When I sat down to finally write down this ode to my Gammy, I had no idea what to say to immortalize her. How do you immortalize someone who has seen the partition of India, more Prime Ministers in office than I care to remember, and one who has buried her parents, husband, eldest son and only grandson? I’m no great writer. I’m just a girl who misses her Grandmother.
The first memory I have of her was that of a little old lady perched on her veranda chair sipping tea, completely serene. Oddly enough, it seemed as though she were holding a conversation with an imaginary friend. On closer inspection, you’d realize she was having a bellowing competition with an equally aged lady on the ground floor, which they termed as friendly banter, only to leave me scurrying for earplugs. She would then fuss over me, making me feel quite like a stuffed turkey after every meal. Grandmotherly love, alas- I don’t know how I survived.
By the time I had finished a quarter of my current life span, I came to realize, she was anything BUT ‘a little old lady’. While I inherited my fiery temper from my mother and my steady predisposition from my father, Gammy passed on her frank ability to ‘tell it like she saw it’. This usually unbridled fondness for words seemed only to dim where I was concerned.
I still remember the first time I took Gammy out for a drive (in my first car, loving dubbed ‘Dinky’). She calmly climbed into the car, wore her seatbelt and held on for dear life, while I revved the engine like a rally driver. We were going for Lunch at her favourite restaurant, Nathu’s. “You know the way right?”, my visibly nervous father enquired. I looked at Gammy. “Don’t worry Kayshi, I know the way”, Gammy responded sounding as though wild horses couldn’t drag her away from going with me. And we were off. By the time we got back, Gammy was positively jovial as I had let her cheat on her diet by having pizza and pineapple cream cake. Unfortunately, the same could not be said about Father.
As I grew, so did the love between Gammy and me. Anything she wanted, I got for her. Whether it was her first pair of crocs or new clothes, I was her man. She cried the most when I graduated from college and got my first paycheck. I was mortified when, on my graduation day she asked my quite vehemently why I was supposed to wear a sari. “Because everyone is! Don’t you like it?”, I said, quite hurt. She looked up with tears in her eyes and said, “But you aren’t supposed to grow up. You’re supposed to stay little for me.” I had no words. Usually, you give your first paycheck to your mother. Mine went to Gammy.
As my parents became extremely warden like with Gammy and me, we did every little thing to defy them together. Whether it was sneaking the ice cream out of the fridge or eating pickle with matthi, we were quite the renegades. You knew all of my friends and were always eager to have them over. Who am I supposed to introduce them to now that you’re gone?
I had a lot of firsts with you Gammy, and these petty words seem but a poor way to repay you for teaching me all that you did. Your biggest gift was teaching me how to love without reason. But now that you’re gone, where will all that love go? You were the strongest person I know, a survivor. One lifetime with you wasn’t enough. When it comes to death, laughter and tears are pretty much the same thing. And so, laughing and crying, I say goodbye to you Gammy, my partner in crime.