You should have waited. I was planning to bring you 70% chocolate, which would have melted in your mouth. Heaven may have very many things, but do they have 70% chocolate which taste like sin? I doubt it.
Instead, you just decided that its time for you to go, and off you went. You didn"t keep your word - you did not wait around to pet your first great grandchild - not that I was planning to have a baby anytime soon, but still, you could have waited a bit.
I can hear you saying "C"mmon kiddo" with your wide white smile - half believing, not knowing if i am pulling a fast one on you and pulling you leg. But hey, I never teased you when it came to chocolates. We both know that it is too serious a subject to play the fool with.
But we played the fool with everything else. We encouraged the dogs to romp on the bed, we read together cheesy local soap operasque romance novels - you were a young sixty four, and I was an old seven year old. We had mangoes for lunch - atleast when the adults were not looking, and you made me an addict to Maggie. I made a mess, cutting out papers and toppling chairs and yanking down curtains to create a forest, palace, palladin, or fort - as the case may be. You, and only you, allowed me to do so.
But how could you resist, me little enactments, you prima donna drama queen, you? You knew that I knew that you were overreacting, and took my pulling your leg in good humour.
You bought me books. And chewing gum. And candyfloss.
You took me to see Kathakali the way it should be seen. Under the starry sky, with a huge oil lamp dancing in the wind, you told me about the heroes and gods and godesses. You taught me about our culture, our heritage.
You spoiled grandpa. But then, you spoiled us all. With love, with putting us before everything - well, before almost everything. How many sarees do you have, all expensive, all unironed as you thought that Rs 1.5 is too much to pay to the ironing guy to tend to a Rs 3000 saree? You wore it the way you liked, all bunched up, so that if someone asked you to pretty please cook some maggie ( thats me ) or to hold the menacing two inch dog ( that MC, the 'fraidiest of the three of us) or to play with him ( thats AC - the one who took after you and me in family kookiness).
You were the only one geniunely disappointed when I told you, at 16, that no, I dont have a boyfriend. My parents and granddad breathed in relief. You felt that I was lying or that I didnt have a life.
You gave me my ego. That is a commendable effort, when we look back at the ones who thought ego was a bad thing, and I ought to have none of it. I could love you only for that.
You gave me pets, and allowed me to name them as I wished. And you loved them like I did.I am sure Puppy, Chinnu, Dash, Chitrapadma, Jillie, PussyCat, the myriad fishes and Torty have already given you a warm welcome up there, running around you, drooling all over you, winding around your feet and what not.
You gave me hope. You were the best example of why a hopeful, happy life is better. You had more than enough to feel sad and bitter about. You could not have walked out of the bitter and difficult early years of your marriage. Years later, you would still tell me with a twang of complaint in your voice, that it was not fair, grand dad was not fair. I would tell you that we can always divorce grandpa, and dont we have many a fair man who is smitten with your beauty to fall back on? You will chuckle delighted, granddad would look alarmed, and you would then blush.
You told me about grandpa's girlfriend who jilted him - and thus he had to marry you - but you shushed grandpa when he was about to retort with how you liked someone when you were a wee lass. I have tried bribing him with sweets and chocolates, but he didnt open his mouth. I think you would like to know that he was a bit afraid of you.
You were tiny. As in, tinier than me. And lean. And healthy, except for your imaginary illnesses for which, whenever I would suggest a remedy, you will decide not to take it. But some of them were true, result of marital strife and a life of poverty. You always had me to take your side, and I felt your pain against your still evil sister-in-law and would be quite frosty and will duck and cover against her wet sloppy kisses. So would the other two - MC and AC.
Your relatives thought of you as a bit silly. That you probably are. But they thought of you as a bit inconsequential. You were anything but. With your infinite patience and love, you held us, a bunch of fragmented egos, together.
You loved your spices, and made food fiery and hot. You loved colors, and wore too bright colors which even I thought was too bright. You loved to dress up, and wear your gold.
You introduced me to your neighbours -all Muslims and a few Christians - and their amazing food. It would have been so easy for me to just pretend-like them, and distrust and bitch about them behind their back. I have to thank you for my taste of the holy bread - which you proccured for me because I wanted to try it. Your were called "mom" by not just my mother and uncle, but b a whole street of people. You were the nice granny for about 7 to 8 kids, all unrelated by blood and only by love, at the last count. I was known as your granddaughter, about whom you bragged.
You were the one who got it first when I said that I want to live first, and then may be, marry later. You encouraged me to live life as I would want it, and travel as much as I can.
May be in a different life, I might have been you, and you, me.
Take care sweetheart - I will miss you like anything - I will miss baiting you with my tall tales and will miss the delight when you laugh at my jokes. I will miss discussing what to wear with you. I will miss your food - um, not really. But will definitely miss your pickles.
But now, rather than watching over us, I would be happier if you had the time of your death now. Take care, have a nice trip. And like our old pact, if you come back to visit as an all black crow and I had only one piece of chocolate in my hand, I will happily give it to you.
- Your granddaughter, who is indignant that you did not wait for me to come home and set off today, for new worlds.
Nanamma* - when I was a wee baby, I decided that my grand mom is my mom, and only mine. So I would say Njaan ( I ) Amma ( mom ) which basically meant "my mom" for a 1.5 year old me. The name stuck, and half the world would call her that as I grew up.
Addendum: I had talked to my dad for some time, when the exact reason for the death was told to me. There is a temple in Kerala, on top of a mountain called Sabarimala. My granny, at the age of 70+, went on a trek to the top of the mountain. The trek was done donning a sari and at least partially on donkeys, but the strain was too much for her frail, 5feet long, less than 35 Kg body. She did not tell of the trip to my mom, and forbade everyone around her from doing so, rightly worrying that she will get chewed out by her daughter for trying something foolhardy. The news leaked out to my dad today, and he passed it on to me. My mom doesn't know this. Yet.
And now I am happy. Of all the ways my granny could have died, this was one of the best. She did something she really wanted to do; and defying her children made it all the more sweeter for her. Even when she died, I am sure she died happy, the memories of her trek lingering in her mind. For a woman who loved exploring life as passionately as she did, but hardly had a chance to do so because of social mandates and responsibilities, in her last unconscious moments, she would have been preparing for her next big travel, eyes shining like black diamonds in excitement. It is a good way to say goodbye to the world, when you feel all alive and appreciate the gift of life.