My grandmother is eighty-eight years old and she’s still young and beautiful. She loves watching TV, she loves dressing idols in the puja, she loves to eat sour things, she enjoys a long skirt, she likes to read in her free time, she enjoys a good movie and is a BIG neat freak! It’s been about five to six years since she and my grandad moved in with us and since then I’ve enjoyed having her presence around. She loves me of course since I’m the youngest one in the whole family. She will always defend me against my parents NO MATTER WHAT, whether my dad teases me early in the morning to wake up or mom pushes me to eat dry fruits(which she herself detests haha). She brings a fun kind of energy with the stories and experiences of her times, her dialect and use of Hindi words which really amuses me. I don’t get to spend time with her too often as I’m mostly in a different city for college and now work, but every time I come back home she always has something to offer, I get to know something new about the family’s history, learn about an old tradition or ritual or receive an unanticipated life-transforming message from her. It is all very fascinating. I love it.
It was in 2016 when my grandad passed away, and that‘s when I was worried for her, wondering if she would be able to take care of herself on her own. My grandmom, whom I lovingly call dadi, was mostly reliant on my grandad for everything she had ever required or needed to get done. She was nonchalant towards technology so she never used a phone or watched TV also for that matter; my grandad was the more proactive one who ordered medicines or kept in touch with relatives and stayed up-to-date with the current. But, over the years, since 2016, I have seen my grandmom accept change and embrace it in her life. Even though she loved me dearly and would’ve wanted me to stay close to her during that phase in her life, she accepted my staying away from home for my future and got along in her new life without a companion. She started keeping herself occupied with the household chores and getting more actively involved in spiritual practices. She learnt to operate a phone which she now uses to make calls to relatives. She tunes in on new channels she discovers on the TV. She studies the Indian scriptures in her daily routine and continues to stay self-sufficient. This really makes me marvel at how she has become more resilient in life. It is so inspiring to see her continue her study on spirituality. She reads the monthly magazine on spiritual wealthiness(Neeleshwari) and other articles my dad brings, she makes notes sometimes and she even makes time to meditate. It is so amazing to see the transformation, and how life just moved on. At one point I thought she couldn’t do without my grandad, but she learnt spontaneously to stand on her own in his absence.
Moreover, recently, she was recommended to give up on her morning and evening tea regime due to a hindrance caused by it on her health. When I heard of this, I wondered how difficult it would be for her to accept it as tea had been her staple routine for more than half her life. But, within a few months, she made herself accustomed to that custom too. I can barely give up munching on food I’ve been thinking about for a day, imagine giving it up for the rest of your life. It is definitely a tough agreement to sign up for, but, with the kind of willpower she has, she managed to achieve that feat as well. It’s remarkable how at this age she is rational in her thinking and so receptive to modern reasoning that she goes on to implement it in her life. Tea has been replaced by kokam juice or nimbu paani and long gone are the days of taking medicine for blood pressure. Her reinvention at this age is truly inspiring.
Besides all, the most beautiful thing about her is how she always talks about things in-depth while totally staying in the moment. She will vividly remember instances from the past and reconnect them with the current one which really makes me want to live more in the present and be mindful of every moment so I can recreate those moments again just the way she does. It reminds me to detach myself from the digital world and start to live more in the real one. Her memory is sharp with my dates of arrival and departure and she never misses to ask me about my grades and studies whenever I’m home, to ensure I’m still focused on my academics and life goals. Also, every time I come back she is persistent in reminding me to take care of my hair and skin. She will begin with scrutinizing my hair growth and volume and move on to examining the coarser parts of my feet. She will make a remark about it and then suggest me instant home remedies to perform. Sometimes, she even chooses to oil my hair herself and I have to embarrassingly bear not having paid enough attention to it.
I have learnt to live a quality life from my grandmother as she always manages to keep herself presentable and prepared in terms of making appearances in front of a gathering or grooming or cleanliness. She is so full of energy and enthusiasm when it comes to cleanliness that no one would believe she’s her age! She could wash utensils and clean her own bathroom if the maid wouldn’t come. She will choose to perform dusting of her own room at least thrice a week and even manage to convince me to help her sort out her cupboards if I’m around. We have to literally stop her from going neat freak at times. It’s hilarious. But that’s how she rolls and every time I see her like that it is a gentle prompt for me to stay as active and polish in my later years as she.
Another very dear attachment of hers is cooking. Whenever my parents go out of town and I’m home for being her caretaker, she gets on with her cooking skills and starts preparing all the sweet dishes she enjoys eating, which she is otherwise unable to get her hands on in my mom’s reign. She directs me from start to end on all ingredients she’ll be needing, the process, the cooking and final assembly until we have a feast ready for ourselves to savour. Those days, while my parents are away, become cheat days for her and me where we can have the flamboyant food of our choice. Haha! I also get to refresh my cooking proficiency in the meantime. She wouldn’t cook otherwise, but when the house is under her control she takes charge, and oh how very well!
I believe, as kids, most of us tend to under-appreciate the kind of knowledge our grandparents have to offer. It is only when we grow older do we learn to value their existence and the priceless wisdom they have. The experiences that they’ve grown with are unparalleled to what any of us may ever experience and having knowledge of that kind of adversity is important. They’re the link to our roots and if not through them how else are we supposed to learn about traditions that have been used to sustain the world. Moreover, the polar changes that they’re witnessing us experience is a much-needed perspective we need to be constantly reminded of. I feel blessed to have such a vibrant and dynamic parental figure in my life as my grandmother who will always have something to teach me NO MATTER WHAT.