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Sunday, November 04, 2007

I miss my grandma

Today we had a commemoration service at the church – remembering the dear one’s that have left before us. It was a moving service but a young man who talked about his grandpa caught my attention. He had some pretty nice things to say about his grandpa.

Immediately my thoughts went to be with my grandmother. Last time I saw my grandmother alive was in the end of August of 1992 when we both of us were sobbing in embrace. Day I was about to leave my house to go to the United States. She was afraid for me and didn’t want me to go. Being surrounded by my family, when the time came for me to say goodbye, we embraced each other to say nothing but to express our love for each other in a sob. After a while, she wiped my tears away and said goodbye with a smile.

Something told me that it might be the last time I am seeing my grandma. After I reached Mumbai – known as Bombay then, I called from the airport and I was told that she suffered a stroke and unable to communicate. Three days after I reached the United States she died.

I don’t even remember when I began living with my grandma but I was told that from the age of four. It was the best arrangement that my parents could come up with to beat the poverty. When I started school, I understood who my parents are and didn’t want to stay with my grandma but my parents also couldn’t take me. So I stayed on with grandma – a strict disciplinarian.

We used to wake up at 5:00 AM to fill water from a community tap and then I get ready to go to school. She gave tough love but back then as a kid I thought that she didn’t like me. She made me to work hard and taught valuable life skills. My parents visited me often. When I was 9 years old, she was retired with 20 rupees (50 cents today) per month of pension. She knew then that she couldn’t keep me but she also couldn’t send me to my parents. So she found a home for the economically disadvantaged kids for me to live in to study. I hated it in the beginning but she made it easy on me by visiting alternative weekends. She used to bring food and snacks.

As she became older and weak she couldn’t visit me so she went to live with my parents. Every time I went home to my parents for vacation, she wanted me to sit by her and tell her all about my hostel. As years went by, her body had taken a beating but not her spirit. The change that she began seeing in me as a young man made her proud to have laid the foundation that she did back when I was with her.

I still remember telling her what all I would do for her when I begin earning. Before I went to the US, I was earning a small salary India so I really couldn’t spare much for her. But when I did reach the stage to spend for her, she was not there.

Today when I look at my life, I don’t remember her everyday but she lives in me everyday in my day-to-day actions. Some actions of my life are so ingrained in me that it is because of my grandmother. Before I eat a meal I say grace, I cannot sleep beyond 6:00 AM, never leave food around my plate when I eat are few examples to quote.

I couldn’t have chosen a better day to remember my grandma than today. I am who I am because of the foundations grandma laid in the early years of my life.

Thank you grandma and I do miss you.

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