Of all the decadent things that can become a part of our life, loneliness is the scariest. It has a tendency of creeping in and settling unabashedly in our space. Low key on drama, noise and symptoms, the disturbing silence of loneliness is the worst of all happiness antidotes.
Recently my aunt added us all third generation globe trotters to a family group on Whatsapp. As time, age, choices happened we had drifted apart and accepted it as “what was bound to happen”. There was one person in particular who felt this drift, this distance more than us and that was my beautiful grandmother. The host to our annual childhood summer holidays fests, the very memory of which I associate with mango milk shake. I distinctly remember the old school mixer which would often break down from the stress of churning out too many servings of mango milk shake but come next holidays and it would be sitting proud in the kitchen, ready for action. It finally did give way as the holiday fests became scarce. Not knowing who to really churn for anymore probably broke its defiant spirit.
Most people are like that too, slowly giving way when what they do best slips away from them. In my grandmother’s case, loneliness had become her permanent companion when her mango shake squad slowly slipped away. The delusion that is a gift to us from our generation broke when my pious grandmother broke her silence to my aunt.
The virtual family group that my aunt formed was to address the happiness antidote that was consuming my grandmother. The teacher that she is, she even chalked out a roster for the mango shake squad and their call timings to Nani. Little did we realize that this favor that my aunt asked of us wasn’t a favor to the old soul, life in who dilutes a little every day. We were doing ourselves a big favor, rescuing us from a kind of alienation that has become a way of life.
On the very first call I made to my grandmother I found her rescuing me from a particular stressful day at work with her wealth of experience. She rescues me every now and then and I rescue her right back. We talk, we giggle, we gossip and it is soul awakening. Sometimes she can’t giggle as much since her asthma has a roster of its own. On those days I talk and she listens. We have so much ground to cover, so much I want to know and so much that she wants to pass on from life’s lessons.
She is a brilliant innovative cook making delightful dishes from the most mundane questionable looking vegetables. I find myself religiously penning down her exceptional recipes. Although I don’t doubt her memory to re tell the recipes but deep down I fear that time may not give us a chance at repeat narrations.
I only have one test subject Mr. Tall, who to my utter surprise loves it all, even the TURNIP. An ardent believer of “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, she eagerly awaits Tall’s feedback on my culinary skills.
Nani is a greenery enthusiast, in love with all things life and green especially sprawling lawns. Her father had these in ample she tells me. They never really had to buy fruit, it was common practice to grow trees and source your vitamins directly from your small orchard. On her small green patch she may not have an orchard but she has an orange tree that gives her the vitamin C she needs. She discusses her precious tree with so much joy while I dread that my little orange tree will meet its end at Jozi’s paws. Trees are a thing of the past she says, now we are into concrete. Grey is the color of success, power, wealth … green is the color of fashion seasons (it is for 2017!!).
When we are not discussing Jozi’s attempt at “orange murder” we discuss movies, politics, our respective neighbors, but my favorite are her stories from her childhood. I would love for her to visit this patch of land that we have come to call home and serve her tea and Biscoot (biscuits) on our patio while she narrates stories.
Sadly, that may not be possible given her fragile health but good intentions can set some records right. In a world where there is so much noise in the lonely company of gadgets, where success is measured by how far up we reach that grey building and where attachments to actual people can sometimes be seen as weakness, picking up the phone for the right kind of conversation can cut out all that noise, exhaustion and judgement.
As for my Nani, the mango shake squad’s intentions have made her the CEO of our family Whatsapp group. She is on many other groups and sub groups of those groups. I already see a change in her spiritual flavor given the traffic of messages she engages in. My daily spiritual discourses come from “Osho”, “The Speaking Tree” and “The Secret” rather than holy books alone. There is always an odd joke that comes as a forward from her (that is when she remembers which icon to press on her phone).
Leaving you with the most beautiful message my grandmother… my Nani sent me a while ago.
Intentions not oceans are the barriers that separate us from our loved ones.