Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sweet Seventy Eight

My grandmother celebrated her 78th birthday last December. There was a smallish group, composed of family and friends, who showed up to be with her for lunch that day. Dressed in a white and pale-blue silk sari, she achieved her usual look of regal-yet-cuddly. There was a cake, lots of goodies and lots of presents.
I call her Ammama; it means “mother's mother” in my mother tongue. I also call her Apple Cheeks from time to time, which suits her just as much as the rotund-sounding Ammama. This name is for obvious reasons: she is the one small, dumpling-like figure in a family of tall, long-limbed types. She has silver-gray hair, wise brown eyes, rosy skin and a pair of small, incredibly cute feet. When she laughs, tears stream down her face and her shoulders shake.
When she would walk beside my grandfather, the contrast was dramatic. He was a good deal taller than she and was always slender, but still, they never looked incongruous. She used to wear a big red bindi as long as they were married. The first time I saw Ammama after he died, it took me a while to figure why she looked different. Then it struck me: the bindi was missing.
She used to be a volleyball player when she was young. In the pictures I’ve seen of her as a young girl, she had a tiny waist, thick long hair and these dark, intensely intelligent eyes. Mom also says that she kept the most perfect house; Mom still remembers the wonderful smells of freshly made desserts each day when they returned from school. Now that I’m the age that I am, it is easier for me to imagine her as she was 65 or so years ago; as a young person, rather than thinking of her as always having been old.
Now she lives by herself in a cheerful, airy apartment in Cochin. She has a purple refrigerator (!) and a host of people who help her out with daily errands and supplies. The oldest of these volunteer-assistants is about 80, and I tell her that he is the most ideal suitor for her; this makes her laugh until she cries. There used to be an assortment of visiting cats too; I’m not sure if they still come around. Actually, they must be. She believes in feeding an animal, be it a cat or a dog, like she feeds her grandchildren: heavily and with large doses of ghee (she calls it “gee” in her accent).
We would all be so much poorer without grandparents, don’t you think?


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Lucky You.
I have no grandparents left any more.
I do miss them but I have no cherished memories of them. Is that wrong?
A few days ago I had a rather vivid dream of my old home, now demolished and modified. No such dreams about my grandparents.
And I would never acknowledge this in public.
I wonder if I should hate myself.

Anonymous said...

There is no reason or rhyme for me to write to you about fun & movies as a comment for this particular post. And that lack of relevance makes it perhaps interesting. After all the last thing I would relate to my grandparents would be movies.

Comments should be short ergo only this:
You must ‘Annie Hall’ (1977 Woody Allen) Then see it for second time, then read about it on the net / books. Then see it again just to check out the dress sense of Diane K. J
Here is a link to the entire screenplay of this crazy thing:

Of course see the DVD first.

Geminian said...

Hey D,

Sweet 100 years

May God Bless her with more than 100 years.. For few moments i was carried away back home. Looking forward posting of the sweet 100th year celebration in your pensamientos...

devikamenon said...

Thanks, all, for the comments. Anonymous, wouldn't you like to leave your name sometime?

Rajkeerat said...

I have been reading ur blog for a while, but was never inclined to leave a comment .. but this blog of yours reminded me of my grandparents... you are a 100% right that we would be much poorer without grandparents. You are indeed lucky !

Take care and keep blogging,

The Desi Nole said...

ahhh the girlish comment by Raj. Devika, quick question: How on freaking earth are you so lazy if your grand mom was a player ?

devikamenon said...

If your definition of "lazy" includes "I CAN KICK YOUR ASS...ANYDAY" then yes, I am verrrrrrrry lazy. So there, clrkn. ;-)

Rupa said...

I want to meet your cute grandmom who gigles and has apple cheeks - Like Anonymous said - I have no grandparents left - lucky you and lost them when young so I also have no cherished memories of them.

devikamenon said...

Hey Raj,
thanks much for the comment. Keep reading!

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