My grandparents’ house was like any other villa built in the late 60s; a cream colored, red brick manor surrounded by coconut trees and grass. A variety of flowers could be seen in the garden, which looked like a green canvas filled with rainbow colored polka dots.
My grandfather, a Preventive Inspector with Bombay customs, and a retired tax practioner, married my grandmother in 1964. Having stayed in Bombay for nearly a year, they settled in Kolhapur in late 1965 due to my great grandfather’s ill health. Theirs was a joint family, and my grandfather was the only working member, which meant buying only the things needed, and not the things wanted – A value which they both made sure they inculcated in me.
I remember visiting my grandparents during every vacation of mine. My grandmother would be sitting on the sofa outside; knitting. She’d give a delightful shriek when she would see me entering the gate, and would rush to open the door. The rest of the day involved me having to respectfully decline the multitude of delicacies that she would have prepared for my arrival and her trying her best to feed me. My grandfather, on the other hand, would be busy narrating stories of his walks and the numerous antics of their neighbors.
My grandmother’s sole aim in life was to make me fit, and her idea of achieving that was by feeding me everything that was there in her kitchen. To this day I haven’t understood how that made any sense.
My grandmother would scold all of us every day. Shouting at my grandfather used to be her hobby, and she was pretty good at it. As Nicholas Sparks mentions in The Notebook, “They didn’t agree on much. In fact, they didn’t agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other every day. But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common. They were crazy about each other.”
On 27th August 2012, however, my grandmother passed away due to heart failure. It was a shock for all of us. The same heart that had given us all so much of love had stopped functioning. My grandfather didn’t know what to do. We all were together, but I could see that he felt lonely.
There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. One can be lonely even in a crowd, and that was exactly his state.
“We had decided to celebrate our 50th anniversary together”, he said between sobs,” but she left 1 and a half years early”. He felt betrayed. I was alternating between consoling him and gazing at my grandmother’s smooth yet pale body. The same woman who had held me as a child, nurtured me into everything I am today, lay on the bed; paralyzed. My heart was bleeding, but my dry eyes didn’t show any sign of tears.
Looking at that inflexible smile, I remembered what she had told me moments before her demise – “Make your parents proud. And make sure your grandfather takes his medicines every day. That old man has a memory problem”.
That day, I realized that true love wasn’t the story of Romeo and Juliet who died together, but that of my grandfather and grandmother, who grew old together.
With that thought circling in my head that day, I let out a single tear that encompassed gratitude and respect for that part of me that was no more. Just One Tear.
P.S – This is part of a bigger work – The synopsis of a memoir of some sort, which will be completed by the end of this year.