"Without pickles I will not eat curd rice."
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
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.
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.
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.
"Tell me, are you my grandson? I
can't remember, are you?”