Anai

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 Anai – this was what we called our maternal grandma. The word brings both a tear in my eyes and a smile on my face, as the memories I had with her rushes down to my mind. We never got to meet our paternal grandma so the love of a grandmother meant the love of our Anai. We loved her. We adored her. She was a darling. Whenever I think of her I never seem to have any bitter memories with her. All that I remember is good and happy about her. Anyone and everyone who knew her would agree with me on this without a second thought.

In the cookies of Life – grandmothers are the chocolate chips! ~ Anonymous

She was nothing extraordinary yet she was great in her ordinary ways. She was a very simple woman but with very clear thoughts, way beyond her generation. Many a times she had awed us with her foresightedness and also contemporary thinking, which is not much seen in her generation.

She was elegant, original and really loved her family. I remember her telling us the stories of her marriage. She was a darling of her brothers and brought up with great love. On the day of her marriage, when she was on her way to the interior village my Putha belonged to, she was sad that she would now be cut off from the outside world. But she took everything in her own stride and embraced her new life with all its challenges with a brave and calm face. She became the perfect wife/mother/daughter-in-law taking care of the household and the kids & her father-in-law, all alone, because Putha (Grandpa) worked in the (then) distant hills of Arunachal Pradesh. He could come down only twice a year as the means of communication those days was not very good. And they did not even have telephone in those days! In spite of all the odds, Anai successfully brought up her 5 daughters and 1 son into good and responsible individuals.

Anai hadn’t even finished high school, but she could read and write well. Being not able to have higher education for herself she insisted her daughters to go for higher education and taught them about the independence that it brought along. The same had been handed to us by our Maa.  Anai believed that being girls, they have to learn household chores but education was important too. Her father-in-law helped her in this endeavour of hers. She encouraged all her daughters to leave home in the pursuit of higher education. Even in her old age, Anai preferred reading books/articles which enhanced her knowledge in some or the other way. She believed that there is always something or the other one can always learn about from the written word. We were quite amazed when she even tried a recipe or two from the Assamese magazines she read!

Anai was always a busy woman. She loved to be busy – doing something or the other. She had a routine which she followed very diligently. She hated it when we lazed around doing nothing. For her, keeping oneself busy was healthy for both the body and the mind. She was a neat and clean lady. Her house was spotless, so were her curtains, bed sheets and her own clothes. People used to comment on her pristine white based mekhela-chadors (traditional 2 piece Assamese sari) which were always sparkling. And age never changed this.

She was a darling and a fun person to be with. Everyone who came in contact with her could not escape her infectious sense of humour. Whenever she visited us, there will always be a steady flow of neighbors dropping by to say hello to her and invite her for a cup of tea at their home. She made us laugh and literally roll on the floor during all the time she spent with us. But this did not mean that she would spoil us. She made us understand the fine balance between one’s work and fun and that we should have a mix of both.

A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend. ~ Author Unknown

Like all other grandmas, Anai too insisted us to have healthy food in our diet. She would tell us about the health benefits of different fruit and vegetables and never failed to mention where she had read about it, in case we did not believe her. On our visits to meet her, she made us eat every 3-4 hours. I and my sisters liked our fishes to be fried crisply but she insisted that we should have it fried in less oil because it was healthy. Also, she said that the peels of the vegetable should be only slightly removed with some of the greenish portion retained because according to her that’s where the vitamins were! And then there were the green leafy vegetable curry with ‘slightly’ fried fish with every meal. How we laughed at her stories she cooked up to convince us to eat the healthy stuff!

Today, as I put down my thoughts & memories about Anai, I once again realize what she meant to me and my sisters. As kids, we could not comprehend or fully realize the meaning of her actions and her love. We might have failed to notice how wise she was, how much patience she had, or how much guidance she gave us by her example and by her helpful caring ways. Years go by before we know and understand the depth of all these things. It’s these and many other things that make me realize how lucky I and my sisters were to have this amazing woman – our Anai – our grandmother – as the centered root of strength and love in our life. I miss her so much.

I dedicate this post to my loving and fun Anai and I would like to bow down and say Thank You to her – for everything she had done for us and for every lesson she taught us. I pray that she continues to love us, bless us, guide us and always keep an eye on us from the heavens above. Amen.

Grandmas are for stories about things of long ago….
Grandmas are for caring about all the things you know…
Grandmas are for rocking you and singing you to sleep.
Grandmas are for giving you nice memories to keep…
Grandmas are for knowing all the things you’re dreaming of…
But, most importantly of all, Grandmas are for love.

~ Author Unknown ~

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5 comments

  1. Your story touched me deeply. I too, had a grandmother who made a lifelong impact on me. Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.

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