In my never-resting word mind factory, random phrases by Gabriel Garcia Marquez “Always remember that the most important thing in a good marriage is not happiness, but stability” collide with my father’s reminiscence of “the very many beer bottles, accumulated over a year, that the Help found shocking”. As they and many others dance around, it took a text to bring to the notice, things left to gather dust – “No blog post today?”
I had one in mind. But as I had gotten distracted reading Love in the Time of Cholera, I no longer remembered what it was. After replying “I’ll put one up tomorrow”, I decided to go back to reading, but I suddenly remembered the words to a conversation not too long ago; words that took courage to speak out loud.
“I think I am going to be very depressed when she dies”.
This was said to a friend who has seen death up close and personal. She knows what it means to have the thing you love the most taken from you, taken forever to a place you can never go in your present mortal state.
This ‘she’ is my grandmother and like million others in the world, she is the frosting on my otherwise very plain looking cupcake. She has come to visit me with my aunt and she leaves on Wednesday afternoon (I wrote this post on Tuesday night). It’s not the coming and going that breaks my heart — I have gone through this cycle as long as I can remember and I no longer let it affect me.
What breaks my heart is what she has gone through in her life. The youngest of the seven siblings, she recently met one of them, the only one living apart from her. They hugged, they cried, she got her sister home, they watched TV together, went on walks… While I tried to imagine what these two might have looked like when they were as young as me. She has no photographs; her family didn’t own a camera then.
Then I remembered this guitar-shaped pencil box she would tempt me with as a kid and she would promise to give it to me if I got good marks. I think she has lost the box, but for that silly shiny thing, I studied. I studied like I was preparing to win a Pulitzer.
She has four daughters, my mother is the oldest. What the four of them remember most vividly are the one or two instances when my grandmother yelled at them, they remember these times because she rarely yelled.
All her life she taken everything — swallowed her pride, her emotions, her pain but never her tears which always burst like fireworks on the drop her anybody’s hat. Every since I was a kid, she would always cry whenever my sister and I would meet her. She still does, her face goes red in a very cute sort of a way.
Then there was this time when she took up stitching to help run the household. Her husband was earning but not enough for a family with four daughters. She worked day and nights and ruined her health. She now suffers from rheumatoid arthritis; she’s much better now, but the pain used to be unbearable sometime back. She would hardly get up from her bed in a day.
It’s not the sacrifices I remember her the most for, but this unconditional love she is always giving like free candy; love that will leave a hole when she is gone. It’s a scary thought, one that stings my eyes with tears as I type it out.
This time tomorrow, she will be on her way back home. And my home, which she left only after five days, will be as my grandfather said when we last met him, “eat me up with the memories of the past”.