Long Form Writing

Not Too Much, Not Too Many

I have many of my childhood memories where I stumble upon my toys on the side of a window, with hair neatly done and food properly digested with the help of my maid in a small house, pluckable green grass on the either sides and cemented pavement in the middle. Luckily, I had my bed just beside my window from where I could wait for my mother who used to leave me feeding and sleeping all together. Waking up to the side of an old lady whose skin was loose as a plastic and pale as a rotten chicken and face is far beyond the understanding of good childhood days but I remember her doing my hair with a comb and tightening them all at the back and calling it a horse ponytail. I was acquainted with my mother’s scotty chaos at around noon every day which would give me a feeling of long chocolate awaiting and finally crossing all difficulties and coming to me in her teacher’s pouch and that small moment consisted my entire childhood. Although, I heard people talking about how grandparents are a part of some compulsory religious childhood practises that families do follow.

Some place near my livelihood, is a miniature marble making factory constituting a city surrounding. That city holds the place for my mother’s home and a place close to her mother in a sequence where she landed, I hope some decades ago. I have no such memories of my grandmother garnished with beautiful maroon Sindoor and heavy glass bangles but it’s an irony of my life that I have quite a few memories of my grandfather sitting in the living room under a big shaft on a sofa chair and beside it was a sandalwood small table with an old and torn out cloth covered with a tin golden coloured box inside which, there was tobacco and some mint or mouth freshener which was as old as the house my grandmother was married in once. Recently few years ago, I got a dusted photograph of my grandparents trip to Kedarnath in which I saw them standing quite at a decent distance from each other as we all follow in the orthodox marriage relationships and I wondered how beautiful my grandmother looked in that kanjivaram saree which my grandpa gifted her on their 50th anniversary with few gold ornaments covering half of her white as corn flour skin, I saw her wearing thick specs which gave me an assumption that maybe the family tortures were enough to steal half of her meal-time and her dull face and unmanaged grey suggested the bearable time a woman faces in handling four kids and a stubborn husband. She wasn’t smiling at all which is so obvious that I haven’t seen her smiling yet but somewhere it made me joyous to imagine my parents doing such a travelling tour in their old sixties with better life circumstances.

She currently lives with her son which makes me think of an incident our family came across soon after my grandfather died, my uncle in a hurry to get the property papers in his desk which resulted in a bit of turbulence in the family leading to my mother revolts. After a few heated arguments, I can vaguely remember the house or the living property was under the name of my grandmother and I also recollect the lawyer’s killing look to my grandmother with a taunt of how much is she going to live after her husband’s death. Anyway, all is kind of well for now if only we consider proper diet and good clothes and a mighty old tarnished house and few grandchildren to ponder on. Lately in 2015, when I got some actual emotional resemblance to my grandmother, I decided to know more about her rather than just name and her normal-boring family life. Previously, I used to hate my grandparents for a mere toxic reason that she was a monster of cruelty to my mother because why not, my mother is no less than her late unconventional father. My grandmother was a puppet in the house dancing on the tunes of her husband, her mother-in-law, father-in-law and her son like any other lady married at an age of 19 in those orthodox not-so-early-old-days where she was busy in the household work and the one who was the target of everybody’s anger. My great grandfathers were somehow educated in the era of free India but the topic of male patriarchy and chauvinism is a wisdom not every knowledgeable could pursue and still today, my uncle or technically my grandmother’s son is making sure that the hierarchy is pulled up to the shores with pride. In the stories of my grandmother, which mainly constitutes food making and different julha recipes, one thing is very figural and that is her innocence and ignorance of the happenings around her which is basically not her entire fault I can jot down completely. She got a severe injury few years back how and why is rotten in my sense of being but I remember visiting her to hospital quite often, and she coming to our home for just one week in my entire life and she holds an extremely shy personality the one who doesn't speaks much or doesn’t speaks at all but you could still feel her crooked legs and hands wandering around the house in search of some work. I have no such session happenings in my mind where anybody in my house could actually tell me about my grandmother as an individual, but listening from my two outspoken aunts I could only hear adjectives such as good, modest, laborious and again it starts with the letter G (good, great etc). I could recollect my aloo paratha wish from our minute memories where she explained to me the happiness of serving hot food to others and also, making me a part of her old and secret practise of making chapatis without using a rolling pin.

We talk now, although she can’t listen properly without using the ear machine but she manages, only if she really wants to listen to you, she will make an effort. Some fine day out of nowhere I asked her, “Oh so you can listen, but you don’t want to do that right?’ to which she replied, ‘Not everyone is worth your time and patience’ it was deep and had a subtle meaning to it. People of our house are frustrated making her recall where she forgot her ear machine but it feels like she doesn't really want to listen to anything other than the morning prayers in the temple. Even today, she is the busiest person you can meet doing all kinds of works be it embroidery, making food, sweeping the floor and what not and also she loves observing people. She is not among those mothers who with shades on with huge Gucci bags will put status of ‘Wanderlust’ while visiting to their children rather, she is that simple kind of personality in the house whose presence can’t be felt easily because mostly I find her lost in her thoughts, thinking something which no one knows in general maybe, recalling her old times as my mother suggests but I don’t feel that way, as her appearance and vibrations would tell you that she is not listed in the category of people who had an intimidating youth experience.

She is one in the entire house who never insisted on calling her. Maybe she had nothing to expect from me, no promises, no expectations, no vocabulary and no silence. If not keeping in consideration that merely anyone hands over the phone to her and ever if you got a chance to speak she has these two constant questions to ask and get the answer and leave, ‘how are you? Are you happy?’ Sometimes, I really wonder if she has this sense of satisfaction one can have from within because she herself was abducted from it for a longer duration but surely, she is one of a kind in the house who is away from the concepts of anxiety and jealousy.

I remember her saying to my mother that she has these five ancient pots kept in her not-so-peculiar cupboard for all the girls in the house to offer them on their wedding day as a part of her affection towards her grandkids in general but there was something unusual about this present, I saw them; they were these raw simple pots made of earth with some distinguishing smell away from the mixture and pollution of city with just a golden lace on its neck and it will be the same till the end, She has never tried to decorate them. Maybe, those pots show her individuality, her originality of living. I can still see my grandmother sitting on a sofa with one leg touching her chin with both hands crossed with similar thick specs used since ages and a black artificial pony to support her greys to tie like a bun; wrapped in one old saree and a gold chain, two gold bangles on each of her pale white wrist and one pair of anklet and a face so half-hearted that you can never figure out her tears. I wish to go near her and ask her life, but then all I get is silence maybe not of words; of emotions, of turmoil, of anger, of suppression.

Astha Tiwari

Kreative Content Writer