She din't remember her own grandchildren, but she remembered my touch of love

Nancy Vijo
Sunday, April 3, 2016

Come with me to the times before I became mamma to Lil Eva.

Come with me to the times before I was Mrs. Nancy Vijo.

Come with me to the times before I was a post graduate or a graduate.

Come with me to India.. to the southern most part of India.. to Kerala, to the central most part of Kerala called Thrissur.. Come with me to East Fort.. where Lourde Cathedral is.. to the convent school in beige next to the cathedral.

Come with me to year 2002, come with me to the times I were just Nancy George.

Yes, I still remember the time I was in school. I was in my 11th grade when I finally had the courage to walk over to the old lady who sat by the window in an old shackle by the back gate of my campus.

I walked by the window and saw this old granny all crouched up on a worn down chair. I looked up at her through the grills that looked more like jail bars. She gripped the bars and squinted her eyes to look closer at me. I looked into one of the mist beautiful faces that I had seen… the fairest face, the greenest eyes and the whitest hair that formed a halo around her head. I stepped in.. little did I know that I was stepping into her heart. I dint know what I was doing there, but I knew at that very moment that this bond would go a long way.

I used to run to her everyday during lunchtime and after school. Sharing my lunch with her everyday...talking about my parents, my little brother,my friends.. my life. I loved holding her earlobes.. the earlobes that were once adorned with the traditional christian earring...the one that had left her earlobes hang down like a soft lump of flesh. We became inseparable.

I never asked her about her life. One look around the house and I knew things weren't smooth. I finally gathered courage and asked her about her family. She pointed at a photo and told me that was her son. I figured he died long back… And then she pointed her fingers at me and said… “ You”. Little did she know, that she stepped into my heart as well. I had run back to class for my post lunch sessions.

On a similar weekday, when I was nearing my final 12th grade exams and the last days of school, I could hear shouting and hitting from the house. I peeked through the grills to find a man pull her down from the chair in which she sat and kick her repeatedly as she crumbled up into a tight ball and took each kick after the other. I watched as he yelled at her asking for a ten rupee note which she held tightly in her fists.. the same ten rupee note that I had handed over to her the previous day. I was terrified. I was shaking from head to foot in fury and fear. I dint know what to do. I stood outside and shouted, “ Stop it!” When he dint I shouted at the top of my voice.. “ STOP IT or I will call the police”. I had the greatest shock of my life when he threw a chair at me and yelled back,"I'm her son..what's your business here? Who are you?" I could smell liquor and the heavy stench was making me gag. He walked to the grills and was about to open the doors when granny shouted at me and asked me to run back to school. I dint think twice. I ran back.. as fast as my legs would carry me. I still remember the agony in her tear filled eyes when she asked me to run. Why dint she tell me her son was alive? Why was he even alive ?

I ran into my papa's arms when I reached home and cried my heart out. And for the first time after I met her, I told my papa about everything that had happened. He was concerned and worried because I had a history for falling into trouble trying to help and care for the oldies. I was too emotional and insensible to think straight. He made me promise never to meet her like before and that someday he would come along with me to meet her..but not anytime soon.

Time moved on, her memory lay deep in my mind.

I completed my master's and joined as a trainee in Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala. On my first vacation back to my home,300 kms away; as I had lunch and reclined on the sofa to watch a film with my papa on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August 2010, he suddenly sat up and asked me," Do you remember that granny near your school? I saw her. She's still alive.. she lost her memory. Her son is a changed man now. He's my friend now. She's paralyzed waist down. Do you wanna meet her? I promised you I would take you to her someday." I was too shocked to reply. I was reminded that this was yet another one of the trillionths reasons why I loved my dad. I got dressed, carefully choosing my attire because we were going to the slums behind my school.

As I stepped out of the car, my head was filled with a thousand thoughts. Memories of my school days..memories of the roads where I used to run around and play.. memories of afternoons spent with granny. I walked hesitantly through the same old lane but which was much neater now. Careful and clean sewage systems were installed on either sides of the road. Where once the land was crowded with waste and plastic, ran clean lanes with not even a dried leaf on the road. The same summer breeze that hit me 7 years back now caressed me bring me reminders from my past.
I reached the house. The same shackle.. the only unchanged thing in the vicinity. I was hesitant when I noticed a frail and thin old lady scooped down on a chair. My papa pushed me forward and that was when I realized that I was stepping back rather than go forward. I wasn’t ready to see her yet.

Maybe 7 long years had passed by, maybe I did graduate and did my masters in the big city. Maybe I looked like someone who was a strong lady, maybe I had a job and was grown up and mature now. BUT. Deep inside the hard exterior I wanted to weep. I dint have the guts to face her. I went off without saying a goodbye. The last memory I had of her was the pain in her eyes on a similar sunny afternoon when she has asked me to run.

I stepped in and the same man came forward and inquired as to who I am. Thank God he doesn't recognize me. I was scared once again. A loud "Papa" escaped my lips. My papa suddenly came forward and said, "Thomas, she's my daughter." The frown quickly vanished, his stance changed." Oh! are you his daughter? Come in." He turned to my papa and said," She was asking for you, George. I was telling her that you wouldn't come today since it was a Sunday... so tell me..."

I walked to her and called her. She dint respond. " Call louder.She wont hear you otherwise", uncle said. He held and turned her face up to mine. No sense of recognition. "She doesn't like meeting new people. She doesn't even remember her grandchildren. He recognizes your Dad and me. No one else. Your fathers a good man. He visits my mother often. That's how we became friends."

I was shocked to realize that this man never knew that George, one of his closest friend was actually my father, the father of the girl who used to be his mom's only companion during her lonely days.. the girl who had witnessed his cruelty to his mother once upon a time.. the girl who had been chased off from his house for having the courage to order him to stop hitting his mom.

I sat next to her and held her hand in mine and started stroking it. The only thing that felt soft on her skinny hand was her loose skin..all wrinkled from age. I looked at her face as she looked at mine. I noticed that the skin on her earlobe was just the same..untouched by age. I held it the same way I did years back and was oblivious to the fact the she was still looking at me with a strange expression. I was unconsciously stroking her ear and listening to my papa and uncle talk when she suddenly gripped my hand. She held it so tightly that it hurt me.. she looked at my face.. probing.. for something... "Nani?" she managed to whisper."Is it you my girl?"

DEAD SILENCE. All four of us were quiet. I was too emotional to speak. She started telling her son, "I told you she would come someday.. I told you."

Thomas uncle looked at me and put his hands over his forehead.. I knew he was devastated.. the realization that I was his friends daughter, the same girl who he had chased down the streets once when he was drunk.. "Why dint you tell me, George?" My papa dint speak... but granny did.. "Is she your daughter?" She was telling my papa about the curry I used to bring her, of our afternoons together.. of our laughter and fun. She turned to me and said in between," You came back, dint you? You still remember me" Of course I do. How could I forget her?

We spoke for an hour or so.. telling her of the times that went by.. the look of agony that I had seen in her eyes long back was replaced by a sparkle.. She was a happy mother now.

As I stood up to say goodbye, she held me tight and said, "Where ever you go, my blessings will be with you, ALWAYS. Your grandchildren will be really good to you.. " I smiled. I'm not even married yet. But I was glad.. This blessing would go way back.

" Will you be back before I die?" I dint reply. I kissed her forehead and gave her my word that I would visit her every time I return home for vacation.
As I sat in the car, next to my papa on my way back home. I looked over to him. He turned to look at me, teary eyed and said, "I'm proud of you."

I cried then. Trust me, I did.
She dint remember her own grandchildren but she remembered my touch of love.

Nancy is a creative art person,a writer and a motivational speaker. After almost 7 and a half years of her career in HR and Corporate Training in various hierarchical levels; she decided to turn to Applied Behavioral Therapy, trying to make a difference in the life of Autistic kids. She loves designing and choreographing and has anchored various shows in an out of Kuwait and India. She believes in Karma - that what you give is what you get. She writes with the belief that if her writings brings about a positive vibe in the life of a person who reads it - even if it is for a fleeting moment - she would be blessed. Being a vivid observer, she only writes on true experiences.
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