Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Thank you Khurana sir for the lovely title and Pa for your valuable inputs.

Seeing “Jhaiji”, my maternal grandma lying on a hospital bed semi-comatose with no consciousness of life around her, my heart sank and I had a gut-wrenching feeling of what I was about to lose again and had already lost when “Mummy”, as we called my paternal grandma, passed away over a decade ago.

I was lucky to have had grandparents for all of my 37 years, but right now, with Jhaiji being in such a critical condition, there are some hitherto unidentified feelings I am beginning to discover.

Remembering her lying on that hospital bed with so many sick people around her with all sorts of tubes attached to her body, only one thought comes to mind…if she knew what they were doing to her in that hospital she would have been very cross with us all. She had a fetish for cleanliness and was one of the smartest grandmothers I have ever seen; wearing the best cotton sarees she could buy - she called them “dhotis” - chosen with her impeccable taste for colour and quality.

The last time she had come back from the hospital, she was very weak and needed assistance for the simplest of jobs such as drinking water and taking her medication. But such was her will and determination for cleanliness that one day when my mom and aunt heard the water running in her bathroom, they were shocked to learn that my grand-mom had decided to take a bath, all on her own.

That's how she was. A strong and unwavering woman, she and my nanaji helped and supported all their siblings (some 11 of them), sacrificing their youth for their family's welfare.  And as her whole family waits for a miraculous recovery there has arisen in me this unfathomable sentiment of a breach with the past. A past as my mother has related to us innumerable times, full of togetherness, laughter and love...a past which will go with her when she goes. 

I am feeling this deep sense of loss of two women whom I could have shared so much with. There’s a great deal I could have learnt from them; their experiences, their stories, their lives as daughters, wives, daughters-in-law, mothers, friends, sisters and above all as grandmothers.

The burden of not having asked them to relate their happy and sorrowful experiences when they were fit and able weighs heavily on my heart. There are so many things I wish I had said and done or talked about and asked them to share.

I don’t understand these feelings…why didn’t I think about all this while they were here with us? Was I so busy with my own self — growing up, studying, getting married, having children and maybe working even, that it didn’t strike me that one of these days my grandma was going to leave and I would never be able to see her? Not even after we lost Mummy!

Why is it that we realise what we are going to lose when its already too late?

Don't slip away so soon Jhaiji. My life with you has just begun.


  1. Nirja,
    Just read your piece to your Nanaji and while my voice choked while reading, he could only appreciate your sentiments with moist eyes. But attachment to a body is not advocated by the wise. Birth and death are the inevitable parts of our lives, everyone, prince or pauper, has to leave when Yama comes calling. So, harden your heart and let God's will be done. Love - Pa.

  2. Having see many of my own leaving so early.. I mean I was 30 when I lost both my parents and now at 51 my sister...Yes, it happens.. humans are always valued more in there absence.. otherwise they are taken for granted.. can there be a greater example then a Housewife.. But I will go by not only a Concerned Indian but perhaps a Concerned Pa...we have to learn to accept...