Waking up to the clatter of dishes in the morning as the maid battled with them as though they were really trying to attack her; as my grandfather would be busy making me breakfast in the kitchen. My grandmother would be reading the newspaper in the living room and trying really hard not to yell at the maid. I would get ready for school in my dark green uniform, wear my house badge and my class leader badge which I wore like it was the most prized possession I owned and go up to my grandmother to get my hair done. This took around ten minutes every morning and this was the time I felt closest to her. She would lovingly oil my hair, her hands filled with jasmine oil which would eventually be massaged onto my scalp and while she braided my hair, I would talk to her about school and teachers, making sure she knew every little detail of my life. During this time, she would give me those worldly words of wisdom, only grandparents know and would tell me things that I keep with me even today like, “Never trust anyone else but you.” and “Be friends with everybody; never prioritize one over the other. Love them equally.”
I don’t remember when it stopped and I honestly don’t remember the last time I had her oil my hair. I don’t remember when I grew too old to lay asleep on her legs as we watched a Malayalam movie together, with me telling her how I guessed it would end. I honestly don’t remember the last time I spoke to her about what was going on in my life; don’t even remember the last time I woke up in the middle of the night to watch her gazing at me as I lay awake in bed.
I felt homesick today, after a very long time and I realized that I hadn’t seen her in almost a year and it hurt me a little. I hated that I grew too busy to sit by her side and listen to stories about her past; too busy to take out a few minutes to talk to her in a busy week; so self important that I didn’t think of calling to wish her a happy birthday the first thing I woke up…
Here is the same woman, spending her entire morning in front of the television because her grandchildren are all grown up and in different parts of the country. Here is the same woman who has dedicated her entire life to bringing us up and making sure we were brought up as well fed, well educated, religious children. Here is the woman who sits by the phone, waiting for one of her grandchildren to call and say hello.
People ask me whom I miss the most when I’m away for as long as I’ve been and even if they didn’t, they always know the answer… my ammachi (grandmother)! I want to go back to those good old days when she’d teach me and make sure I understood everything I read and ensure that I did my homework, didn’t watch inappropriate television shows (which I’d end up watching anyway); those days when she was my best friend and confidant. My life seemed so simple then, without any worry… I’d just cry and confide in her… and everything would be okay.
I always tear up thinking about home and today was just one of those days, I guess. It’s nice to rake up the past like this; reminding me that I have a family waiting for me when I’ve had enough of life on my own. I remember this prayer she taught me when I was about 3 or 4 years old, I think. It went like this… “God bless Mummy. God bless Daddy, Help me always to keep them happy! God is love, God is great. Amen.” 🙂 I feel like a little kid again and it felt nice to say that prayer too.
I don’t know why I posted this but I’m glad I did.
So goodnight, world. I’ll see you in the wake of a beautiful morning!