Thursday, June 28, 2007

An ode to my grandmother

Ba, my grandmother, was the most unassuming individual. Her love was unconditional, and she held nary a grudge.

Sitting in her little throne, a couch on the roomside, she loved watching movies. She was fond of flicks with Gujarati superstar Naresh Kanodia or Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt. She'd watch Chinese movies. English movies. Tamil movies. Language didn't matter to her, she somehow understood the visuals and patched the movie together.

We'd go crazy if an English movie was deemed too long, but she'd sit there, calm like a turtle, waiting for the next scene. The amazing patience came from a tough life she lived and a roller-coaster ride of emotions she endured. Under a tough and petite frame, inside, she was as tough as nails.

The rare tear she shed was gut-wrenching to bear and perhaps the most emotional few seconds anyone in our family ever faced. She would talk about small things and be overcome by emotion. She hoped her estranged son would come and meet her again, but she held no expectations. As long as her son was happy, she was happy.

She was a comic too. She loved banana milkshake, amusing for a traditional Indian lady who didn't enjoy modern food. Any other milkshake was "banned by religion." The exception also went to chocolates, a thing every woman needs.

The watchdog she was, Ba reported the daily activities of my younger bro and me to Mom and Dad. If we watched TV for 2 straight hours, she'd tell Mom. If we ate twinkies on the sly, she told Mom. She was the Mom's eyes; there was nowhere to escape.

Finally, we counterattacked. One day we recorded and reported everything she did to Mom -- from watching 2 Gujarati movies to drinking 2 banana milkshakes. She panicked, not expecting us to report her, and denied doing everything. In jest, she gave us a naughty glance as if to say "you finally got me!"

She mostly kept to herself; religion pulled her together. She would go to the Jain temple every morning, and we held her religious commitment in high regard. We didn't want Ba upset, so we refrained from eating nonvegetarian food at home, but we did outside.

We had codenames for non-veggie dishes -- "chicken" was "kitchen," and "kabab" was "tree" (for mint leaves that came with the kabab). Ba was smart -- she knew we ate nonvegetarian food outside but never said a thing.

Memories pinch me so hard that I can't stop shedding tears. She cried when I left home for university; she held on to my hand for a few seconds trying to stop me from going. I cry with the memory that she is now gone, no hand to hold or none of her tears to wipe away.

But it is her memorable smile of when I came back home that I'll remember the most. She lived a long life, and her memory will be forever with us.

We miss you Ba.


Blogger Id it is said...

An ode that does her proud to have a grandson like you!
Beautifully put!

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Downunder said...

What a special Grammy you were blessed with. Sorry to hear of her passing.

4:36 PM  
Blogger venus said...

your Ba was a lovely lady. may god grace her soul with peace.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous brimful said...

Sorry about your loss, but what a wonderful testament to your grandmother's impact on her family.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ags - this almost bought tears to my eyes. she was truly a great person and a source of strength to mom and dad. what i remember (and will miss) most is ba sitting on the dining table, across from me, with a dabba of khakra, melted ghee and jiralu, saying "chopdi aalu?" :)

8:43 PM  

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