We all lost somebody today. Somebody who hyped us up more than we deserved. Somebody who loved us in her own, sometimes annoying, way. Somebody who was our biggest fan and who used to brag about our smallest achievements to everybody she knew. Somebody whose void can never be filled by anyone else in our lives. My brother and I lost our Paati today. Dad lost his Mom. It’s as heartbreaking a day for us as it can get. None of us is still able to process the grim reality that we have woken up to.
And I don’t think we’ll be able to anytime soon, either. Because, how does anybody cope with the loss of family? I asked my Dad, in between shedding tears, how he mentally prepared himself for something as grave as this. Paati was, after all, his only parent after all these years since our Thaatha passed on. He told me that he had this sense of security in knowing that his Mom was still here to him and now, she was gone too. I wish I could put into words how that broke my heart.
My Paati was, in a word, outrageous. She lived unapologetically and she lived to her fullest. In fact, she had just returned from a trip before things went south. I’d like to think that she’s having another adventure now that she’s truly free. Paati had this weird way of looking at things and we often didn’t see eye-to-eye, but I loved her and I know that she loved me because all she could ever do every time I went over was pamper me silly and spoilt. I secretly prided in being her favourite and it was a running joke amongst our cousins that Paati favoured me more than them.
But I know that’s not the case because that’s how grandmothers can be. I know she loved all of us kids. And I know she had her own way of showing that and disciplining us. Sure we all learned how to get around her traditional ways and we got a little too good at it, but she never thought any lesser of us because that’s just who Paati was. I remember how she’d wait up for us, late at night, in case our trains were late. She simply refused to go to sleep without giving us a hug. And it breaks me to even think that she won’t be waiting at the gates, at our house in my hometown, to give me a hug and smile proudly at me.
She would never trust anybody else to look after her garden; it was always me because she thought I had inherited her green thumb. She knew how much I loved the beautiful flowers in her garden so she’d let me prance around with the garden hose and I’d pretend to be in a music video as I watered her prized plants and breathed in the petrichor. Now, every time I go back to that house, the garden withered away under the lack of her supervision will break my heart like nothing else ever would.
Even writing this about her is hurting me because somehow, humanly, foolishly, I had convinced myself that she was stubborn and a fighter, and that she was always going to be around. But the more I think about how I’m never going to hear her calling my name again, how she’s never going to compare me to my great-grandmother again, how she’s never going to play favourites and take my brother’s side and mine again, I’m forcing myself to face the fact that somebody has left us all behind today.
I remember that the last thing she told me was that it was going to be a great year for me and that she was waiting for the day when I released my book. To see me become a published author was one of the very few dreams she had, and it was not even her own. I knew she was proud of me so I’ll try my best to not let her down. As her favourite granddaughter, I think I owe it to her and to myself.
It’s a very difficult day for my family today. The loss of a loved one never really leaves you. But what we have to do is drown ourselves in this sadness and hope that someday, we’ll end up swimming. Paati might be gone, but she made sure that she left us with that one thing she really wanted us all to achieve. And for her, we will.
I’m going to miss you so much, Paati. I hope you’re on your next adventure now.
All my love,