She was no longer around
"You'll understand what I say when you reach my age", this is what we've heard every single time there's a difference in opinion with an elder. In no two generations have the same views and options been shared; when the gap is double, views become like sky and earth that cannot be met. The gulf between my granny and I has never been greater, and there has never been a more prominent division between two people's views like that. I still wonder if was it the generation gap or her mentality that I am a girl, and it would have been better if I were a boy. But I guess some questions are better if remain unanswered!
I was born and brought up in Delhi, in a nuclear family while my grandparents lived in Chandigarh. I always felt the absence of my grandparents and craved a joint family. I always felt a void in my life and thought that life would have been different if they live with me. We did go to meet them every vacation but it never turned out how I wanted it to be. My visits never gave me that satisfaction and I always returned home disheartened. All I could do was pray that hope my next visit turns out to be a memorable one or that the little arguments with my grandmother could be turned into sweet chatters.
During my stay in Chandigarh, the most cherished part was how my grandfather pampered me. I am his princess and somewhere I am scared to lose him. Being the only girlchild in the family I am the apple of his eye. It became a part of his routine to bring generous amounts of sweets and gifts with loads and loads of love. But I didn't share the same kind of love and attachment with my grandmother. Some way or the other it pinched my heart. She did love me, but that love was always overshadowed by the difference in beliefs. At times I wondered how my grandpa tolerated her or if she was bipolar. Like many people of that generation, my grandmother is a little or I can say more than a little stereotypical, and had strict principles, just like a warden of a girl’s hostel who would make rules and I, like every teenager, was rebellious and eager to break those boundaries and fly high in the sky. I was confident that I can win over her, or would show her the reality of her stereotypes and superstitions, but controlled myself not to argue as grandpa would feel bad seeing his most loved women quarreling among themselves.
It was my senior year in college and during my vacations, I went to meet them all by myself. I was loved and coddled and everything seemed nice. It gave me a ray of hope feeling that everything is turning out as I wanted it to be, until that unfortunate lockdown was announced and I got my old granny back with the same beliefs. All my leisure and happiness were gone, everything came falling to the fact that I had to live in those four walls with someone whom I couldn't resist fighting. I thought that I can become closer to her or we can sit and understand each other better, but all my efforts went in vain. This virus gave me deadly thoughts and I became more cautious for my grandparents, taking extra care of them, giving them medicines on time, cooking for them. It was the new normal for me.
Days were passing, and my granny became my personal alarm clock. The only difference was she would wake me up every day with a glass of her special 'Saffron Milk' followed by the expected quarrels and some more chatters cum quarrels and finally her goodnight forehead kiss. That kiss was so blissful that it filled my eyes with water, wishing that everything gets back to normal and I can always cherish the love of my near ones. Even after all of this, being closed in those four walls with the one person you never agreed with, always gave me weird sensations. I was uncertain about what I wanted. It led to everyday squabbles until the day my grandma caught covid and was hospitalized. It seemed like everything came to a halt. I was not ready to face the biggest fear of my life. She was quarantined and we weren't allowed to meet her for fifteen days. Those fifteen days surely took me for a ride. They were filled with the guilt trip, introspection, and whatnot.
She no longer woke me up with that Saffron Milk, no longer did she walk to the temple with me, I no longer got that forehead kiss, and she was no longer around. I could then see everything I refused to see when anger blurred my vision. I could see the love behind everything she said or did. I knew I couldn't change her beliefs and thoughts. It was something she grew up with, but I realized that I could at least communicate.
I could at least reciprocate the love she showered. I had to be strong. Not only for me but my family especially grandpa who couldn’t imagine his life without his life partner.
I kept on praying and wishing for her. And finally, God answered back my prayers when I saw my grandma back home safe and sound. I rushed and gave her a tight hug and she gave me a forehead kiss that I was missing for a long. It was just a little time apart from her that changed our relationship forever.