On January 3, at 8:55 p.m. Indian Standard Time, my grandmother decided it was time to bid adieu.
Born in the late 1920s, this woman was a force of nature. She was the ruler of 40 villages in the south, and she carried out her duties with a grace and dignity befitting a Queen. She was a feminist before feminism became a fad, she had found the confluence of religion and science, and her curiosity was rivalled perhaps only by Newton and those falling apples.
When I look around at people who think neither evolution nor climate change are possibilities, I think proudly of my grandmother and take comfort in the fact that even though she didn’t have a modern education, she understood science as easily as the next scientist. She bemoaned tree loss and animal extinction, she wondered what would happen to the world when water ran out and she grieved the loss of lives in wars.
When I married a Hindu man, she not just accepted my husband with joy but she loved him. In spite of being an Indian, and having grown up at a time when girls were thought to be a burden she fiercely believed girls should have equal rights as boys, was pro-family planning and anti-dowry. Sometimes I think she was so ahead of the times that time and tide had a hard time keeping up with her.
Her one big weakness was food. She could never resist a good snack, biryani, chicken puffs, chaat or even a drink of Coke. Her last few days she was craving Haleem.
Her last few days …
Her last few days and her last few years were not the easy. Like all the best rulers, all the best generals –she was betrayed by people she trusted. And, as with everything she took that in her stride too and made the best of it. Now, I hope, she is in a better place. She has years of catching up to do with her husband – my grandfather; her son-in-law – my Dad; and all her friends who left before her. I wish she finds the peace up there that she so sought down here.
I’ll miss you like crazy, Nanna.