Grandmas Who Are Remembered and Not – by Bhavana


Some months back, a friend posted a moving eulogy for his grandmother on his facebook page. He remembered how she lived—without complaining, without demanding but always present and giving.
He remembered that she never got angry and ended his eulogy dedicating the room where she lived as “Pattima’s room.”

I remember stories of my paternal Patti. My dad talks of her fondly as a mother who was very good and kind and trusting.
A young widow, she once lost all her jewels to a thieving relative. She died leaving my dad an orphan at 11.

I remember my friend D, a tall beautiful woman who cooked the yummiest mutter paneer ever. I loved her kichri too. Sometimes we sat in the garden within the housing complex and chatted about life and being a woman.

When her husband’s car entered the complex, she had to leave. I remember that bitter-cold Pune night when I discovered I had misplaced my house key and waited for hours for her to return. She had my duplicate. Yes, she knew I was waiting. But she could not tell her husband.

I remember that young South Indian woman, who in a foreign country, finally came into terms that she was an incest survivor.

She cooked wonderfully too. Once in my house, she took over the kitchen and cooked and cleaned. Often, she froze—breath frozen, thought frozen, stillness all over. But when she was not frozen, she even cleaned my computer.

Oh yes, I do hope she will be a grandmother someday.

I remember a spiritual sister who one day came and cried.

“I was humiliated,” she said.
She looked like a little child, having had a tiff with someone.

Must be a colleague, I thought. No, she had been assaulted.

And I remember a 21-year-old me at my family doctor’s with abdominal pain. He said I had protein deficiency. I walked for hours around the lake afterwards recounting the examination,wondering if I should tell, if Icould tell…

And then I remember my maternal grandma and her two sisters.

Plucky threesome. My grandma was less than 5 ft tall, very dark, with uninteresting features.

My grandpa did not like her much. But she out lived him, smartly smooching this son and that. She had several boxes of clothes, utensils, gadgets.

Yes, once she told me that she hoped to live through kanakabhisekham (a ceremony of showering with gold). My mother often complained that grandma was not mother enough.

And her sister, widowed at a young age with three young children—she was one gritty woman. She figured out ways to feed her children, keep her house, pay her bills.

You don’t want to cross her—she had a tongue that would cut you sharp if you tried.

And her youngest sister, married to a mentally-challenged guy, transformed herself as a cook. I never ate her food but I hear she cooked wonderfully. She cooked for great many occasions and traveled through the world cooking.

Aah, but she does have a temper!!!

I note this young woman from Kolkata on facebook—a lesbian. She declares her love to her “wife” often, creating spasms of discomfort.

Again and again the facebook page is rendered by her fierce declarations of her love, longing and that it is for a woman.

You want to shake her off but there she is—in your face, reminding you of the other always. She too will be called grandma someday, right?

And I remember that woman from cow-belt of India, married to a man in United States. She could hardly speak English and her documents were in her husband’s possession.

He slept around and beat her when she questioned and for so many other things. I remember her nightly phonecalls—angrily asking me to help. Her phone calls to the Indian consulate. To anybody she knew. She called and called—insisting, demanding, not allowing me to eat, sleep, sit, work.

But when we came with help, she always went back to her husband . And then again she called —helpless anger—Get me a taxi! Get me out of here!

Yeah, she too will be a grandma…

I remember reading the works of an angry 19 th century Tarabhai Shinde– raging over the conviction of a young Brahmin widow for murdering her illegitimate child.

Could the widow have asked to bear an illegitimate child?–Tarabhai thundered across time.

Was she free enough to court a man? Oh mother, her words are intense, harsh, very very angry. I don’t know if she became a grandma.

To all the grandmothers who are or will be tart, who demand and complain, who rant and rave, who make people uncomfortable and irritated, who are unsociable, who rage over centuries—I remember you and make room for you in my heart.

For I live because you rage/d, demand/ed, fi/(ou)ght…

Happy International Women’s Day!

WRITTEN BY : Bhavana Nissima (


One comment on “Grandmas Who Are Remembered and Not – by Bhavana

  1. Beechmount says:

    Interesting thoughts

Let me know what you are thinking. . .

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