Friday, April 8, 2016

G - Grandma

Ajji enjoying her Doli-ride in Mahur.

She was on her bed, her bent frame pouring over some book. It was dark and she hadn't put on the lights yet. "Ajji, its so dark and you are reading. Why didn't you turn on the lights ?"
"Ha.. let me just finish up this para" she replied, absent-mindedly.

That's the first image that comes to my mind when I think of her. Neatly oiled long silver hair, rolled into a small bun. Fresh powdered face. Always clad in a light colored cotton saree. And the reading posture. She used to read everything she could lay her hands on. Milap, fursat ka panna, bhagvad gita, magazines, even English newspapers. She can speak English, in broken sentences. I have vague memories of her reading out the English newspaper to my grandfather whenever we got late from school. Grandpa making us read it all over again was a different matter altogether. It was a matter of pride for two little girls.

Conversations with her were very interesting. She used to be all ears about what we had to tell, open to ideas and held no prejudice in her thinking. She always had an anecdote or a verse up her sleeve which she promptly used according to the situation. Very impressive memory she has. She told small stories from our mythology whenever she had a point to make. Never did she thrust her opinion on anyone of us. Never did we hear her complain about anything. Except that she wasn't able to help mom as much as she wanted to.

Sometimes we would hear her sing. Either in the middle of the night, when sleep eluded her. Or when she was all alone and we returned unexpectedly in the afternoon from wherever we had been. She could have been a singer or anything she would have wanted to be. Learning was ingrained in her. And the thirst for being useful. At the age of 75, she used to clean her bathroom herself, and wash her blouse and petticoat when the bai took leave.

One other thing that I admired about her was her open mindedness. I am not sure if it was because she was well-read or if it was her inherent nature, but she was modern in her outlook. The biggest testimony of this fact is she readily accepting my marriage to Sush. And being happy about it. The first inter-caste marriage in our family.

And how can I not talk about her most characteristic feature!? She always has this need to cough, either when she has a mouthful, or when drinking water or when laughing. And this makes my dad go bonkers. He has a wild imagination when it comes to this and his subsequent actions are driven by the assumption that she is going to choke and might die. Like coming to her running from wherever he is or urgently dispatching people to get water and what-not, or closing his eyes and waiting for the worst to happen. And when things slowly begin to settle down,
"Eat slow will ya?! Nobody is eating your food and No! Stop talking while you are coughing for God's sake! You always have something to say when you cannot! "

It doesn't stop here. What starts as a stifled cough slowly snowballs into incessant coughing. Something like this CoughCoughCoughCoughCough . And the most consistent fact about this episode is, it always ends with a sneeze. Three to be precise.

I dedicated this another post to her. You can read it here.

Its funny how some memories are ingrained in our sub-conscious mind. Something we never gave a second glance at or thought long enough. For example, the kind of laugh they laughed or how they sat in the verandah and gazed into nothingness or how they drank their tea or the look on their face when they got angry. Just a few simple things about them that belonged to them as a whole. And when you remember them, it leaves you all warm and fuzzy. Just like how I am feeling now.

So, here is to Ajji. Her name is Prabha, which means Light. She is 80 now and going strong. All I wish for her is a smooth ride hereon.

PS : Ajji is Grandma in Marathi.


  1. What a beautiful post. I know very little about Indian culture except from what I see in Bollywood movies, and even then I'm not entirely sure if that's an accurate representation, but this post gave me a little window into your grandma's lifestyle. This is such a beautiful tribute to her!

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Jess ! I am not sure if I did any justice to her character, but this is a simple representation of how I remember her. And good to know you watch Bollywood movies! Hope you like them :)

  2. What a poignant tribute to your grandmother!

    Visiting from A to Z Challenge

  3. She is adorable! I bet she's fun to talk with.

    1. She is adorable Lisa. Thank you so much ! And she does talk a lot :)


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