(My great grandmother)
Words have a way with things: of making them appear as they are, as they were, as they aren’t/weren’t, or creating something altogether new. Every time I start typing, I know it fully that I may not be able to actually put on the page what I initially intended to. It’s an occupational hazard and I have learnt living with it. It’s adventurous too, as “not all those who wander are lost”, said the sage Tolkien. And not all who are lost are worse off, I say. It’s fun, losing oneself, at least occasionally. Not now.
Long time ago, much before my parents were born, and their siblings too, my grandfather had migrated to Kasi from a very long distance. This post is not going to be rich in specifics. It’s more in the vein of history: the ancient Indian variety. I have heard about those ancient times from my elders, that too not as many times as I now realize I should have, in order to put it in a more concrete and satisfactorily accurate format, details wise. Through the mist of time I see my great-grandmother in the narratives of her grandchildren, especially the elder ones. Of all her grandchildren, they had seen her for the longest time. Moreover, they readily talked about her, with love and respect of the contagious kind. The younger siblings were little children when their grandmother had died.
I don’t remember my great-grandmother’s name. I’m sure my uncles must have told me her name a couple of times. I do remember my great-grandfather’s name being mentioned and repeated often, the context being the descendants’ ritual remembrance of the forefathers. It never sounded strange to me. I always took it as something quite natural. In fact, the word natural needs to be defined first because it includes many artificial things nowadays viz. a child’s socialization process renders many cultural softwares as “natural”. So, the traditional Indian patriarchy’s slow, silent and finally spectacular erasure of the fore-mothers from the pages of oral histories took a natural colour. Any kind of questioning of the tradition should neither be encouraged nor discouraged just because it happens to favour of oppose change in the way of the world.
I don’t intend to question any thing here as I have never tackled the bulls (or the more frequently met cows in the galis of Kasi) by their horns. It’s totally unnecessary, inadvisable and may even turn lethal if the animal happens to be in a bad mood. I only want to remember her name, and that of all my family tree, at least for seven generations, including the women in the tree. Seven is not a random number whimsically chosen. They are generally paired in India. And how do I plan to do so? I have already asked my uncles to help me. Actually, it’s me who’ll assist them, for they have the knowledge, hence the power, and I’m just a puny chronicler ready with the pen.
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