Of Grandma’s Stories

I bet no storyteller can beat the way grandparents tell stories to their grandkids. Stories of lions and tigers, of brave kings and beautiful queens, of hardworking farmers and intelligent women – their stories have a different charm.

Now, I remember that during summers, when there’d be no classes, Mom would send us off to our grandma’s house.

When dinner would be over and Grandma would be done with her daily chores, she’d come into our room and tell us a story.

I used to be a big fan of ghost stories. So, when Grandma would slip under the covers with us and ask us which story we’d like to hear, I’d always beg her to tell us a ghost story. My younger cousins would nod their heads gladly, agreeing to my decision because I was the eldest among the bunch.

Grandma would turn off the lights and we’d snicker and scoot closer under the blanket, grabbing each other’s shirt, afraid that some mischievous ghost would hear us and drag us to hell!

I remember those hushed whispers and scared whimpers of my younger cousins. At times, they’d pull the blanket a little tighter around themselves or look around the room, as if looking out for the hidden ghosts.

Squeezed in the middle, amongst her grandkids, she’d slowly pat our heads or run a hand through our hair while beginning the story. When she’d speak in that cracked voice of hers, everything would fall silent. The creaking of the old fan would die down, the swaying of the coconut trees outside would come to a standstill and the stray dogs on the street would stop barking – as if to hear the story she had to stay.

Be it cold Monday nights or freezing Tuesday evenings, Grandma always had the same ghost story to tell us. Strangely, we never complained.

She used to tell us about a ghost who had a strange craving for sweets! He’d visit every house after midnight, dragging away their trunks from under the bed and search for sweets. At times, he’d walk into the kitchen and make a lot of noises. Utensils would fall down from the shelves, spoons would fly around the room and slow wails would be heard all around. It would petrify the people of the town. If only they’d known that the poor ghost only wanted some sweets.

By this time, no matter how many times we’d have heard the story, we’d huddle closer next to Grandma and wait with bated breaths, our hearts racing rapidly.

Then one day, Grandma would continue in a feeble voice, trying to add a tone of dramatic stance, the ghost’s friend who lived on the top most branch of a banyan tree, would tell his friend that people kept sweets in a refrigerator!

The poor ghost would have never heard about a refrigerator!

‘How does it look?’ he would ask.

‘It’s big and rectangular!’ his friend would tell him. ‘It makes a weird noise at times.’

With a firm determination to steal sweets from the refrigerator, the ghost would walk into a house the next night. He would run straight into the kitchen and look desperately for the so-called refrigerator.

Little Tom who would be staying there would see the ghost and ask him what he is up to. To which, the ghost would tell him the truth. Now, Tom would be kind kid and he would open the refrigerator and give the ghosts a few sweets. The ghost would be too happy and would thank the kid.

And then, he would never return.

And by this time, all my younger cousins would be silently snoring. Only, I’d be wide awake and grumble.

‘You tell the same story every night!’ I would complain.

But by then, Grandma would have dozed off too. And after twisting and turning for some time, wondering why the ghost never returned, I would fall asleep as well.

To this day, I never understood why Grandma kept telling us the same story over and over again. Though I know now that ghosts do not eat sweets, nor do they live up banyan trees and have friends, Grandma’s story continues to haunt me. I find myself thinking of how the ghost looked and why little Tom wasn’t scared on seeing the ghost.

Grandma had simple stories up her sleeves. But those stories were the ones I grew up with. And no matter how stupid they sound, I find myself telling the same story when a bunch of kids ask me to.

And on sleepless nights, when the moon would be high up in the sky and the street dogs would go on a rampage and a slow wind would blow outside, I would think of the same story and fall asleep.

To The Best Friend Who Wasn’t

Only recently, I happened to come across a notification on Wattpad where the wonderful Rup had tagged me for a 30-day letter writing challenge. Now, I don’t really write a lot of letters. In a world where most of our time is spent on chatting and social networking, it’s not much of a surprise that the trend of writing letters is slowly vanishing into the abyss of nothingness. I love writing letters, though. Someday, I’ll send those letters to the people they are meant for. So for the first challenge, I had to write a letter to my best friend which reads something like this:

Dear Best Friend or rather the best friend I never had,

Has anybody ever told you that you are perfect? No? Then, hear me now, you are. I’ve never seen a person as strong and determined as you. I’ve never met a person who knows how to put things back together; it’s almost like you have some crazy magic tricks up your sleeve! I’ve never come across a person as intelligent as you or as beautiful. You present yourself like the complete package.

I remember the sleepless nights we spent fangirl-ing over some Hollywood celebrity. We’d add too many ‘a’s to their names or too many ‘e’s. At times, we would be lovesick over virtual anime guys, already talking about future plans in case we happen to meet someone like them in real life. I still hold a hope that in some undiscovered dimension, anime people exist and someday, they are going to come on earth and meet us. We’ve been sending them way too many crazy brain signals and someone told me that hard work never goes into waste.

Then some days, we’d talk about books.

On cold evenings, we’d argue over trivial matters. Though they seemed heated, they had a tendency to cool down too soon. I never wanted to lose you to some silly argument and perhaps, you didn’t want that too.

I tell you, I don’t remember when we started drifting apart from each other.

Someone had told me that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I still don’t find any truth in it. Of all the instances that have happened in my life, the first lesson I’ve learnt is that, absence makes things worse. Time is a culprit and it makes every precious memory fade away. I have only managed to have grasp a handful of memories and store it somewhere safe in my memory vault.

Sometimes, I feel that I was the only person who considered you my best friend. There was never any reciprocation from your side and it breaks my heart whenever I think of it. There are some things in life which you can’t have, no matter how much you strive for it. As for me, I’ve always struggled when it comes to making a best friend. It’s like a game of playing cards, which I’ve never been good at.

Whenever I see two bubbly girls walking on the streets, laughing to something, I tell myself thatĀ that could have beenĀ us.

But the right moment has gone by. No matter how much I try now, no matter how much you do, some things between us will never be the same again.

We do talk a lot these days, but do you notice that we hide a lot too many things?

We do laugh a lot, but those smiles are not true.

We do try and pretend that things had never gone wrong between us, but the truth lingers somewhere in the background – the very fact that some things have changed between us. We have changed. Our interests have changed. Our social circles have changed. Back in those high school days, you used to be the social bee and I used to be the shy, little girl in a corner of the class. I had always, desperately wished to be like you. We talked back then. But I thought that if I could somehow fit into your group, we could become best friends.

Now, the roles have changed. I play the part of the social bee and you tend to stay in the shadows.

Still, we are not best friends. Perhaps, we never were. I was just crazy and a little too desperate.

But I don’t regret it. I wanted you and only you to be my best friend. Who wouldn’t want a girl as perfect as you as their best friend!

But I guess, I forgot to take in consideration the fact that may be nobody wanted me as their best friend.

So, as I write this, I am still best-friend-less.

I wonder of the things we could have done as best friends. We could have those girls happily running down the streets. We could have been those girls spending hours in a mall. We could have those girls who never had any secrets. We could have been so many things. Only, we aren’t.

But we’ve come a long way without being best friends and a few more miles doesn’t really matter anymore.

Time may be a culprit, but it heals wounds, doesn’t it?

Sincerely,

The Best Friend Who Never Was.