When I wanted the ” summer camp” from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai because I wanted to be Anjali ( the kid not Kajol) you were the only person who listened and set up the mattress on the ground,built a pillow fort, put on a mosquito net like we were camping, turned off the lights and told me stories of birds with a torch-light until I fell asleep.
You were the most comfortable cuddles and night and your stories taught me how to be imaginative. I would never have been this imaginative if it was not for you. All the stories of bears and sparrows and tigers that you made up so that I do not have nightmares.I do not know how you had so many almond chocolates from Dubai when you had never been there and your Almari was full of candies and pau I liked.
Whenever I came to mamaghar you would always secretly hand me a pouch full of pustakaris and money. Honestly,I don’t even like pustakaris that much but it was your favorite and yet you would save it up for me so I could not say no. Everyone knew I was your favorite and yet you told me not to tell everyone so that they do not feel jealous.
While my friends would boast about going to Bangkok or New York during summer vacations I would think about the time we would sunbath and nap in the Kausi with a towel on our heads while our Guliyo Suntala were also sunbathing next to us ready to be eaten. You would make sure that I got the juiciest ones because you always wanted the best things for me. We would watch the same Govinda movies over and over again and laugh. Your laughter would fill up the room with warmth just like the sun on cold winter days. We would steal sugar from the kitchen and munch on it, we would drink that weird orange drink that came in the pouch when no one was watching. You would take me to buy vegetables and tell me that when we took an ice-cream break it was a secret between you and me. You taught me how to bargain and never pay more than what whatever was worth. You were allergic to dog fur and never wanted puppy your dog in the room but when I used to sneak him in your bedroom you would not say anything because you knew the dog would not dare enter the room if it was not for me.
While I complained about my mother you would also add on things but in the end tell me to listen to her because after all she was my mother and most importantly your daughter too.
My friends wanted to be doctors, teachers, pilots etc and I wanted to be a Grandmother.
They would laugh at me when I told them that but it did not matter to me because they did not have you to look up to.
While my mom would always tell you to listen to Bhajans or Gurujis you were into Kasauti Zindagi K and would not give a rat’s ass about anyone else’s opinions.I remember you rushing everyone home from different people’s weddings so that you would not miss an episode. #priorities.
While other grandmothers had diabetes, kidney stones and asthma you had an appetite for life. You would drink every night and snack on masaledar mutton. You would crunch on papad without teeth (How did you do that?) and just did not have time for BS. You did not trust anyone with golbheda achar and made sure you made it yourself every meal. You were strong enough to lift me up literally and never listened to others who said I was too old for it. You could always fit me in your lap even when I was 24 years old and 64 kgs.
I don’t remember a single time you scolded me because I do not think you did. You would always massage my legs or my head and tell me how you grew up. I was always ready to listen to you and you were always ready to listen to me. You always treated me like I was your equal…never like I was a child who would not understand. You have no idea how much that helped in my growth and how it has made me the person I am right now.
I know it was tough for you to grow up without a mom but I always wanted to make sure that you knew that you had me for life. I don’t know how you had so much love to give to everyone despite of never having received any as a child. I always told you that you looked beautiful, every single time I saw you, because you were… you still are… whenever I think of you my heart fills up so much that my eyes start leaking……
No one in the world makes me feel more beautiful than you did Maa, you NEVER called me fat and always made sure I was well fed. You always made sure that I was filled with desserts and love.
Without an education or degrees you are hands down the wisest woman I know, you told me never to trust the decisions of double chinned humans or to take anyone else’s decision personally.
For me you will never end, you will ALWAYS be my most treasured childhood memory, my wisest and most honest friend, my most imaginative storyteller, my warmest cuddles and my only favorite grandmother who makes me want to have a lot of kids and grand-kids.
Thank you for showing me the true meaning of a life well lived…..your sincere prayers will always protect me and lead my path.
Until we meet again……