An Old Grief


Note: It seems I started writing this back in April but never finished it. I am now posting it as it is. It doesn’t “end” well and I certainly look bad. But do I need to explain how much I loved her and despite “waiting for it”, I didn’t want it to actually happen? All I know is that there’s a big hole in my heart.

I caressed the worn green scarf. It never left her head except when it needed to be washed. Now it’s washed but it would never be on her head again. I never fold laundry. Today, I only did it on the request of my mother. There wasn’t anything else to do either. Little did I know that I would come across her things, and the grief would pour out from my eyes.

She hasn’t been present physically the last eighteen days. She had been going mentally as well for a while. But it doesn’t beat the living together for 26 years.

She had been in the hospital for more than two weeks. Non responsive. Finally, they decided to bring her home. Mentally, she seemed to be gone but this meant we could have her closer by physically.

That Sunday morning, she did come home. She came home one last time to be taken away forever.

An hour into the death, the house started to fill up. Word spread through and on Facebook.

After two days, everyone had pictures to update or stories to share. Stories of her. And no matter how much I racked my brain, I couldn’t remember the last time I was with her.

I do remember her bad mood swings though. She was angry at me not taking her out. But I was glad that she at least recognized me.

The heart grieves but after the funeral, the tears only well up. They don’t come.

Obviously, says the brain. You had already written her off. You had said your goodbye. You were just waiting for the final day, the final breath. You had started carrying your phone everywhere, even the bathroom, in case you got the call. You didn’t want to miss it. So obviously, why are you grieving now. You were waiting for her to die. And now she is, so rejoice.

No, no. No!

Guilt washes over me. Anguished I am. I can’t deny it. I had been waiting.

Cold Feet


All day my feet were dead cold.

It was the day my grandfather passed away. The one where I was woken up to be given this news.

I couldn’t believe he was gone.

I went to his place. I spent the entire day there. I saw him sleeping the eternal sleep, wrapped up in white sheets, back from the hospital.

I listened to my grandmother lamenting that he had left her all alone. I heard everyone exclaim how he had been just fine; two weeks, last night, an hour ago. They bathed him and wrapped him. He looked serene and beautiful as always. But unlike always, he wouldn’t say anything.

All I could do was stare at him from the corner of my eye, while reading the Arabic prayer from the piece of paper in my hand.

Near evening, when they took him to his final resting place, I hugged my mom, my aunt, my sister – told them it’d be okay. Hugged a lot of other ladies; heard them tell me it’d be okay.

I still couldn’t believe he was gone.

And all day, my feet were dead cold. Just like his.

Five Years


I came home from my (two years late) A-level graduation ceremony and proudly showed him my medal.

He was delighted, and immediately fished out some cash from under his pillow (where he generally kept it) as a token of his love and appreciation.

Although he wasn’t well, when I told him I wanted to take a picture with him to commemorate the day, he insisted on getting up and sitting with me for it.

It’s only been 5 years. It’s already been 5 years.

Miss you, grand father.

 

The Pursuit of Happyness


My sister burst into the room, eyes shining with excitement. Her team had made it to the second round of a competition they were participating in. She was breathless, laughing, jumping. In a matter of seconds, she had already left the room to break the news to our mother.

And I just sat there wondering how to tell her that this was at the best part of her life, that she needs to always cherish this little moment and make sure she has many more like these.

Just sat there wondering if there was a way to stop time; longing to stop time. For her to be this happy. To have this happy. Forever.

So I saved the lecture for another day, went up to wish her luck and said a silent prayer for her happiness.

Please


I see her old and frail and sick. Barely able to articulate anything. Shaky. Disoriented. This is what it comes down to, after ninety years of living: being a child, but without the perks. Slowly disintegrating.

Seeing her feels like a gut punch. Every time. A gut punch of pain and guilt pangs.

I can’t imagine what must go through her mind. I can’t imagine how it feels. Or what my father feels.

God, please, please, please give her health. Please, please, please give both my parents the strength, both physical and mental, to help her as much as possible. Please, please, please.

Sunday Evening Thoughts


We never do much together but the house seems empty without my sister. I’m sure she’ll have a blast. It is indeed the experience of a lifetime.

Everyone’s really glad that her trip is only for two weeks though, including traveling time. It’s hard to admit that the baby of the family is old enough to leave the nest and step out into the world by herself.

Meanwhile, I use all the technology available to me to stalk her to hide the i-miss-her and the small twinge of green. Flight live-tracking and hotel websites for the win!

Grandparents


My (maternal) grandmother sat there, eyes down. I was accompanying her to the eye doctor’s for a check-up. As she sat there, I couldn’t help but wonder at how dejected she looked.

It was heart-breaking. I can’t even imagine losing my eye sight completely and being so helplessly dependent on people around me. But more than that, it was the age-factor that distressed me. This woman, who was one of the strongest I ever knew, sat there looking so sad, so…

And while the doctor examined her eyes and everything and talked to my mother (who was there too), I sat back and wondered how much I owe her.

From a complete rural background and uneducated herself, she made sure that her oldest daughter (my aunt) attended college, despite much resistance. And her husband, my maternal grandfather made sure he helped her as much as was possible. Picking, dropping, teaching, etc. Of course, that meant there was no question that my mom wouldn’t be going to college.

With my paternal grandfather, I found out at a much later age that he was not kidding when he said he only studied till Grade Three. With his father passing away, he took to work with his elder brother to support their family. Sure he only knew phrases of English, but hearing him talk, you’d never know he wasn’t well-learned/educated. And I remember how my paternal grandmother told me she had studied up to Grade Five, which was a big, big deal at that time. However, she sadly explained that since she didn’t have much use for it, most of it was forgotten in the daily life routine & work.

Of course, they made sure that their kids – ALL of them – went to school as much as possible, and learned enough to survive in the world. And all this is an era where education was considered an added bonus, not a compulsion like in today’s times.

No, I’m not making a case for education. I’m making a case for my grandparents, for the three of them alive and the one who has joined his Maker.

I’m perpetuating their memory, their deeds and their struggles. I’m looking at them withering away in front of my eyes. Slowing down a little each day. And I know that I only have limited moments left with them.

And that I need to make each moment count.

I just hope that the little things that I might be able to do for them these days, count an itsy bitsy towards “repaying” them for all they’ve done.

Afterall, I owe it all to them, by the grace of God, and so, SO, much more!

Love & prayers!

My Cup Of TEA


In the vicinity of three munchkins, T, E and A, one can’t help but smile and laugh and be merry. Nothing else matters. The world could be ending but all you’d be concerned about would be to finish your game of tag with them.

10, 5 and 2.5 years old, they are also at the perfect mathematical age which works perfectly for one’s OCD.

They are certainly my cup of tea,

It’s a coincidence that it happens to be my favorite beverage. Or is it?

Walker


She arranged her slippers and reminded me of her husband.

Last evening, she was using his walker because her legs were hurting and I was sad again.

This time, though, the tug at my heart strings was for her. She suddenly looked so frail and old and I wondered how many more moments we all have with her…

Tears sprang to my eyes but I held them back. I am good at that.

What I did was fill her jug and put it at the night stand, like Dad reminded me to. Held both her hands and helped her to her bed, ambling along slowly as she had ‘forgotten’ both her stick and walker outside.

Said a little prayer for her. Wrote a blog post.

The Swing


Note: An old piece…

In my arms, she continued to squirm. So much so that it was difficult for me to hold on to her little wiggling form. She put her tiny hands against my shoulders and pushed backwards with such force that had I barely managed to maintain my grip on her so that she would not fall down on her head.

And she continued to cry. Not in a loud, bawling manner. It was a whimpering sound, small and muted, like a small animal in pain. All I could think of doing was making hushing and soothing noises, in an attempt to assure the little creature that I did not mean to harm her. It was just that she had been thrust upon me, to be given a ‘walk’ around the garden for the mother was currently ill and needed some rest. So, now, the duty to take care of the baby, for a short while, was entrusted to me.

But she would not stop fidgeting. She continued to try to get away. It was with great difficulty that I managed to cling on to her tiny being. She knew which door we had used to come out in the garden. She kept pointing back towards it, while making a burbling sound, as if to tell me that that is where she’d much rather be. Twisting and turning in my arms, she was not getting distracted by any of the things that I pointed out to her. No brightly coloured flower, not the gently rustling trees nor the squawking birds grabbed her attention. Apparently, all she needed was her mommy but I had strict instructions on that score. So, I tried to swing her around but all it resulted in was her howling at me and clawing at my neck for leverage. That was the time I found out babies actually have very sharp nails.

“You know, I’d much rather be doing something else, as well,” I said to her.

It was at the sound of my voice that she stopped crying, suddenly, and sniffed up at me, her eyes watery, thick tears clinging to her lashes.

“Yeah, that’s right. I’m talking to you, little missy.” I told her, my tone even more stern now. I was tired of walking around carrying her around with her not settling down. “I know you want to go back to your mommy but mommy needs a little down time. So, we are going to walk around the garden.”

As I said this, she blinked up at me as if she understood me. Slightly surprised, I silently thanked God for making my job easier and continued to walk. That is when we came to the garden swing and I thought she might like to try it. I tried to sit her down but every time she dug her toes firmly in the seat and refused to budge.

I tried to coax her in saying “It’s a swing dear…you’ll like it!” But it didn’t seem like she was very enthusiastic about it. She just wouldn’t sit and I stopped attempting. Sighing, I decided to sit in the swing myself and have her sit in my lap. That way, she’d know that she had nothing to be scared of and I was getting tired as well.

I put thought into action. She clung onto me, slightly hiccupping, digging her nails in, as if afraid that she’ll fall. I put my arms around her to try to reassure her. At this, she rested her head against my shoulder and snuggled. I smiled at her cuteness.

And then, while swinging, I started talking to her, nothing in particular, just randomly. About everything and anything that came to my mind. I told her about my hectic schedule and how I wished I could turn time back and be as old as her.

“Don’t be in any hurry to grow up,” I told her.

At this, she actually giggled and I couldn’t help laughing a little myself. Thus finding her calmed down, I continued to talk to her. In a little while, she actually sat down in my lap, with me holding on to her back so she didn’t fall backwards. And she looked up at me with big, brown, intelligent eyes that seemed to light up as I pointed out birds and flowers and told her some of the mischief I had gotten into while younger. And I continued to talk and she listened, avidly it seemed to me.

I told her about how hard it was to have to be responsible for things, especially being the oldest, how hard it is to live up to expectations, how hard it is to make certain decisions all on your own, and how difficult it is to maintain a balance in life. She nodded and giggled and frowned at all the right places in my story telling. If I ever paused to take a breath, she would start cooing and babbling, telling her own story to me. And meanwhile, as we continued to ‘talk’, both of us swayed with the rhythm of the swing, a light breeze ruffling our hair.

It was the best time ever. We sat there for a very long time, talking, singing and humming. And the baby – Maira her name was – keenly joined in. It was only when it began to grow dark and the sun was getting ready to set that I thought it prudent to go back inside.

As I handed her back to her slightly refreshed mother, I surprisingly felt a pang as she hugged her mother after being parted for so long. Yet, I was also happy for not only had I managed to be ‘succeed’ at the task handed out to me and pleased my mother, I also had a very good time.

And as Maira waved goodbye to me, I knew we would have other good moments – maybe even better – just like today, on the swing.