“Congratulations, it’s a girl,” Nurse said smilingly as she placed me onto my grandmother’s lap.
“Nincompoop, couldn’t you wrap her in a piece of cloth? She might catch a cold,” scolded my granny to the surprised nurse.
Inside the operation theatre, my mother sighed a heavy breath of relief on hearing my grandmother’s reaction after seeing me. She had feared I might not be welcomed the way I should, I had been the 4th girl child after all. But granny’s reaction appalled all.
It was true that she longed to have a grandson (who wouldn’t after receiving back-to-back granddaughters) but it was equally true that she loved me the moment she saw me first. To the extent that she even decided on my name ‘Khyati’ which means fame; for she firmly believed that I’d make her proud and bring fame one day. She’d often tell people that I reminded of her six-month-old daughter whom she’d lost in an accident, decades back. She’d shower me with limitless love and it was no less than motherly love. I believe that was part of the reason why I was made to call her ‘Dadimaa’ where the emphasis was more on the word ‘maa’. Granny used to proudly profess her love for me, calling me ‘gudiya’ (which is actually a Hindi name for doll) her favorite and leaving all my older siblings boil with jealousy. My food, clothes, belongings were completely taken care of by her.She’d walk with difficulty but still ensured to play hide-n-seek when I had nobody around. Sometimes, I had to bear the brunt of her excessive display of affection too since I was often ignored by my older siblings. And in no time I had mastered the art of being a loner despite receiving so much of warmth from others.
Twenty years later..
My granny and mother were all decked up for the occasion of Karwachauth (a one-day festival celebrated by Hindu married women where they fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands). It was very well celebrated in our house, just like Diwali. One of my granny’s cute habits included keeping a
Reminiscing that evening of 2013 when granny was fasting throughout the day, doing her usual household work and waiting for the moon towards the evening. She looked a bit weak from her usual days but we had assumed the root cause to be the lack of food and water. After the completion of fast, she ate her dinner and complained of weakness. On common days she had never been an early sleeper but that night she decided to sleep early since it had been a long tiring day. She was off to bed by 9 PM. And so were others. I had some college work so I decided to stay on late and complete that. It must’ve been around 4:30 in the morning when I heard a voice coming from my Granny’s room. I would be lying if I say it did not scare me but with little courage, I decided to see what the whole noise was about. I was surprised to see granny talking to herself in a husky voice. I immediately turned on the lights to see her lying on the floor. Seeing her in the pool of blood I yelped for help and in no time all other members of the family were gathered inside her room. My Dad and brother put her back to the bed and it was then that I realized the unusual posture of her left arm. It laid lifeless. I remember screaming hard and my father scolding me back for thinking ill things. However, I was not easily convinced and so I held her hand to see if she responds, only to find her unaffected. She showed no sign on being pinched on her left arm. That is when my mother sensed I was stating the reality. We rushed her to the hospital where we were informed that she had been attacked by the paralytic stroke on the left side of her brain.
Love has a strange way of making its presence felt in odd situations. While we all sat motionless outside the ICU room, it was my grandpa who refused to leave my granny alone. Growing old together is indeed a persistent journey where one becomes too crippled to leave the other partner. My grandpa was 92-year-old, 8 years elder to granny but in their 65 years of marital bliss, he had become this little baby who was dependent upon my granny for every tiny thing. My granny, on the other hand, can be given full marks on being the dutiful companion that she was. So seeing her with oodles of needles around her body, Grandpa was bound to shiver. My little brother and I tried our best to make grandpa sit outside the ICU room, but dare he listened. The old man was anxiously waiting for his wife to open her eyes and talk to him. Trust me when I say this, there’s no better feeling than seeing an old aged couple as smitten by each other as they must’ve been years ago. Seeing his stubbornness, the poor doctor had to give in and allowed him inside the ICU theatre where his spouse was being treated on.
After 3 weeks…
Granny had gone too weak post that dreadful night. Apparently, the loss of water on Karwachauth had done part of the damage and it was tough for her to recover from the paralytic state of mind at this age… However, it had been weeks since she was hospitalized and my dad wanted to bring her back home where my grandpa was waiting for her with bated breath. After much persuasion, the doctor allowed signing on discharge papers on the condition of taking a nurse along who’d take care of her 24×7. We were all ecstatic with the news. Granny could now speak very little since the stroke had attacked her Pituitary glands but we were content with the fact that she could at least smile on seeing us around and her memory was not affected a bit. We had arranged for a full-time nursemaid to look after her but she’d always insist on having her food from me. On the other hand, I had been a lazy child all this while. I could barely boil water or prepare Maggi to say the least, but granny would insist to have freshly made chapatis by me.
There was this one particular day which I clearly
I learned the art of making soft chapatis in the days to come but they still wouldn’t be perfect and yet they were my granny’s favorite. She’d wait for 3 PM each day for me to get into her room with those fresh chapatis that I’d prepare for her. We’d giggle for hours and sometimes she’d ruffle my hair out of love, telling me how she much she adores me. On one of the occasions, she’d made a surprising declaration in front of my mother and father. She held my hand, kissed it and mentioned to me that her bond with me is not over yet. It is going to be uprooted to her next birth where she’d come to me as my baby. I was taken aback by this sudden revelation but deep inside was full of tears (tears of joy).
Meanwhile, our chapati and gossip session had become our everyday routine until she passed away 11 months later. I had never dealt with the pain of losing a loved one the way I had to witness my granny’s. It brought my attention to the quote I often used to read — ‘When someone you love becomes a memory; the memory becomes a treasure.’ It also made my heart wonder whether we’re at any moment in our lives, fully prepared to lose a parent. I guess no. Whether we like to admit it or not but all of us will eventually go away from one another, to another land, to another world. My grandpa was the one who was majorly affected by my granny’s demise. He would often lock hands with her to remind that he will always be there for her. And on the day she passed away, I saw him sitting near her corpse, hands locked tightly with hers, looking at her without moving. It left an everlasting imprint on my being. I had never seen a couple as passionate and mad about each other before. And I was lucky enough to see and feel its warmth in my own house itself. My grandpa could not bear the pinch of separation for too long and eventually passed away after 10 months.
It has been 5 years since she passed by, but my every thought still includes her. Whoever said death terms the end of a relationship, has clearly never received love as strong and pure as hers. I miss that soft touch. I miss that concern. It really saddens me that I could not reciprocate her love the way it should have been ideally, but somewhere the gratifying feeling of her being reunited with the love of her life which had luckily been my grandpa and her promise of coming back to me in the form of a baby girl in future, bring all the joy back on my depressed soul.
Today I make one of the finest chapatis one has ever eaten but I still feel the void. I regret not being able to make it when granny used to wait for it like an enthusiast. I miss her very dearly and often picture her sitting with me at 3 PM, eating soft chapatis and telling me how she’s loving every bit of it. Seeing her childlike happiness I would not want my dream to end. I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop — to a time when I could make my granny eat one of the finest chapatis of the world. By her