She managed a house bursting at the seams with people, saw to their meals and everything else ..and with a husband who met no strangers, unexpected guests numbering from two upto ten or more, were regular ! And not one person left that house with an empty stomach, or feeling unwelcome.
Her 6 children and their families were her joy..While she was not the very demonstrative type, her interest in our well being was no secret . And she had a 100% success rate predicting the sex of every grandchild ! She would simply shrug n tell she had a dream..while she would be proven right yet again!!
She loved music , and used to weave lovely baskets in a variety of designs .. She was very enterprising, having a thriving business, selling milk and buttermilk. And when the house settled after a busy day, she would spend some time playing chess with our grand dad..
But this story would not be complete without a mention of the rest of my Grand parents too..
He found cause to celebrate every moment..the birthdays of everyone in the family, buying a new cow , when the mango tree bloomed, and if no reason was available, it was his birthday !! He was the only person I knew, who had atleast 4 'birthdays' a year !!
Every single child basked in his attention... He was maambazham achachan to our cousins on my mom's side too...every weekend was a treat...with hide n seek , carroms, reading the latest balarama, candies called Poppins, jeeraka mittai, Gas mittai, and plucking just ripe tamarind, mangoes, guavas, wax apples...munching till our bellies ached,regretting the excess and then looking forward to doing it all over again, the next weekend !!
Another thing we looked forward to, was examining the chess board each week ... The one which he and our grandma played with... The new dents on the board, headless horses and broken pawns indicated that our grandma won a few games, and no change meant that grandpa won ... He wasn't known for losing gracefully .. ! But he was one of the few men of his generation who was not ashamed to show his adoration for his wife ..
He was the first to leave us, a lightning strike of pain and loss..life was never the same after that, and the realisation that - home is made of the people in it, not brick and cement...
He was one of the most grounded people I have ever known..no airs, no ego, took pleasure in the simplest things like piping hot vadas and coffee on a rainy day...he gave up a fortune, but knew that he was fortunate...
He never shirked any of his duties, and his Grandchildren were stars in his eyes..we were loved - just because. The sweetest tender coconuts were kept just for us..he built us 'houses' with woven palm leaves...He would take us with him and share his fascination of building things ..houses, wood work..
There are many a festival when both grand dads would take us and compete in buying the better gifts ..it was a competition they loved and we kids were the inevitable winners !! His best friend's death on his birthday fell him...he lived on for two more years ...but he never smiled as readily any more..
My mom's mom was knows as a terror in many quarters, Ammamma to everyone, including neighbors .But she took on the unenviable task of being a parent to two kids with their parents abroad.. She was possessive, protective and could give heads of military, a run for their money..!!
If you had a crisis, there was no one else you would want beside you...snake bites, drowning kids, electric shocks, name it , and she had the perfect first aid...of course we were rushed to hospitals after that, but it would take atleast three different doctors to assure her that her wards were in no danger...!
She left us less than a month before I had my daughter...after telling me that I would be surely getting the daughter I wanted...
What all of our grandparents had in common were these qualities...
Their families were paramount.
They were all unique and strong personalities..
All were very devout , but never narrow minded about religion...we have been to mosques, and churches with them with as much devotion, as to the temples.
They never distinguished between boys and girls..all were given the same opportunities to study and work.
Spending so much time with them, and having been brought up by the grandparents, quite a lot of our thinking and sensibilities have been molded by them...while My brother and I did miss out spending time with our parents, we had two sets of grands who tried every way to ensure we were brought up right....
I would love to believe that their efforts have not been in vain..My siblings and cousins have strong bonds..and we are taking pains to ensure that the next generation too share that bond..it is not easy, being in different parts of the world, but we try...
Now with the last of the grands having left on that inevitable journey, the memories they left are indelible....Every get together is an opportunity to look back at those memories, which are as grand as grand can be !!!