"Has my aunt come?” she enquires. I notice a rare glint of excitement in her eyes. Trying not to show the rising panic in me, I reply in an almost bored voice, as if she has asked me what the time is. “Ammumma*, we are in Chennai, at my house, remember?
“Of course, don’t I know it” she snorts. I’m grateful for the snort, for the semblance of normalcy it helps create. She and I sit in silence, afraid to speak about that which is so apparent, that which no amount of snorts can erase.
“It’s slowly leaving me, like most of my loved ones” she says, more to herself than me. I hug her, letting her sandal infused scent permeate my senses and diffuse my despair.
|Ammumma and I|
I take out some photo albums from my childhood. She figures in most of them. She fingers each photo, running her fingers lovingly on the sepia toned sheets. These albums are her babies. She has painstakingly filed each and every stage of our growing up years; a true custodian of memories.
She tells me, how I used to cling to her as a little child. I tell her, I wish I still could.
I tell her, how much I loved the lovely dishes she used to cook. She tells me, she wishes she still could.
I take her hand in mine and tell her that my sister and I, are her memory keepers. We will fill in the gaps and put names to blurry faces. We will help her relive her moments of joy and grief, as long as we can. She tells me with misty eyes, that she wants to remember this moment forever.
I want to thank her, for all the lovely memories she has given my sister and me; for loving and cherishing us, as only a grandmother can. What better way to do it than by carrying on her legacy; creating and preserving memories, to last a life time. In the sieve of life, memories are all that remains in the end; the rest gets sifted out slowly, but surely.
* Ammumma: Grandmother, in my mother tongue, malayalam