Tuesday, 21 June 2016

The elder

I dedicate this post to my grandaunt, who has looked after us, scolded us, loved us, and spoilt us with sugary treats.

Some of you may remember that I had originally planned to leave for Australia at the end of March. With my bad health and later, news that she was also not well, I decided to extend my stay in India till June.

Seeing her deteriorate in the hospital in May - one of my hardest experiences. When I had to leave, I made a difficult choice supported by my entire family. But every step I take onwards will be in her memory.

Who was she?....

I recently visited my grandaunt's apartment in Surat. As I walked up the steep steps, all my memories flooded back - of my childhood, sitting on tiny stools in the kitchen to eat, playing on the rocking horse in the adjoining room, looking out onto the streets whenever we'd hear music from a wedding party go by, running upstairs to a neighbour's to catch a few minutes of TV.

As I sat there listening to her about how much pain her legs were in and how lonely she had become, I thought back to how she would command our respect.

Don't nod your head; say yes. Clean the room. I learned how to tuck in my bedsheets from her, you know.... Even now, in her ripe age, she still scolded us about how we must learn to cook, take care of our elders, and save money instead of spending it foolishly. Oh, and take sweets from the cupboard whenever you want, ok?

Growing up, she would stand at the door waiting for my grandmother, then in her teens, to come home from school. When it was time for her to get married, she took care of her ill mother financially and physically. She took care of the house, meticulously noting down the household expenses. Soon, she was balancing her work and household life on her own, after my great grandmother expired.

But my grandmother would visit her often. And she would also travel down south to visit my uncles and aunts.

As she entered retirement, she gave up the world of work, but her personality and convictions remained the same. Respect for elders, a clean house, hard work, and meticulous bookkeeping.

But, she grew to feel that she would have benefited from the presence of a male in the household, someone to take care of duties she no longer had the physical ability to do on her own.

I will still remember her though as the family's strong voice, one with the ability to be strict till we cried, and loving too.

As she passed away today, our family is in mourning and we remember her, strong, stubborn, and loving. A champion for some of us in our hardest times.

After all, she was the first person in my family to know and support my dream of travelling the world for a year.

Even if we try we will be unable to meet her level of self-sacrifice. We love you.


  1. Sorry about your loss Asma

  2. My condolences to you and your family.