I write a note to my grandmother.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve sought your approval. For the choices I made, for all that I achieved, for simply being. And eventually I gave up. I consoled myself that it wasn’t worth the time or effort. With each passing year, I grew increasingly convinced that you were harsh on me just because I wasn’t a son. That I wouldn’t need to do half the things I do and you would have still cherished me more had I been your grandson.
He, who is the apple of your eye, who will take care of you for the rest of your life while I’ll go build my life with someone else, who will light your funeral pyre and carry your name forward.
And speaking of the grandson, you will probably be looking forward to him getting married in the coming months. But I hope you will not be too harsh on mybhabhi-to-be if she refuses to play shy and coy when our clan descends into her living room. I hope you will resist the urge to comment when she opts for a trendy kurtiover a traditional sari as you would have liked her to. In the subsequent months, I hope you will not judge her when she expresses her mind and sometimes, unintentionally, ends up contradicting your grandson.
When on the evening of her sangeet, she whispers into your grandson’s ear for a sip of rum and Coke to steady her feet and gather her wits, or wanders to the bar unescorted; I hope you will not reprimand her in public. When her hennaed palms, bearing your grandson’s name, nervously caress the long stem and rim of a nearly empty wine glass as she collects herself before she is put on display for the world to gawk at, I hope you will embrace her with warmth and lots of affection…Continue reading
*First published on Parentous.
She sat huddled in one corner, with her quivering lips, irreconcilable differences and tumultuous emotions. The room reeked of disappointment. But she was too spent to care. An apology could wait; she murmured and reached for a sip of water. But he sat in another corner, in wait, for another argument festering over her indifference.
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He had conjured up a particular image of me. And he felt let down every time I didn’t leave up to it. Occasionally I was ignorant. But mostly I didn’t care. Or at least pretended I didn’t. His treatment pricked. Not because he had underestimated or belittled me. On the contrary, he thought the world of me. And I had little appreciation for it or his feelings.
He was my punching bag who also mollified most of my outbursts, called or uncalled for, and always played them down. He never shut me up, unlike some other people around me. He’d always let me complete my rants. His patient eyes would watch me pace the room to and fro with frantically flailing arms and a loose tongue. And then when I’d go quiet, partly out of exhaustion, he’d enquire ever so soothingly, “Feeling better?” I’d nod a meek yes, wiping away the perspiration and pushing the hair off my eyes.
“Let’s go get some ice-cream,” he’d conclude. He never sought an explanation as to what brought on which outburst. But he sought to quell them all.
He never revealed how much I hurt him. I know I did. But he was one brave-natured soul. He soldiered on, not once claiming his pound of flesh.
He only insisted on honesty. In words. In deeds. In thoughts.
I don’t know if it was love. He never admitted it was. He was content being a friend. “Love complicates,” he opined. “Let’s keep it simple,” he suggested.
I find it troubling when you nonchalantly abuse the word “sorry” to wipe a tear. That word is simply too inadequate to assuage the sting of your unkind, often condescending barbs. Yes, I want to give you the silent treatment. Yes, I want to shed a few more tears until the heart begins to feel lighter. Yes, I want to get on the terrace and scream until my lungs get hoarse and I can cry no more. It’s bad enough that one of us is already hurting. You don’t have to go ruin it further by being all dramatic about it. Let me and my tears be.
You probably call it self-destructive. I call it catharsis. And your apology has little role to play in it.
You cannot equate the act of hurting me with keeping someone waiting on a telephone line. Yet, your sorry does just that. This pains me more. I’d rather you never use that word with me. Will save us both a lot of heartache and reduce the stress on your vocal chords.
Your act façade of tendering an apology, however sincere, diminishes the legitimate nature of this ache within me. It brings to the surface latent violent tendencies reserved for fighting skeletons in the closet.
I wish you’d treat with me a little more care.