Monday, March 24, 2008
i went visiting my grandma yesterday-my Ma's Ma.she looked better than the last time i saw her (touch wood!)
considering that she always lived faraway,i never really got very close to her.but there were times when i went there and went running out into the "uthon" and invariably ran into ant hills.Dida always used to put "choon" over my feet as an antidote for the ant stings.
she was this woman who ran around that huge L-shaped house-managing the kitchen,looking after the "uthon" and "pukur" and attending to Ranga (my grand aunt) and Aku (my grand dad).Dida always brimmed with energy...so much so that she managed to dislocate her hip joint twice and fracture her leg!
but all that changed when Aku passed away.within days of his death,she became recluse-like...reading spiritual books and centering her day around "pujo".with Aku,my Dida died-she became this another person who was nothing like my Dida-she chopped off her waist length hair and ceased to be the Dida i knew-the huge bindi was gone,her hair parting looked bare without the streak of red.she looked pale in her white saris.
yesterday,when we sat chatting over our cups of tea,she spoke of Aku.she didn't cry but i knew she missed him.I knew this was what they call "love".here was this woman-who was born much before St. Valentine became a celebrity,before white teddy bears holding red hearts became famous and even before love letters became an institution in themselves-who felt lost without her husband,even years after his death.she made me read his letters (he was in the army,and had been transferred to Kashmir and Burma a lot of times)-none of them qualified as "mush".he asked her of their children's health,whether the house was been properly looked after,whether she needed money and other such mundane things.so what was it that "drove" this love?i can't say...probably because i have been born to these times.
it's been 3 years since Aku and 10 years since Ranga left us...that huge house,with just 2 people living inside, looks scary now...except the little space where my Dida sits in silence and reads,sews and,perhaps,cries.the house has remained strong-witnessing births and deaths.it has been my Dida's haven.it was this house she came into as a child bride,it was this house she breathed life into and,maybe,this is the house that will be handed over to promoters after she,too,is gone.
as i left,she hugged me and i,for some queer reason,cried.i cried as i silently prayed to Dida to be there the next time i come down.she doesn't have to be active,she doesn't have to run around,she just needs to be there...she just has to be there.