Both my grandmothers were very loving ladies. I loved them both very much. This is about my maternal grandmother. Only after she left us for heaven, I started admiring her more and more. She inspired me in so many ways! She always used to prepare the best food in the world.
She was a very religious lady. She used to spend minimum one hour in the Pooja room chanting prayers daily. She used to offer Pongala every Sunday early morning in the front courtyard of the house as a regular religious observance. At this time, it was my brother’s and my duty to collect chanakam (cow dung) in the morning, from the nearby home where they used to have lots of cows. It was used to make a small Ganapathi at the start of the Pongala, and she used to pat the rest of it on the floor in a circular shape and then arrange bricks over it to make a temporary stove, where she prepared delicious Pongala.
The picture is so vivid in my mind even now. If I had a mobile phone back then I could have taken a photo, and shared it with you now! On the other hand, maybe the fact that I was not able to take a photo then could be the reason why the picture is still fresh in my memory!
Grandma used to often visit the major temples in Trivandrum. I remember accompanying her many times to several temples. Not just temples, but also a church called Vettukadu Palli, and a mosque called Beema Palli. There she used to contribute milk and bread to the poor. I was quite fascinated by this and told her that I will tell all my friends about this when I reach school the next day. Then she advised me that we should not disclose such acts of giving to anyone! I couldn’t understand it at that time, but now I think I realize what she meant.
Grandma used to lay down some rules such as ‘girls shouldn’t laugh loudly’, ‘don’t clap hands after sunset’, and so on (to name just a few!). But me and my cousins used to reject all that, categorizing them as ‘false beliefs’. The other day I overheard my kids discussing about my change in behaviour and my ‘false beliefs’. That was when I realized that I have started saying the same things nowadays! I have even started chanting prayers in the Pooja room. During my ‘life before midlife’ I never used to do that. This got me wondering whether I am starting to become like my Grandma. Thus, recently when I was suffering from the empty-nest syndrome (ENS), it led me to ponder whether she too had experienced ENS.
Grandma had eight children of which five are girls. My mother is the eldest. In those days the nest used to get empty not because children (especially girls) leave the home for higher studies or a job, but due to marriage. After my mother’s marriage, Grandma’s nest still had 7 nestlings.
And then, before my mother’s younger sister could get married, my mother already had given birth to my brother and me. Then my mother’s younger sister got married and left, but she went back to Grandma’s nest in 9 months for her delivery! So my grandmother’s nest only became fuller than before!
This process continued, and ultimately it came about that my mother and her four sisters religiously went back and forth to Grandma’s nest for almost 25 years between them, presenting her with nine grandchildren (not to mention the 3 via her sons)!
Then came my turn, and I went to my mother’s home for my first delivery and Grandma was right there too. And then it was my sister’s turn. We took over the process of ‘going back and forth’ and it went on for another five years. And Grandma was there all the time!
My grandmother’s nest was never empty! So I am sure she might not have experienced empty-nest syndrome. Even then no one ever wished her ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ on the second Sunday of May.
My grandmother, my mother and myself studied in the same school in Trivandrum, Cotton Hill Girls’ High School. Grandma became a grandmother in her thirties, and my mother became a grandmother in her forties. So, in order to keep up the ‘family tradition’, I should become a grandmother at least in my fifties and thus keep the ‘trend’ in arithmetic progression.
I presented this hope of mine to my family at dinner time during the last Onam vacation. My children started talking about their hopes and dreams, especially my daughter, who started babbling about all the various places she wants to visit on planet Earth before she marries, her favourite job location, and so on. By then I was almost convinced that I may not become a grandmother in my sixties or even in my seventies! Seeing my face turning a desperate blue colour, she suggested that since I am an empty nester and have lots of free time on my hands, now itself we can ‘adopt’ a grandchild for me!
Grandma, your great-grandchildren are full of dreams and hopes unlike your grandchildren, who have just now only started pursuing their dreams after hitting the empty nest!
Grandma, did you ever wish for some space and time of your own then? Did you ever wish to talk of your dreams and hopes to anyone? Did you ever feel lonely anytime when your grandchildren (or children) were busy with their friends and their studies, and not sharing quality time with you?
Grandma, I sometimes hear you chanting your prayers. I am sure you will visit me in my dreams whenever you are free. I hope your nest is not ‘always’ full like before! You will always live in my heart. Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma! I know you must be smiling now.
Happy empty nesting friends! BTW what are your favourite memories of your grandma? Please share those sweet memories!