ssss Short Stories - Granny's Tales

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Pruthvi Banwasi

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Short Stories

Granny's Tale

"Without pickles I will not eat curd rice."

(I could have done without the pickle too but then I heard an aunt say, “Get the pickle, he never eats curd rice without a pickle.” So I just decided to pick up a fuss and was kind of surprised when it blew up to such great proportions…)

I'd said this to my grandma 20 years ago.

She had woken up a grocer at midnight to cater to my childish whim. Mention about this adventure repeatedly propped up when I was the cynosure in a conversation.

She had been admitted to the hospital now.

The point is that a granny is twice a mother to her grandchild. Mine was no exception.

 Every time I goofed up and was reprimanded sternly for the done mischief, I knew that I just had to wail a little and act as if I was choking and she would bring the whole house down. She would then accuse mom, grandpa and all else of being blind to my suffocation. That always worked. I still do not feel any guilt for having used her genuine concern as an easy means of escape.

She has never changed and I can say with blind faith (rare nowadays) that she never will. It pained me to hear that she was admitted in the ICU – for the third time in two years. Her weak heart and high BP were giving her a tough time.

"Namaskara Ajji, how are you feeling now?" begot "Did you have lunch? What did you have?” as always. I assured her that I had had lunch just then and on her request, I recounted the entire menu. That was her way of checking if we really had lunch or were bluffing our way through. We used to be caught here if we had not eaten. She sat up with extreme effort. As the intern tried to place the air pipe in her nose, she giggled. Air gushing out of it tickled her. Her smiling face made us so happy.

The doctor too was transfixed by her giggling and stood by wantonly. He procrastinated his having to attend other patients, not wanting to miss the smiles on her face. We were all touched by the childish way in which she kept giggling and explained the sensation to us.

When she it was placed in properly, to him she said, "Vadave Hakthalla- Arati Etti" (Now that the ornament is placed you can take an arati) then she felt fatigue and was laid back to sleep. I noticed that the IV tube had stopped dripping due to the shift. She said in spasms - "Talking of Arathi's… Did the Ganesha pooja go well today?” and then added, "Did Ajja read all the stories?” The IV tube was not at all functioning. "My hair is all messed.” she uttered and closed her eyes.

I was holding her hand near the elbow all along. I was happy to feel her warmth, something that I had grown up with and had thankfully cherished all along. Not wanting to disturb this I called the doctor who came and set the IV right. She was now quite at peace with the world, for she said - "Ganesha Habba, Yellarigy olleyadagali.” (It's Ganesha Chatruthi, let good befall all!) and drowsily turned her eyes towards me.

I looked at her and was drawn into a reverie... I was thinking about the amount of love and care that I had treasured from her. I wished to think that of all her grandchildren she was especially affectionate towards me due to my frailty at birth and the fact that it was she who had nursed me back to life.

"You will fall asleep - I will not allow you to sleep with him. He will sleep with me- I'll take care of him.” She had authoritatively told my mother once when I was ill. Each time I coughed that night I felt her hand on my head comforting me. She would make Kashaya (Medicinal Syrup) whenever I was in deep pain, without any complaint she would....

She shook me from my reverie when she muttered something. I asked her to repeat what she said.

She said, "Tell me, are you my grandson? I can't remember, are you?”

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