Sunday, April 24, 2011

Absence

When I probe my memory for the first picture of my grand mother that I could recollect, it is of an elegant lady in late forties who always used to come visit us in our home in Madras (back then) with bags of food and other goodies. She was not tall, but pretty much of an average built, yet she had an astonishing feel about her presence. She never complained making this many a tedious travels, because she did the mistake of letting her kids free. Education brought in a false sense of esteem to her kids and off they went forgetting the diary farm and many other a thing. Little did they understand that the parents were educated and yet preferred to toil with the land to make the living.

Most of my summer vacations were spend with my grandparents at their place in Cochin. There were cows at the house and it was all grand mom's business. Appachan had some plantations of tapioca  and a good farm of water buffalo near to Mannuthi in Trichur and if that was not enough, he was always up with something, trucking business or exporting tea. Money never seemed to be big hindrance and slowly they retired.

I moved to Cochin from the small town where I took up school till then and my relation with Grandma, changed drastically. We fought with each other for almost everything; moved out to my other home nearby, to where my parents moved in now; and yet she waited for me during lunch with the hopes that, I might come drop in to have a talk. Some times I did and we spoke over many a good lunch, with her special sea delicacies. Boy, was she an amazing cook!!

Appachan was always on great terms with me, but with grandmom being almost like me, we were two firy spirits to be matched up. Forget your, forgiving everything granny. Mine was sharp, blunt, honest and to top it, didn't care a shit about hurting someone with her honesty nor did she fear a soul.

The more we fought, the more we trusted each other. I knew about her estates and knew how strong financially the old couple are. It was me, who made her testament soon after finishing my course. She trusted no one else but me with some things. I guess for her, I was a rogue arrogant child, but very honest at matters of wealth and someone who never bothered her at all with any favors. And she knew, I could be trusted with secrets and getting a job done, guess that is what basically made up our relation. A mutual respect for the other rogue personality.

After a decade of arthritis and lever sclerosis, she finally gave up after a multiple fracture, a heart stroke and comatose for over a month. During her comatose stage I was at home and witnessed many a tale unfold. At times, reality seemed so very stranger than fiction. She passed away on December 24th night at around 11pm. Funeral and the other rituals over, people were anxious about the estate. Some dear aunties knew, it was me who made the testament for Granny and they were after me. Evil at the supreme form, a thing my granny would have despised came up front on so many a pretentious knight of morality on not getting to know how the land and gold was split. I respected my granny for this, she never ever asked for a penny of another, though she was not the first one to let her hands of from her penny as well. You convinced her about your need and she gave, if you couldn't please forget her help. That describes her best.

This is the first Easter i remember with no Granny. She was always there, a presence so very ensured that many a time I took it for granted and failed to stop at her place to munch on some nice curry she has made. After the funeral, things went by very fast and I had left to Hyderabad. So the feeling of missing Granny never happened. But this time at home, sitting in Appachans chair listening to him shout to someone over the phone, I feel her absence. Just like I did, while I first went to her grave after getting home in March, I couldn't help the memories that came flashing by, the thoughts, the words spoken together, the moments and I left a sorry figure drenched in tears and sobbing, not really caring whether someone saw me doing it.

Out of an urge, I went again to her grave, while the Mass was happening in Church. I am just the driver and was happily sleeping in the car all the time till then. There was nothing, except a few more  people have joined her at the other side of the life. I lit a candle, looked around and then I could smell the stew boiling on her stove. It was her specialty, the beef stew, maybe there was no smell and it was just a thought, but nevertheless my eyes started swelling up and it was not long before I had this realization of absence tore me like crazy.

If this is me, then I can't fathom to understand the absence felt by the white haired man sitting on the old chair, in front of the old house in Cochin. 60 years of being together and then one has to leave, the other alone crying in despair and waiting for some miracle to happen.

For my Appachan, the miracle will be the revival of our farm and pepper. Add tea to it, then I think I can fill his remainder of days not feeling her void to that great an extend. I don't want to feel all the more sad about not giving time to the other half who taught me to love the road, the cow, the green  and gave me the best memories of spending childhood in a farm, straight out from an Enid Blyton book.

6 comments:

  1. Really touching mate. From the search in my memories, she comes across as a strong, confident woman and the trademark which i saw in her was a sense of brutal honesty in whatever she did or said. Sure it came from your "Dil se".

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  2. lots of memories came back when reading this post man.. U guys were terrible together..!!! always bickering abt and with each other!! but u sure got a lot of ur traits from her man.. me nd chull used to say that u and ur granny are more alike than u would care to admit.. i was really shocked to see her when she was on her deathbed..looked a poor shadow of her former strong self.. she did radiate tremedous self confidence u know..
    may she rest in peace..

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  3. I was reading your post from latest ones to this. And what I wrote in the comment in your post after this was indeed without reading this.
    A sublime post this!

    Some one said that even after our dear ones depart often around we can smell their presence , their cuisine.

    I wonder if children that are around today and the generation to come will ever experience the sagacity of the grand parents, their bed time stories, their ethics, their philosophical outlook, their presence. Nuclear living has robbed human kind of the remaining bit of wisdom.

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  4. Sudeep @ I think your statement explains her very much..

    PRK @ what grim shadows we all will be when the cold hands of death comes crawling near?? The thing about having so many traits common with my granny is something I am proud of..Coz, i always admired the sheer guts and brutal honesty with which she spoke..

    Anil @ I have a feeling, people born at my times will be the almost last ones to know the miracles and blessings grand parents bring to our lives..Man, the selfish beast invented nuclear families and easy living, but it gave up the love, care, wisdom and warmth that older people brought into the homes :)

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  5. I was with you beside the grave...

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  6. I wrote this couple of months back!
    "Bubbling up are the days I was beside the light toned couch of hospital, Coloring a canvas which is left half done.
    As usual, she declared 'I want to learn how this thing is operated' her eyes pointing to the large Toshiba machine that I possessed. She wanted to play music nothing more! I am sure she might have learned too if that awaited fall have not had happened!
    A week spend; we enjoyed, listening to some old melodies, telling stories and praying together! I used to find her very much interesting after long years! May be thats when I came out from my books? or Lord gave me a chance to be nice to her that I may not regret. Sleepless nights when I used to hold her hands and supporting head over her couch waiting for her to drop in to the valley of sleep! Late night nature's calls which made her guilt and depressed! She thought of my inconveniences rather than her comforts and controlled everything and made sure to let me sleep! When I think over I miss you because you always told 'my little baby is doing everything I am so bad that not even allows her to sleep'!Your belly was fluid filled, joints were filled with swell-balls!None of the internal organs did justice to you;such a phase you were bothered about my sleep and health and I just cannot digest!None of these distress emptied her fuel tank.She kept on describing my dad's faith, my mom's dynamism; my sister's tidiness and respect, my brother's temper and then love moreover a academic record that I obtained unknowingly. I felt ashamed to be flattered blindly in mob; but could see a joy in her eyes, which was lighted the day when a 3X2 photograph of mine got printed on some daily's pages. Its true the grey haired conversation energized me to be in excitation and try what I have not done ever-to study; but, the smile and pride rendered their way was huge they believe!
    I used to run away from her as she used to entrust work on me! It never took her much to find out the mystery behind my disappearance and got hold of me and promised to make me work more!
    She used to love me but, never more than my siblings! She was like a world of hope, peace and joy to her! she has remained so through out her life,most obedient and lovable child!
    She was not soft spoken all the time but, she only has spoken the truth!I never advocated her ideologies; I was an all time grandpa girl since my childhood. When I stepped in to the shoes of legal adulthood I found for the first time my granny an interesting woman! She knew the extremities of my immaturity and senselessness still, she pleaded for me in my brother's legal chamber. My mother have not tried that yet; for what I designate him as her boxer recruit! Whatever, everything , all funs just slipped away making a large space between us! My mother searches for the womb that carried her and we search for the vibrations that guided us.
    The big space that I holds now, is most of the time filled with her. I would like to imagine she is there beside making fun all the time. This virtual incarnation imparts healing to my wounds. But, at home
    Nothing pertains!Just cannot manage the darkness coming across your space! I hardly dares to enter your room because, my eyes do not obey me when I am there.
    Love you for nothing and I am envious to my siblings because they have known you more been with you more! I have a wonderful smile of pride buried within as I am blessed to be named after you and last loop of the legacy chain!
    Nagging within is a simple thought......how long will last the smiles that sprout for the currencies...?

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