Achamma

27 February 2015

8 years since she left us all for what they call the heavenly abode.

She was a widow at thirty two with six children. The eldest daughter all of thirteen and the youngest about two and a half. She was beautiful and fair in her own words. She had thick and long hair locks flowing down her waist. Nobody could say she was a mother of six. 

We all know how difficult it is for a female (irrespective of her status) to survive alone in this world. And she had to with her three boys and three young girls. And I must say she did it all efficiently. For all her children are now well settled. 

My relationship with her. I was never very fond of her. But I was fond of her house where I used to spend 7-10 days every year. I used to listen to various stories of Dad’s childhood in that house. It was customary. As soon as we landed in our hometown, her daughter-in-law, my mother, would take us to her home for 3-4 days. At the gate, Amma would tell us to call out to her. 

Achamme! Achamme!“, we would scream like parrots. 

The dog(s), Jacky and Pappu would start barking at the top of their voice. In a short while, our Iron Lady would emerge from the backyard where she was busy cultivating vegetables and planting teak, coconut and mango trees while her cows feasted on fresh green grass.  

Just when our vacation was to end, we would again go to her house for 4-5 days. My stay mostly meant staying in the first floor room, reading books, looking through old albums and photos hung on the walls or roaming through the backyard looking for footprints of foxes and jackals. Another favourite pastime was collecting Manjadi seeds. 



Manjadikuru (Lucky Red Seeds)


Her tough life had made her like a stone. Even if she wanted to love people, she couldn’t stop being a little rude. I guess that was only with her own children and grandchildren. It was because somewhere deep within, all those sacrifices she made to bring up her children had made her rough. She expected all of us to respect her. Which we did. But may be not up to her expectations. 

The way she would treat her various helps was awesome. She would give without thinking if enough was left for her own requirements. But when it came to words, she was sometimes venomous than a snake. 

She had a weakness for fair skin. And hence people like me with dark skin had to be at the recieving end. My sister and my mother had fair skin, yet they were not spared. Nor were my fair-skinned cousin sisters. Over the years, we all had accepted her as she was. After all, nobody is perfect. 

She was deeply upset about my marriage. Honestly, I was taken aback. Because I was touched that something in my life did affect her so much that she got disturbed. Which meant she cared for me. She did. Or so I wish to believe.

After marriage, the first time I met her was in November 2006 at my Mema’s place. Firstborn was about eight months old and since Achamma was terribly unwell, I wanted to show her the baby I had after a lot of trouble. She met her. She touched her and smiled. But she had not recognised any of us. It was heart-breaking to see her lie on the bed and struggle with bed sores. All bones visible and barely covered by her wrinkled skin. Mema had taken extremely good care of her. Still, age and illness took over.

A word about Mema. She is Dad’s immediate younger sister. Her fourth child. She was in her late fifties then. Yet the way she looked after Achamma like a small infant was inspiring. Out of the pain and frustration of lying down permanently and being dependent, Achamma would sometimes shout at her or spit the food. She was not in her senses. Her words weren’t clear but the intent was. I had asked Mema how was she able to ignore all this and take care of Achamma. To which she had replied that just think of them as a newborn baby to you and do whatever you will do for your own child. It stays with me. Till date. 



In January 2007, she was terribly ill again and so Dad and Mom had been to Kerala.  After a few days when she had recovered somewhat, they returned. But on 27th February 2007, she left. I guess everyone who had seen her during the last few months had prayed for her to get rid of the pain. She had to be fed with a syringe. Having seen her as a strong lady who wasn’t afraid of anyone and didn’t fear any circumstance, it was a torture for her to be dependent on someone or the other, all the time.

I wish she gets a much better lifetime in her rebirth and may be she is able to shower some more love on us.

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8 Replies to “Achamma”

  1. Reading this , I’m reminded of my grandmother…I miss her..Dida, I used to call her..My friend really… I couldn’t see her before she left this world.. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for that…hmm..

  2. My prayers and I so wish all that you have wished for HER is true and she is in a beautiful place …

    This makes me so much want to go home and meet my Nani.. I hope i get to see her this time when i go home its been a year since i last saw her

    1. Thanks Bikram! You know when I used to listen to lovely stories from kids about spending their vacations with their Daadi, I used to feel bad. Because we had only seen her as a tough person. May be she forgot what it was to smile. May be she forgot what it was to be loving. She was being unfair to herself. If I have lost a previous childhood with her, it is a similar loss for her. I’m glad that though late, I’m able to relate to her to a large extent.

      And prayers and good health wishes for your Naani. Hug her one extra time on my behalf. 🙂

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