Lazy afternoon nap, I was taking at my home town. Amma was sleeping next to me, muttering the same question 100th of time, ‘when are you leaving for Delhi?’
She waits for me, coming home to sleep with her, telling her my office stories, and sharing my life with her. She counts days, rechecks my bag to count clothes; I brought home, to be sure about my days at home.
‘Amma, I told you so many times; its’ tomorrow evening’, my raised voice made me sound annoyed this time. Amma didn’t say anything after this; she got up quietly and sat on the bed, looking for her old and dirty spectacles. I realized my mistake that very moment and dragged my head to her cozy lap. ‘Amma, I told you, I can’t ask for any more leaves; they will kick me out of this job’, I tried to soften my voice as much as I could. She remained silent and kept on running her fingers through my hair and I almost cried at the feel of them, all my childhood memories stayed there in my closed tearful eyes, for a moment.
The days, when my now-85 years old, thin, physically fragile Amma, my grandmother, used to be a strong headed, single, and an independent woman; as I recalled her in my childhood days. I remember how even old villager men were scared of speaking anything nonsense in her presence. My mother is an emotional woman and exactly opposite to my Amma. I hardly remember my mother shouting at us, or caring for our school dresses, studies or anything else, she used to be too depressed and sick to do that all. Actually, she didn’t need to as Amma always played a strict and dependable father to us, shouting at us, fighting for us, supporting us physically, mentally and financially too. I remember her busy days starting from getting us ready for the school, working whole day in the farms like most of our villager women do, scolding us for playing too long or for not studying.
She was heart of our family, taking care of everyone, scolding every one for not being perfect at their jobs. Everyone used to respect and get scared of her, at the same time. She was still working like a strong man, few years ago until this dreadful disease hit her. I could have never imagined Amma as such a weak person, who now needs another person to even fetch a glass of water too. Walking slowly in the veranda of our house, she is hardly noticeable. Maybe new brides, kids, newborns in my house have taken much important place in everyone’s life. AND, now she has become a task for everyone; her special meal, her medicines, her appointments with doctors, is job to everyone. She coughs all night and everyone complains about their disturbed sleep. She forgets things and keeps on asking same question, but sadly my busy family including myself has no time to repeat the same answers for her.
But, then I saw my cousin holding his two years old daughter and answering to her repetitive questions about the flower pot in our veranda. What was the difference, I could not understand? I was wondering how many times Amma would have answered our weird questions? How many times she would have hugged us when we were hurt playing? How many sleepless nights she must have had, when we were having fever? This was never a task for her; it was a joy to her; it was her life. And, now when she needs us, she is task to us. We explain, saying, ‘we are busy in our own life.’ I wonder if she didn’t have any of her own life while we were growing.
I guess this is not only my story. We all are impatient with our oldies; we ignore them assuming they don’t understand our modern lives. Now, may be they are weak and have a short memory; but if you remember, we used to be exactly the same, when we were young and then, they nurtured us with their love and raised us to what we are today.
I hope we could be the same to them as they were to us. When we had tiny hands and no voice; when we were strangers to the world and the world was to us, they held our hands and let us see, speak, understand the world through them. They spent a life time to make us understand the world and gave the most pleasing memories of our lives. So, what if they don’t remember anything now, can’t we make a new memory every day for them; as a small effort to repay the IMMENSE which they gave us and they are still giving us. Love can overpower the most terminal sickness too. They supported us when we were kids so don’t you think, they also have a right to be kids now.
Then why we treat them as a task in our lives, why we are impatient with them.. we have played enough on their shoulders, now it’s their turn.. Let them be kids now….
My head was still resting in Amma’s lap and she again asked me, ‘kalu jana tu? (When will you go?)’ I kissed her lap and said, ‘kadi ni Amma’ (NEVER Amma).