Sunday, May 26, 2013

This picture is of my Grand mother with my only maternal aunt (mausi) and uncle( mausaji). I don't know how to express but words are my saviour. Yesterday evening I came to know she is no more. Feel a stifling knot inside that I hope shall release after I am done with writing. My first memories are of her sitting in kitchen near the log fire and cooking the tastiest meals. The slow fire would permeate the kitchen with aroma of cooking bhat and daal, even the simplest of things became magical in her hands and I at five or six years of age would slowly try to get as close to her as possible. Now, in Kumaon there are these practices that while cooking no one is supposed to touch the cook. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that earlier days to maintain the hygiene of the cooking area the woman who cooked bathed in the wee hours and started the fire, concentrating the attention of preparing the meal without any disturbance and contaminations through oter people touching the food without the needed precautions. My nani ( gandmother) cooked like this, I would inch forward asking her " why?, why should I not touch you while you cook? If you don't give me an explaination, I shall touch you". She would laugh and scare me with a stick although never using it. After this she would patiently feed my Nana ji ( grandfather). And then there were days when she would clean the kitchen and the coackroaches would be removed from the wooden beams of the mountain house. I would piously threten her," see you are killing these creatuures, mind you, you may suffer the ' paap' ( sin) of killing these. She would laugh at this,yes so be it! She was a woman of rare strength and perhaps we get that in our genes from her. I saw her very courageously stand by the right thing and I pray that God give me the same strength in my life. I would often hang around her, she draped in simple cotton sari and me asking her a thousand questions as she took out the stones from the rice she was cleaning in a thali. For years that I was at her house I saw peace and patience. There was a fun episode when there was marriage of my Devendra Mama ( maternal uncle), she was a good manager and had kept things in orderly manner in the store, the keys would be with her. I got to know that there were sweets, really rich ones that had been brought by some guest. I asked her if some one had got sweets, she said no, and then I kept a tab on where she hid the key, when there was a chance I took kids to plunder the store and we ate the sweets and carried the rest in our pockets. Then I placed the key where she had hid it. Later when she visited the store she saw the sweets were gone and the other things were in a disarray, but true to her word she did not speak a word of it, she smiled and smiled! Such was my nani! I remember visiting a quaint temple with her, the fresh flowers in pots all around the temple and the tiny brass bell strung all around are still fresh in my memory and there too I would incessantly question her, many time asking her not to believe in the priests. She would never discourage my questioning. Earlier this year I had a chance to visit her but I did not gather enough courage to let go of responsibilities here and simply visit her, wish I had done so. May Shrimataji take you in her fold Nani, I know you are watching over as tears finally make way. Although I could not visit you often neither bring a gift to you I love you, you shall always stay in my heart.

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