would always love to read my essays, and would always tell me how well I write. She would read each one of it and appreciate it, no matter how stupid it was. When I started writing, she read each one of my poems (yes, even the funny, cheesy ones). When I called her to tell, I got a job as an Editor, her joy knew no bounds, was so proud of me, so so proud. She would always tell me how I should be self-dependent, no matter what.
And man oh man would she cook like a Goddess, oh I loved her food. Pure heaven! I am glad to have learnt all her recipes. I would always call her to ask how she would make a particular fish, or a vegetable. She would tell me the recipe, like in her head, I was still 8. It always started with, “Wash the veggies properly.” 😀
Today, it breaks me into a million pieces that she is not with us anymore. She passed away exactly a month back. And I could not miss her more. She was, without a doubt, the most wonderful woman, I have ever met in life. She has loved me, pampered me, taught me, and inspired me in a million ways. And I cannot be anything but lucky, to have had her in my life. Here’s a little poem I wrote in her memory.
Grandma you were great,
My Nana you were strong.
It could not be more saddening,
That you weren’t with us for long.
Although we had lost touch Gran,
You meant the world to me.
To make me what I am today,
Thankful forever, I would be.
My beautiful beautiful Nana,
Thank you so much for all you gave.
Thank you for teaching me how to fight the world,
For making me so brave.
Now that you are here no more,
Wanna bid goodbye with a kiss.
May you be happy where you are going,
May He rest your soul in peace.
A gentle, loving kiss,
With my soft, supple lips,
Would there be anything else you’d want?
Would there be anything else at all?
My tiny, tiny arms,
Gently, I will put around,
Would you move my curls off my face, darling?
Would you do anything at all?
With my small little feet,
I’ll try to reach up to you,
Would you bend down for me, love?
Wud your heart make any sound at all?
Like roses and lilies,
Cherishing each other’s feelings,
Just as beautiful we could be,
Just as beautiful, can you see?
Was fretting over life,
When he came to me.
That tiny four year old,
Like everything he had seen.
At the crowded traffic signal,
Maybe what was his home.
Came to sell me a bouquet,
And yet seemed so alone.
His eyes told me the truth,
And what all he had seen.
All that life had thrown his way,
Through what all he had been.
Dont fret over life even one bit now,
Moved by him in a million ways.
Thankful for all I have in life,
Like he changed me into someone else.
“Why do you still love me?”, you asked me today. “In spite of all the fights, all the arguments, the screaming and the shouting? Why do you still come back to me?”, you asked again.
This might have been the third time that I did not answer that question. I did not have an answer, you might have thought. The truth is, it’s not that I do not have an answer, not that I do not know. It’s that there’s so much to it, that words alone will never be able to express what I really want to say. Words have power, they say. But, they fail me, love. They fail me every time I try to describe the magic that I feel, each time I hear your voice, each time that I feel like you are right next to me, each time… that I feel you are mine to keep. And that nothing in this world can deny it.
You ask me why I come back. When the truth is, I never leave. And now that I come to think of it, it doesn’t look like I will ever be able to. No matter where I go, no matter how long we do not see or hear from each other, no matter if it is months or years… I am always going to want to know how you are, where you are… and what you are doing. I am always going to want to know that you are okay.
I would never leave you, love. Even if I tried, I cannot. And I can say that with absolute certainty now, because I did leave. I tried. But not seeing you, not being able to talk to you, not knowing where you are. It kills me… A thousand times.
So, there it is, your answer.
I come back, I always have, and I always will.
‘Coz I did not come into your life to leave,
I am here to stay.
And I am here to stay forever.
P. S.: I love you.