Ammaji - My Maternal Grandmother
In my last post I talked about my paternal great grand mother. I've spent similar great times with my maternal great grandmother - 'parnani' as we call them in Hindi.
My first memories of Ammaji are from the year 1985. I must have met her before but somehow there are no memories of periods prior to 1985. I was almost 10 years then. She was of a nice cuddly plumpish built with silky White hair but with a few strands of gray in between. It was much later when her hair turned pure silky white. She must have been in late 70s or early 80s then.
She had such faith in children and in the words they would say. She used to say "Bachhe jo bolte hain, woh zaroor hota hai!" I remember whenever she would get cold or fever or anything related to her health, she would ask us "main jaldi theek ho jayungee na?" And we like good children would say "Yes!" and she would be very happy to hear that! She used to say that "Bhagwan bachhon ki baat sunte hain!" I guess at the age we were in, we used to feel more proud of the fact that our opinion was sought after! :D
Summer vacations were great fun for all of us cousins. We would spend few days at Nani-Nana's house and Ammaji used to stay with them itself. So in those summer vacations, after lunch time was eagerly awaited by all of us because that would mean "Hajmola time"! After all of us and Ammaji would have eaten lunch, we would all gather around her and her famous wooden almirah from which she would take out that hajmola bottle and give to us one by one. Sometimes we used to try and take advantage by trying to take twice but then she would remember even in the crowd of 10 of us cousins who has taken and who hasn't. So we could never get her to give Hajmola twice to any of us. :D
Ammaji had one of those watches which you wave in the air to charge the battery. We all would be so amused with it and whenever she needed to charge it we would ask her to let us do that, as for us it was kind of a game. Again it would be turn by turn for all the cousins who were present that time in the house. Twice in a day that watch needed to be charged and we all had turns chalked out for each of us :D
Playing cards with her was so much fun too as sometimes we were able to cheat without her getting to know it. And when she would get to know that we were cheating she would get angry just like us kids. And we would cuddle with her, apologise and and get her to play with us again :D I can still hear those words resonate in my mind when she would say "Tum cheating karte ho!" Our favourite card games with her were "Rummy" and "Coat Piece".
Combing her silky hair was always something that I loved and probably something she must be enjoying too. I still feel her hair were much softer than even silk! So nice, shiny and soft. And who can forget her Nycil powder. In summers, everyday at least once, sometimes twice, she would ask one of us to put that famous Nycil powder on her back.
There was a word that I learnt from her - "Husht!" (pronounce it as Hoo - sht). It surely sound funny when I write it but it used to amuse us quite a lot then. Whenever we would tease her or play with her and she would want us to go away she would say "Husht!" :D I liked it so much that I started to use it too.
She used to tell us about the stories from Rangoon which was part of India when they used to stay there. And how they had a flourishing gold shop but it all was ruined and ransacked and looted during the world war when they were travelling to Delhi. Whenever she would talk about those days, one could see how hurt she used to feel from inside thinking about the loss.
Every evening around 5:30 or 6:00 PM, she would go with any of us who was available at that time to take a round of the parks. The will to be active was quite strong even at the age she was. We at young ages sit with scooped up backs and she would always sit without support and with the back straight.
Whenever we would say "Ammaji, bore ho rahein hain!" She would say "Seedi par chado aur neeche koodo!" (Climb up the stairs and jump down) and we would tell her that you are making fun of us and she would say that she's simply giving us an idea to keep us busy :D
This was my "Ammaji" - our Ammaji whom we all will always cherish!