Losing a grandparent is like loosing a childhood friend.
I was born when manni’ was 69, I grew up while she grew old. She has been there with me althrough my childhood be it day or night, happy days or sad, sickness or health! No matter what kind of day it was she would call “soumyaaaa” just to keep a check on whether I’m sleeping or awake.
She used to nag me like a kid would and I used to get annoyed, so annoyed that I would yell and she would yell back. Well this was when she still had the energy in her, when she could bend every morning to do ‘kolam’ infront of the house, when she could light lamp in Pooja room, when she could cook dinner, when she could eat chapathi with some effort.
She has always been the oldest in the family and the wisest. She got respect for her character more than the age. My friends would talk about her and ask about her after meeting her even once, since she had that charm in her. This was when she could walk inside the house and watch television. She watched sun tv serials religiously everyday from 11 am to 2 pm. Ate lunch at 2, took a light nap and then cooked dinner for family.
When I stay up at night she would tell the next day ” ratri okanthu Harry pottan vayikanam pakal fulla toonganam”
Then some of her children died, she was still the wisest, she cried a night and would say “good – kashtapadalai, blessed soul, my daughter” and get on with her life. She would say ” not sure how many rice I have in my name, I can’t go anywhere until I finish them”. This was when she could walk to toilet and I would sit beside her on bed trying to teach her IT engineering. I remember teaching her how a printer server works! Not that she understood, she gave me company and I gave her company. Just like a friend.
Then she started falling. My ears always listened for any sound from the next room. If the rhythm of her walking stick begins, I would wait for it come back to the bed for I was scared. One day I heard the walking stick fall and I knew something went wrong, I walked in to see mannis nose bleeding.
During the final year of my college she had a maid to sit with her, to make sure that she doesn’t fall. I can’t remember if the maid stayed at night.
Then I got a job, I moved away from home. Time flew for me and stayed still for her.
I could see her growing older and older as the days passed. During my every visit to home I would lie down with her in bed. She always had good memory, at least until my last visit almost an year ago. She would talk about her old days, her kids, her grandkids, her great grandkids, her mother, her grandmother… She lived in a world without electricity, she also lived in a world where we could Skype. She studied only till 4th standard. She could read, write and speak 2 languages.
When I got married, she came to my wedding with a lot of effort but couldn’t see or hear the wedding for she had become blind and deaf. She still had her spirit. She talked sense or in other words she was determined to talk/think sensibly even when every organ of her failed. I would talk to her from a different country, she would ask what I cooked, she asked what I wear, she imagined me walking in cold British land with just my eyes visible.
Then she couldn’t speak on phone. As she was very tired. I stopped asking to give her the phone for I knew that she is waiting for her moksham which is what she believed in. And yesterday night she got her moksham.
Rest in Peace my dear manni.
G Chellammal – 22nd June 1922 – 22nd Sept 2018 , forever in my heart.