I hadn’t seen my grandmother in nearly a decade. I arrived at her home in Chennai just as she was watering her plants. I hurried to her side and hugged her. She held me close for a while before tugging at my long braid.
“Hair has grown,” she said.
“Yes, Ammamma. I have decided to finally listen to you,” I joked.
She tugged at it again and called me a brat. I loved her annoyed face. Her wrinkles made eyes shine more than before. I followed her into the house and could already smell the intoxicating coffee that she was famous for. She poured me a huge mug, knowing my addiction to it.
“So. What has taken you so long to visit your old grandma?” she smirked.
“Are you angry?” I hesitated.
“Not really. One tends to miss her beautiful granddaughter,” she said.
I held her hand and led her to the front yard where there was a swing. We sat on it and I rested my head on her lap.
“I have found someone, Ammamma,” I said.
She was silent for a few seconds and then quipped, “So you have come to seek expert counsel?”
Our joint laughter should have woken up the neighbours. She patted my head gently and hummed a soothing tune. I never mentioned it again.
When I was growing up, I moved to Chennai to study. Having grown up in Delhi, my grandmother rarely saw me. But those years spent in Chennai changed it all for us. Even all these years later, we still wrote each other long letters. She was a friend, a secret keeper. The so-called generation gap had never really come up. I got along better with her than the rest of my family. I was told that we shared the same obstinant streak. That and of course our long toes.
I spent the next three days being pampered by her. From delicious idlis and sambar to endless mugs of her coffee. She even took me to the Aavin store around the corner of her home to binge on the milk sweets. Earlier, she would never let me eat there.
The evening I was scheduled to leave, she looked sad. I asked her what was wrong and she only tugged my braid as a response. As she hugged me goodbye, she whispered in my ear, “Be happy Amu. If Amma gives you any trouble about this young lad, you tell me. I will talk to her.”
I couldn’t find the words to thank her. So I simply planted a wet kiss on her cheek. I walked away from her gate knowing well that her eyes had welled up. Just like mine.