Tag Archives: grandmother

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.

An Era Of Voiceless Women: What Would You Do If You Lost Your Voice Today?

I hold deep admiration for two kinds of people:

Strong women

and

 People with strong voices.

I’ve always been impressed by women with strong voices – women who are not afraid to speak for their own rights; women who can handle everything in the universe; women who start out as little girls playing with Barbie dolls and grow into utterly perfect young ladies and move on to become mothers who are ten thousand times stronger.

Anything that sets us back physically, actually gives us a boost mentally. We are always striving to reach to the top, no matter what. We are always ready to speak out loud for our own rights and for the million women like us.

And in today’s world, we DO get a say.

However, there had been darker times in the past.

My brother and I, growing up far away from our grandparents, didn’t really have a close relationship with them. We visited them once in two months, only for an hour or two and interactions were pretty much limited.

My grandmother was a petite woman with graying hair and a thousand wrinkles covering her face.

The many times she would call me to her room, she would spend away every minute asking me how my studies were going on. After a couple of small talks, there would be nothing to talk about, so I’d stand up and simply walk out of the room.

Conversations with her were usually small and I couldn’t blame her for it. There was a huge generation gap in the first place and second, I wasn’t really good at conversations.

So when my grandmother came to stay with us for a week, I decided to take the opportunity and get to know her better. The entire prospect of having someone in the empty house and not having to spend silent hours, thrilled me.

Every day after Mom and Dad would leave for their work, she would call for me and my brother and tell us a story.

No, the story never had princesses or horses in them, but they spoke about the lives of strong women and how they fought against the differences in the society in the past. As teenagers, the stories never caught our attention, but we heard them nevertheless because she seemed so happy while telling us those little tales.

It was the last day of her stay. My parents had taken a day off. While Mom was busy in the kitchen, Dad was talking to me. Grandma sat next to Dad, muttering something to herself as she flipped through the pages of the newspaper.

“I really think you should go there,” Dad said as he looked down at the folder containing a list of my preferred colleges.

“No, Dad! I want to go to a co-ed college!” I snapped. “I’ve told you so many times that I don’t want to go there.”

“But it’s a good college!”

“I don’t care!”

“Why are you always so adamant?”

“Because,” I spoke in a louder voice. “You don’t listen-“

“Theya!” my grandmother snapped suddenly.

For a woman as calm and collected as my grandmother, it was an unusual reaction.

“Keep your voice down,” she said.

A part of me was terribly irritated and the other part of me was embarrassed. Fighting the little tears that had started pricking at the corners of my eyes, I turned to Dad.

“I’m not going to that college, “I spoke through gritted teeth.

He sighed, shaking his head and standing up. This meant that we were not having this conversation today.

After he had left the room, Grandma motioned me to take a seat beside her. Grumbling, I complied.

“You didn’t have to talk like that to your dad,” she spoke.

“But I should have a say in what college I am going to study in!”

“You do have a say. That is why your parents are still waiting for your final decision.”

“But is it wrong to raise my voice? Is it wrong to stand up for my own wishes?”

Pulling me close, she shook her head.

“No,” she said. “I’m happy to see that you’ve a strong voice. You are growing up to be a strong woman. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Back in our times, though we had a voice, we never got a say in things.”

I looked up to meet her glistening eyes.

“Why?” I asked.

“I was born in an era of voiceless women. We were strong, but we didn’t have a voice. All we did, was sit in the kitchen and hear to the decisions being made. Back in those darker days, women were thought to be weak. The one or two who dared to speak up were looked down upon.”

“It’s surprising,” she continued, “to see how much things have changed! Women have made their mark in every field and they have struggled a lot to get there. I see the little me in you, Theya.”

By then, her voice had been breaking at places.

She held my hand and gave it a little squeeze.

“My father decided not to send me to school after the fifth grade. I was adamant to go. Yet, I didn’t know how to speak out in front of him. I was afraid of what he might say when he listens to me. So, all I could do was cry silently for several days. I had a voice, only, I was afraid to speak out. And so were many other women.”

“I don’t believe it,” I muttered.

This caused her to laugh.

“Oh, no, you don’t! Times have changed, hopefully. Women have always been strong. Back then, they had been strong as well. Only, without a voice,” she said. “When I see pretty young ladies like you, liberated and not held back by any constraint, it makes me immensely proud.”

That day, I saw my grandmother as the woman she was – strong, bold and beautiful. Though it was hard for me to believe that there had been a time like that, I could feel her pain. I could feel how it felt to not have a say in anything.

“So,” my grandmother began again. “What would you do if you lose your voice today?”

Later that night, when she was packing her stuff, I wished she could’ve stayed a bit longer.

“Grandma,” I said as I walked to her and offered to help with the packing. “I think I would probably go mad if I lost my voice for a day. I mean I can’t imagine that you’ve gone through all that!”

Shaking her head, she smiled to herself.

“Stand strong.”

Her question kept me awake for the entire night. Indeed, what would I do if I lose my voice for a day?

Art by-caffeineaddict
Art by-caffeineaddict