Today marks the one year anniversary of the passing of my paternal grandmother.
If I had to explain my grandmother in three words, I would find it difficult to imprison all the woman she was (and who she continues to be for me in my life) but I would have to settle (after much deliberation) for infectious, feisty & determined.
Infectious in her laughter, her wit and her mischievousness, feisty in her ability to overcome all the obstacles and curve balls her life threw at her while she walked the planet, and determined to make the best of whatever she was faced with no matter what the drawbacks. My grandmother lived and loved with vigour and stubbornness. I’m lucky in that on her passing, I didn’t have any painful lingering doubts on whether she knew I loved her, because in my soul, I know she did and continues to do so, wherever she may be.
Amma, the Hindi word for mother (as her three children, six grandchildren, two great grandchildren and countless more extended family called her) was the second youngest of five spirited sisters. She was the favourite of her doting and docile mother (or so I am told), and the proud child of the Headmaster of a local school, located somewhere in the Himachal Pradesh district of Una, a common boundary shared with Hoshiarpur in Punjab.
Revered for their exquisiteness (Amma’s oldest sister was actually stolen from her neighbourhood by a group of bandits due to her mesmerising beauty!), my grandmother was one of those women who took compliments and the entire notion of attractiveness in her stride. Though my grandfather fell in love with her the moment he laid eyes on her at a mutual friend’s party, Amma was never one for making a fuss about the way she looked, always partaking with me on the importance of having a good “inside” over what she vehemently believed was fleeting and subjective on the “outside”.
Amma is unfortunately not the first grandparent I have lost, my first was my paternal Grandfather, or as we all affectionately called him, Papaji, a little over ten years ago and I can honestly say that it isn’t any easier the second time round. I perhaps naively believed that I would know what to expect when the undeniable time of passing would happen for my Amma, but knowing what’s coming doesn’t make the ensuing pit in your gut any easier to tolerate or facilitate any sort of preparation in advance for that matter.
I feel extremely blessed for having spent a considerable chunk of time with my paternal grandparents as I was growing up in Australia, which leads me to why I really believe that grandparents are often better than parents.
My grandfather fostered my immense love for writing, and most importantly, storytelling. Recounting a traditional, family heirloom of sorts, I know for a fact that every child connected to the Sharma household has been told, retold, and blasted with the disastrous Indian “kuja” story on how parents of children were nearly ripped apart before they could marry by the infamous, evil kuja (a conventional Indian clay pot)! I remember all of us children listening with barely concealed gleeful excitement at our parents having escaped the maddening clutches of the menacing clay pot to have gone on to have us, I mean what could possibly be worse than us not existing? No matter how hard we wracked our brains, nothing we could ever muster up by way of our imagination could suffice the disastrous results had the kuja had its wicked way!
Grandparents are great storytellers. In fact most children, no matter where we come from or the cultures we belong to, will have at least one story of a great tale revealed to us through our grandparents. Why? I believe that the simple reason is because they have the time to repeat, repeat and yes, repeat the same story to us after our many pleas, without ever losing their patience. Amma taught me lifelong lessons through the age old wise modes of sharing knowledge and morals via her storytelling and the best thing is I didn’t even realise that she may have been lecturing me (only slightly of course!) until it was over and the point had finally hit home!
Grandparents are fortunate (or as is the case sometimes, a little unlucky!) to be able to spend time with their grandchildren and actually enjoy it. They get to spoil you without having to deal with the consequences and best of all, at least in my case; they are always way cooler than your parents! They also have the wisdom to understand that life goes on no matter what happens, that it is rarely the end of the world (even if you are absolutely positive it is. I mean that guy found out I liked him!), that there is ALWAYS a solution to a problem (you just have to think outside your immediate box sometimes), that it is most likely not as bad as it seems (yes, yes, even when the guy I liked found out I did in the worst possible way), and that you are only ever going to be truly happy being and rejoicing in who and what you are without giving a damn about what anyone else thinks! And best of all, you’re perfect, didn’t you know that?
This year has not eased the pain of losing Amma anymore than when the wound was fresh, but I do laugh when I remember the happy times a lot more easily now than I did possibly 11 months ago. My religion advocates reincarnation, so losing someone is never quite final however, regardless of what Hinduism dictates, I truly believe in my soul that our paths will cross again and I look forward to many more lifetimes as the proud granddaughter of both Papaji & Amma.
Thank you for the memories & I love you … xoxo.