10 June 2015

Ammamma, my maternal grandma- an epitome of gentle fortitude.

I am writing this for the World Elders Abuse Awareness day, June 15th. This is the first time I have heard of a special day set out for this, on something that is unbelievable, something that cuts very deep. To smack the hand that rocks one's own cradle is not human.

My grandmothers- maternal and paternal are the only grand-parents I had the opportunity of knowing, both grand-fathers having passed on quite early.

 On this occasion here is a nostalgic trip in remembrance of my maternal grandma. One in fond memory of my paternal grandma will follow, soon.

Ammamma is what we called our maternal gandma who was of a Telugu background. Landed gentry who had lost most of their material possessions except an ancestral home and some cattle through treachery and miscalculated decisions, ammamma had retained the sweet temperament she was born with. Interesting how some people turn hardened cynics while others mellow and enrich everyone around them.
        Ten children to bring up and the oldest the primary blessing in their bringing up had brought Ammamma across to a stage where she had more than a score grand children of every shape, size and ability. She had to cut the vegetable exactly as she liked in shapes meant to draw out the best taste. She had to wash her white cotton sari, under-skirt and blouse, crochet incessantly and was seen with one hindi novel or another tucked under her arm, usually detective ones written by one Col: Ranjit. I managed to read all of them and enjoyed the thrill immensely, of the detective novels and also of reading books which I had been forbidden. She would fondly turn a blind eye and let me get away with this.
         At a time when onions were priced on par with gold, well almost, she would pass me an onion from her share surreptitiously, as I was addicted to eating them with yogurt-rice, a typical last course to a south Indian meal. A small gesture but it is one of my lasting memories.
                 When Ammamma opened her 'Pitaara' (old hindi term for box), I would run to sit and watch the mysteries about to unfold. She had a number of small bags and boxes in her wardrobe, filled with goodies of all kind. Embroidered, beaded material, cards, old photos, laces, antique silverware-the bags contained within them a world of their own.
       Being playful and noisy at times, I had my share of being told off too. This was done so mildly by the gentle soul that it never had the desired effect. When I grew up I got to know she had head-aches then and could not handle the sound and boisterous playing. That did give me a pang but then children are children and can stay quiet only for so long.
                    Once she pulled away the ladder that we had used to climb to the terrace to play not realising that we probably sounded like a herd of creatures stomping away, overhead. We still managed to get off using cornices and window sills as foot-holds and went to question Ammamma cheekily about the ladder that had been taken away. All she did was smile her sweetest pink-lipped, toothless smile and that smile will warm my heart forever and ever.
I am sure you are still smiling that smile, wherever you are.

                                                             Blossom Orchid Flower Bouquet Isolated White Background Stock Photo
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