By Samanvita Krishna
What does it look like to find a best friend for life in a 70-year-old woman? Might sound boring to some of you but to me, it is anything but that. I met her almost immediately after my birth, she would tend to me when mother and father dearest were too tired after a long day of work and parenting. Without a complaint, she would lift me up and swirl around when I was a babbling toddler very excited to play, and rock me back and forth to sleep when I was a cranky infant who wouldn’t stop crying because of summer heat. I remember the times of violent nights, where thunder, lightning, and merciless rain would hit the house with no respite, it was no less than a dreadful sight, but her fragile arms around me, holding me closer to her bosom and relaying all the valiant already told stories yet again not only helped me to believe in fantasies but also got me through the night’s insanity.
She is fondly known for her bedtime narratives, she had the knack of describing even the hardest of the incidents and experiences in a way that would leave my sister and me in utter admiration and happiness. She is not a great storyteller but is an avid narrator, every night as we were tucked into bed by father, we would slowly crawl next to her as lights were out and whisper “Ammama, why don’t you tell us the story of how your sister was taken away by a monkey”? she would conclude her anecdotes with a grin leaving it for us to think if the story was real or fabricated, it was our amusement hour, even though it was a time-bound activity it felt never lasting in a good way.
I began spending more time with her than my sister who is 4 years older than me, school kept my sibling busy while I had no restrictions and commitments, guess that is a perk of being the youngest in the family. As I grew, I found my horizons expanding and she would nurture that free spirit in me. I began understanding what phrases like ‘Be curious all the time’, ‘Find what makes you happy’ and ‘Embrace the child in you’ meant, it meant only one-word ‘fun’ and nothing else. I was exposed to a plethora of cinemas by her, it wasn’t surprising because she enjoyed being immersed in tales. Looking at the actors on screen, I would try to recreate their style which would always go haywire and my stylist would be my septuagenarian best friend. She had this obsession with colour red, any dress, sock, hair band, bracelet she picked for me had to be in shades of red.
Once in a while, I would have play dates with her exclusively on weekends where I would line up all my Barbie dolls and teach them how to apply nail polish and she would be my saloon lady but the color of nail polish remains red. When I enquired why red, she would say “Red is such a happy colour, it’s like the show stopper”, even though she never learned how to apply nail polish in her younger days, she took up the challenge for me. Mother says she was that kind of woman who thrived in difficulty which I only got to know later in life.
I recall some more snippets of our friendship distinctively to this date, one fine afternoon while she prepared lunch for me I slowly snuck into one of the cubicles in a showcase in our family room and sat still as a statue, I let her find me, eventually, after realizing what I was up to, she would walk up to me with a grin to ask “Who are you little girl?”, to which I would reply “I’m the god you love the most, so please me with good lunch and snack” she would laugh out loud and bring me the yummiest food she made, that was our lunch routine until I grew tall and would not fit into that space anymore. I would find ways to entertain her, to keep her by my side all the time, she on the other hand would do the same, we were the perfect duo. There are innumerable activities she did for me just to see me excited and to keep the child in me from fading as we lived in fast-paced city life.
‘Morning sun never lasts a day’ they said but that’s untrue when one is in Antarctica, around the summer solstice, under ideal conditions sun is noticeable 24 hours a day, I was hoping my best friend would be the same, my childlike heart was not ready to let go of my dearest friend, my grandmother, my always companion, nevertheless I was wrong. Old age got to her and just like that she vanished from our lives “At least she suffered less and went away peacefully” exclaimed mother when I was in tears but I was not ready to accept that. I was compelled to dig deeper into her life because when she was with me, it was all about me, my games, my silly tantrums, I felt selfish, I wanted people to cherish her as I do, all the very little I knew about her past life and all I could invariably understand as a munchkin was a couple of photo albums with monochrome pictures from rural India. She was born in a huge family where money was scarce but not an issue, she grew up with hardships but at the same time cultivated to look into the eye of an adversary with a smile. That made her the most progressive woman of her times because she did not shy away from marrying a widower not because he was well off and had motherless children to take care of but because she chose it.
She spread her cheer, her love, and her warmth like a fairy godmother, a personified form of red colour. This not only made her my absolute favorite human being but also made her the most compassionate and strong person who only cared for her kid’s well-being. I bet right now she would be writing similar stories about me because why not? We were the Sherlock and Watson that has a never-ending epic run.