Hari Shanker R

Hari Shanker R

A Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

Unrequited Love.

Question.

Have you ever had untold affection to a person you’ve never seen or known personally?  Allow me to make myself more clear.

Has a situation ever happened to you wherein, you feel immense affliction to a person who perhaps doesn’t even exist anymore?

Your answer, in all probability, might be negative. Mine would’ve been too, until I got to know  of this person who changed the course of my life altogether.

My biggest regret in life, right now, is that I was unable to get to know her despite her physical proximity. In fact, I’ve even walked by her house umpteen times, but my eyes failed me – they simply did not notice her. Yes, she was so close by, yet, I was unaware of her existence. I was blissfully incognizant of the simple pleasures of talking to her, of getting to know her, of lying on her lap, caressing her soft skin, of kissing her beautiful cheeks and hugging her tight; and most of all swimming in the ocean of her unending love.  The vagaries of fate can only be shurgged off by inscrutable intricacies.

The sad fact is, this person died a year ago, on July 25th, 2009. 🙁

She’s my grandmother (ammumma) – one person I’ve missed out on, in my 21 years of pointless existence.

CC Credits: calamur

I’m in no way biologically related to this gem of a lady. Nor have I seen her or talked to her. All I know about her is from detailed accounts by my buddy, who is the lady’s actual grand daughter. It might all seem strange at first. My friend speaks volumes about her grandma, from the time I’ve known her. An expert narrator herself, I was intrigued by such words of acclaim – it just seemed to good to be true. Then one day, I got to see the photo of the grandma. It was a pic taken inside my friend’s house – ammumma was sitting on a sofa, her eyes staring intently at the camera. She wore a white saree with a purple blouse. Her back was slightly bent and her palms and fingers were entwined in a unique knot. Ammumma’s soft wrinkly skin was golden and each hand had a gold bangle each. But the sheen of the bangles were diminished by th radiating brilliance of her wrinkly skin. Her hair was mostly white, with patches of dark in between and her oval-shaped head was bent towards her right side. Her face didn’t share the golden sheen characteristic of her arms, it was slightly ashened – perhaps by old age. Then I looked at her eyes – two shallow moist pools of kindness. Her eyebrows were partly closed, depicting jet black eyeballs, unblemished by age. Her eyes had a smile, a smile that portrayed deep, pure  love and kindness. The eyes were flanked by grey wrinkles and an aquiline knows. She was smiling a gorgeous smile, even with her false teeth. No, it wasn’t exactly a smile – it was a bit of conversation captured in time by camera. It was as if, she wanted to communicate something… to me.

I stared at the pic for a few long moments. Before I knew it, I was weeping. Tears flooded out of my eyes. I was caught unawares by a lady whom I’d never met, and she’d communicated something deeply mysterious to me. It was a moment of realization. It was a moment of truth. This lady, was  a grandmother I never had. My ammumma!

Different people have different penchants in life. My ammumma knew just one thing. She knew to LOVE. She gave herself to the cause of spreading love to her near and dear ones. She spread it the way a fisherman would spread his nets into the ocean. With a heart purer than the purest diamond ever made, she never said an abusing word to anyone – even a monstrous witch of a daughter in law, who asked for the last of her ornaments when she was on the death bed. At times, one would see an M.K. Gandhi avatar in her – she wouldn’t even complain when her teacher used to physically beat her black and blue, as an 8 year old kid! Even at the worst of moments, she would hold her head high with dignity characterized ironically by its subtlety and strength, quite evidently.

Intelligence was another feather in her cap. She was a hardworking lady – starting her life early on in the oppressive ‘twenties, she worked her way out of a discriminated education system, and went on to get a Bachelors in Education (now B.Ed) and retired as a DEO (District Educational Officer) – a high ranked post in Government Service. Major achievement for a woman born in British India, into a financially impoverished family. She was strong, stoic and resilient – she weathered the loss of her husband (who was her center point in life) and her elder son (who succumbed to alcohol just five months before God called her). She had a special place in her heart for my friend – who was her eldest grandchild. She tried her best not to show her ‘extra love’ to her, but she just couldn’t. My friend was loved and pampered in a way even her parents or her dear sibling(s) coudn’t offer. Despite a seventy year old age gap, ammumma was the only person who could truly read my friend inside out! One look at her troubled face, and ammumma would understand what’s bothering her. This wonderful lady was concerned of and loved everyone except herself, and loved them all more than her own life!

She was an excellent cook, and a wonderful conversationalist. Even when she was over 80 years old, she would indulge in philosophical conversations. Even as memory failed her, she resorted to all possible memory techniques so that she could just wish her grand-daughter on her birthday. She would splurge her entire pension on gifts for her children and her loved ones. She used to be an exponent in playing cards. But even as age failed her memory, when she would forget which card she bluffed for, she would gracefully accept defeat. Even when playfully mocked for all the blunders she made (thanks to old age), she would retort with playful anger and a lovely smile. No person could afford not to love her – such was the extent of her affection. She was the universal mother – kids from across the neighbourhood would flock to her, just to be with her and her husband (when he was alive). And, she was the official information keeper – she used to meticulously write minutiae about how her children grew up as kids in a diary, with dates! She even treasured recorded copies of her grandchild’s first words – such was the extent of her love.

Yet, every thought I have about her pains me greatly. The sorrow of being unable to even catch a real glimpse of such a wonderful lady, it kills me by the minute. Every moment spent in her memory sets in cascading pain and sorrow within the portals of my mind, apart from longing. It perhaps requires immense luck, even to get acquainted with lady of such attributes. I’ve mentally adopted her as MY grandmother! And for every moment of life, shall I miss her presence, which I missed only by the quirks of fate! 🙁

I wish I could sit next to her and listen to her insightful words in a quivery, throaty voice!

I wish I could hold her arms, and lie on her lap.

I wish I could cry out all my blues to her and enjoy the feeling as she would matt my hair.

I wish I could eat at least a morsel of the wonderful pickle and delicious ‘ari payasam’ that she prepares.

I wish I could smell her wonderful, gentle smell!

I wish I could run my hands on her thinning hair!

I wish I could hug her tight and kiss her on the cheeks, as she caresses and comforts me!
I would go on wishing, despite realizing that it’s all futile. I recreate what I was unable to see and experience in the portals of  my mind – that, perhaps is my way of coming to terms with an unacknowledged loss! In a different perspective, my pain might be pointless and farcical. But, I do believe in angels; and here’s one such angel who shall terribly be missed!

I pray to lord almighty, at least in my next birth; allow me to be born as my ammumma’s grandson! 🙁

P.S.

This is for all you skeptics.

You might be wondering how pointless it might be to pine on, for a person whom I haven’t even met. You have a point, there. And I might be romanticizing about what I feel about the person. But I believe it’s much more than that – I believe it’s all an invisible connection. Probably, this is the way I’m wired. And I needed a human being in my  life ( like my ammumma) to complete myself. This post is my way of attaining closure! 🙂

4 Comments

  1. girl

    hello romantic boy,

    i read ur lovely ode. n i'm thinking this.

    i was never very close 2 either of my by-birth-grannies. n i think d feeling was mutual as i was their most-hated-and-unbelievable grand daughter! 😛

    (hey, i was all-time fav of both my cool-soul grandpas!)

    but i feel a lot for another grandma…who i absolutely adore n admire! shes one great woman 2 be around.

    no, wait i gues thats not vat u r sayin about!

    okie.i feel close 2 my future dad-in-law, even though i'v never met him. all i'v heard is– stories! so, gues now we r talking heads 🙂

    ya, u r a romantic. n i'm trying to imagine ur grandma myself now. but,i suggest u keep meeting a lot of grandmas. one of them mite just blow u out of ur mind… and, outside of a story! but, only if u want it 2 happen.

    ps- u keep writing. u = born word mincer 🙂

  2. Dhiraj Singh

    Hey buddy.

    The way you have written this… it really touches heart.

    I have very few memories of my paternal grandma..never seen the other one..I wish I had Ammumma as my granny.

    Thanks for letting us know about such a wonderful lady.

    keep writing.

Comments are closed.

© 2017, Hari Shanker R. Some Rights Reserved.
Creative Commons License
%d bloggers like this: