(Part one was written a while ago: Day 20)
It was a regular night until I received that dreadful phone call. Mom called to give me the news of grandma’s death. She knew I wouldn’t take it well but I needed to attend her funeral. Despite the impulse to break down, I had to be logical first. I booked my flight tickets to Chennai for the next morning. I called back my mother to let her know my flight timings before I crashed into my chair.
Grandma didn’t have a heart problem, at least not that I knew of. It must have been age after all she was nearly 80. I rummaged around in my loft to find the carton that I had stashed away. Our years of communication were stored in that box. Only the last few months lay around in my desk drawer. I knew I would be overwhelmed going through those letters. She had led a long and memorable life. It was too soon for me to make peace with her absence.
I held back the urge to cry till I reached Chennai. Her lifeless body cut through my composure. I held onto my mother and cried. I collapsed next to the body and held her hand. I should be happy she didn’t suffer. I should be glad she died happy. But I couldn’t help but feel regret that she had died alone. Her neighbour had found her a few hours after she died. After grandma didn’t answer her phone, the neighbour had gone over with her spare key. On hearing the news, mom and dad had arrived promptly later the same day.
She was a remarkable woman. She had always stood by her children and grandchildren. She had showered them with gifts and love. But most importantly, she had stood by her word. I felt clingy as I watched the men of the household carry her body to the cremation ground. I wanted to be with her till the end. But our customs and traditions forced me to follow certain protocols. I wanted some physical part of her to stay with me; her memories just didn’t seem enough. But burial of all kinds was shunned by our family.
Soon, all we would be left with would be her ashes which would be scattered in some holy water. As these thoughts crossed my mind, I wondered if she would approve of all of this. She was neither religious nor spiritual; she was perhaps laughing to herself as she taunts us from a far better place. That is the hope I shall live with.