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!

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. Very well written Mineetha! I don’t have much clear memories about my paternal grandmother, as she died when I was very small. May be 4or 5 years. But I remember my father crying, with me in his lap and telling me that Ammooma is no more. With my maternal grandmother also, we used to get to spend time only during vacations as she used to live with grandfather at a far away place. We, all cousins used to perform in front of our grandparents and used to enjoy a lot.

  2. Very well penned mini…bought back fond memories of my grand ma too. My father’s mother! !! Not a religious lady but a lady of action..a lady of values .. a great human being. If there is anyone in this world whom I want to be in this life time then that is my ammamma. She believed in giving. Not a single soul have ever left our home( tharavadu) hungry. Lots of people used to come to see ammamma with their woes and worries and I have seen them going back happily after my ammammas counselling! !! To top it off she vl give them new dress money and coconuts!!! No one will leave home empty handed..!!! More than that for her there was no ‘my children syndrome’. Her niece and nephews were all nurtured by her. Something very much unheard nw…
    As u said in a family of soo many people our grandmothers wouldn’t have ever experienced ENS. Up up old family system. Something which we won’t be able to get back ….Thank u once again mini .
    I agree with u completely. When v grow older v start behaving like our older generation idols.!!!!

    • Wow! Thank you Deepa. I think you got all these qualities(act of giving, counselling and absence of ‘my children syndrome’) from your ammamma 🙂

  3. That’s such a “from the heart” post. Loved reading it. Couldn’t agree more with it.

    Being brought up in my senior secondary with her I can recollect all these memories even more.

    It’s an ode to all the selfless service of the grandmothers

  4. Your friend, my amma told me to read this post and I am glad I did. It’s good for us children to stop and think about the hopes and aspirations of the women who took care of us. I was especially close to my maternal grandmother and I still am. One of my favourite memories of her is of story telling time. She was a teacher at cotton Hill school. I think this had a huge role to play in my becoming a teacher. It was a pleasure to read your blog. Simple yet poignant.

    • Thank you Sulfia! Your amma, Sajitha is a very good friend of mine 🙂 I know your grandma too. I studied in Cotton Hill GHS. Happy to know that you started thinking about the ‘hopes and aspirations of the women who took care’ of you !!

  5. Hi mineetha,
    I am sunitha. Your article about friends was forwarded to me by a friend of mine. And it so hit a chord in me ,that I went on to read about your grandma’s nest. My dear,it really took me down the memory lane,as I too miss my grandma very much. In fact not a day goes by without mentioning her. How i wish I had not taken her presence in my life so much for granted. Oh , I knew she was not immortal,but the day she would be gone,as far as I was concerned was far ,far away. I guess,the vaccum one’s loved one’s departure creates takes time to fill. Or then again,will it ever be filled ?can it ever be filled???Thank you mini for giving the opportunity to stop and relive the happy memories. I owe you a coffee for that?.great job??,and keep it up??.

    • Thanks a lot Sunitha. I’m pleased the post gave you an opportunity to relive the happy memories. You’re right, only after my grandma’s absence in my life I started thinking about her more and more. I lost my father an year ago. I haven’t been able to come out of it even now. I am sure the vacuum he created in my life can’t be filled in this lifetime. As the days go by my memories with him are getting fresher and fresher.
      Sunitha, thanks once again for stopping by! I hope we can meet one day and have coffee together 🙂

  6. Hi mineetha….your blog was referred by a friend. .and I loved it….
    Just thought of sharing a poem of mine about my grandma. .

    An Ode to Granny

    Her clothes were always, white as snow,
    Contending the whiteness of her hair,
    She was small, with steps smaller, but firm
    And ran a household, the commander in chief
    I felt cocooned in her warm embrace
    Away from parents, she was my solace

    On nights I woke up, trembling and crying,
    The wrinkled hands, wiped off my tears
    Your mom has to work to bring you up,
    But I am here with each step you take
    The certainty, the strength for a ten year old
    Holds great even today, for a mother of two

    Recounting stories, reflecting life, her own
    Hardly any tutoring, life was her teacher,
    She esteemed education, never one to discriminate
    Empowered me, “Dear, follow your dreams”
    Unseen, unheard, ensuring the coffee was always hot
    As I burnt midnight oil, preparing for life’s battles

    Who stood her ground and sent me abroad
    Your career matters, marriage can wait
    Useful tidbits from an eighty year old
    Which broke me free so I could take off
    Letters came, crossing the seas
    Which she composed with her calloused fingers

    Gracious God! Please don’t call her back, yet
    I need the blessings, for the blooms of my womb
    Yes she held up, till she carried my little ones
    A role reversed, her hands were shaking
    Her eyes loaded with affection, pride and ecstasy
    Soon after, she left, for her heavenly abode!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here