Posts Tagged ‘father’


I am on my way back from Kerala, after being a part of the funeral rites of my paternal grandmother. The news of the start of her eternal journey was unbelievable, and the details unfathomable for a 25 year old like me. Yes, she was 85 years old; she had a defect in her heart valves. Her death was certain when she was admitted to the ICU two times. Only then, not afterwards. The fact that she came out of it had put me at ease. She was the usual, with her body, too old for the young soul, radiating the liveliness of the soul it housed. The serene, yet talkative, commanding yet filled with warmth, loving caring soul. She was the best mother, the best grandmother, and the best mother-in-law. Mother-in-laws in India have fearsome reputations in them, especially in Kerala, where the Matriarchal system vested enormous power in the hands of the eldest woman in the family. But her behavior, her love towards her daughter-in-laws was like mothers love, away from their real mothers.

She returned to her normal self after all that trauma. She ate normally, and talked normally. But this one day, the 9th July 2013, was meant for this great soul to join the Parmatma, the ultimate soul. She had the most fitting death any soul could have dreamed of.

Evening. It was 8 o’ clock, time for her dinner.  She was so punctual in her daily matters that if she doesn’t eat on time, she doesn’t eat at all. But she was not hungry that day. It was somewhat normal, her aversion to food was considered to be due to her age. She said, in her usual playful manner, “You dare not give me anything to eat now, I ain’t hungry.” But her daughter, my appachi had already brought in a plate of piping hot steamed tapioca for her. Seeing that, grandma said, “Go, give it to him, let him eat it for me.”, pointing towards the porch, where her son-in-law, my uncle was sitting.  She dutifully gave it to my uncle. Grandma said, “I just need a glass of water, nothing more” Her elder daughter, who was sitting, right next to her, rose to get a glass of water for her. She had returned from Mumbai when grandma was admitted in the hospital. She had gone to Mumbai to stay with her son and daughter after the loss of her husband last year.  

She brought in the glass of water and helped grandma drink it, by placing the tip of the glass onto her lips. She didn’t have the slightest idea that she was being given the privilege, as the eldest of grandma’s sons and daughters, to give her the last drop of water. Grandma gulped down the first mouthful, ensured that it reached her stomach, and tried taking the second gulp. Something interfered. Grandma,very normally, leaned backwards, towards the backrest of the sofa on which she was sitting, and took in a deep breath, very silently, closing her eyes. Without any movement, she sat still. The world went blank for her.

After the relentless laboring for 85 long years, her heart, the home of the sweetest of love for her near and dear, stopped working, and with that, she went away. Away, from the body, that housed such a great soul.  Away, she slipped into our memories.

Seeing no movement in her mother, valyappachi let out a blood-curling scream. Her younger sister and husband rushed in. Instinctively, the more practical uncle searched for a pulse in her veins, which were hard to find. He called dad immediately. He tried to listen to her heart beat, he feared the worst, and he did not want to imagine that. He immediately transferred her to the straw mat, which appeared on the ground out of nowhere. He didn’t see appachi spreading it out. Everything was getting clouded. After placing her down, he walked out to the porch, waiting for dad to come, with no clue whatsoever as to how to tell the eldest son of grandma that she is no more. He could see a lone headlight turning into his house.

My dad, sensing the urgency in uncle’s voice, sprang up, ordering mom, “Dress up fast, take whatever money you can grab on”. He went away, doing the same, getting out of his indoor attire and dressing up, faster than firemen donning their suits. Mom followed suit. She was the quickest woman I have ever seen, the best a man like my dad can get. Dad was a perfect mixture of grandpa and grandma. He had the strictness of an army man embedded with the ability to show endless love and affection.

Dad gunned the Discover 150 through the roads with mom on the pillion. It just took a record 7 minutes from the call to his reaching at appachi’s porch. It was just then when uncle seated himself. Dad rushed in, only to hear uncle muttering, “Amma poi”(Mother left). Dad, couldn’t lose hope so fast. He knew amma cannot leave him like that. It was yesterday he was talking to her, feeding her spoonfuls of kanji to her. Amma can say her nos, but that cant stop her from eating a full bowl. They get so engrossed in talking that both get seuprised that only a little kanji is left in the bowl. Amma then joined hands and pleaded playfully, “Please stop. I know you want to see my belly explode, don’t you”. Then dad gets her into pep talks, just to see the lively self of his mother.

He rushed in to a scene which was not what he expected. Amma was resting on the mat, and she was too quiet. “But why are they making such a fuss over it?” His mind worked hard to keep the reality from dawning on him. He immediately yanked forward and rested his ear on the chest on which he used to sleep when he was a little baby. Something gurgled from inside. Its her heart. Dad shouted, “Why are you all crying, its not over yet. Go call the doctor, now.” Uncle rushed in and dialed in his cell phone, and talked briefly to the doctor. Meanwhile, dad was doing what he learnt from all the first aid courses and drills he was a part of. He pumped her heart, tried to bring it to rhythm. But within him, he knew what he heard in that chest. He knew that it was her mother’s last words, which she had kept locked in her heart for her eldest son. It was my time to go. We will meet again. He was pumping just to ease his sisters, to ease himself, somehow.

 

The doctor rushed in, doing all his checks, confirmed the death of the mother of 6,  my grandma.

08:30pm. The world, for a family,  flipped over in just half an hour.

 

 

Part 2 follows…