Monday, November 25

A story and a eulogy

Warning: A deeply personal story and I am trying desperately to fight back the damn mist in my eyes

My grandma, my hero, my pretty woman (seriously no kidding, she was the prettiest in my family)- decided that her children and grandchildren can take care of themselves and stopped breathing just a few days before Diwali this year. About a month ago, this time I was mid air on my way to India- almost sure gran would not make it but hoping, nevertheless, that she would.

She was at my cousin's engagement ceremony, smiling as always. No one knew what was coming...

Born in 1927 to parents who were a part of the Indian independence struggle, my grandma had an interesting childhood. My sister and I were so enamored by her life- we would sit by her and listen to her tell us stories. She always told us stories of her childhood with such fondness. It was never boring, never!

Coming from an erudite family, she was filled with dreams and aspirations. She always wanted to do more, study more, sing more, cook more, whatever she laid eyes on she gave it her best. She used to tell us (my sister and me) of the time when she would write songs on the walls of their home. She never stopped writing because writing songs made her life better,she was pretty good at it and she did it until the end of her time (in case any one who sings carnatic songs is interested, let me know- we are trying to get some of her songs recorded to honor her memory).

But at a young age of 16, everything she ever dreamed of doing and becoming was quashed when she married a guy who did not care to provide for the family, was constantly suspicious of whatever she did and hit her for his own shortcomings.

When her 4th child was just 13 days old, she was out on the streets. Thankfully, her parents and brothers were all kind enough to take 4 little children and my grandma under their wings. Sure no one thought the 4 children were going to make it, no one thought my grandma would make it- but they all did. And here I am writing about it, writing to say how honored I am to be a part of this family- the family that makes it despite the odds.

For women in an abusive relation, the women who think they cannot make it -if my grandma and her children can make it in the 1960s India, you sure can. Believe in humanity and the kindness of strangers. My grandma always did. She used to tell us her life stories which always ended in strangers showing up when she needed the most help or even just a few comforting words. She truly believed that such strangers were God sent.

There will be things that you would never forget and there will, most definitely be regrets. Her only life-long contrition was that she had not done enough for her children- no one who knows her or her children would ever say that though.

Her two favorite குறள் (Thirukkural, a two line short poetic verse penned by the greatest Tamil scholar and philosopher Valluvar) with crude English translations

அன்பிலார் எல்லாம் தமக்குறியர், அன்புடையார் என்பும்  உரியர் பிறர்க்கு  

Those who are not loving (or loveless) have only themselves, but those who spread the love, even their bones belong to everyone

தீயினால் சுட்ட புண் உள்ளாறும் , ஆறாதே நாவினால் சுட்ட வடு

Burn injuries will heal, but hurt caused by your tongue (your words) will not heal

All those times when we were happy together, cried together, when we fought for no particular reason and laughed for no particular reason- all those times will be missed.

You taught me to be kind and honest, to always tell the truth, to never stop learning, to respect nature and to always follow my heart.

Love you forever...