For me my grandmother would always be my Naani, growing up with her, sitting on her lap as a kid, sleeping by her side during bedtime, as she regaled me with stories of saints, kings, gods and Goddesses. I learnt a lot about Indian culture, religion, tradition, from my Nani, than i could from any book. And when on night of Oct 27, my mother called me up to inform that she was more, i felt a whole part of me,missing some where.
For me Naani, was one of the most remarkable women i had ever met in life. In an age, when women did not receive education, she was one of the few to graduate. And more than her, it was her inner strength. She had suffered the worst tragedy ever, losing first her husband, and then her eldest son in a dam accident, within space of 2 weeks. Devastated personally, and not too well off financially, she nevertheless hung on, and educating her children well. All her 5 surviving children, have done remarkably well in life. My father himself a doctor, one of my maternal aunt settled in the US, a doctor, the other maternal aunt, an employee with LIC, and my last maternal aunt, till recently a Maths lecturer.
She did not allow tragedies and hardships to make her bitter.Instead she took recourse in spiritual activities, becoming an active member of the Ramakrishna Mission, its thanks to her, that i knew a lot about Swami Vivekananda. She had a steely inner strength, taking every challenge in life, head on,not complaining, not cribbing over it. And she lived life to the full. A passionate traveler, she travelled to almost every nook and corner of India. I remember those wonderful times, when i toured Kolkata and Puri with her, and later when i was with her in Chennai as a kid, she took me all around the city. In fact for a major part of her life, she was independent, serving the Ramakrishna Mission, living on her own, doing her own things.
Last couple of years, she was with my parents, but even then she rarely fretted much. She would engage herself in meditation, reading books. And yes she loved solving crossword puzzles, every time i visited home, she would ask me for some help in cracking the harder clues. At age of 90, she still led an active life, she would chat on the mobile with me, play TV Games, do the Sudoko in the newspaper. Always friendly, smiling, she loved kids to the fullest. She treated every child she met as her own, showering love, and affection on them. That's the reason, its not just her immediate grandchildren, even her brother's and sister's grandchildren adored her, treating her like one of their own.
Simple living and high thinking was something she actually practiced. Yet at the same time, she never shyed away from the good life. She liked to shop, eat out, in fact whenever i often visited he, she would take me out to some hotel or other at her place. Her life, and her values, taught me a lot. She taught me how to be mentally strong, face challenges, not to be cowed down. She taught me the value of exploring and living life to it's fullest. She was indeed one of the finest human beings i have come across, and fittingly she passed away peacefully in her sleep.
RIP Naani, you will forever be in my memories.