Wednesday, August 12, 2009

my grandmother

Of late, I've been missing my family a lot. While, every once in a while I go through the 'what-am-i-doing-here-miles-away-from-my-family' blues, it tends to get exacerbated by the strangest of things. The other day I dreamt about my parents. I cant remember the dream as such but the feeling has lingered on. This obviously resulted in calls being made at random hours and some crankiness on my part. While I was feeling annoyed, yet surprised, about reacting in such a strange manner about a dream, I remembered an even more inexplicable reaction when I read the story A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote (Yes, welcome to Random Musings!).

My paternal grandmother had lived with us for most of my life. We were the best of friends, esp. when I was a young kid. I would spend most of my time just talking and playing with her. I would fall asleep at night listening to her stories, at her side. The most touching memory that I have of her is this one time when I decided to sleep in my parents room instead of in hers (I was only 6 then). I couldn't sleep and was restless. I'd like to think that it was because I was worried about her, but it could've been because I missed her gently patting me to sleep. So really late into the night, I tiptoed out of my parents' room and when i got back to her room, I found her quietly sitting on the edge of her bed, facing the door with the light on, waiting for me to come back. This was more than 21 years ago, and yet I can clearly see it.

As time went by, obviously, her affection for me didn't change, but I had other distractions. Studies, exams, friends, adolescence, television and later college. Over time, I sort of lost touch with her. Khushwant Singh describes this change in relationship between him and his grandmother in a most touching, yet matter-of-factly manner in his story, The portrait of a lady. I remember reading it in 8th grade and thinking that it would never be like that between us.

My moving to the US diminished our contact even further. Then around 4 years ago, she passed away. When I heard the news, I cried for a couple of days but I never really had the closure I needed. Being hundreds of miles away dulled the pain and I think I conned myself into thinking that she was still there at home, so I moved on and I blocked the thought from my mind. Then about 1.5 years or so ago I read the short story A christmas memory by Truman Capote. It is a beautiful story about a little boy and an "old friend" (the author never tells us how they're related but one can infer that the woman is either his grandmother or a grandaunt). Reading that story brought back a rush of memories. I remember crying uncontrollably, inexplicably after reading that story. I think I was finally able to let my emotions flow and mourn the death of my grandmother. What old pictures and a visit back home did not do, a beautiful little story did. Strange how the most unexpected things can evoke such strong memories and feelings?

I thought of her again today and decided to dedicate a post to the woman who was always, truly and unconditionally my best friend.


  1. Its funny how I have a clear memory of sleeping this one time in my maternal grandparents room while visiting them.. and trying to scare them with the lion on my night shirt and them humoring me by pretending to be awfully scared...
    But I do not have such a clear memory of sleeping in my parents' room ever.

  2. Hey,
    You have a nice blog here. Visited earlier but was lazy to comment.
    Abt this post, I think thats the main reason we have such elaborate rituals to honour a person's death..cuz they give some sort of a closure..

  3. Thanks Shriya.
    Yes, thats what my mom says too. That the long and elaborate rituals are really to accept and understand and, to some extent, distract from the immediate pain.

  4. A very emotional post