|Serial fiction inspired from a life queen size|
If you have missed All She Needs is Love Part-1 (A Letter to Grandma)
Hot rice in an emotional bowl
“Who knows for sure when he would come! Do you think your grandpa converses and shares with his wife, like other husbands?”
Indeed, a difficult question to be answered by a 12 year old.
‘Don’t you know how much I suffer? No other woman would have tolerated a husband like this. Life goes on because of Ammachi’s patience and tolerance beyond limits of the earth.’
‘Grandma, why do you say that? Grandpa is really a very loving person!’ I used to retort.
‘Mon, what do you know about your Grandpa? He is such an actor! He calls for sympathy from all his children and siblings. He likes to portray me as a horrible lady before everyone. Who brought up all his children and took care of their needs? Who saved money and took charge of the children’s education and maintenance of the house? He never appreciates my wise and frugal home management. My brothers support my family because of their love, affection and sympathy for their sister, who is unfortunately destined to live with an indolent man.’
‘But Ammachi, I see Grandpa bringing lots of goodies home. He buys the biggest fish in the market and brings unniyappam and bonda (sweets from the tea shop) for us. He gets us oranges and black grapes when he goes to Kottayam (nearest town).’
‘Do you think that these are great things? Does he ever buy groceries promptly without me yelling at him and after several reminders?
‘And the big fish that you talk about! Don’t you know what time he brings that fish full of flakes and bones? At 11 O’clock, at night. And this poor Ammachi has to spend the whole night to clean it up!’
‘Only Grandpa does that for you, no? I have seen him cleaning and cutting the fish so meticulously?’
‘Not always, my dear. Even then, who cooks it? He wants both fish curry and fish fry for his dinner, the very night itself. And you said about him bringing oranges and grapes from Kottayam. That is another joke which I will tell you later. Let me check if the rice is ready or not’.
You looked at the sun’s rays on the veranda and said it is 12 noon now. And you rushed to the kitchen.
On the way you murmured, ‘He will come hungry, now. Let me prepare his favourite chutney with the raw mangoes he brought yesterday’
Grandma, your grievances against your husband were never ending. As your children refused to hear the oft repeated grumblings and complaints, you found a new breed of patient listeners, in your grand children. You felt really relieved after sharing the stories of your difficult life with your husband. You didn’t mind the age of the grand children who listened. You believed that anybody above 8 years can very well appreciate your genuine grievances and your efficiency and that they can be clearly convinced about your husband’s irresponsible behaviour in the family.
(Thus, it was not only me who was happy to skip school, but also my grandma who enjoyed my presence at home, as the representative of the grand children could be appropriately indoctrinated about the comparative merits between two grand-parents.)
Grandma, you continued medicines for cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes, for more than four decades. You identified each tablet by their colours and never missed even a single dose of medicine in your life. As in case of your favourite brands of soap, talcum powder, body oil, hair oil and face cream, you stocked medicines for the next two months, in your custody.
You used to remind your husband to buy you medicine, then your children and in the later years, also your daughters-in-law. Stocks are ordered to be delivered at different timing so that one person will not get a chance to know that another one has already supplied the same set of medicines. That was your way of ensuring uninterrupted supply of medicines. Same was the case of Asanaviluadi oil (for hair), Dhanyantwaram kuzhambu (body oil), Cuticura talcum powder, Nivea face cream and Pears transparent soap. I wonder if this practice was a result of your apprehension after reading about the Great Bengal Famine of 1943.
I truly wondered how scrupulous you were in selecting the right brand of rice for meals. You used to ask grandpa to bring rice samples home, before buying a sack of rice. You would look at and feel each grain on your palm and then would give a nod if that brand had to be brought. Sometimes you would cook it, to see if it takes a long time to get cooked. (This meant consumption of more firewood). I remember occasions where grandpa violated your directions, resulting in you sending back the entire sack of rice to the grocery shop.
How did you transform Grandpa into a quiet cat at home? A man who served the Indian Army, who had a large network of friends and clients while practising as a freelance law assistant, preferred a low profile at home. You were a towering personality and had made lasting impressions with your unique attitudes and perceptions about life.
I would like to write more about you.
Would you mind others knowing you?