Memories, they paid me a visit, yesterday,
Now in thoughts, thinking about you, today.
‘Ded’ in Kashmiri, ‘Grandma’ in English, ‘Daadi’ in Urdu . . .
In all the languages, I wish to call you.
Will you come back, for a moment, just for a moment?
I would have called you to stay forever,
But, I don’t wish you another torment,
I can’t wish you to live among these men, ever,
Amongst your sons and your husband.
Not even amongst those women,
Your daughters-in-law and your daughters.
No, not even with me and all your grandchildren.
I want you to rest in peace, forever and ever,
Not to be burdened with the ‘life’, never ever.
I was a child, my memories of you are ‘childish’,
You left too early for those memories to be ‘mature’.
Maybe these lines are strong, which can hold,
Your life, your story, for it needs to be told.
Let me close my eyes and see your smiling face,
Lost teeth, those wrinkles, that grace!
Fragile hands, hardened by times, now looking so feeble,
Your eyes, that charming look!
Puffing hookah, you would be,
In that room besides the house,
The rising smoke, I would see,
With each puff you would glee.
And I, I would break the chillum,
Hide that hookah and won’t let you smoke,
I wasn’t being kind, I wished you no good!
Through false stories I was deceived,
And I, as a kid, believed.
Told that you weren’t good,
I was an immature kid who believed in mature lies!
Forgive me, I’d say,
But you always did,
With your smile, each day.
Your habits, I did hate,
But now, I would never do that.
I wish to change those times as the times did change me,
Change the times that shaped you when I wasn’t even born.
Now I understand you, I understand your ways;
Now people don’t call me a kid anymore!
No more lies, not a word against you,
I won’t hear, I won’t pay any heed.
You were born of tough times,
You were shaped by rough hands,
Trials and tribulations you did bear,
Through deep gorges of life you did steer.
In the world where women are taught to be obedient,
In your obedience, you were consistent,
You learned it with your heart,
I wish you had given rebellion, a thought!
Wish you had told me your story,
About your life, the robbed glory.
Wish I had been good to you,
Loved you like I had to do.
Your indifferent sons, the uncaring husband,
We, the kids, who were ‘taught’ to be like them.
Your gifts, however small, were a token of love,
You gifted everyone with anything, anyhow,
A piece of dried bread, a broken toy,
You loved everyone, you brought them joy.
Your stories, your words, that made us smile,
Your own life, wish you had talked about that for a while.
You never spoke about your agony or your pain,
You always talked about the brightness of snow and the sound of rain.
No one did care for you, like you cared for all,
How pure your love was, how evil we are!
You were so good, so good to all,
From the first day to the last, you faced indifference.
But, never did your eternal love fall,
You blessed us all with your affectionate persistence.
Your heart is the source of a gushing stream,
In which the blood has the color of love.
Your love lives in our heart,
We need to learn to pour it out.
The world needs to learn to love,
It needs to learn from you, how.
You would always see off the guests,
Standing near the door, against the wall you would rest,
Until the guests were in the sight,
You would stand right there.
Then you bid us final farewell,
To all the tormentors:
To the disease called cancer,
And the people called family.
You left us like those guests,
But you didn’t promise to come back, like they did.
I didn’t cry that day,
I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, anyway!
People shed tears, suddenly they started calling you, ‘Jannati’,
Oh, the irony!
The same lady, who cursed you to hell.
The same gentleman, who never ringed your doorbell.
Those tears, so uncouth,
That mourning, wish it had some truth!
We remember your generosity,
But forgot to be generous.
The absurdity of our traversty,
We won’t even talk about our severance.
I asked you for a moment,
To let you know that, I know:
I know the truth,
I know about you.
I asked you for a moment, to thank you,
To thank you for being what you were,
To let you know that I care.
P.S. Jannati is a Kashmiri term for the person who is believed to be dwelling in heavens.
Rushda, thanks for helping me in writing this poem and sharing few things about Grandma which I didn’t know.