Grandmothers hold a special place in our hearts
I was walking into the living room one morning when the waft of a sweet smell caught me off-guard. My feet froze on the spot, and my heart skipped a beat as I took several moments to realise that I had not been dreaming. I frantically searched for the faces I was so eager to see, but in vain. The source of my nostalgia was laying on the counter, trapped inside the familiar blue bottle of coconut oil.
I lost my dadu about 7 years ago, and my nanumoni two years ago. Both times, I was not present during their final moments; the guilt gave way to lucid dreams and vivid hallucinations following each death, in which they appeared to be consoling me. The grief multiplied when I realised that things would be changing for good because their positions in my life are irreplaceable.
Grandmothers are universally acknowledged as the epitome of sass and grace. Subconsciously, they are often the first women we look up to. My grandmothers were my safety nets. Their drapes protected me from every threat, whether it was a violent cousin, my parents' anger, or a nightmare. Despite being heads of families with enormous responsibilities, they always found time for me and my abrupt demands.
In their upbringing and lifestyles, dadu and nanumoni were polar opposites. Dadu was all about principles, whereas nanumoni was mostly about traditional, cultural, and sentimental values. Being the eldest grandchild on either side, I got the best of both worlds. They were at the same time my biggest critics, as well as my most ardent fans. No matter how much I argued with others, I would never question my grandmothers' instructions; I could never disappoint them.
The only thing I regret is that their teachings over the years never included their delicious recipes. On special occasions, my taste buds search for those familiar tastes. I crave dadu's pulao and spicy chicken curry, and my nanumoni's jorda shemai and pitha.
I inherited the tradition of evening tea sessions from my grandmothers. Dadu loved to take her tea after the evening prayers, whereas nanumoni always drank it before sundown. Their routines, snacks, and the tea itself differed greatly, even the amount of milk or sugar I added to my tea depended on which Grandma I was living with at the time.
They influenced most of my hobbies, starting from my inclination towards history to my infatuation with fairy tales and mythology. Although dadu was not a fan of cultural performances, she made sure to take front-row seats to all of my recitals, while nanumoni stood with me backstage for last-minute rehearsals. Nowadays, I tend to carry a trinket of theirs on stage to fill that void.
I try to substitute their presence by inhaling freshly starched sarees, or wearing their bangles around my wrists as though they were holding my hand. The minty fragrance of betel leaves transports me to the afternoon naps, the warmest hugs, and the laughter that ensued from venting our hearts out to each other. I find my eyes subconsciously tearing up whenever I hear someone bring up their grandmothers. In those moments, I wish I could travel back in time.
Nahian Jamal Joyeeta spends an awful amount of time daydreaming and laughing at her own jokes. Rant with her on instagram.com/smolbabyjo