A Grandmother I Never Knew…

But learnt of her immense virtuousness through touching stories narrated by our faithful farm-hands Kuttan and Kamalam who are now part of our extended family

4/1/2015 11:29:53 AM
written By : Nirmala Ramnath Print

My paternal grandmother just existed. She was simply around, the dark lady with one eye closed due to some fever, draped in a nine-yard sari, wearing a lot of ornaments. She always sat on the big swing, rightly called the ‘swinging cot’ watching the red mud path, which led from the bus stop to the village, awaiting the day’s guest who would invariably turn up. I wonder at times whether she really recognised my existence - her sixth granddaughter out of the eight she had from her five sons! Her conversations to most of us, 15 in all, was limited to “don’t fall, don’t run, have food, eat mangoes” and a few other instructions. We too were so busy enjoying our holidays planning outings, scheming to fool one cousin or the other that we never bothered to spend time with her. Then before we could blink, three of her five sons died in a span of 18 months leaving a devastated 80-year-old mother who turned senile and took to bed. 

I was grown up by then and had started listening to my mother and aunts discussing her. She was possessive of the aunt who stayed with her - any one could see that. Each one claimed that she was partial to the other – I could not ascertain that; they said she was dominating, and orthodox - I believed so. Quietly and lovingly nursed by Kamalam and Kuttan the “Couple Fridays” of the house she passed away quite peacefully. At her death too, we cousins assembled boisterously trying to reason the purpose of our gathering.

Twenty five years have passed. My mother who lived with me had a fall needing a hip replacement surgery. Being a Parkinson's patient too, she did not come out of it too well. She lost total orientation, sense of time and people. In panic I rang up my cousin and asked him to send Kuttan and Kamalam, to help us out. Some how, I felt they would come, though I hardly knew or was in touch with them. And they did.

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