My Grandmother

I can hear the shuffling of her old rubber slippers as she parades angrily through the passage and into the kitchen. The sound is like the rustling of auburn leaves in perfectly timed, intermittent winds.

There’s probably a microphone lodged in her throat. Her voice resounds in the kitchen with a loudness that could sweep birds off the ground and into flight. Yet, she is a quiet person because I never hear her thoughts, only her voice. A boiling pot of water tips over, the cook chops his finger instead of coriander, the pressure cooker explodes, and the refrigerator loses its cool, startled by her entrée. Her presence reverberates through the narrowness of the house, blowing like fire into every empty room. If you look closely, there are little piles of ash in every corner of my home.

She has a voluptuous frame that often resembles one of those ladders that construction workers use to build scaffolding. I picture tiny, red, electrified impulses running up and down its steps every now and then. Occasionally, they wait in her eyes making them look like hot coals tumbling over one another, glinting firestones that haunt me on dark nights.

An old gap-toothed typewriter, a rusty rose gold gramophone, a faded dark purple kanjivaram saree whose intricate gold border has lost its shine; these are the things my grandmother reminds me of. She reminds me of the phrases “back in the day”, “olden times” and “in those days”.

Silver hair, brown tips coiled in a fist-sized bun, bobbing at the back of a nape that hurts with every movement. It is almost as if every aching joint is rebelling to defend its worth; that back in the day, they supported perfectly, a woman who never stopped to rest or think about herself. A pale, washed-out lilac nightgown that smells of soap and Ponds powder literally every second of the day, one that reminds me that things that have lost their luster still possess utility. Soft whistles emanating from a throat covered in a million sagging wrinkles – a voice much older than my brief time on earth, a voice more knowing of the hardships and cruelties of routine life. Incessant summons to God accompanied by a confusing mixture of hot breath and muffled, painful sounds are those timely alarms of promises to fulfil duty, remain faithful, and in holy communion till the last moment.

Author: Anoushka Zaveri

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