Old age is cruel. Very hard and cold. Winters become synonymous with chill- dead soul shattering silence of the night. Summer stands for tiring endless light of the day. There is no respite. Years trickle by, and yet for the old time stands still.
The most images or reels or posts I like on social media are of old people doing fun activities. Or younger generation dancing with them or honoring them. They always bring a smile to my face. It cheers me to no end when young people appreciate the ones who cheered them the most when they were just beginning the cycle of their lives. The old cycles have now run their course. Their tyres have worn out on this lengthy journey. It remains a wonderful blessing to share and learn from their wonderful adventures.
I love my Nani a lot. I don’t think she knows that. I don’t think I can tell her that. I don’t think she will ever know how much she means to all of us. And neither is it important any more.
My dearest Nani is just a bundle of bones now. Her flesh is feeble. Her skin has withered away. And her once so strong hands, that made ample pickles for one and all, now search meaninglessly in the empty space around her.
Once so affectionate and full of endearing wisdom, now she lies on her damp bed with no sounds whatsoever. Her senses have long left her. Her dear sons have died, before her eyes. Her eyes and ears are no use now. Her memories are spinning their own tales. It breaks our hearts to see her like this.
Her younger years were very hard. She became a young widow with five children to look after. She toiled hard, lived and worked amidst ruthless relatives and provided a basic living for her children.My masi, her second eldest daughter was and still remains my Nani’s biggest support. Once she came of age, educated, smart and bright,she helped sustain her younger brothers and sisters. When my Masi married, she had only one condition- that she continues to provide for her younger brothers and sisters.
My Nani’s eldest son died in his fifties. Despite the world being so rough with him, he managed to grow into a jovial, kind hearted man but his addictions got better of him. I remember going around the town on his shoulders. He was my own personal tonga rickshaw of my childhood. He died before we became adults. For us, he is forever our dearest bado Mama who would spoil us with all the junk bhujiya from local markets.
My majho mama, Nani’s middle son deserted her for some petty property feuds. Family ties broken in a hearbeat, shattered her heart. But she was a brave woman of strong moral character and righteousness. She endured all.
Her biggest jolt was sudden death of her youngest son due to hypertensive stroke. That loss left her devastated. It’s been a year since his demise but we have all been unable to cope with his ever warm and caring presence not being around. He was a gem of a son and ensured all that he could possibly do to take excellent care of my Nani. He was jovial, fun loving and so full of enthusiasm and energy. He had toiled hard in his life to earn decent money plus lots of respect. His sudden loss left an irreparable void.
Eventually after years of hardships and struggle, financially there are no limitations, but mentally and physically, she is limited and lost. And only God can provide her solace now.
Although my sweet choti Mami and her very affectionate grand son do take care of her to the best of their abilities. It is just not the same without Choto Mama. She stays in her bed all day long, wears diapers and forgets everything. Taking her to bathroom has become a slow tedious task. I recall, perhaps once or twice she has had a slip and a fall and has sustained quite a few wounds and broken bones. The hands which rocked my cradle are broken now.
I remember with tears in my eyes, how she would fan us with her hand made fans when electricity would be erratic all day and night. How she would spend all day in kitchen cooking our fav meals. How she would stoop over and slowly cook her limited vegetarian food separately in a tiny space. How she would cuddle my first born and bless my husband when we visited her, back home after marriage.
In all her years of existence in the quaint city of Agartala, she has only been outside just twice, that to Chandigarh, to visit my mum. One was about 32 years ago when my younger sis was born. And another was about 12 years ago, in happier times.
I am her grand daughter from her youngest daughter. My mum is 60 now. Moderately healthy with mild hypertension. However, the present situations, the family responsibilities, the dreadful Corona makes it impossible for my mum to be there for her own mother now. What a devilish way of life.
My professional responsibilities stop me from visiting her. I cannot fathom this terrible tragedy of not being able to do anything despite being not very far from her. Her words were always full of compassion, to do honest good work, to work for others, to be hard working, to not give up. To be good to others, to do good to others.
Why God has to put her through so much? So much loss, suffering and pain. Maybe there are no answers.
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