I have often wondered why I have never published a post about my mother.
I have published a post about my mother’s daughter, for sure. Here it is.
This post is about my mother’s mother. But, I haven’t published a post about my mother, to date. No, I do not know why. We’ll deal with that later.
There was something very different about my grandmother. At home, which is how we often saw her, she was the one who alway offered us soul food. To relegate her to a great cook, does a huge amount of dis-service to her, by the way. An injustice. My grandmother, who didn’t complete her education after 15 years, who could just about sign her name, was so much more than a good cook, She was an amazing storyteller. Mostly, she was a brave woman, who stood against villains who were encircling to destroy the farm that the family owned. She stood tall and physically fought with those who would burn a fecund farm of sugarcane, to score socio-political points.
She was a warrior. She carried deep scars of sickle wounds, from where, emanated slightly exaggerated stories. Sickle-scars on the thighs of this woman had their own stories to tell. A beautiful woman, less-educated, yet highly intelligent, clever, holding the fort while her man was away. She raised five kids, who were better educated than her and her man. Politically astute, a strategist, and a compassionate land-owner. She was all this before these terms were invented.
While she never uttered a single complaint, we learnt that life’s not fair. Not for us [the grandchildren; life was pretty good for us] – she showed us always, how we should deal with the shit that life serves us. With vigour, discipline, in our action and hope in our intent. Her husband [my maternal grandfather] died after a long bedridden illness. But, this woman always looked ahead – she looked to us – the future – her grandchildren. Yes, after her husband died, we [the grandchildren] became the focus of her life. And no, she wasn’t bitter about the years of taking care of bedridden husband, or his death. She was interested in us.
Nothing hampers her energy or enthusiasm.
Time goes by, and we discover, she’s diagnosed for breast cancer. Late stage. Her eldest lives in Mumbai. The best shot she has at treatment is in a hospital in Mumbai. She comes over. She is now living with us, because there’s the city advantage. Surgery and chemotherapy.
She is weak. She is lying on the sofa. Parents were out somewhere, I don’t recall. I had left home for a few minutes. I come back. She is still fine. Lying on the sofa. Tells me of a friend who came to meet me, but left, because I wasn’t at home. I am surprised! I was around! I could not have missed the friend.
I ask her again and again? Did my friend give a name?
She says she doesn’t remember. I am wondering, which friend came to meet me.
It’s 1st April. She shouts out to me – hey! Just April fool!
She has such a hearty laugh that she fooled me; I almost have a heart attack, because I am worried about her. Then, I take time, I remind myself – she is a hero.
She can’t get up, she can’t walk, she can hardly speak. And she is April – Fooling me.
I have said it before; I’ll say it again – I am lucky that I have grown amongst strong women. But this woman, my Nani, she is my inspiration, forever.
She died a difficult [and, perhaps a painful] death. But she ensured that none of us remember that. For all of my family – we only remember the humour during her last days. I always will remember for her jokes. She hid her pain. Very well.
* * *
My grandmother didn’t have access to the best medical tech. You all do, dear women in my life. Test regularly. Please. All of you are wonderful just like my Nani.
* * *
Special shout out to Kanchan. She was recently diagnosed, and she has done her treatment and on her way to being healthy for life. But that, I guess most folks do. Kanchan is special. She is single-handedly turning dark to bright. This girl is like my Nani! She’s #TooCool