It is a pleasant surprise for me to meet my grandma again. She is all smiles when she sees me coming to the place where she is sitting and relaxing. A place where she would take refuge after her day’s hard work.
Her translucent skin lights the darkroom. The big vermillion bindi she sports on her forehead adds luster to her face. It makes her look like a la goddess. Embers are still flickering in her eyes. And they burn all the grime in your mind when you go under her spell.
She walks gracefully towards me. When she comes close, her aura mesmerizes me.
“How are you, Easwar?” She hugs me warmly and smile – an ingratiating smile.
‘Granny, are you real? How come I had forgotten you all these years?’ I moan, feeling guilty. Seeing her after what seems ages excites me, as I dry my moist eyes with the back of the hands.
“You look so tired, my boy,” she says with a hollow voice. “Maybe, life is not kind to you; all its odds may be stifling you. It seems it has gulped my old vivacious, giggling Easwar.”
I stand before her speechless, nodding to her discerning remarks. I no longer feel distraught. For the comfort of my being with her so closely fill me with new energy and rejuvenation; my battered self gets completely repaired.
“How about taking a glass of masala milk?” she asks, staggers towards the kitchen.
“I don’t remember why it happened?” She adds while walking. “While I was boiling milk for you, I felt a pricking pain in my chest and fell into a long sleep. Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“Gram, you fell into an eternal sleep suddenly. No one at home, including Dad, could make you get up.” I blurted out concealing her having had a massive heart attack and succumbed to it instantly. But, she didn’t listen.
“Come on, boy. Finish off your milk. It is time for you to sleep. You are so tired that you keep yawning.” She is now staring at the wall searching for the antique Swiss wall clock. She doesn’t know that Dad had dumped it long back as it stopped working.
The room is dusty and grimy. I lay down on the rough-hewn floor, resting my head on the matriarch’s lap. She strokes my hair and start spinning stories. Ram, Lakshman, Arjun, Sindbad, Alibaba, Sakuni et al come one by one and waits for granny’s calling. She is the real juggler of stories. In her tales, you may find Arjun sails with Sindbad and helps the later overcome the perils of travel.
After some digression, she catches her favorite story and narrates it with her usual animation.
A cow sees a lion roams the forest with insatiable hunger. Its hunger bangs wrench the bovine’s heart. When the starving animal’s ravenous roaring becomes more pitiful and unbearable, the cow goes to his den and asks him to eat her and quench his hunger.
The magnanimity of the cow mortifies the hungry lion. It hugs the cow for its kindness and lets her go. That the lion becomes more honest than humans, even during a crisis is the plot of grandma’s story. I know she always manufactures stories to instill honesty and integrity into our minds. Her tales are thus interspersed with fine principles of living, but we are, at that tender age, imbibed only the story lines not its messages.
The stories are going on and on with full steam. Granma’s fund of creativity never gets dry. I sleep jolly well as I did years back. I feel I am not what I was an hour ago. A heavenly abode, the old lady’s lap transforms me into a child again. I don’t seem like a man struggling with the vagaries of life.
“Hey, Easwar! What are you doing in the attic? It’s almost noon. Come down, man.” I hear my wife shout from downstairs.
And thus ends my pleasant sleep when I get up with a bang. But granny is not there. I rub my eyes and look around the attic. The old girl is not found anywhere in the attic or the terrace. I feel all the heroes of her stories are in suspended animation.
I spot my diary that I kept by my side an hour ago. It is an old, worn-out piece. Its yellowish, termites eaten pages are rustling in the wind. The attic where I now stand and search for grandma is laden with all my old journals – gateways to my old times.
Take out any diary, dust it and flip through its pages, I am sure you would meet my mom or dad or his ilk who have gone into eternal sleep. The diary I was peeping into minutes back is full of insights about grandma. Every word of my jotting brought her alive.
I know my darling grand old lady did not go anywhere. I am not aware if she lives in hell or heaven. But, for sure, she lives in the pages of my diaries. The moment I turn their pages, she will jump out of it like an angel and smile at me. She would either give me a handshake or shed a tear if she finds life is not kindly disposed to me.
Come on guys, make a trip to your attic and explore it whenever you get tired of life. A moth-eaten diary, a bleached black and white photograph or any miscellaneous trinket buried under the dust of the attic may stir you step into your old memories. And who knows, it may bring all your forgotten golden moments that may give your hearts a twinkle.
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