Sudden death of my grandmom

by Maya
(India)

Don't know how many more losses I have to cope with. Tired and sick of the never ending silence in my house these days. The smell of the new bunch of incense sticks reminds me of the dreaded 28th June, 2009. This isn't going to be a coherent post. But I was never a coherent person either.

The upcoming exams were another headache. These days I feel that having too much of 'study leave' days before any crucial exam isn't good either. I at least don't feel like studying until there are like 5 days left and thus end up doing some last minute acrobatics with my syllabus nearly most of the time.

So anyways I attended the extra classes at college regularly , lazed around in the empty house a lot and at last when I realised that the D-day isn't far, I vowed to make my room look spic n span - that's a ritual I follow generally before ANY serious exam - and decided to finish off another monthly chore - i.e. taking my grandmom to the temple which I forgot to do last month. I was trying to make myself acquainted with the new responsibilities and logistics of sorting out the timings of when the maids would arrive, what they'll cook everyday and when they won't turn up and things like that since my mom has gone off to stay with my sis as she's expecting a baby the coming December.

It was the 18th of the last month. Like all other days, she was waiting for me in 'their' veranda in a pristine white saree with a lilac border. Incidentally, I was also wearing a white dress with a shade of purple thrown here and there. So all along the journey she complained about her daughter-in-law and talked glowingly about her apparent well wishers.

As we made our way towards the temple after buying the sweetmeats to be offered to God, I never really thought that it was the last time she was going to pay a visit there. I read somewhere that a person can bring about the death of a near one just by talking about it. So is it that I joked while travelling in the car when she spoke about the 90 year old man who conducts pilgrimage tours for the oldies. All I said was that "look at the calibre of the old man - if u r strong enough mentally you can live for a 100 years or more but if you aren't, no one can stop you from dying".

OR IS IT THAT the fated visit to the hospital spelled doom for her where she was taken to see one of her closest friends who was in her death bed on the 20th? Did she think that her time had come too? I didn't really pay any heed to her wails when she used to say (actually she had been wailing this for the past 6 years after my grand-dad's death that she wants to die too).

But God did listen to her. And that too suddenly. I couldn't actually believe that she's no more on the 28th - a Sunday...last month. My surroundings felt unusually cold & I shivered until I switched on the TV and started surfing random channels. I survived the night with a film based on historical fiction on UTV MOVIES. I didn't have the heart to go and see her lifeless body , nor did I go to visit her when she was lying in a coma for the past few days before her death.

What actually made me have so vivid death dreams throughout the month of May? What made me pick up that book- Queen Of Dreams? What made me click two pictures of the verandah where she was sitting as she headed towards my car? And what made me think of death yet again when she told the person at the sweetmeat shop to get her a particular strange-shaped sweet? And what exactly did make me dream of a hospital and my anxiety for no reason regarding whether I would be able to sit for my exam or not?

I heard a sudden knock on my bedroom door on the 22nd June morning when I sat up with an irritated face as I had slept really late the night before? And what kept me from dying when I heard that my grandma got a cerebral attack that morning and was being rushed to the hospital?

Maybe the ones who took her to visit her friend at the hospital are the culprits. Maybe she stopped taking her pills actually. OR maybe God chose to answer her prayers at last. Or was it because I prayed for everyone wholeheartedly at all the pilgrimage sites I visited in the past few months apart from HER ? That was because I never expected her to leave all of a sudden like this.

Memories remain. They'll do for a long time from now. Maybe I would forget some of the endless stories she used to utter about her original homeland as I would get busier with my own life and whatever things. But sometimes a traitor wind brings back with it that knowing cocktail smell of incense sticks, spices eaten with betel nut leaves, rock sugar which emanated from her and a whole lot of tears.

The saree she wore that day after coming to our home is still lying over there. Why did I remove the last traces of her smell from it by putting it in the washing machine just when she left ? And why did she kept on muttering that how I manage to stay all alone the whole day when SHE only was about to leave us all for ever within a span of 10 days? And why didn't I go to see her off and called for the driver instead to escort her back to the car? Did I have any idea that she was sitting on the sofas, on the chairs for the last time in my house, taking an afternoon nap for the last time ever in this lifetime with me? That for the final time I would see her walking, talking, laughing ?


I used to think whenever I took her to the temple that - when she'll be no more - I would come over to this place and feel her in the winds that passes through the leaves in the garden trees, in the divinity of the choirs sung incessantly by the hoard of singers and in the coolness of the marble floor of the temple. But now I don't have the heart to go there again.

SO MANY MEMORIES, how am I going to breathe? I used to feel irritated whenever she wanted an extra helping of table salt during lunch. Now all I feel is.. just come to my house again grandmom...for one last time...I would put up with all your demands without a frown. Now I know that the real value of people in your life is realised at their absence.

My mom didn't get to see her face one last time before her funeral. My grandmom didn't get to eat a morsel of my mom's cooking for one last time. And I, like a moron, ordered home delivery on the 18th. Damn...I even kept her waiting when she got hungry and wanted to eat..'coz the delivery boy was taking time to arrive. All these would corrode my insides like anything for a long time from now.

She didn't mind the bitter twang in the tea I made that day. She didn't mind that I was roaming around in a tee only in front of her 'coz of the extreme heat. She excitedly watched all the photos on my laptop which I showed to her. She even commented that the caption of a particular photo of mine should be - "I am a lost wayfayer..!"

I can't still believe we won't have our private fun while having snacks at the dingy roadside stalls. I can't bring myself to that I won't again feel her callused hands or the shrivelled skin on her back . I rather would like to believe that she would be still be waiting for me in the verandah, pristine in a white saree, holding a handbag on her shoulder when I would go for the monthly visit again.............

P.S. :

Everything happens for a reason.
But still I would like to hear from her whether she's okay or not and how it feels to be in the 'afterlife' and when can we meet next.

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