I held her hand as she took a couple of small, slow steps. She shirked my hand off and then held me.
“It is more comfortable when I hold you.”, she said.
After half a dozen steps, she stopped. She looked at a stall nearby, pointed and asked, “What is that?”
Her eyes were wide with curiosity. Round, wide and beady, twinkling.
“That is the shop with antiques. That must be something they use to adorn the elephants in the temple.”
She was only half listening. Her attention had shifted to another shop. My mother and I were discussing something when I looked around and she was missing. I looked around and found her. At a shop counter. Her hands were on the counter and she was scanning all the objects on the wall one by one. The curious twinkling back in her eyes. She wasn’t here. She was elsewhere. And we let her curiosity be.
When she was out of her reverie, we walked back to our room. I let her hold my hands and walk slowly. One step at a time. She would say every now and then, “My legs are aching.” and stand still for a while and then continue walking.
The bus stopped and a few children got out. Next was my stop. I had to run if I wanted to get down first. I said a hurried ‘bye’ to my friends and then reached the door. There was already a scuffle going on and so I decided to stay out of it. Moments later, the bus turned round the corner and I stood on my toes to get a view of the people waiting in the stop. There she was. Waiting to pick me.
Her day went thus; she woke up, took bath, made breakfast and lunch, when it was time for my school, she would make sure that I was well dressed – the polished shoes, ironed uniform, the belt and badge in place – she braided my hair, prepared my lunch and then took me to the bus stop which was quite far from home. She got back and did all the house chores (the two words comprise of too many things.) When it was time for my school bus to arrive, she would hurry all the way to my bus stop to bring me back home. She did this invariably for about 2-3 years.
On the way back, I’d whine, “My legs are aching.” Sometimes she’d pick me up. But sometimes when she can’t, she would promise to buy me chocolates from the next junction and I’ll happily drag along. Sure enough, I’d get my chocolates.
She walked into the room and saw me eating a chocolate.
“You are eating chocolate without giving me?”, she said
“You don’t like these. They are the bitter, dark ones.”
“Okay” she said sadly.
I fished my bag and found what I was looking for. I scooped out a few toffees and gave two to her. Her face lit up and then she pointed at my other hand.
“Bring those here”, she took two more chocolates.
“They are so tempting.” she said and slowly opened the cover and popped one into her mouth.
“Bring some oranges when you come in the evening, will you? Kondhai loves them.”
“Anu! Can you buy some potatoes? It has been a while since I made potato fry for kondhai.”
“You have been studying for so long. Here, have some ice tea!”
“Ranjiniiii! I have made coffee for you.”
“You should take some break from studies dear. I fear for you. If you study like this , what will happen to that tiny brain of yours? Go take a walk outside.”
“Look at your bed! It is in a state of mess. Why don’t you clean it up?”
“I got some toffees. I have kept them for you.”
Happiness is having an angel and calling her Grandmother ❤
My Ammamma (Grandmother). Ever since I remember seeing her, she has been like this. Silver haired, wrinkled beauty, with a shiny three-stoned diamond nosering that makes her look like the Goddess Mahalakshmi, draped in a cotton saree devoid of even a single crease. When she walks, a fragrance, a mixture of Mysore sandal, Vicco turmeric and baked cookies wafts through the air. That is the smell of home for me.
She was and is my everything and now, I am enjoying her second childhood. Holding her hands and making her walk, taking her to the doctor, buying medicines for her and giving her chocolates. Yet, she never fails to remind who is in control ;). Being the ever loving person she is, she has had a lot of impact on me. She still takes care of her grandchildren as though we are babies. For them, we never really grew up.